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Chorley’s new coffee and wine bar in ambitious RBS bank conversion

Written by on July 11, 2020

For Lee Mossop, the coronavirus pandemic has seen him focus on matters off the rugby league pitch.

With Super League suspended until August, the Cumbrian rugby league prop has spent time honing two of his business ventures in Chorley and Wigan.

The Salford Red Devils captain, who crafted his career at Wigan Warriors before earning a move to the NRL in Australia, is now itching to open a new coffee and wine bar in the rural Chorley village of Croston.

A similar project is being undertaken in Pemberton, Wigan, with both venues taking over former RBS branches that closed in 2019.

“I did this before all of the pandemic happened,” Lee told LancsLive.

“With Croston, we did that way back in August last year. We’re now just having issues getting planning permission with the council.

“It’s such a beautiful little village. I’d like to think it’s my niche, this.

“You have your Costa and Starbucks on retail parks but my family and I like going out and visiting little niche villages and having a coffee there. Obviously, Croston fits that perfectly.

“It’s a lovely little village and doesn’t really have an out and out coffee shop and wine bar like we’re going to bring. We wont serve much food it’ll be mainly quality coffee, snacks, cakes. Then at night we’ll open it up into a wine bar to wind down.”

Lee Mossop training with the England national rugby league team (Image: Getty)

The 31-year-old, who started his playing career at Hensingham ARLFC in his hometown of Whitehaven, already has one coffee shop and wine bar to his name in The Old Bank at Orrell, Wigan.

His passionate for the projects came after spending a year playing rugby league in Australia, joining Sydney club Parramatta Eels in 2014 from Wigan.

Lee said: “We spent a year in Australia and it’s their culture down there. They have almost rejected the chains for independent coffee houses. The Old Bank came up and it was right on our doorstep and we made it our little business on the side.

“It’s made Orrell nicer and hopefully it will Croston too.”

The Croston coffee house and wine bar is taking over the former RBS in Town Road, with plans to use the first floor as a function room only for private events including christenings and birthdays.

Lee and his team have spent months restoring the former bank’s original brickwork and high ceilings.

“I’ve restored all that and it’s cost quite a bit but in the long run it will be beautiful,” he said.

Plans for the Croston coffee house had to be tinkered following feedback from Chorley Borough Council, with plans re-lodged in late June.

It hopes to open from 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am until 11pm Saturday, and 10am until 10pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Three full-time jobs will be created in the village.

“The feedback from the public has been unbelievable,” Lee said.

“We know we want to open straightaway if possible. We originally wanted it open before Christmas last year but it’s still going on.

“Pemberton is the same, the sooner the better. It was really run down when we took over, we’ve had that for about nine months.”

Both business ventures, as well as The Old Bank, have been hit by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown with all hospitality venues forced to close from March 23 until July 4. The Old Bank has since reopened after being given the go-ahead by the government.

“We’re such good friends with our staff so when furlough come out that meant a lot to us,” Lee said.

“And it’s been a very stressful time with rugby league. It’s no secret that all the players have had to take big salary cuts.

“I’m still having to pay council rates when these places are sitting empty. I’m just up for a bit of normality now. I think everyone is.”

Lee is currently signed with Salford Red Devils until 2022 and has arguably been playing his best rugby during his time with the Red Devils, spearheading the club’s first Grand Final appearance in 2019.

As for what awaits once his playing days are over, he said: “I’m really unsure about what I want to do when I finish. I’ve got into this because it’s what we like to do.”