A DERELICT pub just outside the town centre has been set alight in a suspected arson attack.

Fire crews were scrambled to The Cattle Market in Orlando Street at 2.17am this morning after the fire broke out in a back room attached to the main building.

Firefighters said the blaze was well alight when they arrived, although nobody was hurt.

The Cattle Market, which closed early last year, is understood to be owned by Aishmany LLP, who have already served the council with notice of their intention to demolish the building, before erecting a six-storey office block in its place.

Firefighters spent about an hour tackling the blaze and Bolton Central crew manager Dave Barnett said the fire could have been intentionally lit.

He said: "One of the back rooms, where it looked as though glasses and barrels used to be kept. was well alight when we arrived.

“We had a big jet on it for an hour or so. The pub was wide open when we arrived and a few of the boards on windows were missing.

"The fire has got out of control It is not safe for people to go breaking into boarded-up buildings."

Police said they were not called to the scene, however, and no investigation has yet been started.

Bolton Council was not asked to go to the pub but it has been notified that the owners propose to demolish the building.

Aishmany LLP, based on the Mikar Business Park in Northolt Drive, Bolton, submitted a demolition notice to Bolton Council, and the council responded on July 31, listing conditions.

Planning permission was given on August 21 for the pub to be turned into an office block, complete with retail and restaurant outlets and on-site parking.

The owner of neighbouring business AA Performance, who asked not to be named, said he believed the Cattle Market was due to be knocked down on September 8.

He added that the fire set off the alarm on his premises at about 2.30am.

Mr Barnett added that he believes the building’s demolition is being brought forward as a result of the fire.

The Cattle Market is thought to date back to the 1860s and was originally known as The Spotted Cow.

It was a popular pre-match hostelry for Bolton Wanderers fans when the club was based at Burnden Park.

It shut early last year.