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Tokyo Jo’s fire: No one charged and a strip of land left barren in heart of the city

Posted on - 19th May, 2024 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - History, Nostalgia, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Redevelopment
Smoke billowing out from former nightclub fire Pic: Daniella Areas Mendes-da-Cruz
Smoke billowing out from the former nightclub during the height of the fire on Thursday Pic: Daniella Areas Mendes-da-Cruz

Two years ago the centre of Preston was put into lockdown as one of the most severe fires in living memory ripped through the city.

Legendary nightclub Tokyo Jo’s, or the former Odeon cinema to some, was left needing to be demolished after a large-scale fire.

At its height, on Thursday 19 May 2022, around 80 firefighters were tackling the blaze which took days to bring fully under control.

Read more: Five years on from the Stoneygate Masterplan and whether it will finally fix Church Street

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s area manager Neil Taylor said: “The fire at the former Tokyo Jo’s building was one of the biggest fires Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has faced in recent years.

“The firefighters, other staff and partner agencies who worked on the incident did a brilliant job to contain the fire and protect the public.”

A drone image shows the fire raging in the bottom floor of the former nightclub Pic: @lfrsdrone / Twitter
A drone image shows the fire raging in the bottom floor of the former nightclub Pic: @lfrsdrone / Twitter

Roads were closed throughout the city centre for two days and crowds gathered in nearby streets to watch as the firefighters brought the flames under control at the former nightclub which was known as Evoque, Lava & Ignite and Clouds at various points through the decades.

A police investigation was launched into the fire with a number of teenagers arrested on suspicion of arson.

Blog Preston can reveal that, two years on, nobody has been charged in connection with the fire.

Read more: Hope for Preston Guild Hall foyer to open this year as five years of closure draws near

Looking to the future

So what’s the future of the strip of land running from the old art deco cinema frontage – which was saved following a campaign – and is now a surface car park from the Syke Street end.

The land is owned by The Rigby Organisation and group managing director Tom Flack said they were making progress.

He told Blog Preston: “We are working hard to find the right partner to take this site forward as something that would benefit the city. We are in active discussions with several such partners and look to take things forward imminently.”

Read more: Mapped: Stoneygate Masterplan and all the potential developments

A brochure advertising the 1.13 acre site says it is a ‘redevelopment opportunity’ and the current car park on the site is making £60,000-a-year.

One of those with an idea for the site is city architect John Bridge.

Concept designs released by John Bridge for the former Odeon/Tokyo Jo’s site

He released concept designs for a ‘mixed use development’ with grade-A offices facing into Fishergate and apartments then running down to Syke Street.

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