Reading club with rocky past to open with new name

The closed Neighbourhood club in Friar Street – once called Matchbox – is set to reopen as a ‘Spirit Bar’, with company owners wanting the party to go on until 2.30am over the weekend.

Spirit Bar Ltd wants to sell alcoholic and soft drinks and hold events there.

There is one other Spirit Bar located in Oxford City Centre, which is branded as a cocktail bar and party venue.

Its website states: “Born out of a love of fun, we deliver vibrant and delicious cocktails, the best beats and good vibes only.”

The location has a chequered past as a popular nightclub spot. The club has had several rebrands, one of which was Matchbox – a space which closed down during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Earlier that year, the operators faced a licensing review called on by Thames Valley Police after several brawls and the death of Malcolm Callender, who died after a ‘game of slaps’ with his son led to him incurring a fatal head injury in April 2019.

And in December of that year, a brawl between two groups of men took place at Matchbox, which led to chairs being thrown and a fight spilling onto Friar Street according to a police report.

Ultimately, the operators of Matchbox called Big Smoke were able to keep the licence to sell alcohol and host DJs, but had to close earlier at 1.30am Thursday to Saturday and 12.30am on Sunday to Wednesday.

At a licensing meeting in January 2020, the operators announced plans to reopen it as a craft brewery bar called The Corner.

However, that name was dropped in favour of the Neighbourhood bar & kitchen, which opened that summer but has since closed.

Now Spirit Bar is set to occupy the club. In order for staff to sell alcohol and have DJ events, the company requires a premises licence from Reading Borough Council.

In full, Spirit Bar Ltd has applied to provide regulated entertainment such as DJs, sell alcohol and late night refreshment from 11am to 2am  Monday to Wednesday, 11am to 2.30am on Thursday to Saturday and 11am to 2am on Sundays.

You can comment on the application by emailing .

The closing date for representations is Friday, November 17.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre