Reopening of Southampton's Talking Heads may be delayed after fire

Daily Echo: The fire at Talking Heads The fire at Talking Heads

ARSONISTS are being blamed for a blaze that could force plans to reopen a popular Southampton live music venue to be put on hold.

Fire crews were called to the Talking Heads after neighbours spotted flames leaping 20 feet into the air from the rear of the property.

The new owners hoped the pub would open its doors to punters again next month, just three months after it was feared it had closed for good.

As reported in the Daily Echo, more than 4,000 people backed a campaign to save the Portswood Road venue in January, before two city businessmen stepped in to take on the lease.

After time refurbishing the 260-capacity pub to bring it up to scratch, they had only just confirmed the reopening night would be on Friday, April 13.

But one of the duo, Martin White yesterday admitted that much-anticipated date may now have to be put back because of Tuesday night’s blaze, which started in a pile of furniture left next to the back door, but quickly spread to the flat roof of the pub.

Fire crews from St Mary’s and Hightown spent nearly four hours at the scene after being called at 11.20pm by a neighbour who spotted flames leaping from the pub.

Firefighters used breathing apparatus to get inside smoke-filled building to check it was empty.

Mr White, 53, who teaches live event production at Southampton Solent University, said firefighters managed to stop the blaze causing any serious structural damage.

He told the Daily Echo: “It’s a bit of a mess, but it’s not anything that can’t be fixed.

“We’re very lucky. They reckon another 10 or 15 minutes it would have got hold and could have been very serious.

“We were steaming ahead, well on time, but I really don’t know what will happen now. There might be some damage we can’t see.

“It’s feasible we’ll still open on time, but it might have to be put back a week at most.

“It hasn’t spoiled morale though, and we’ve already had people offering to help clear it up.

“Someone stacked stuff against the back wall, near the door. That’s not how it was left, so it’s blatantly obvious it was deliberate.

“We’re totally baffled as to who would do it, or why.”

Police cordoned off the scene yesterday as specialist fire investigators from Hampshire’s arson task force examined the scene in the hunt for clues as to how the blaze started.

Mr White and his school friend business partner Guy Benfield, 54, an archaeology student at the University of Southamp-ton, have been carrying our remedial and refurbishment work including renovating the toilets and beer cellar, ahead of their planned reopening next month featuring four local bands.

Over the years the Talking Heads has hosted acts including The Script, The Damned, Juliette Lewis, The New York Dolls and Southampton-based trio Band Of Skulls.

Comments (9)

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7:20pm Thu 29 Mar 12

melodie says...

Friday 13th!! Maybe they should of made it Thursday 12th or Saturday 14th??
Friday 13th!! Maybe they should of made it Thursday 12th or Saturday 14th?? melodie
  • Score: 0

7:51pm Thu 29 Mar 12

bully0046 says...

Funny really, the red lion in Totton got burnt down, now there are housing going to be built, now the same happens here, conspiracy in the making....
Funny really, the red lion in Totton got burnt down, now there are housing going to be built, now the same happens here, conspiracy in the making.... bully0046
  • Score: 0

8:58pm Thu 29 Mar 12

Stillness says...

Well at the end of the day Portswood could do with a few more flats and a few less pubs.
Well at the end of the day Portswood could do with a few more flats and a few less pubs. Stillness
  • Score: 0

10:51pm Thu 29 Mar 12

J.P.M says...

Anyone smell a rat???
Anyone smell a rat??? J.P.M
  • Score: 0

10:59pm Thu 29 Mar 12

Georgem says...

Amazing. Apparently, no pub has ever burnt down without it being an insurance job. What a weird fact.
Amazing. Apparently, no pub has ever burnt down without it being an insurance job. What a weird fact. Georgem
  • Score: 0

6:52am Fri 30 Mar 12

Brite Spark says...

A fire?
In a pub?
Never!
A fire? In a pub? Never! Brite Spark
  • Score: 0

8:07am Fri 30 Mar 12

Higginz says...

I'd like to add my misinformed and unrequired conjecture if I may. I reckon it was a local resident taking their opportunity to close the place forever.
I'd like to add my misinformed and unrequired conjecture if I may. I reckon it was a local resident taking their opportunity to close the place forever. Higginz
  • Score: 0

10:33am Fri 30 Mar 12

The Music Man says...

^ Idiots.

The new people have already invested loads of cash and the place has been transformed. They've booked up gigs for the rest of the year.

They've been working their butts off for the last 8 weeks to sort the place out - the last thing they needed is a fire. To suggest it's an insurance job is just silly.

The good news is that they're still on target for re-opening on Friday 13th April and are now working twice as hard to make sure they do. If you want to go down and help, I'm sure they'd appreciate it - you may even get a free pint when they reopen.
^ Idiots. The new people have already invested loads of cash and the place has been transformed. They've booked up gigs for the rest of the year. They've been working their butts off for the last 8 weeks to sort the place out - the last thing they needed is a fire. To suggest it's an insurance job is just silly. The good news is that they're still on target for re-opening on Friday 13th April and are now working twice as hard to make sure they do. If you want to go down and help, I'm sure they'd appreciate it - you may even get a free pint when they reopen. The Music Man
  • Score: 0

12:22pm Fri 30 Mar 12

loosehead says...

I wish them all the best.
bands ( playing instruments) don't have much of an outlet when they're starting out.
Xfactor,BGTalent or the voice do not cater for young up & coming bands hopefully this venue will.
Cowell bangs on about the Great British music history we have well yes it was the 60's sound which was bands so if that's what this venues about great.
we need one in Shirley as well
I wish them all the best. bands ( playing instruments) don't have much of an outlet when they're starting out. Xfactor,BGTalent or the voice do not cater for young up & coming bands hopefully this venue will. Cowell bangs on about the Great British music history we have well yes it was the 60's sound which was bands so if that's what this venues about great. we need one in Shirley as well loosehead
  • Score: 0

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