TWO years ago today one of Barrow’s most iconic buildings was turned into a blazing inferno.

Much of the town was filled with smoke and embers as a fire ripped through the House of Lords in Abbey Road.

A 999 call was made at 8.56pm by a passer-by who raced inside Bar Continental and ordered an evacuation after spotting the fire at the empty building next door.

From the moment firefighters arrived on the scene on that fateful night of January 11 it was immediately clear they had a major incident on their hands.

Residents were evacuated and at its peak more than 60 firefighters battled the blaze but with strong winds fanning the flames there was little anyone could do but try to control the fire.

As the sun rose the following morning Abbey Road was awash with foam as the pitiful shell of the listed building revealed itself.

The building is owned by former Barrow businessman Roger McKimm and it was hoped the insurance company would act quickly to preserve the remains.

However, almost 12 months after the fire, The Mail revealed the insurance company was disputing the building was covered under the policy.

A spokesperson for NIG told The Mail in December 2017 : "While we appreciate the public interest in restoring the building, following investigation into the fire, there are issues arising regarding policy cover and the matter is in the hands of legal advisors."

Neither NIG or Mr McKimm have confirmed the reason for the dispute but what is known is that the shell of the House of Lords has remained largely untouched since January 2017.

A fire investigation carried out by Cumbria Fire & Rescue revealed the exact cause of the fire could not be determined and that arson could not be ruled out.

The only work which has been carried out has been funded by Barrow Borough Council to make the area safe and to allow the road to fully re-open.

Legislation allows local authorities to make safe any structure if no action is taken by the owner.

Any expense can be recouped by a charge being placed on the property so if the money is not repaid by the owner the council can use legislation to force the sale of any assets to pay off debts.

Kevan Morrison from Barrow Borough Council's building control explained the authority was carrying out more work.

"The site has become open again and our Environmental Health department has instructed someone to re-secure the site," he said.

Since he gave his first, and only, interview with The Mail about the building its owner Roger McKimm has remained tight-lipped about its fate.

The last conversation The Mail had with Mr McKimm was two weeks after the fire.

He said he had not been involved in the running of the venue for a number of years.

He added: "We have no immediate plans to return to Barrow as we have a representative liaising with the relevant authorities."

Calls continue to be made for the building to be preserved.

Barrow author Alan Wilkinson has recently published a book about the building and described it as "the finest institute of its kind in the North of England".

"The future of the building is in the hands of the insurance company," he said.

"I would find it unlikely that the residents of the town would want rid of it and much prefer that it is rebuilt.

"The costs of which will be very expensive, of course. Where would the money come from?"

For now it seems we will have to continue to wait for any progress.