Friday, 28 February 2020

Bowling Green, 97 Eskrick Street, Bolton

The Bowling Green pictured in September 2009, a couple of years before it closed. Copyright Google.

The Bowling Green was situated on Eskrick Street near the corner of Elgin Street.

The pub was in existence in the 1860s and the first evidence we have is when its bowling green was advertised in the local press. In those days it was part of the Halliwell township rather than Bolton.

A report in the Bolton Evening News of 16 December 1869 stated that the Bowling Green was the venue for a meeting of the Stanley Lodge of the Bolton Operative Conservative Association. The association was one of the first property constituted Conservative organisations in the country dating back to at least 1837. Indeed, the emergence of Operative Conservative Associations – first at Newton-le-Willows in 1832 and then throughout south Lancashire – saw the word 'conservative' adopted by what had traditionally been known as the Tory party. [Peterloo – The Case Re-Opened by Robert Walmsley, 1986].  Operative Conservative Associations tended to recruit factory workers, normally foremen of what may be termed as 'middle management' These were people whom the Tories saw as potential supporters even though the vast majority would not have had the vote. But in times where the lower orders were agitating for social change it kept an element of factory workers on their side. This 1869 meeting at the Bowling Green saw the presentation of a portrait of the late Earl Of Derby by Mr Edward Eskrick to the chairman and vice-chairman of the lodge.

In September 1875, a man was ordered to pay costs and sureties following an assault at the Bowling Green. Andrew Lowe, described as “a respectable looking man” of Halliwell, was accused of assaulting Matthias McDonna, a member of the Halliwell Local Board. McDonna has gone to the Bowling Green to meet a friend. He was only at the pub for a few minutes before Lowe approached him using foul language. McDonna replied: “You are a foul-mouthed man.” Lowe's response involved throwing a volley of punches to McDonna's face and head. In his defence Lowe claimed that McDonna had begun the exchange by calling into question his character on entering the pub. However, the magistrates found him guilty but decided against a custodial sentence. [Bolton Evening News, 2 September 1875].

In 1876 the pub, along with land used as its bowling green, was sold at an auction for £3719. That's the equivalent in 2019 of over £430,000. It was put up for auction again in 1882 but withdrawn before the sale could take place. It was sold again in 1890 when the purchasers were Magee, Marshall and Co. Magee's retained the pub until 1958 when the company was taken over by Greenall Whitley. However, supplies continued to be taken from their brewery at Cricket Street, off Derby Street, until its closure in 1970.

Bev Mortimer posted an image of the Bowling Green on Pinterest [see here]. She claimed that steps to the side of the pub led to a separate bar where you could buy a jug of ale presumably for off sales. This was a common feature in a number of pubs. The Prince Rupert had a similar arrangement and that was even the case at Yates's Wine Lodge on Bradshawgate until the 1980s. 

The pub's bowling green closed in the 1970s. Lock-up garages were initially built but they were replaced by new houses in the 1980s.

The Greater Manchester beer drinkers' monthly magazine What's Doing reported in its September 1987 issues that the Bowling Green was being transferred from Greenall's managed pub portfolio to a tenanted operation along with the Boars Head on Churchgate and the Cotton Tree on Prince Street. All three pubs were believed to be losing money. However, part of the deal with the Bowling Green was a refurbishment involving the installation of a hexagonal bar. The pub reopened in 1988 when this Bolton Evening News feature  reported that the new tenants were Allan and Lynn Fletcher. The Fletchers were to remain at the pub until around 2002 before moving on to the Dunscar Conservative Club. Their daughter Sharon Pendlebury posted on the I Belong To Bolton Facebook group that her dog Bowler used to come downstairs at the end of each evening with his favourite toy for everyone to throw around.

Greenalls got out of brewing in 1991. It then got out of the pub business in 1999 with the sale of its tenanted pubs to Japanese bank Nomura. Its managed pub division was bought by Scottish and Newcastle.

The Bowling Green was eventually sold on again to Punch Taverns. The pub closed in 2011 and was de-licenced in 2012. The building was converted to an Islamic centre and is unrecognisable from its previous existence. Compare the photo below from 2018 with that at the top of the page.

Copyright Google

Monday, 24 February 2020

Peacock Inn, 137 Great Moor Street, Bolton

The Peacock was situated at 137 Great Moor Street, just a few doors up from the junction with Crook Street and on the block leading up towards Motive Street.

The pub dated back to the 1830s and the first mention we have is in 1840 when a meeting was advertised to take place on vacant land to the rear of the pub – roughly where the Aldi supermarket now stands. The meeting was called by Chartists who wished to petition Queen Victoria to give a pardon to rioters jailed following a recent disturbance in the town. However, John Robertshaw, who owned the land, gave instructions that under no circumstances could the meeting be held there. After five hours, the Chartists met in the dark on land opposite the nearby Britannia [Manchester Courier, 15 February 1840]

By 1841, George Holden is listed as the licensee but his tenure was drawing to a close and on the list of Great Bolton alehouses for 1849, William Rostron was in charge. His name is given as Rawsthorn on the 1861 census.

