THERE was major disruption causing long delays on a key route in and out of Bradford after a fire at a pub, less than a day before demolition was due to take place.

The fire broke out at derelict The Gallopers, on the corner of Lister Avenue and the A650 Wakefield Road in Bowling at around 1.30pm.

Due to the ferocity of the fire and huge plumes of smoke erupting from the building, which were blowing across the six-lane dual carriageway, the A650 had to be closed in both directions while firefighters brought the blaze under control.

Six fire engines were scrambled to the pub, where aerial platforms were used to tackle the fire from above alongside more firefighters dousing the flames on the ground.

One onlooker, who asked not to be named, said he had not been able to get home due to the fire.

He said: “I heard some kids had gone into the pub and started the fire.

“We were just walking up Wakefield Road and I could see a bit of smoke coming out, and when we got here there was a lot of smoke.

“When the firefighters got the doors opened the flames blew out of the doors.

“We live on the other side of Wakefield Road but we haven’t been able to get home because of the smoke.

“The pub’s been closed for about two of three years, but it used to be one of the best pubs in Bradford.

“We used to go all the time to watch the live bands. It used to have a carousel in the middle of the pub, inside, that’s why it is called The Gallopers. It always used to be absolutely packed all the time.”

The fire came less than a day before the building had been due to be demolished, and workers from Thomas Crompton demolition were at the scene on Friday.

A planning application to have the building demolished was approved by Bradford Council, but a separate application to regenerate the site, which included the building of a restaurant and four shops, was refused by the council early this week due to confusion over what the site would actually be used for and a number of other reasons.

The witness to the fire said that while it was sad to see his old haunt go up in smoke, as it had stood empty for more than two years it needed to be demolished.

He added: “If it’s not being used, then it would be better to see it knocked down and the land be put to good use.

“The plans which were refused would have been better than nothing. I wouldn’t mind a Tesco Express or a similar kind of convenience store built there, it would save us having to go up to the supermarket!”

The Gallopers was built in the 1970s and successfully hosted scores of live bands and music acts over the years, but in recent years it has gone into decline before closing permanently a few years ago.

Plans for a restaurant and four units were blocked by the Council due to confusion over whether the units would be used for industrial or retail purposes.

Council officers added there was insufficient parking space provided in the plans; they said the car park would have had to have been four times the proposed size in the plans.

The proposal of a restaurant also drew criticism from the planning office, which stated it would “result in significant harm to the comforts of nearby residential properties at unsociable hours”, and bin storage facilities were insufficient.