THE shock closure of popular canalside pub has been described as 'extremely disappointing'.

Twelve employees are understood to be facing redundancy as The Inn on the Wharf in Burnley town centre closes its doors for the final time tomorrow.

The listed building, which is owned by Greene King and has operated for more than 20 years, has been bought by a London-based company.

It is believed the company intends to convert the building into apartments, although no planning application has yet been submitted.

Cllr Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council, a regular at the pub, said: "It is a real shame.

"The pub is in an important location and a really good position alongside the canal.

"I have used the pub regularly and it's a real pity it has not been successful enough to continue, although such is commercial life these days."

A statement by pub bosses posted online said bookings for the weekend would be honoured.

It added: "We regret to inform the Inn on the Wharf will be closing its doors on Sunday.

"The staff were not informed of its immediate closure until recently, so please be patient with them.

"We want to thank everyone who has had a beer with us, sat by the canal with us, shared your wedding or birthday with us or popped in for a meal with us."

Efforts are being made to find a new location for the pub quiz and also for the Pendle Jazzmen, who have played at the pub for several years.

Colin Mason, of the Pendle Jazzmen, said the band had only just played at the pub on Thursday.

He said: "It's a great shame because we enjoyed playing there, people enjoyed listening to us and became friends."

The pub has played a prominent role in the social life of Burnley over the years, playing host to countless celebrations and events. It is understood to have been sold two years ago before the deal fell through.

A spokesman for the Burnley Canal Festival, of which the pub was an integral part, said: "We are really sorry to heard that The Inn On The Wharf is closing this Sunday.

"What a shock. The Inn on the Wharf was an integral part of this year's Burnley Canal Festival, and has been every year since the festival began. "The visiting boaters much appreciated their welcome buffet last Friday, and were full of praise for the hospitality.

"We can't imagine the festival without the Inn.

"Grateful thanks from everyone connected with the festival to Peter and his team at the pub.

"We wish them all the best in whatever they do next."

Mark Briggs, the Lancashire Telegraph's beer expert said he was surprised to hear about the pub's imminent closure.

He said: "It has always been a popular pub, so I'm surprised.

"I suspect that this is happening because this is such a nice site to be used for flats.

"Unfortunately, though, it's another closed pub. Owners can make better use of this sort of site for residential purposes than as a social outlet."

Mr Briggs added: "It was not just a pub, although the beer has always been of good quality. It held meetings and functions."

On its website the pub outlines its varied seasonal attractions, stating: "The Inn on the Wharf has been a prominent feature on the canalside of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal for many years, boasting original wooden beams, open fires and the perfect pit-stop for a summer stroll along the canal.

"Our customers which moor outside The Wharf often stop in to enjoy a drink with the locals and catch some of the regular entertainment."

Chartered surveyor James A Baker is handling the sale from its Leeds office but no one was available for comment.