By 1871 the pub was run by Isaac Turner. He was 67 years old and was assisted by his daughter Sarah Jones and her husband Thomas. Like many who have entered the licensed trade before and since, Isaac’s background was in another vocation. He was a handloom weaver in Cannon Street in 1841 and by 1851 he was working as a yarn dealer in Back Blackburn Street. Blackburn Street was the portion of Deane Road closest to the town centre. By 1881, Isaac was retired and was living with his son in Ralph Street, Halliwell.

The Peacock was auctioned in 1875. The pub, brewhouse and a cottage to the rear of the pub in Edgar Street realised a total of £700. [Bolton Evening News 23 March 1875]. Two years later the new owner, Henry Franks, put in an application to make alterations to the premises. However, the plan was turned down by the planning committee who called in the sanitation committee over the condition of the yard and back premises of the pub. [Bolton Evening News, 23 June 1877].

In 1882 the Peacock was threatened with closure. Licensee John Miller had been fined 40 shillings plus costs for keeping the Peacock open outside permitted hours and also for permitting drunkenness. Later that year, at the annual licensing hearing known as the Brewster Sessions, the police objected to the pub's licence because of that infringement and only an appeal enabled it to remain open.

In 1885, there was a court case featuring two former landlords. Henry Franks left the licensed trade to become an upholsterer. The pub – by then owned by Atkinson's brewery based not far away on Commission Street - was rented to Henry Blackburn for a sum of £32 a year up to 12 May 1885 and £38 a year thereafter. Franks took £25 from Blackburn in respect of fixtures and fittings. It was this sum that Blackburn was claiming back from Franks in the court case. He claimed to have been told by Franks that the pub sold three or barrels of beer whereas in fact it was only selling one barrel every ten days. Blackburn also claimed it was frequented by “very low characters”. [Bolton Evening News, 19 August 1885]. The court threw out his claim.

The Peacock was run for a number of years by the Knowles family. Samuel Knowles was the licensee by 1891 and he lived at the pub with his wife Margaret and two adult children, Faith and John. Knowles had both worked in the cotton industry. Samuel Knowles died in 1898 and Margaret took over assisted by John who also worked in a nearby ironworks. She died in 1912. But in 1905, Mrs Knowles appeared in court over the alleged sale of alcohol to a child under the age of 14. To support their case the prosecution called the child's mother, Bridget Everon, who said she'd recently had a conversation about the child with Mrs Knowles in which she told the pub landlady that she had been informed by the council that the child – a girl - must remain in school until she was 14. She was still 13. Mrs Knowles denied the conversation and claimed she couldn't tell that the girl was under the age of 14. The magistrates accepted her plea and the case was dismissed. [Bolton Evening News, 20 July 1905]

It was around this time that the Peacock was bought by Groves and Whitnall. Based on Regent Road, Salford, the brewery expanded out of its traditional base and bought a large number of pubs from 1898 onwards. Around £12,000 was spent buying suitable public houses between 1898 and 1900 alone. The Peacock was obviously seen as suitable if only to give the brewery a presence in Bolton. It was a small pub – not much bigger than a shop and in the middle of a terrace.

But the Peacock was to only last as long as Groves did. The Salford brewery was taken over by Greenall Whitley in 1961 – the same year the Peacock became a fully-licensed pub. Greenalls closed the former Groves and Whitnall brewery in 1971. The Peacock closed in 1973. Along with a number of properties in the area it was demolished and the extension to Trinity Street was constructed in its place. The exact site of the pub is the traffic island in the middle of the main road at the lights outside Aldi (see below).

Great Moor Street used to continue down to the left of Hargreaves House all the way down to Bradshawgate. The construction of Trinity Way led to the truncation of Great Moor Street and the demolition of a number of properties. The construction of  the original Sainsbury's store (now Mecca Bingo) in 1990 further truncated Great Moor Street. This image was taken in June 2018 and is copyright Google Street View.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Flying Flute - Maxim's - Fleece Hotel, 26-28 Bradshawgate, Bolton

Gaiety Bar Flying Flute Bolton lost pubs of Bolton

The Flying Flute – formerly Maxim's and the Gaiety Bar – was originally known as the Fleece Hotel. The pub dated back to the 18th century and is named on the Bolton licensing list for 1778 when Francis Wryley was the landlord. However, an article in the Bolton Evening News at the time of a refurbishment in 1972 claimed there was a pub named the Star once on the site before the Fleece.

The current building is at least the second and may well have been the third. The present building is listed and its entry can be seen here

For over 40 years in the nineteenth century Thomas Telford was the landlord. Telford began his working life as a coachman but turned to the somewhat saner career of running a pub in the early 1830s.

