A TROUBLE-HIT Abingdon gin bar may never reopen following the discovery of asbestos in the basement.

The Old Chemist opened at Easter in High Street on the site of the former Smith’s chemists.

But during work to install a rest room in the basement a potentially dangerous type of asbestos was found and the building has now been shut down, according to the owners.

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Co-owner Terry Milne said: “The business was ticking along and in December work took place to provide a rest room and ensuite toilet in the basement.

“A sub-contractor got suspicious about asbestos and some samples were sent off.

“It’s all in the basement but it’s potentially dangerous so the building is sealed off and the Health and Safety Executive has been informed.”

Mr Milne added that the bar may never reopen, with the owners suffering financial losses as a result.

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He added: “It has been one problem after another. We had to spend about £40,000 because of pigeons and now this - it’s been never-ending.

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“I don’t think the bar will ever reopen - we are consulting our lawyers.”

The first few months for the gin bar were not trouble-free for the owners and in July they let their customers know on Facebook that they would be closed for the foreseeable future after two of the managers walked out.

Then in September after a new manager was appointed the bar opened again.

Inhaled asbestos fibres aggravate lung tissues, which cause them to scar.

Asbestosis is a serious scarring condition of the lung that normally occurs after heavy exposure to asbestos over many years.

Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling.

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This condition can cause progressive shortness of breath, and in severe cases can be fatal.

The Old Chemist is rated two out of five on reviews site TripAdvisor and is ranked #75 out of 78 restaurants in Abingdon.

One drinker last month enjoyed his visit, saying: “A really nice bar area and very welcoming staff it has some really cool booths with power and USB points.”

But other reviewers have left less positive reviews.

Ellie S referred to ‘awful drinks and awful service’ following a visit in September.

She wrote: “I ordered a Sex On The Beach and was given a watered down drink that looked and tasted vile.

“Said we wouldn’t come back and the bar staff scoffed at us and walked away.

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“Walked past today and the place was shut for ‘staff improvements’. Needed to say the least!”

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The owners said they did not know how long it would be before a final decision could be taken on reopening the bar.

Another reviewer said in October: “The last few times I have passed The Old Chemist on weekdays it is shut.

“We dropped in last night as they were open for once.”

No one from the Health and Safety Executive has yet responded.

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The Tipsy Mercer bar on the opposite side of the street has won good reviews.

It opened in March last year.