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A LANDMARK former Darwen pub has been transformed from a derelict building into the new home of a long-running family business.

Catherine and Michael Almond have spent 18 months renovating what used to be The Bowling Green, in Bolton Road, and turning it into a showroom for their firm, Darwen Furniture and Gifts.

Mr Almond, 49, said he first wanted the building 25 years ago.

He said: “Catherine and I were sitting in the pub and at the bottom of the stairs there was a door.

“The landlord opened the door and I saw the huge stained glass window, and I said I wanted to buy it.

“Now I’ve got it, although I don’t think Catherine expected we’d buy the whole building!”

The renovations also include Dolly’s Tea Room, in memory of Michael’s brother David, who died three years ago.

There is a further memorial with the upstairs John Paul Brighty showroom, named in tribute to the Fortex dry liner who died earlier this year while renovations were ongoing.

The business has been running for more than 20 years, having originally been started by Michael’s dad, Keith.

Catherine, 46, said: “Without our customers, none of this would be possible. I would like to thank them for helping us to get where we are now.

“When we saw it was on the market we kept watching it, and it was sold. I approached the man who bought it and he said I could have it for what he had paid.”

The pair have tried to maintain the character and a lot of original features from the historic building.

One feature is a set of shackles, used when the pub was a halfway house for policemen transporting criminals.

The new premises have created four jobs, taking the total number of staff employed to 10.

The shop and cafe are now fully open for business.