Under Telford's stewardship the Fleece became a regular meeting point for lodges of the Independent Order of Foresters. He was treasurer of the Bolton district for over 25 years as well as of the Bolton branch of the Amalgamated Engineers Society.

However, Telford was also a controversial character. In September 1841 he was accused of the manslaughter of Charles Wilcock of Bridge Street at the Millstone on Crown Street. The Millstone had an upstairs concert room with singers and variety acts playing on a nightly basis. In 1841 it was run by Telford's nephew Samuel Horrocks. On the night in question Wilcock was sitting at a table near the concert room's piano but he began to make noises to the annoyance of some of the other patrons. After twice being warned he was told by Telford that he would be taken out. “You'll have to eat more porridge then,” a witness claimed Wilcock said. Telford grabbed Wilcock and took him down five steps to a landing that led to a dozen further steps that led to the ground floor. Some witnesses claimed Telford pushed Wilcock down the steps. However, at least two people claimed Wilcock lost his footing and that caused him to fall to the bottom. He died the following day of his injuries and Telford was immediately arrested. The verdict certainly wasn't unanimous. A jury of 17 men found him not guilty of manslaughter and instead returned a verdict of accidental death. One of the dissenters was a local vicar, the Reverend William Jones who proclaimed to the other jurors: “Before I would have returned such a verdict I would have eaten my breeches.” [Bolton Chronicle, 4 September 1841].

In 1850, Telford was back in court following a burglary at the pub. However, the burglar was none other than his 15-year-old son, also named Thomas Telford. Thomas senior testified that the youth had been so troublesome he was no longer allowed to live at the house. Telford junior got into the pub and stole a saw, a plane and some copper nails and sold them to a pawnbroker named Charles Nuttall. The youth chose to be sentenced by magistrates rather than committed for trial. He was sentenced to spend a month at the New Bailey prison in Manchester and was whipped.[Bolton Chronicle, 20 November 1850].

Thomas Telford ran the Fleece until 1863. He retired to Bridgeman Street where he lived until he committed suicide in May 1870. He had been in some pain after suffering from bronchitis and edema for upwards of four months. In the early hours of Sunday 15 May one of his daughters told him the rest of the family were going to bed. Five minutes later when she went back in to his bedroom she discovered he had slit his throat.

Telford was succeeded at the Fleece by John Ward who moved from the Royal Hotel, Derby Street. Prior to that he was a quilt and skirt manufacturer. Ward fancied himself as something of a poet and his ads for the Fleece in the Bolton Evening News often took the form of a rhyme with topical news items inter-weaved with a promotion for the pub. Here was his New Year ad that appeared in the Bolton Evening News of 30 December 1868.

Welcome to 1869

War seems to be threatened by Turkey and Greece
The progress of peace to retard,
Yet all is “serene” at the Bradshawgate “Fleece,”
The hostel of Mr JOHN WARD
The season's arrived when a good Christmas cheer,
Is alike strongly courted by all;
Then from those who would seek choicest Spirits or Beer,
JOHN WARD would solicit a call
His house is improved at enormous expense,
His patrons' favours to gain,
And he promises that, in return for their pence,
They shall not spend their money in vain.

The “Fleece” Inn, Bradshawgate.

Like his predecessor, Ward had problems with one of his offspring. He placed an ad in the Bolton Chronicle of 15 September 1866 warning readers that he would no longer be responsible for debts incurred by his 16-year-old son James.

Ward was one of a number of pub landlords to dabble in politics and was defeated as Conservative candidate for the Bradford ward seat on Bolton council on one occasion.

He died suddenly in December 1874 and was succeeded by his widow. She retired in 1876.

In 1877, the Fleece was sold for £5050. At the same auction the Golden Lion on Churchgate went for £3000. The purchaser of both pubs was Joseph Sharman, a local brewer who had moved from the Crompton's Monument pub on Mill Hill Street to a purpose-built brewery close to Mere Hall. Sharman had begun to build up a local tied estate and the purchase of the Fleece and the Golden Lion, two prominent long-established pubs in the centre of town, was a feather in his cap.

Three years later, Sharman converted his business to a limited company, Joseph Sharman and Co Ltd. The brewery, beer stores in Green Street in the town centre and 10 pubs were to be transferred from his own name to the limited company. Sharman received £25,000 in cash plus 200 shares worth £35 each. Apart from the Fleece and the Golden Lion, the other pubs were:

Mount Pleasant, Mill Street 
Queens Arms, Deansgate
Nelson, Chorley Old Road 
Mount Street Arms, Mount Street 
Elephant and Castle, Kay Street 
Lawsons Arms, Sharples
Rising Sun, Churchbank 
British Oak, Union Street. 

Of those ten pubs, the Nelson – built 1861 - and the much older Golden Lion (now the Churchgate) are still open. The Lawsons Arms is now the Three Pigeons but has been closed since 2011 pending a refurbishment.

