Club announces closure after struggling with Wetherspoon competition

Downham Market Club to reopen Thursday, December 3.

The Downham Market Club on Paradise Road has closed. Pictured: Cassie Whisler. - Credit: Downham Market Club

A Norfolk club has closed after struggling with the impact of the smoking ban and the opening of a nearby Wetherspoon pub.

The Downham Market Club, which has been in the town since 1992, announced it formally closed on Sunday, November 21. Seven staff members have been made redundant.

The Paradise Road venue, which offered a variety of entertainment for the community including live music performances, reopened its doors last December following the lockdowns with new and improved facilities, including a soft play area.

But the club is said to have struggled to maintain membership and to also encourage new joiners following the introduction of the smoking ban in 2007 and the opening of a Wetherspoon pub in the town, the Whalebone, in 2018.

Earlier this year, the club sold its premises and was given a lease by the new owner.

Downham Market Club to reopen on Thursday, December 3.

Pictures of the club last year following ahead of the reopening after the lockdowns. - Credit: Downham Market Club

Cassie Whisler, the club steward, posted the news of the club's closure on its Facebook page, saying it was with "a heavy heart" that she had to publish the final post.

She said: "I have worked at the club for 20 years and put everything I could into trying to make it succeed along with Marion and a great team behind me. We fought hard."

She thanked those involved at the club, staff, customers and the bands and entertainers who had performed there.

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A statement from rescue specialist and insolvency practitioners McTear Williams & Wood said Gary Rupping and Andrew McTear will be appointed as joint liquidators of the company that owns and operates the club.

Downham Market Club will reopen on Thursday, December 3.

The soft play area that had been invested in to help encourage membership. - Credit: Downham Market Club

It added that despite recent efforts to invest in the new soft play area and the kitchen, and to carry out building alterations to attract members to use the facilities, it was "not enough" and that losses had continued.

The statement referred to the challenges presented by "the smoking ban and a national chain opening a public house in the town".

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