A FORMER pub is to serve shoppers instead of pints, in a change which will see new life breathed into a traditional club.
The Phoenix, on Stockton Road, Seaham, is to be transformed into a Tesco Express, creating 20 new jobs.
The handover of the building to the major supermarket chain has allowed landlord Dave Pinder to take over The Knack, in nearby Eastlea Road.
The publican, who is working with business partner Trevor Mitchell on the project, had been keen to take over the venue for some time.
Now they have been granted a premises licence for the club, and are moving forward with improvements which will cement its place in the town’s history.
Dave, who finished trading at the Phoenix last month after seven years, said: “This place could have gone one of two ways, knocked down and turned into flats or boarded up and left to become derelict.
“We’re going to bring it back to life, keep the venue traditional and to club standards.
“It’s an important part of the community. We’ve got the facilities and it’ll be open doors.
“At the moment, we have got people going out of the area to the Glebe Centre and others because there’s no real places for them.
“There’s nothing like a building of this size in the town any more.
“They’ve lost the Vane Tempest, which was a real loss for people, and Dawdon Club.”
The club will change its name from New Seaham Workingmen’s Club to New Seaham Sports and Social Club, but Dave added: “It will always be known as The Knack.”
Tesco took possession of the Phoenix on Monday and contractors are due to begin work ahead of its opening in May.
The Knack was bought after it went into receivership under its last bosses.
A handful of people had objected to the new licence application but issues were resolved through mediation, which allowed the businessmen to explain the late licence until midnight would only be used for weekend functions.
In addition to general improvements to the club, which was founded in 1907 as a social club for the nearby Seaham Colliery, a wall will be dedicated to the building’s history.
Club prices will remain, with the bar to enter the dominoes league and host pub games once again.
The function suite will be available for hire for free and open to community groups to host their meetings and women are now allowed in all its rooms.
The smoking area is to be moved to the rear of the property to reduce disturbance to residents.