Joseph Sharman was also the licensee of the Fleece for a short time and he introduced American billiards to the pub in 1880.

The Fleece was rebuilt in 1907. Whether this was the first or second time isn't known. However, the Manchester Courier ran a classified ad on 8 November 1879 offering the pub 'to let'. It claimed the pub had recently been rebuilt but it gives a good description of how the Fleece looked at that time:

“...contains modern vaults, bar parlours, clubrooms, billiard-room (with two tables), excellent dormitories and every convenience for carrying on the commercial and general trade.”

The 1907 rebuild came as the result of a long-standing plan by Bolton Council to widen Bradshawgate as it approached the junction with Deansgate. This involved the demolition of a number of properties - including the Fleece - and rebuilding them further back.

The pub was demolished in 1907. On 3 September that year the Bolton Evening News ran an advert for an auction being held by local auctioneers Thomas Crompton and Son whose Fold Street rooms were situated close to the Fleece. Over two days Crompton's auctioned off not only the fixtures and fittings of the pub but also the brickwork, the window frames, the plate glass windows and the doors.

While the new Fleece was being rebuilt, trade continued in a small wooden hut. This was offered for sale at Christmas 1910 by which time the new building was complete.

The Fleece remained a Sharman's pub until 1927 when it was acquired by the Leigh brewery of George Shaw & Co. It changed hands again when Shaw's were taken over by Walker Cain of Liverpool in 1930 and became a Tetley Walker pub when that company was formed in 1961.

Derek Sheffield claims on the I Belong To Bolton Facebook group that the pub was nicknamed 'The American Embassy' in the forties. 

However, it was also famed as being frequented by prostitutes. The 'ladies of the Fleece' were notorious even as late as the 1950s.

In 1972, the Fleece had its biggest refurbishment in decades. By now it was owned by Tetley Walker and they decided it needed a new name - the Gaiety Bar.

BOLTON'S newest night-spot, with the old-world atmosphere, the Gaiety Bar, Bradshawgate, opens tonight. Tetley's brewery have scrubbed the exterior and re-built the interior of the former Fleece Hotel to create a pub with an authentic Victorian atmosphere. There has been a pub on the site for well over 100 years, and this is the third name which has been used on the premises. Before the Fleece, the pub on the Ship Gates corner of Bradshawgate, was called The Star. - Bolton Evening News, 20 July 1972.

Towards the end of the seventies the upstairs bar began to put on gigs, particularly on a Thursday when it hosted many local bands. Issues 2  and 3  of local music magazine Town Hall Steps shows that Kaches, JG Spoils, The Reporters, Watt 4, Really Big Men, Warrior, Cliche, Apencil, The Autoze and Night Train were among the acts down to play in the summer of 1981. The gigs continued right up to April 1983 when the Gaiety closed for refurbishment.

Tetley's decided to sell the Gaiety Bar and in May 1980 it became the first pub in Bolton to be owned by the Sunderland-based Vaux Brewery. [What's Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers' monthly magazine, June 1980 issue). The regional brewer was a major force on Wearside; however, it had few pubs in the north-west of England. Vaux saw the Gaiety as their flagship pub in the region and before long they revealed plans for a major refurbishment. A three-week renovation took place in the summer of 1983 and it reopened as Maxim's in June of that year having been knocked into two shops on the same row, one of which was Howard's tobacconist. The name evoked images of Maxim's restaurant in Paris, regarded as the best restaurant in the world for much of the twentieth century. However, the name is more likely to have come from one of Vaux's products, the bottled beer Double Maxim. What's Doing of August 1983 pointed out that the Vaux Samson Ale cost 70 pence a pint when the pub re-opened. That made Maxim's one of the most expensive pubs in the town although 70p in 1983 equates to just £2.30 in 2019.

Maxim's was one of the first pubs in Bolton to gain a permanent licence extension in 1986 when it was granted permission to remain open until 1am. [Bolton Beer Break, Spring 1986 edition].

Five years later, Maxim's underwent another refurbishment involving a four-week closure. [Bolton Beer Break, Spring 1988 issue]. Later that it year it became a Ward's pub although that simply meant a transfer to another part of the Vaux empire, Ward's Brewery being the company's Sheffield subsidiary.

In the summer of 1989 Maxim's hours extension was under threat after licensing officers claimed that food was not for sale. Having hot food on sale was a condition for late opening for pubs and clubs. Often it extended to nothing more than a hatch selling hot dogs and burgers, but the July 1989 edition of What's Doing claimed Maxim's, Maxwell's Plum and the Trotters were all at risk of losing their extensions. All three pubs successfully kept their licensing hours.

Vaux were taken over by financiers in 1999 following a bitter battle that resulted in the brewery being closed. Maxim's became a seventies bar for a short while, Tiger Feet, before changing its name to the Flying Flute.

From 2007 until 2012 the upstairs room operated as Kico playing indie and alternative music until its closure.

