|The Grand Theatre, Churchgate, a possible site for the Fisherman's Hut|
The Fisherman's Hut was short-lived pub situated on Churchgate. Whereabouts on Churchgate has not exactly been ascertained.
The pub doesn't appear on the list of licenced premises for 1849 but it was in existence by the beginning of 1851. On 4 January that year, the Bolton Chronicle reported that John O'Neil was sent to prison for a month over the theft of money from Robert Ramsden. The two men were in each other's company at the pub one Thursday morning and Ramsden offered to buy a round of drinks. He took out his purse and, as he was already drunk, O'Neil helped put the purse back in to Ramsden's pocket. However, he was seen by Richard Marriot, who was also present, to take something out of the purse. When challenged he threw two half-crown coins on to the floor. The case hinged on Marriot's evidence. Ramsden was not only too drunk to remember the incident but he was still too drunk to give evidence in court two days' later.
The Fisherman's Hut was let to William Sanderson in 1853. Sanderson was born in Warrington in 1803. He was a cabinet-maker by trade but he already had some experience of appearing in front of the magistrates. In 1845 he had been fined 5 shillings and ordered to pay 14 shillings costs after he committed an indecent assault on a woman named Mrs Seddon on Great Moor Street and “exposing his person before her” [Bolton Chronicle, 24 May 1845]. He was also fined 5 shillings in 1851 but this time for selling goods on Bradshawgate at a place not appointed for market purposes. In those days Bradshawgate was around 16 feet more narrow than today and traders would line the street with their wares often causing what can only be described as a nineteenth century traffic jam. Even so, his 5 shilling fine was the same as he received for an indecent assault. Such inconsistencies were not uncommon in Victorian times.
By 1851 Sanderson was living in lodgings near Shipgates, but he entered the pub trade shortly afterwards and took over the tap room of the Ship Inn on Bradshawgate. Tap rooms were often like a pub within a pub. They aimed at a lower class of customer than the main rooms and were only reached by a separate entrance. The bar now known as Barristers on Bradshawgate was the tap room of the Swan Hotel in the 19th century and for much of the 20th century.
Sanderson was back in front of the magistrates again after taking over at the Fisherman's Hut. In January 1855 he was found guilty of “harbouring bad company and prostitutes” at his pub and fined 20 shillings plus costs.
He was back in court again in January 1856 this time accused of a much more serious offence. In September 1855 a carter named Roger Walsh was followed from Oxford Street into Old Hall Street by three men. He was attacked and his cart robbed but his cries attracted the attention of a number of passers-by and the three men were eventually arrested for the robbery. One of the men was William Sanderson's son John. A week before the case came to trial Daniel Seddon, a horse dealer, went to Tottington where Walsh was living and brought him to the Fisherman's Hut. Sanderson was accused of offering Walsh £3 if he withdrew his evidence against John Sanderson and it was alleged he sent Walsh away to Liverpool for the duration of the trial. William Sanderson and Daniel Seddon were later arrested and charged with dissuading and preventing a witness bound over from giving evidence. Walsh's failure to appear in court meant the case against John Sanderson and the other two men collapsed. However, a warrant was out for Walsh's arrest and after he returned to the area he gave police information leading them to William Sanderson and Daniel Seddon. Sanderson and Seddon were sent for trial at the assizes in Liverpool; however, no evidence was offered against them and they were set free. Seven years later, John Sanderson was charged with stealing a looking glass from his father's shop in Bank Street. The report at the time [Bolton Chronicle, 31 January 1863] pointed out that he had three convictions against him and had spent a total of six years in jail. Despite William Sanderson's plea for leniency John Sanderson was jailed for three months.
William Sanderson's time at the Fisherman's Hut came to an end in the summer of 1856. Jane McCann, “a young woman of immoral habits” according to the Bolton Chronicle of 16 August that year, was accused of stealing 5 shillings from John Warbrick, whose company she had kept one afternoon at the pub. Warbrick fell asleep but he was awoke by a young man who asked him if he was missing anything. He put his hand in his pocket and found that his money had gone. He told a police officer but when Jane McCann was arrested no money was found on her. The case was dismissed and Warbrick was advised by magistrates to keep better company.
However, the police used the case to take the opportunity to bring William Sanderson to court once again and he was charged with “keeping a house of ill fame.” John Warbrick and two police officers were called as witnesses. Sanderson was found guilty and fined 10 shillings with 18 shillings costs. Later that month, the pub was up to let. William Sanderson moved to 6-8 Bank Street where he worked as a beerseller and cabinet maker. The Fisherman's Hut limped on for a couple more years and after being advertised to let once again in January 1858 it disappears from the records.
There is no indication as to where the Fisherman's Hut was situated on Churchgate. However, just as the pub closed in 1858 another pub, the Concert Tavern, opened at 28 Churchgate. Given that most of the drinking establishments on Churchgate were long-established public houses not many beerhouses came and went. It could be that licensee Thomas Worsley simply took over the Fisherman's Hut and renamed it the Concert in a bid to disassociate it from its past. The Concert lasted until 1908 when it closed and was incorporated into the entrance of the revamped Grand Theatre.
"James Simpson was brought up for taking a basket from the beerhouse of William Sanderson, Churchgate, on Tuesday night. He had had some drink and stated to the magistrates that he had been asleep and was “duzzy” and that he did not intend to steal the article. The complainant had got the basket and was satisfied. The prisoner was discharged." - Bolton Chronicle, 4 February 1854.