Berni Inn Function Room and Restaurant: Whitworth’s Hidden Gem

Berni Inn function room and wedding venue Whitworth

In 2012, Berni and her team opened the doors to a family-run steakhouse restaurant on Market Street in Whitworth. However, Berni quickly came to the realisation that the restaurant had far more potential. The spacious venue (which is located above a Fudge Factory, yum!) is in a great central location in Whitworth and has a large car park.

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One Year On, Two Awards, The Hub of the Community – Anna’s Cafe Bar

A RURAL village bar that has become the heart of a remote community celebrated its first anniversary by picking up a second business award.

In June 2018 when Anna Preece opened Anna’s Cafe Bar on Burnley Road, Weir, Bacup, she looked up and down the busy main road wondering if anyone would visit… and they did. By lunchtime the café was packed and after just eight weeks the business had already achieved the target Anna had set for six months.

The success continued and in November Anna’s was the ‘Invest in Rossendale’ award winner at Rossendale Business Awards, and now at the Rossendale Lifestyle Awards it picked up ‘Bar of the Year’.

Anna, 44, used to be a full-time mum, make soup and bake bread to sell locally and was a part-time copywriter. Now, along with her husband Dave, she is partner in the business, which has offered full and part-time employment to many in a village where there are few job opportunities.

She said: “At the Lifestyle Awards Councillor Sean Serridge was announcing the winner and as he used to live in the village until recently and visits here, I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if he presented the award to us.’ Then he did. It was such a strong category with so many great bars as finalists I didn’t think we would win it.”

Initially, Anna and Dave were looking to rent the premises, which used to be a shop, and had started the planning process only for the owners to announce they were selling to a third party. Anna said: “I was gutted, but then that fell through and we were offered the building and were able to raise the money to buy it. We got the deeds in February and the first thing I did was come in and start knocking walls down.”

Anna and Dave have two children Poppy, 15, and Huey, 12, and Anna said it has been important for them to understand that hard work reaps its own rewards. She said: “Before we opened I was worried about how it would go, but I sort of knew it was going to work. I always knew what I wanted to do with the building and had a vision, but this has become so much bigger.

“We are now a hub for the community to meet, socialise, get to know their neighbours and hold parties. We have also had a visitor come all the way from Leeds – how many cafes did he pass on his way just to come here?”

Meeting a real need in the remote village by providing a warm and welcoming place, has ensured Anna’s is packed every weekend and tables need to be booked in advance. Now Anna is considering an Anna’s 2 and possibly an Anna’s 3 in other areas, replicating the successful template of the Weir business.

She said: “These awards are as much for my team as they are absolutely key to Anna’s being as successful as it is. We knew we had high quality products, we only use high quality ingredients and everything is home-made, but the excellent service, welcome and making people feel comfortable is just as important as we want them to come back.”

Anna’s also gives back and has donated nearly £1,300 vouchers to charities and community groups since it opened.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Nine Days of Heritage Activities Across Rossendale

FROM Asian comedy, to a traditional carnival procession, dialect song and dance to a comedy night – the nine-day Rossendale Heritage Festival has something for everyone.

When it was realised that a number of heritage events were happening across Rossendale at the same time, organisers got together to see how they could work in unison to promote all the attractions and boost visitor numbers.

The result will be a hectic nine day festival starting on Saturday June 29 at 11am with an interactive storytelling session at Haslingden Library all about Ramadan. Eight days later it will conclude on Sunday July 7 at 6pm when the Larks of Dean Quire will sing historic Hymns at Goodshaw Chapel at the annual sermon.

Marketing and publicity officer at The Boo, in Waterfoot, Michelle Darwin said: “We have been working in partnership with all different venues all across Rossendale. We have Smash Bengali at The Whitaker in Rawtenstall at 6pm on Saturday June 29, he is a British Bengali YouTuber Hashu who fuses his two cultures in his own unique style of comedy.

“As part of the heritage festival there will also be two parades. The first being on Sunday June 30 to mark the Centenary of Bacup and Stacksteads Carnival which started with a Peace Procession in 1919, to celebrate the signing of the Armistice. Then on the penultimate day of the festival, Waterfoot Wakes procession will be held celebrating the traditional Wakes Holidays when mills would close and the workers would enjoy a week off work.”

The Wakes celebrations will be held in venues across Waterfoot from June 4-7 and include a ceilidh and a meal and comedy night, when the audience will dine at the Old Library Café, before attending a comedy night at The Boo to watch a preview of two Edinburgh Fringe acts. Two acoustic nights will be held – at Anna’s Café Bar in Weir on Monday July 1 and at The Whitaker on Wednesday July 3.

Also on the final weekend of the heritage festival a two-day Dialect-I-Fest celebration will be held at The Whitaker in Rawtenstall with stages inside the hall and in the park hosting live acts, music, song, dance and brass bands. Rosso has been asked to switch one of its service buses for a liveried bus for the duration of the festival.