The Flying Flute was initially put up for sale in 2014. However, there were no takers and the owners quietly closed it down in November 2017. The building was sold to a company called Raisfuel Ltd whose accounts for the year to 30 April 2018 showed that it paid £336,638 for the property.

In October 2018, it was reported that Raisfuel sought planning permission  to convert the premises into seven maisonettes and one bedsit upstairs with three commercial units on the ground floor. Permission was granted in March 2019 and by the end of that year the three units were being offered to let.

Flying Flute Bolton lost pubs of bolton
The Flying Flute pictured in April 2017, just over six months before it closed. Copyright Google.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Churchgate Tavern, 33 Churchgate, Bolton

This pub is not the current Churchgate pub situated at 11-13 Churchgate and which was previously known as the Brass Cat, the Bears Paw and the Golden Lion.

A 1975 image of the Sandwich Inn. The left-hand side of the premises was number 33 Churchgate, the site of the former Churchgate Tavern. Image copyright Bolton Council.

This was the Churchgate Tavern situated at number 33 Churchgate next door to what is now the Pastie Shoppe and just a few doors up from the Boars Head (now Hogarth's). 

The pub lasted for just a few years in the 1850s and 1860s but it became notorious largely because of its licensees, George Smethurst and Isabella Dewhurst.

Born Isabella Walker in 1828 at Coverdale in the Yorkshire Dales, by 1841 Isabella and her older sister Margaret were living at Oakenbottom, Breightmet after their mother Jane had married a coal miner, Jonathan Shaw.

In December 1849, Isabella married Thomas Dewhurst, a Little Lever-born stonemason, and by 1851 the couple were living at 36 Back Turton Street. He was 27, she was 22.

Quite how Isabella Dewhurst got involved in the pub business isn’t clear, but while it was a career that lasted little more than a decade it became very profitable for her. However, any fortune is unlikely to have been made through the sale of beer.

George Smethurst and Isabella Dewhurst opened the Churchgate Tavern around 1853. Although the 1861 census states Isabella Dewhurst was married it is obvious her relationship with Thomas Dewhurst was at an end. Instead, she was living at the pub with the 33-year-old Smethurst along with a servant girl and two female lodgers.

Smethurst was charged with perjury in December 1859 following a case in which he was initially charged with staying open late. He had already been charged with illegal hours a couple of weeks earlier but a lack of evidence resulted in the charges were dropped on that occasion. This time a man named Nicholas Heyes, who owned 33 Churchgate and was the landlord of the Wellington beerhouse,  Union Buildings, was in the Churchgate when police arrived in the early hours of one Saturday morning just before Christmas. Heyes claimed he was there to see Smethurst having been to Manchester with someone who was claimed to be Smethurst's wife but was actually Isabella Dewhurst. The pair had been to look at a property he was thinking of buying and he wished to discuss the matter with Smethurst. The other people in the pub at the time were a female servant, a male lodger and a female lodger. Heyes claimed to have arrived at the Churchgate with 'Mrs Smethurst' some time between 11 and 11.30pm. However, the case turned on the evidence of a senior police officer, PC Holgate, who claimed he was at the pub at a quarter to eleven that night and saw Smethurst's wife there some time before Heyes claimed the pair had returned from Manchester. [Bolton Chronicle, 24 December 1859 and 31 December 1859]. Smethurst, Heyes, the female servant and female lodger were all sent for trial. But when the case came to trial at the South Lancashire Assizes at Liverpool in April 1860 no evidence was presented and the case was dismissed.

In July 1860, Isabella Dewhurst appeared in court accusing a beerseller from Radcliffe named Wright Jones of stealing £100 in gold sovereigns from her along with a gold watch. Mrs Dewhurst claimed she hadn't lived with her husband for nine years but had lived with Smethurst for the past seven years. She stated that she had a little money before she moved in with Smethurst but unbeknownst to him she had saved £100 – the equivalent today of around £12,000. How she had managed to save all that money wasn't explained. She did say that on the day in question, Smethurst had been drinking all day and left the Churchgate, but she was worried that he may find the £100 so she and Jones went to the bank to deposit the coins. The bank was closed so they went to two pubs: Holden's Vaults (the Higher Nag's Head) and the Three Crowns. Mrs Dewhurst went to the water closet – the toilet – and on her return her watch and the bag of money had gone – as had Wright Jones. An off-duty police officer, Thomas Chadwick, was in the Three Crowns and suggested that the money had gone missing in one of three places: either in the pub or during Mrs Dewhurst's journey to or from the toilet. She was described in the Bolton Chronicle's report of the case on 7 July 1860 as “a notorious woman” and when she was asked in court as to whether she had previously been charged with running a brothel she managed to avoid giving a straight answer. Perhaps her reputation went before her as the case against Jones was dismissed.

