The Darwen Bakery building to get event space in an entertainment center

The top two floors of a former industrial bakery are set to be converted into an “exciting and creative” event space as the 121-year-old building is transformed into an entertainment hub.

The project is the brainchild of former teacher Becca Hitchman and her business partner Dan France.

They incorporated their company The Bakehouse Group Ltd in June to set up the new business in Darwen.

Its event space will occupy the two main floors of the Old Co-Op bakery in Borough Road in the city center, while owner Grant Mizon will create a concert hall in the basement.

Ms Hitchman said the company has now applied for a building permit and liquor license for the program in time to open on October 1.

The bakery building, built in 1901, was recently occupied by Darwen Windows Ltd who left the premises in 2020 after going into liquidation.

The new event space will become the permanent home of Fear Factory Live which will launch the venue with weekend spooky mazes on the premises through October until Halloween.

Ms Hitchman said she and Mr France, an experienced entertainment industry professional, are currently fitting out the four venues over two floors in time for their opening.

She said: “This is an exciting and creative project that hopefully has the right time after the pandemic.

“The people of Darwen seem to think so.

“It will host a variety of events from community and craft fairs to birthday and Christmas parties to sports nights for boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts.

“The space is huge and will be able to accommodate up to 600 people including a seated bar for 120 to 150 people.

“The idea is to provide families and residents of Darwen with a place to hang out and not just go to the pub.

“It will provide indoor covered space for all sorts of events, making them independent of the weather.”

The requested establishment license states that it is: “Sale of alcohol – 8am to 1am; late night refreshments 11pm to 2pm.

“The provision of plays, films, live entertainment, recorded music and (indoor) dance from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. and the provision of indoor sporting events including wrestling/boxing from 8 a.m. to midnight.”

Ms Hitchman said: “This is the largest period of time that we would need a license to allow flexibility for events and would not be happening on a regular basis.

“Our business and Mr. Mizon’s concert hall would be separate but complementary to each other.”

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