At Bacup Natural History Society Museum an exhibition to mark 100 years of the town’s carnival opens this Saturday June 15 and will be on throughout the Heritage Festival until Sunday July 7. A Heritage Lottery Grant awarded to Community Assets Standing Tall, a charity seeking to have historical assets listed to ensure their preservation, has brought the festival together and helped to fund workshops.

Programmes listing all the events for the festival have been distributed across Rossendale and for more information log on to https://www.horseandbamboo.org/ or contact The Boo on 01706 220241.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Fantastic Fun Family Flowerpot Festival … returns

FANTASTIC flowerpot sculptures are set to adorn businesses, houses and streets around Bacup and beyond.

The zany celebration brings out the creative side in young and old and also encourages people to explore their neighbourhoods to see the spectacular displays which will be on show from summer to September.

Chairman of Bacup Pride Pat Smith said: “This is the third year that Bacup Pride has organised the festival and we are very grateful to our funders Reaps Moss Community Fund and also Newground for the use of premises. The grants enable free making workshops to be offered and we have a plentiful supply of plant pots for anyone who wants to make a sculpture.”

The first workshop was held at the Doals Centre in Weir and was a huge success. Now a whole series of workshops have been announced at the annexe across from Stubbylee Hall in Stubbylee Park.

The free making sessions will be on Thursdays June 13, 20 and 27 from 10am to 12 noon and also on Sundays June 16 and 23 from 1.30pm-4pm.

Making a sculpture is easier than you think and at all the making sessions there are helpers on hand who can assist with the creation.

Pat said: “The idea of having a flowerpot festival came about after visiting Settle and happening across their event. It was amazing to go round following the trail admiring all the different sculptures and seeing parts of Settle I never knew existed.

“We brought the idea back to Bacup and people loved getting involved in making and creating. We also saw lots of people and youth groups touring their town to check out the sculptures. Last year we had a rock star hanging off a house on New Line and then in the town centre a bride and groom were in the window of Icing on the Cake in Pioneer Buildings.

“On St James Street there were a series of sea creatures in the window of Beauty Culture and there was a lost little sheep in the gardens of Trinity Baptist Church on Market Street. The imagination people put into their flowerpot creations never ceases to amaze me and this year will be no exception.

“Please join in, please have a go and make sure you put your sculpture on display and fill in the form so we can include it in the trail.”

All the information on the making workshops will be on the Facebook page Bacup Flowerpot Festival.

Bacup Pride will be having a stall at Bacup and Stacksteads Centenary Carnival on Sunday June 30 in Moorlands Park where people can find out more about the event and the organisation. For an application form please email bacupride@gmail.com or call Pat on 07751 380 392.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Coffee Cafe Culture Comes to Bacup

Wendy and Stephen Middleton in 1832 Barista

SEEING the improvements that have been made in Bacup led to Stephen and Wendy Middleton to invest in bringing ‘coffee culture’ to the town.

They both have links with the town and decided to open 1832 Barista on St James Street because of the investment that has been made in new shop fronts and pavements as part of Rossendale Council’s £2M Townscape Heritage Initiative. Visitors to the coffee shop, which also offers a take-away service, are impressed with the changes to the former greengrocer’s shop and even though it only opened at the start of May, it has already built up regular customers.

Joiner Stephen said: “We spent eight weeks working 12 hours every day, including weekends, to renovate the inside. We took the walls back to the original stones and that revealed that the building used to be a gable end.

“We used old scaffolding boards to create the tables, a bar, shelves and worktops and when we removed the floor we discovered the old tiles around the door so preserved them. The finished interior looks exactly like I planned it to be.”

The busy barista on Bacup Community Weekend

They found a pre-decimal half-penny while renovating and decided to preserve it in the wall while it was being pointed.

Wendy used to work for an estate agent but was looking for a job that got her away from the desk. She said: “I like meeting people and everyone has been so welcoming and friendly since we opened. The reception we have had has been amazing and people are now using the Barista as a place to meet and chat. Many of the local traders have also been in to support us.

“We felt like people were passing Bacup by and we knew people who would travel down the Valley just to pick up a good coffee, now they can come to us. You can see the way Rawtenstall has been regenerated and I think the same thing will happen to Bacup; we wanted to be a part of that.

“There is a coffee culture in this country and as a family of coffee drinkers we wanted to bring that to Bacup.”

Stephen and Wendy said they hoped that because they had shown confidence in the town by opening a new business, it would encourage others to also invest in the town.

They called is 1832 because their deeds say that was when the building was constructed.

Acting Chairman of Bacup Townscape Heritage Initiative Councillor Jackie Oakes said: “I am delighted to see that Bacup has welcomed yet another fantastic new business. The town has been transformed in recent years thanks to the THI funding that Rossendale Council was able to secure; it has really made a vast improvement to the look of the town making it an attractive place for prospective businesses to invest in.

“The council also has a Bacup 2040 vision for the town and has made a bid to the Future High Street Fund to hopefully see that become a reality.”

by Catherine Smyth Media