A POPULAR entertainment venue will NOT be reopening when restrictions ease next week, it has been confirmed.

The iconic Old Fire Station in Carlisle will not reopen its doors on May 17 after a deal could not be reached between the owner – Carlisle City Council – and the proposed operator.

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “Unfortunately during the pandemic the new lease for the Old Fire Station couldn’t be completed with the proposed operator.

“The opportunity to run the venue will be going out to tender again to get an operator in place to manage the venue.

“Like other venues of its type, there are government restrictions on when the Old Fire Station can reopen. No date for reopening has been set as yet but we are still working with promoters to book in future events.”

Since 2012, the Fire Station has played host to countless gigs, as well as including space for workshops, studios, offices and more.

One band that has performed at the Old Fire Station on multiple occasions is Carlisle’s own Hardwicke Circus.

Lead singer Jonny Foster hoped the station would reopen – and paid tribute to council arts officer Stephen Dunn.

He said: “It’s a real shame. We’ve played the Fire Station, we’ve headlined it three times over the past couple of years. It’s one of the pillars of the creative city.

“It’s a venue we’re lucky to have, and have played at, and watched some of my favourite and most exciting acts right here in Carlisle.

“Steve Dunn has done an incredible job providing a unique space.

“I really hope they find someone new. Iit would be a real loss for the local scene if it closes its doors.”

As well as gigs, the station is also vital to the city’s artists and other creative types.

Marilyn Laugesen of Carlisle Contemporary Arts Co-operative had been hoping to get back into the building.

She said: “We’re just wandering at the moment. We would go back if we had the chance, but I don’t think it will happen.

“It’s been closed for 18 months and we don’t know what’s going on. It’s very important to the city, it’s a shame.”