THE LANDLORD of the Dog and Partridge pub said he was seconds away from being killed after a Land Rover smashed into the building last night.

Neil Piper said a games machine that he was standing next to moments before the crash, was destroyed by the car — but luckily he had just gone outside for a cigarette.

The 34-year-old said: “Myself, my girlfriend and a member of staff would all be dead if we hadn’t literally just stepped outside for a cigarette before it happened — we are lucky to be alive.”

“I just can’t understand how it happened, it looks as though he didn’t even attempt to swerve or brake.”

The driver of the silver LandRover Discovery, a 41-year old man, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving after his car, which was believed to be travelling from the Kay Street area, ploughed into the vault room of the popular Manor Street pub at about 5.30pm.

​He is currently in police custody and as yet has not been charged.

Mr Piper said that after checking that the driver was ok, he and his staff made sure he remained in the pub until police arrived to question him.

He said: “He did try and bolt out of the pub at one stage but we told him he wasn’t going anywhere because we knew the police would need to speak to him.”

Fire crews were called to help secure the building and contractors were eventually able to free the car from the side of the pub.

Mr Piper, who has been the tenant at the pub for the past 14 years, said that he has been worried about the junction between Manor Street and Folds Road for some time.

He added: “Every winter since this junction came in I have been thinking something might happen because the road is too narrow and cars can slip on icy roads — we are really exposed on the corner.

“But I never imagined that someone would drive full-pelt into the pub.”

Mr Piper, who lives in the building, has had to temporarily move out, added: “I don’t know what will happen now or how long I will be homeless and jobless.”

The Dog and Partridge, which is a popular venue for live music, is owned by the Bluemantle Group as part of their Church Wharf sector.

Rob Bryson from Bluemantle said: “We can’t give any indication as to when the pub could open again at the moment, we are speaking to our insurers.

“The car actually landed exactly on a steel girder, which could possibly have saved the building, but we need to look properly at the damage that has been done.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester police said: "Shortly before 5.30pm police were called to the Dog and Partridge pub in Bolton town centre following reports of a collision.

"Officers attended and discovered a Landrover Discovery had collided with the building, causing extensive damage.

"A 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and remains in police custody."