George Smethurst killed himself by hanging in March 1863. His relationship with Isabella Dewhurst had disintegrated largely due to his alcoholism. He had issued threats against her on a number of occasions and her stepfather Jonathan Shaw had moved in with her to offer some sort of protection.

In June 1863 Isabella Dewhurst was in court once again, this time alongside Edward Gordon who was said to come from a respectable family in Stockport. The pair were summoned for having acted in the management of “a house of ill-fame” [Bolton Chronicle 13 June 1863] on Churchgate – the Churchgate Tavern. The charge was only avoided when their representative pointed out that Gordon was due to report for duty with the Cheshire yeomanry the following morning or he would suffer a fine of £10. If the summons was withdrawn Gordon would undertake to ensure that the premises would be run properly and the magistrates agreed.

In 1866 the Churchgate was sold by Nicholas Heyes along with an adjoining cottage occupied by Isabella Dewhurst and shortly afterwards she moved to the Music Tavern on Gaskell Court off Churchgate. The pub no longer exists although Gaskell Court can still be seen. 

Later that decade, in 1869, Mrs Dewhurst testified at the London divorce court in the case of James Hardman, whose father was a well-known manufacturer in Bolton. Hardman had already obtained a decree nisi on the grounds of his wife’s adultery, but Mrs Dewhurst was one of a string of witnesses who claimed that he, too, was an adulterer. She claimed he had stayed for two nights at the Churchgate Tavern in 1865 with a young woman.

With the sale of 33 Churchgate, the Churchgate Tavern closed down. In 1870 it was occupied by a “painter and paper hanger” named William Goodwin and it later became a confectioners and a temperance bar. It was bought by the Sabini family in the 1930s and it was under their ownership that it is perhaps best remembered. The Sabinis later bought the property next door – number 35 – and sold ice cream alongside soft drinks. Dorina Sabini and her brother Bruno worked at the premises all their lives and it became the Sandwich Inn in 1970 two years after Dorina married Peter Green. The Sandwich Inn closed in December 2002 when Peter, Dorina and Bruno all retired. [Bolton Evening News, 9 June 2003.  Retrieved 15 October 2019]. It was converted into offices.

A youth named Jabez Ratcliffe was in custody in Monday, at the Sessions Room, Bolton, on the charge of stealing on the 23rd June two pairs of boots and during the night of 5th inst 14 shillings from a drawer in the house of his father Richard Ratcliffe in Lever-lane, Little Lever....During the Wednesday night....the prisoner took 14 shillings from a drawer in his father's house. Afterwards the robbery of the two pairs of boots was discovered; the prisoner had sold them to Mary Curran, a dealer in the Market Hall for 8 shillings. Police-sergeant Henderson succeeded in recovering one pair of boots. The prisoner had spent the night after he took the 14 shillings, at Isabella Dewhurst's beerhouse and brothel, Churchgate The prisoner was committed for trial." - Bolton Chronicle, 16 July 1864.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

McCauleys, 77-83 Bradshawgate, Bolton

McCauley's pictured in 2012. Copyright Google.

Long-standing pubs tend to be the ones that are most missed. More recent conversions to public houses – or 'bars' – are rarely remembered with any affection. McCauley's was one such pub.

McCauley's was situated on 77-83 Bradshawgate in premises that were at one time one of UCP's tripe restaurants and later an Italian restaurant.

Earlier than that, one part of the premises was used as a pub. The Bus Drivers Inn was situated at 77 Bradshawgate – McCauley's entrance – from around the 1860s until it lost its licence in 1883.

The 1905 Bolton directory showed that 79 Bradshawgate was occupied by John Robert Horrocks who was described as a 'tripe dealer. By 1924 the premises were owned by Vose & Son, a branch of United Cattle Product Ltd. Voses's were described as 'tripe dressers'. The outlet at 79 Bradshawgate was handy as it was just yards away from the company's tripe works on Silverwell Lane.

Vose's later joined forces with a number of other tripe shops and restaurants to form United Cattle Products. At its height in the fifties, UCP had no fewer than 146 shops across the north-west of England, mainly in Lancashire. The building at 79 Bradshawgate was remodelled in an art deco style in the 1930s that makes it stand out even now amidst the old and the new on that side of the street, The inside of the restaurant -as seen here and here made it one of UCP's swankiest and many a wedding meal was held there. However, tastes changed and tripe became less popular as the country moved out of post-war austerity.

79 Bradshawgate pictured in 1960 as one of Vose's UCP restaurants

In 1980 the premises became the Pizzeria Sorrento before changing its name to the Pizzeria Toscana in 1983. The distinctive raised circular sign was installed at that time. It initially contained the name of the establishment with letters laid out around the circle. However, it changed from red to green depending on whether the restaurant was open.

In 2003, the owner of the Pizzeria Toscana received the proverbial offer he couldn't refuse. The restaurant, along with the adjoining branch of Motorist Discount Centre, were converted into McCauley's which opened in December of that year and described at the time as an 'upmarket' town-centre 'bar'. The sign was retained when McCauley's opened with the name Pizzeria Toscana replaced by a single, large letter M.

