THE last remaining club in Bradford’s once-thriving West End is to close its doors tonight.

Flares, at the top of Morley Street, has managed to weather the storm of high-profile closures in recent years, but will shut up shop after a final party this weekend.

Many in Bradford will remember the glory days of the West End, when the area was packed with clubs and nighttime spots, from Che Bar, Revolution and Love Apple, to Walkabout, Livingstone’s, Tokyo, Brewhaus, Bierkeller and The Sir Titus Salt Wetherspoons pub.


But it’s a scene which has vastly changed, leaving forlorn-looking, empty buildings as a sad reminder of what once was.

Jason Courcoux, who has been general manager of the venue since 2012, has seen the West End change in the seven years he has been at the helm and says Flares is the last club standing.

He said: “It was still very vibrant, the area was busy and there was a hell of a lot of trade on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“The demographics of everywhere has changed slightly. It has changed around again because there’s quite a lot of new openings on the Ivegate area, with Sunbridgewells.

“It just seems it has moved areas, but this was initially all built and purposely earmarked for the late night economy, which is a shame it has all gone, because we’ve got the Odeon [Bradford Live] in the next two years, so it’s just not going to have that kind of late night support that it should have.We’ve seen every venue, one by one, close.”

Jason said there were hopes of it coming back when some new venues like Brewhaus, Bierkeller and Tiki-O opened, but they too shut up shop.

In an interview with the Telegraph & Argus earlier this year, Aaron Mellor, who ran the three venues as part of his Tokyo Industries chain, described trading in Bradford as “impossible” due to rating levels.

At the time he said: “The city is clinging onto hopes that a miracle investment of incredible proportion in the Odeon will save the city - it won’t.”

Jason says a lot of work has gone into trying to make the area work, but it hasn’t seemed to have taken off.

“I have been involved with some meetings with Alex Ross-Shaw, Richard Dunbar, Susan Hinchcliffe, who are all supportive of the late night trade – it’s not anything they’ve done or the Council, it’s just how the area has gone,” he said.

“We’ve still remained pretty consistent, we’ve still got a nice Friday and Saturday crowd, so it’s still ticking over. It’s a shame to see it go – I hope whoever takes it on next runs it as a late-night venue.

“I’m hoping the Odeon will turn things around slightly, but whether or not anything will come back to the West End, I’m not sure.

“Since Che Bar went to Life Church and there’s now talk of what was Walkabout being a church as well, it seems the use of the area is going to be completely different.

“Everyone earmarks it and says ‘oh it’s Bradford’ – it’s the country, it’s nationwide.

“There’s certain towns and cities that do thrive still, and there’s some that have either not kept up the pace or the momentum, or the demographic has changed.”

He added: “Let’s hope the Council teams, the NEC teams, have all got enough in place to reinvigorate the area and give it that drive. We’re hoping the Odeon will give it that injection it needs.”

The club will be open tonight for one last nostalgic knees-up before the music stops and the disco ball stops spinning for good.

Ian Ward, chairman of Bradford BID, said: “It’s always sad to see a venue close and we hope a beneficial new use for this building can be found soon. One of the BID’s key objectives is to help improve the night-time economy and we want to see more entertainment, leisure and hospitality venues opening to help bring the city to life for both residents and the visitors who help boost the local economy.

“City centres are going through a period of unprecedented change, with a whole raft of new commercial challenges, and we have to learn to adapt to fluctuating trends and be fleet of foot in responding to them.

“While some venues may have closed, the BID has been pleased to see others open in areas such as Ivegate, Sunbridgewells and North Parade, for instance, and we should embrace these periods of change as exciting opportunities to remodel the city’s offer and deliver what people want to see now.”

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council's Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “Obviously it’s sad to hear that Flares has closed down and it’s clear the West End area of the city centre is undergoing a number of changes at the moment.

Although the old clubs are gone there are new organisations coming in such as the trampoline and soft play park, Airobounce."

Cllr Ross Shaw said with Bradford Live there is a "huge opportunity" for the area to regenerate.

"We’re doing a lot of work analysing what those opportunities might look like so we can work with potential end users to get the West End filled and buzzing again.” 

Trevor Higgins, CEO of Bradford Breakthrough, added: "The West End of Bradford has had many ups and downs through the years. I remember way back in the seventies it had a thriving night life scene and it has had several periods of rise and fall since then.

"Now would be a great time for the area to take off once again. The city centre night scene is on the up with North Parade and Sunbridge Wells, due to their unique offerings, attracting visitors from across the region. The revitalisation of the West End would be yet another piece in the city centre redevelopment jigsaw."