A POPULAR Carlisle bar has closed suddenly.

Moo Bar, in Devonshire Street, shut its doors on Monday after the building's landlord took back possession.

A dispute over unpaid rate has meant that Walton Goodland, acting for the landlord, took possession of the building, changing the locks to prevent Moo Bar staff returning.

A spokesman for the bar said it ran into difficulty at the end of 2015, when the owner became seriously ill.

He also cited a "significant theft" at another Moo Bar site and the December floods as having an impact on the company's trading.

The spokesman continued: "We, like many people and businesses in Carlisle, have suffered as a result of the Carlisle flooding.

"Most in the licensed trade rely on the Christmas trade to see us through the darker months.

"This Christmas, the trade didn’t happen and we saw our business eradicated to over 80 per cent down on the previous festive period."

Penrith businessman Nigel Tarn opened the Carlisle Moo Bar in 2014. He already had a bar in Penrith, which continues to trade.

The company is challenging the agent's right to take back the property, insisting it has tried to make payments "in good faith".

A number of musicians who performed in the bar over the weekend are understood to have left instruments and equipment in the building, which is now under lock and key.

The registered owner of the property, according to Land Registry records, is Sharman Anne Hepner, of Newton Mearns, Glasgow.

A spokesman for Walton Goodland confirmed that the landlord has "forfeited the lease and taken back possession of the property due to substantial arrears of rent".

He added: "Access arrangements for the recovery of possessions have been made available to the former tenant."