Prom publicans find new home as Morecambe shopping park looms

The Ranch House, Morecambe.
The Ranch House, Morecambe.

A couple who have to close their popular bar to make way for a new multi-million pound shopping park have bought a new pub.

Robert and Debbie Ellershaw from the Ranch House will take over the Imperial Hotel on Regent Road.

The Imperial Hotel, Regent Road, Morecambe.

The Imperial Hotel, Regent Road, Morecambe.

They plan to open their new pub as soon as the Ranch House closes in January.

Owners Morrisons have given the Ellershaws notice to move out of the Ranch by January 31 2016.

The Marine Road West bar is making way for a Brewers Fayre pub/restaurant and Premier Inn – part of a new £17m shopping complex ‘the Bay Shopping Park’ at the former Frontierland Wild West theme park site.

The Ellershaws have bought the freehold on the Imperial, which has been closed for more than a year.

Rob and Debbie Ellershaw behind the bar at the Ranch House in 2009.

Rob and Debbie Ellershaw behind the bar at the Ranch House in 2009.

Mr Ellershaw, licensee at the Ranch House for 15 years, said he aimed to reopen the Imperial on January 31 and close his current pub the same day.

“It’s mixed emotions,” he said.

“We’re relieved in many ways, because we now have our own place which we own and we can spend money on it.

“We couldn’t spend any money on the Ranch House because we didn’t know how long we were going to be there.

“We aim to take with us what we’ve done successfully at the Ranch and we hope our customers will come with us too.

“We could have locked the doors on January 31 and seen what the future brings, but we’ve made the decision to say we’ve got a good thing here, we can create another good thing nearby and go from strength to strength.

“In the meantime, it’s business as usual at the Ranch.”

Mr Ellershaw, who employs six staff, said he’d continue the live TV sport the Ranch is well-known for and plans to change the Imperial’s name.

He also hopes to create a new function room and beer garden at the Imperial.

The Imperial was previously owned by local business Lingwood Security Management.

Earlier this year, plans were put in by developers to convert the Regent Road pub into eight flats.

The planning application was later withdrawn amid mounting opposition from residents and councillors.

The Ranch House, formerly the Casino, was re-named after Morecambe’s fairground on the seafront was rebranded as a Wild West theme park in 1987.

It became a thriving West End community pub, especially popular with theme park staff.

When Frontierland closed in 2000, the Ranch House remained open and under the Ellershaws, continued as one of the town’s busiest bars.

But its closure has been on the cards since Morrisons and developers Opus North announced plans for the Bay Shopping Park in 2013.

Lancaster City Council gave planning permission for the retail park in November 2014 after overwhelming public support.

But in September 2015, it was announced that work had been delayed until early 2016 after “practical hurdles” slowed down talks with retailers.

B&M Bargains and TK Maxx are among the names in the frame.

Plans to demolish the fairground’s former Polo Tower have also stalled the scheme as telecoms giant EE (formerly Orange) are using the 168ft Polo tube as a mast until January 2016.