A man who was running a ghost tour in the Ribble Valley was left ‘deeply saddened’ when he witnessed the Grade-II listed Punch Bowl Inn being razed to the ground.

Simon Entwistle said he was ‘devastated’ to see diggers destroying the historic Punch Bowl, in Longridge Road, Hurst Green, on June 15, 2021.

Yesterday (March 8), Andrew Donelan, 61, Nicola Donelan, 59, and Rebecca Donelan, 29, all of Carr Hall, Whalley New Road, Wilpshire; David Cotterell, 58, of Percliff Way, Philips Road, Blackburn; and Brian Ingleby, 70, Hollowhead Avenue, Wilpshire, were ordered to pay nearly £70,000 by Blackburn Magistrates Court after they were found guilty of unlawfully demolishing the pub.

Lancashire Telegraph: Five people were fined yesterday after being found guilty of illegally demolishing the grade-II listed pubFive people were fined yesterday after being found guilty of illegally demolishing the grade-II listed pub (Image: Lancashire Telegraph)

Simon was out conducting one of his tours on the history and ghost stories of Ribble Valley Inns when he came across the shocking scene.

Andrew Donelan, Nicola Donelan, Cotterell and Ingleby were also found guilty of failing to notify the local authority of the intended demolition.

Simon said that he was midway through talking about the highwaymen Dick Turpin and Ned King when the tour was suddenly stopped in its tracks by a woman in the middle of the road.

Local legend states that the inn was built in the 1720s and was visited by the highwaymen Turpin and King in 1738.

Turpin and King are said to have stayed for three days after which Turpin travelled on to York while King attacked travellers on the local roads, assisted by landlord Jonathan Brisco. King was executed in 1741 and his ghost was said to haunt the pub.

The woman made the bus wait until talking on the phone before she waved the vehicle through.

What Simon saw then 'shocked and deeply saddened him'.

Simon said: “Mechanical diggers were reducing the building to rubble.

“I thought what a shame to see all that history destroyed forever.

"It was shocking and deeply saddening to me to go around the corner and see it.

“The people on the tour had come from Bristol and were enjoying the tour.

Lancashire Telegraph: Diggers on the site of the former Punch Bowl InnDiggers on the site of the former Punch Bowl Inn (Image: Lancashire Telegraph)

“They were witnesses to what happened that day too.

“This is the first time I have ever come across something like this.

“Seeing such a beautiful building being brought to the ground – it was very sad.

“It was a big hit with people, many famous ghost hunters came to the building, even people from America.

“It was said to be one of the most haunted inns in the North West.”

The five people and two companies were ordered to pay a total of £69,125 - a fine of £22,250, prosecution costs of £44,650 and a £2,225 surcharge.

Just days before the court handed the fines, the planning inspectorate also denied an appeal by Donelan Trading Company, meaning that the landowners must rebuild the pub.

The failed appeal, which was judged by the planning inspectorate, means the company must rebuild the pub within 12 months and must ensure the internal and external of the building are in line with the plans attached to the notice.

This will include the company being required to go through the rubble with experts and work out what there is and what is reusable.

Lancashire Telegraph: All that is left of the former Punch Bowl InnAll that is left of the former Punch Bowl Inn (Image: Lancashire Telegraph)

Of that, they must submit what they determine to be reusable to the council.

Any materials they do not have, they must source similar materials which must be approved before use.

The planning inspectorate also ordered that full costs incurred by the council must be repaid.

Donelan Trading Limited has estimated a cost of £1.5million to rebuild the site to its original specifications.