An abandoned martial arts dojo has been demolished after a fire broke out and caused its roof to cave in over the weekend.

The former Gouldings Martial Arts building on St Germain Street, Farnworth, has long sparked safety fears after lying vacant for the last two years.

These concerns came to a head on the afternoon of Saturday March 16 when the building went up in flames, causing the roof to cave in and adding force to calls to redevelop the space.

Cllr Champak Mistry, of Farnworth South, said: “That building has had fires previously, people have complained about it, and we have raised the issue several times.

“It’s long overdue for demolition, as I understand a planning application has gone through and I think its certainly right that it should go through.”

He added: “That’s the best way forward for it, the building has served its purpose and so it really is the right thing for this to happen.”

The blaze broke out at around 4.30pm on Saturday with four fire engines from Farnworth, Bolton Central and Atherton fire stations called to the scene.

Using three hose jet reels and a turntable ladder from Bolton Central Fire Station, they were able to bring the blaze under control that same afternoon.

But people living nearby said that this was the latest in a series of fires that have hit the building, vacant since Gouldings Martial Arts moved to its new home on King Street two years ago.

The Bolton News: The blaze broke out on St Germain Street, FarnworthThe blaze broke out on St Germain Street, Farnworth (Image: Angela Seddon)

Carol Denton, a St Germain Street resident for more than a decade, said she had known “four or five” small fires to have broken out in the last two years.

But she said this seemed even worse than usual after her daughter saw the roof of the building collapse.

She said:  “That's when it really sort of, it was like a woosh going up, everything went up, the flames just jumped up.

"They were practically as tall as the trees.

“It was really, really bad. I've never seen it that bad. It was scary, it was scary.”

Speaking after the blaze was put out, Ms Denton said: “They’ve only been small fires, the fire brigade have come and been here for about 20 minutes to half an hour and then they’ve gone.

“Once or twice, they’ve had to come back because it’s all gone up again.

“But this time, they’re still here. It’s still really bad, there’s still smoke around.”

Angela Seddon, who has lived on the street for 28 years, said this was the fourth fire she could remember breaking out at the building in recent years.

She said: “We’ve actually been told that there are apartments built there, planning permission has gone in.

"So, hopefully that happens soon to stop all this.”

On Monday, Bolton Council confirmed that what was left of the building had been demolished.

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A spokesperson said: “Council officers attended the scene and worked closely with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service over the weekend.

“We co-ordinated the attendance of our demolition contractor, as well as the safe demolition of the building which had become dangerous as a result of the fire.”

The plans referred to by Cllr Mistry will, if approved, see the old martial arts centre demolished and a new block of flats built on the site.

The block will be made up of  36 new homes, a mix of one and two bedroom flats. 

But after last week’s fire the demolition has now come ahead of schedule.

Bolton Council is set to decide whether or not to approve the plan for the flats by April this year.