However, events took a predictable turn. Time after time 'upmarket' bars in Bolton have ended up as run-of-the-mill dumps, simply because there has never been the money in the town to pay the prices those outlets charge. McCauley's was no different. It quickly became a run-down town-centre boozer and was soon popular with those who need a drink at ten o'clock in the morning. In the evenings and weekends it continued to try and appeal to the younger end of the market.

A large-scale brawl at the club at 6.30 on the morning of Sunday 14 May 2017 sealed McCauley's fate. Up to 75 people were involved in the fight which began after a dispute with door staff but which spilled out on to Bradshawgate. The Bolton News reported  that no attempt was made by door staff to break up the fight. Three people were arrested and the pub's licence was temporarily suspended.

At a hearing in June 2017 the council's licensing sub-committee heard that drugs were an ongoing problem McCauley's. A bag of white powder was once found in the manager's office.

Sub-committee chairman Martin Donaghy said:

"The sub-committee felt that, despite the steps proposed by the licence holder, they had serious concerns about the existing management of the premises and could not rely on assurances given that future incidents of serious disorder would be effectively prevented or managed accordingly."

McCauley's manager Lisa Bowyer had tried to keep the pub open. She said she had taken "extreme measures" since the licence was suspended to rectify the ongoing issues, including hiring a new security firm and health and safety adviser.

She added that she had made "terrible decisions", some of which were down to fear of the drug-dealing ring associated with the pub and threats made to her family.

McCauley's didn't reopen after the incident on that Sunday morning in May 2017. The premises remain empty.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Sunray Hotel, 74 Mill Street, Bolton

Sunray Hotel Mill Street Bolton site of
This motor dealer workshop marks the site of the Sunray Hotel. The original pub was situated between Bare Street and Barlow Street; however, Barlow Street disappeared when the area was redeveloped in the seventies. Image taken June 2018. Copyright Google.

The Sunray Hotel was situated on Mill Street, not far from the Bare Street Mission.

The pub was originally known as the Weavers Arms and was in existence by 1847 although the only evidence we have for that it when it came to a licence renewal in 1869, landlord John Hill claimed to have been at the pub for 22 years. [Bolton Evening News, 17 September 1869]. Police objected to the licence at that hearing with Sergeant Whittle and PC Dearden claiming men had been known to act suspiciously in the vicinity of the pub and had heard them call for beer. There was a suspicion on the part of the police that these men acted as lookout scouts for illegal opening, probably on a Sunday morning. There was also a grate which might afford facilities for the illegal sale of beer. That there were three other beerhouses in the immediate vicinity also counted against the Weavers. While the magistrates initially ruled against Hill he was successful in an appeal and regained his licence later that same year.

The Weavers Arms changed its name to the Sunray Hotel in the 1870s.

In 1880 the pub was one of six raided in a betting scandal. On Sunday 17 October 1880 around 60 officers were despatched to the Oliver Cromwell on Bridgeman Street, the Kay Street Arms  and the Black Horse  both on Kay Street, the Ancient Shepherd on Bold Street and the Turk's Head on Bridge Street. Officers were placed at each entrance of the six pubs to prevent anybody from leaving. Other officers entered the pubs and took away betting books, papers, lists and telegrams. Among the publications found were the Sporting Life and McColl's Turf Calendar. Sixty men were arrested and the Sunray's landlord Thomas Vickers was found with £10 on him – a huge sum in those days. The men were taken to the town hall where a large crowd of people gathered and remained until midnight.

When the came case to court at the end of October, Detective Peter Howcroft related how he went to the Sunray Hotel at just before eight o'clock on the evening of 17 October. He found various betting books on Vickers, while the cash was discovered when he was brought to the town hall. Detective Howcroft claimed Sunday was the settling night for the Cesarewitch, a race that had been run a day or two previously. He stated that when he arrived at the pub and warned Vickers he had a warrant, Vickers sajd: “I hope you'll not be hard with me; it is a hard job and if you go in other houses of the town you would have found more in.” When Vickers was searched at the police station the £10 was found on him. However, no evidence was found on other men arrested at the Sunray. Perhaps none of them had won, but the bench, led by the Mayor Of Bolton, Alderman Richardson, decided that there was no evidence linking Vickers with betting. The case was thrown out to much applause from the public gallery.

The Sunray was owned by the Crown Brewery of Bury. It lasted until 1907 when its licence was objected to on the grounds that it was not required for the wants of the neighbourhood. Six other pubs suffered a similar fate: the Coach and Horses, Deansgate; the Prince Of Wales, Paley Street; the Nailmakers Arms, Folds Road; the Queens Arms, Deansgate and the Sir Colin Campbell, Folds Road. 

