|The Bowling Green pictured in September 2009, a couple of years before it closed. Copyright Google.|
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 It was put up for auction again in 1882 but withdrawn before the sale could take place.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.