AS the final touches are put to a cocktail bar at the Custom House we take a look at 20 years of change at one of Barrow’s oldest and most distinctive buildings.

Since last August Liam Quigley has been investing in a major upgrade at the Victorian venue on the corner of Abbey Road and Hindpool Road - with the latest phase being the conversion of the One Restaurant into Cherry’s.

A chapter closed in the long history of the Custom House back in 1999 as the last pints were pulled at what was then the St Mary’s Club.”.

The Mail, on Monday, February 1, noted: "Once barrels of bonded Caribbean rum worth a fortune were stored behind heavy wooden doors in its cellars.”

The century-old club had been at the Custom House for 48 years, and was disbanding.

The article noted: “Nearly 130 members of the club were holding a merry wake on Saturday night to wind up the club.

"The club was linked to St Mary's Church on Duke Street where many of its members worship, but church authorities which owned the building decided to sell it off.”

Club treasurer Tony Lydon said: "The original doors that the rum was kept behind are still in the cellars.

"We are proud to have been custodians of one of Barrow's oldest and most historic buildings."

Chairman Eddie Tomanski said: "It is a shame that it's closing, because it's a friendly club and we've always made strangers welcome.

Bo Bent provided the entertainment on the final night and ended with American Trilogy.

The Custom House is said to have started life under the name of the Imperial Hotel in 1867 but failed as a business venture and was sold in 1872 - becoming a post office and customs base.

The former social club quickly became a place to have a meal, enjoy refreshments, hold a party for youngsters, or sample lazer-style entertainment, as former Glaxo production director Rob Rollings and his careers adviser wife Zo took over.

By October 2002 the finishing touches were being put to a £180,000 investment in a new Lazer Zone at the Custom House where players paid £3 to zap each other in a maze-like arena which was to be open from 10am to 10pm.

In 2002 the venue also had a Net Zone cyber café where you could surf the internet for £3 an hour.

An article in July 2009, as the couple looked forward to their 10 th anniversary at the venue, noted that they had served 500,000 meals since opening on November 28 in 1999.

The venue had also served 330,000 coffees and run more than 4,000 children’s parties.