The pub remained empty for a while. The following year three men were arrested after being seen entering the building and leaving with a sack filled with 40 pounds of lead flashing, torn off the washing boiler. One of the men, John Kervin of Barlow Street – the next street to the Sunray – claimed he had bought the lead from a woman in Little Lever. The three pleaded guilty and were committed to the Quarter Sessions. [Bolton Evening News 17 February 1908]

The Sunray was converted to a house. An engineer named Walter Thomson occupied the premises in 1924.

The Mill Hill area was cleared in the 1970s. The former Sunray Hotel was demolished along with Barlow Street. A workshop belonging to a local Audi dealership now stands on the site. The Bare Street Mission building still survives although it hasn't been used for some years. In 2017, Henry Lisowski took a number of photos for the I Belong To Bolton Facebook group showing the inside of the abandoned building.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Tramways Hotel, 307 Blackburn Road, Bolton

Tramways Hotel pictured in October 2018. Copyright Google.

On 31 August 1880, Her Majesty's Inspector Of The Board Of Trade, Major-General Hutchinson, joined the Mayor of Bolton, Alderman Richardson, the Town Clerk, Mr Hinnell and the chairman of the Astley Bridge local board, Major-General Hesketh and a number of other local dignitaries on a horse-drawn tramcar driven by a Mr John Metcalf that had pulled up outside the Town Hall. The tram made its way along Newport Street and headed for Moses Gate. It then returned back to Bolton where the three horses at the front of the car were replaced by four for the journey on the remainder of what was Bolton's new tram network. Crowds gathered on all aspects of the route on what was a test run for the town's new transport network.

As the tram made its way towards the border that marked the border with Astley Bridge – then a separate township – it passed a building under construction on the site of an old beerhouse and butcher's shop and which would be named the Tramways Hotel in honour of this new mode of public transport.

Six days earlier on 25 August 1880, Thomas Morris, who had been granted a provisional licence the previous year, agreed to give notice for its confirmation on 30 September. By early November 1880 the Tramways was open. The pub was aimed both at billiards players and at hotel guests who wanted to stay within reasonable distance of Bolton without the bustle of town centre. The full licence of the Red Lion, Deansgate had been transferred to the Tramways and the pub had managed to gain a billiards licence. It employed James Craven, formerly of the Balmoral Hotel, as a marker. Craven marked when, in February 1881, Walter Grundy took on Herbert Wortley in a game billed as the championship of Bolton. Wortley was suffering from a cold and was no match for Grundy who won by 1000 to 397.

While Thomas Morris had applied for the licence of the Tramways he was neither the owner or the licensee. By the time the pub opened James Atkinson was the landlord. Born in Wigan in 1835, Atkinson was a brickmaker by trade and owned the Tanners Hole brickworks in Great Lever close to what is now the junction of Settle Street and Nugent Road. He had also turned his hand to property development and along with Robert Horridge, Barnard Henry and James Holden had formed the Great Lever Building Company. He was living in Sidney Street, off Bridgeman Street, in 1861 and by 1871 he was living with his wife Margaret at Woodside Terrace, Rishton Lane. He was a successful Liberal candidate for the election to the Bolton Board Of Guardians in 1876.

However, all was not well. In an advertisement in the Bolton Evening News of 26 November – little more than a year after the Tramways opened, Atkinson filed for bankruptcy with debts estimated at £4500 – the equivalent of over £500,000 today. This suggests Atkinson, perhaps with some of his partners, built the Tramways but in doing so he perhaps over-stretched himself. In January 1882 the licence of the pub was transferred to one of his business partners, Robert Horridge.

In March 1891, a former self-actor minder named Peter Thompson of no fixed address was found dying in the middle of Blackburn Road outside the Tramways. At his inquest it was heard that the 37-year-old Thompson hadn't worked for some 12 or 13 years but made small sums of money singing or dancing at pubs. When he was found his clothes were saturated with rain and he was helplessly drunk. Any attempts to obtain a name or address out of him elicited the response that he was “the champion singer and clog dancer of Farnworth”. A doctor was called for but Thompson died before medical help arrived [Bolton Evening News, 31 March 1891].

The Tramways remained a sporting pub. Bolton Harriers often started some of their inter-club matches outside the pub. The North End Angling Society were certainly meeting there in 1908 and around that time there is mention of a Tramways in the fixtures for the Bolton Wednesday Football League for 1908 playing against the likes of Market Hall, Farnworth Wednesday and Pawnbrokers. However, this may well have been employees of the local tramways department rather than the pub's customers.

There was unwelcome attention for the Tramways in 1905 when Herbert Taylor, a 22-year-old labourer, was accused of taking bets in the vicinity of the pub and its yard. He was fined £3.

The Tramways became a Magee's house before becoming a Greenalls pub in 1958 on their takeover of Magee's Crown Brewery.

The pub was sold by Greenall's in 1988. It remains licensed premises and there is a bar on site but it is no longer a pub. It has been run for a number of years as a guesthouse/bed-and-breakfast.