Sara has a real thirst to save the Alma Inn

RESCUE BID: Sara D'Arcy of Irwell Works Brewery wants to take on the Alma Inn.
RESCUE BID: Sara D'Arcy of Irwell Works Brewery wants to take on the Alma Inn.

A real ale brewery owner is making a last-ditch bid to save a historic Padiham pub under threat of closure.

Sara D’Arcy, who runs the Irwell Works Brewery, wants to buy the 150-year-old Alma Inn which could be shut and turned into houses.

The former Padiham woman, who set up the award-winning brewery in Ramsbottom four years ago, is bidding to rescue the West Street hostelry which is the borough’s last surviving traditional “house pub”.

Sara, whose ales have won regional beer awards, has voiced her interest to owners Punch Taverns about taking on the pub which is in Padiham’s conservation area.

But the Alma is still at the centre of a planning appeal bid after plans by developers to convert the pub into two houses were turned down by Burnley Council’s development control committee.

The Government’s planning inspector is not expected to decide whether to uphold the decision to reject the housing plan until early May.

Sara, who helped organise the recent Padiham Beer festival, said Irwell Works wanted to open a pub and had found the Alma was for sale.

She said: “We spoke to the agents and they said it was under offer which has been accepted but it has gone to planning so we can’t do anything.

“I have contacted Punch Taverns and told them they do not need to sell it off for development and it could be kept as a pub.

“It has always been an alehouse – never a house. Sadly these kind of pubs are dying out.

“But many people don’t want the big pubs – they want a traditional pub where they can relax and feel safe and that is what we want to create.

“It is quite old fashioned, comfortable and has a great atmosphere and we want to keep it that way as a traditional pub.”

The future of the Alma is still up in the air but it may rest on the outcome of the planning inquiry.

Campaigners have been fighting to save the pub and fear it would be a huge blow to Padiham’s heritage if it was to close forever.

Councillor has turned the housing plans down saying it would be “detrimental to the social and economic fabric of the conservation area”.

But developers argued it was only being kept open because of brewery subsidies and no brewery had come in with an offer to buy it.