Owner of torched Burnley bar backs Time's Up campaign ahead of emotional re-opening

The owner of a Burnley bar ravaged by fire has vowed to help rescue the town's ailing nightlife image as he prepares to re-open.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 3:54 pm
Ships and Giggles, Preston; inset, Andy Mac.
Ships and Giggles, Preston; inset, Andy Mac.

Andy Mac was close to walking away from the industry for good after arsonist Jordan Schofield set fire to MACs Bar in September 2019.

Schofield was caught and arrested when he targeted the Hammerton Street bar for a second time a few weeks later.

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Despite fierce paranoia, Andy decided to keep the building and has spent the past nine months quietly working away transforming the inside of the Hammerton Street venue.

Ships and Giggles Burnley will be similar in look and feel to its Preston namesake, where Andy hit the national headlines last year when he began selling penny meals in response to the Government's Covid restrictions.

"After the first fire at MACs I said I was done. I wanted to get away from nightlife and the industry completely. It hurt me a lot. A guy got in touch and said he would take it off my hands. I said that's fine. Then after the second arson attempt I realised I couldn't walk away. I wasn't going to let them win. I couldn't do it.

"We can’t wait to open in May. There's going to be live music, our famous penny chicken wings and chips, and a friendly lively atmosphere. It's going to be exciting to see how we fit in. It doesn't matter what I say, or how we market it, it will find its own feet."

Ships and Giggles will be serving their penny meals from 5pm – 8pm, Monday to Friday, and from noon until 8pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Andy said he was fully behind the Time's Up campaign, which aims to restore the town's nightlife reputation by putting an end to 6am drinking.

He believes Burnley needs a new direction, and is excited at the prospect of working with other bar owners in order to help bring in an earlier evening time crowd.

"They need to bring the times down. We used to get so anxious [when we ran MACs]. We'd be opening, and we wouldn't be getting anybody in until midnight, And then they're coming in smashed. They're not drinking here, they're drinking earlier at home, and then coming out and not drinking. It's frustrating. I think the campaign is a great idea.

"We've changed this place to be more of an earlier bar. After Covid, it's a good opportunity to change the dynamics of the town. This section of town has the potential to be fantastic for early evening crowds.

"I hate it when people are coming in smashed. That's why with this place, when we had the fire, I didn't know what to do because I was done with nightclubs. I couldn't stand them. The only thing that gave me hope was bringing Ships and Giggles to Burnley. It works over there and I enjoy it. I don't enjoy the clubs, I enjoy the bars.

"We need people out earlier. We thought, coming out of lockdown this time, there'd be a 10pm curfew. I'm surprised there isn't. We're actually a bit gutted, because we thought that would help get people out earlier.

"Our aim is to have people in here for a couple of hours, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm; then there's loads of great options around here."

Andy said late-night licensing had killed the atmosphere in Burnley, making the town a no-go area for many revellers.

"We actually wouldn't go out in Burnley because we wouldn't want to be out until 8am. If you're out and there's music, you just stay out. And then the next day you feel awful.

"It's obvious that late-night licensing has ruined Burnley. It's completely changed the dynamic. Why would anybody give out 6, 7, 8am licences; it's mental? What good can come from that? It doesn't make sense, especially when people aren't really drinking at that time either. I don't get it.

"I think 4am is a reasonable enough time for places to be closing, and hopefully we'll see something like that brought in."