ONE of the most historic buildings in Blackburn has been declared a safety hazard by fire chiefs.

But developers say efforts are being made to rectify the problems at the sprawling Hornby House, in King Street.

The four-storey building is the birthplace of former England cricket and rugby captain Albert 'Monkey' Hornby and was once home to the Cellar Bar.

For several years though it has had a chequered history, with a previous bid, to convert it into an arts and crafts hub, events space and boxing club, faltering last year.

Now a senior fire officer has posted a prohibition notice on the venue, citing a number of concerns.

Steven Morgan, an area manager for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, is concerned on five key grounds.

He is worried there are inadequate fire safety management provisions, fire separation, means of escape, means of giving warning in the event of a fire and means for securing the means of escape.

"The premises can only be used by people undertaking remedial fire safety work," the notice adds.

While the notice has been served on Farzana Patel, one of the building's owners, the Lancashire Telegraph understands Hornby House has been leased and could be given a fresh start as offices.

The new leaseholder, who identified himself only as 'Waqas' when the Telegraph made enquiries, said a number of the problems highlighted by the fire service had been addressed.

He added: "The fire safety system was not working, when we arrived, and the fire exits had been padlocked.

"The fire system has been replaced and the padlocks have been removed and fire doors have been fitted.

"The fire marshal will be coming next week and we expect him to lift the prohibition notice."

Once the improvements had been made then the building would be marketed as offices, he said.

Philip Davey, who was involved in the bid to set up a community interest company to transform Hornby House in 2018, said: "It is a fine old building and it's a shame we couldn't get planning permission to do what we wanted there from the council."

Hornby was captain of the England cricket team between 1879 and 1884 and achieved the same feat for his country at rugby in 1880, from full back, versus Scotland.

His father, William Henry Hornby, and two of his brothers, Edward and Harry, were all MPs for Blackburn.