Pullman Lodge owner promises bookings will be honoured as Sunderland seafront pub returns after liquidation

Seamus Whelan at the time The Pullman Lodge reopened.
Seamus Whelan at the time The Pullman Lodge reopened.
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The owner of a landmark Sunderland seafront venue which went into liquidation has vowed all bookings will be honoured after starting a new firm to run the premises.

Customers were left worried after the company which owns the Pullman Lodge in Seaburn went into liquidation on Tuesday.

But director Seamus Whelan has promised all bookings at the famous train pub will be honoured and the venue will continue to operate after setting up a new company to run the Pullman.

"All our functions will be honoured," said Mr Whelan. "We're actually in a better financial position than we have been previously."

It is the second time Mr Whelan has brought the Pullman Lodge back from liquidation.

He was one of a number of directors at Rosalind Leisure, which took over a five-year lease from owners Sunderland City Council in December 2013.

The company re-opened the derelict venue in stages with the hotel, the Platform 5 bar, the function room and Carriages tea rooms.

But the firm went into liquidation in December 2015 amid spiraling costs of renovation. The financial problems meant restaurant bookings could not be honoured and people were turning up at the venue only to find it closed.

Mr Whelan then formed Signal Box Hotel Limited with fellow former Rosalind director Simon Burdus, and the Pullman reopened in March last year.

Mr Burdus is understood to have left the company in October, leaving Mr Whelan as sole director.

The company ran into difficulty in January this year, when utility firm Corona Energy Retail 5 Limited filed a petition to make Signal Box insolvent, setting a deadline of February 1 for Mr Whelan's company to resolve the outstanding debt situation.

Mr Whelan said he was forced to put the firm into liquidation after being unable to negotiate with the creditor.

"We were advised to go into voluntary liquidation as we weren't able to reach an agreement with them," he said.

"Doing this has meant we are able to honour our bookings, as I didn't want anyone to be let down."

A new company, Pullman Lodge Hotel Limited, has been set up to run the venue.

Mr Whelan said the Pullman's main body of staff were employed on a casual basis to work when functions were booked, so jobs were not affected by the liquidation.