Friday, 25 March 2011

Spread Eagle, Hulme Street

Image copyright Google Street View

We’re just over a week late in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the demise of this pub, but better late than never.

Readers of this blog will have to become accustomed to photographs of patches of grass where pubs once stood, but the fact is that once demolished the sites of many pubs remain empty for years, sometimes permanently. The site in this photograph is one such example. It’s a pleasant patch of grass lined by trees at the junction of Lark Street (known as Lever Street on the 1849 map of Bolton) and what was once Hulme Street but which is now a continuation of Charles Street, but this patch of land is the site of the Spread Eagle Hotel.

The Spread Eagle was a large multi-roomed street-corner pub, one of many in an old residential area of the town. Two flights of steps led from the street up to the main entrance where the lounge led off to the left and the vault to the right. The pub always served a good selection of Tetley real ales, Mild and Bitter.

Opened in 1843 it became a Sharman’s pub before passing to Tetley Walker in 1961, via Sharman’s takeover by George Shaw of Leigh in 1921 and Shaw’s takeover by Walker, Cain Ltd of Warrington in 1927. [1]

The Spread Eagle was tucked away in the side streets off Folds Road and at one time it served a vibrant local community but the pub gradually became isolated after the housing clearances of the sixties and seventies although it was frequented by students from the nearby annexe of Bolton Technical College; but by the end it stood alone, set back and practically invisible from Folds Road, the houses that once formed the bulk of its custom long gone.

In the nineteenth century the area was a hive of activity and other long-lost pubs such as the British Oak, the Hulme Street Tavern, the Premier Arms, the Standard Arms, the Middleton Arms and the Union Arms all stood within about 100 yards of the Spread Eagle. That a teetotal working men’s club in the area lasted only a few years  during the 1860s should come as no surprise.

The area also seems to have been a hotbed of Chartism in the 1840s. Of the 800 Bolton subscribers to the Chartist land company share register, 18 were from addresses in the Hulme Street/Charles Street area.  Subscribers were hoping to be allocated land on one of the colonies of smallholdings established by the Chartist movement to re-house industrial workers. In turn this would give them the vote and other democratic rights that we now take for granted.

One-by-one the pubs near the Spread Eagle began to close although the bulk of those mentioned closed   in the early part of the 20th century. The end for the Spread Eagle came on 16 March 1981 [2] when it closed its doors for the final time. The pub lay empty for a few years before finally being demolished.

Ironically,  new housing developments have since sprung up in the area meaning that Hulme Street, Charles Street and Lark Street now host a residential community once more. Sad to say, all that came far too late for the Spread Eagle. The site of the pub was never built on and is now a landscaped area directly in front of some new houses.

Spread Eagle Hulme Street Bolton
Spread Eagle in about 1974

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000)
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester Beer Drinkers  monthly magazine, April 1981

No comments:

Post a Comment