Time finally called at the Flying Shuttle
Some pub closures are sad. Some are inevitable. And some are, well, just for the best. So it seems with the closure of the Flying Shuttle on Highfield Road in Farnworth, Bolton. Now I know quite a few pubs in the area, but it seems I’ve missed out on visiting this little gem. Or perhaps not, as it’s been branded “Britain’s roughest pub”.
To be fair, there may be grounds for such a bold claim. It appears that the FS was the kind of pub that the Good Beer Guide might euphemistically describe as “lively” and with a “mixed clientele”. Which translates to rough and full of knobheads in the Queen’s English.
When police raided the premises at 0030, the 13 officers were outnumbered 4-1 and the raid leader, Sgt Knight said: “We took 13 officers with us and we still did not feel safe in that pub”. This follows an earlier visit in February when police found customers still being served at 2.45am as staff were too frightened to call time.
Mind you, it looks like the locals weren’t actually buying that much on the premises, as the police found plastic bottles and cans filled with booze that people had brought in. That and the presence of cocaine residue, cannabis and a broken pool cue sharpened as a weapon.
Licensing officer PC Garry Lee told councillors on Bolton Licensing Committee: 'Not even John Wayne could sort out the problems there at the moment.” The pub’s owners Spirit couldn’t really argue with that. Their solicitor, Matthew Phipps, said: “We are extremely sorry to be here and sorry about the circumstances in which we have been called.”
However, the subsequent decision to close the pub has not gone down well with everyone. Disgruntled ex-punters, in scenes reminiscent of TV programme Shameless, started several fires around the pub; including an incredible eight in one evening. Three men have subsequently been arrested on suspicion of arson.
So is there a future for a pub where, according to one local, “if you didn’t get your teeth knocked in, it was considered a good night”? Well, according to some reports there are parties interested in reopening it as a pub. Watch out for Le Flying Shuttle: Farnworth’s first gastropub.