Break-in at iconic Burnley club will not halt major face-lift and re-opening is promise of new owners

A break-in at one of Burnley's most iconic clubs will not halt its major refurbishment and grand re-opening.

That is the vow from the new owners of the former Lowerhouse Mills canteen that was targeted by thieves over the weekend.

One of three intruders was caught on CCTV cameras as they helped themselves to an ipad and two tills. They also stole work tools but were forced to drop them outside the club in Lowerhouse Lane after an alert resident rang the police.

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The footage has been shared by club owner, Kirk Gorton, in a bid to identify the three male culprits. Kirk (29) who bought the club six months ago said: "We won't let something like this put us off from moving ahead with what is a total transformation of the club.

Melissa Gorton (right) with her sister-in-law Nicki Gorton

"We are putting a lot of money, time and effort into making this place something really special and it is a special year too as it's the club's 100th anniversary."

Before Covid 19 forced its closure the club was regularly hosting parties and family gatherings organised by Kirk's wife Melissa. Melissa said: "We have never done anything like this before and saw it as a new challenge. It was going really well before the lockdown with a lot of interest and support, we were very busy, so we hope that carries on when we re-open."

Seizing the pandemic as a chance to start the refurbishment work, Kirk, who is a builder, ripped out all the dated seating, fixtures and decor to totally modernise the place. It will be re-named The Canteen and will be a family friendly pub with two function rooms and a games room.

Kirk added: "This place has a lot of history and everyone in Burnley knows it. But it had become dated and old fashioned and seen as just a place for functions such as christenings. We are giving it a total new look but it will still have the same family atmosphere with a new lease of life as a pub where you can come for a few drinks or a night out."

The Lowerhouse Canteen

Very much a family affair, Kirk's brother Chris, sister Nicki and their father Jimmy are all involved with the business also. Formerly Lowerhouse Mills Club or Lowerhouse Canteen the building opened in 1921 in what was once a booming area of town for the textile trade. Built next to John Dugdale cotton mills the building was a place for workers to eat their sandwiches and have a lunch break.

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Works' officials sponsored it as a canteen and within two years it had grown to become a furnished club with a bowling green, tennis courts, and flourishing membership. But the slump of the 1930s saw huge redundancies in the mills and the club closed down.

It would not re-open until the 1960s when a new committee was formed and the building was given a face-lift and new members were drawn back.