Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sunnyside Hotel, Adelaide Street

Image Copyright. Google Street Maps.

The area around Daubhill was a quiet rural area in the middle of the 19th century, but as Bolton’s cotton industry expanded the town centre was no longer large enough to cope and entrepreneurs began to build their mills outside the centre. The south side of Bolton was an area of moorland which had been enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1792 and although there were weavers cottages, mining and brick making were the main industry with the area dotted with coal mines and clay pits.

When the new mills arrived they were soon followed by houses and with the houses came the need for pubs to quench the thirst of the working classes.

In 1853 Henry Lee was a partner in the local firm of Tootal, Broadhurst and Lee, a small manufacturer of muslins based close the town centre in Stanley Street, which ran until recently from the bottom end of Deane Road down towards the railway line. The new sixth-form college was recently built on the site.

In 1860 Lee bought a small weaving mill and engine house in Daubhill and from 1862 to 1867 Tootal, Broadhurst and Lee built the imposing Sunnyside Mills on land bounded by the Bolton and Leigh railway line, Adelaide Street and Crowshaw Lane (later re-named Ellesmere Road). The railway route to the town centre was re-routed in the 1880s although the sidings linking Sunnyside mills remained in use until 1969.

Streets of terraced houses were then built in the area of the old line – streets such as Auburn Street, Essendon Street, and a whole host of streets with girl’s names – were all built from the 1880s onwards and about that time the Sunnyside Hotel was built to serve both the mills’ workforce and the new residential neighbourhood, although to be truthful the two were most likely one and the same.

The Sunnyside was originally a beer house called the Rising Sun. It began in the 1860s by a gentleman named Henry Yates. Henry was originally a coal miner who worked in the coal field around Middle Hulton and Little Hulton. In 1851 he was living with his family at Bates Houses, which still stand on Salford Road, the A6 heading towards Little Hulton.

By 1861, Henry had taken a familiar route out of the coal mine and was the owner of a beerhouse in Little Hulton, but he moved a couple of miles up the road to where Tootal, Broadhurst and Lee were building their new mills and he began to rent a small cottage at number 1 Crowshaw Lane (now known as Ellesmere Road).

Ten years on, the 41-year-old Henry, his wife Ellen, and their four children aged from 1 to 14 years old at the premises that were now at 1 Bloom Street, which was actually the street that ran along the side of the pub.

It was around this time that Henry added some nearby farmland to his business interests. The 1881 Census shows him as a beerseller and a farmer with some 5 acres of land.

Henry sold out before the end of the nineteenth century to Sharman’s brewery based near Mere Hall on the other side of town. He retired to one of the newly-built houses further up Ellesmere Road although he was still farming his five acres at the age of 71. He ended his days living with his grandson, Henry Hulme, Henry’s wife Dora and their young son, also named Henry (three Henrys in the same house!). Henry Yates died in 1913 at the age of 83.

Sharman’s rebuilt - and renamed - the Sunnyside in 1900 and in 1906 they obtained the full licence given up by the Ship Inn on Bradshawgate which was demolished when that thoroughfare was widened.

The Sunnyside was famous for its bowling green which was installed when the pub was rebuilt and which staged matches between the leading bowlers of the day. Right up to the seventies the results of those matches were of sufficient importance to make the northern editions of the following day’s national newspapers.

However, the fate of the pub was largely linked to that of the nearby mills and in 1980 Tootal’s – by this time part of the Coats Viyella group - closed Sunnyside Mills at the height of a recession. By then the pub was owned by Tetley’s who mulled over the its fate before it became an Irish centre around 1981.

In 1985 the Sunnyside was sold to David Rowlinson and became a real ale free house but despite the attraction of live bands in the lounge and exotic brews from some of the country’s independent brewers the pub was unable to pay its way and it closed at the end of 1985. [1] It was subsequently damaged by a fire that destroyed much of its interior.

After being viewed at by Boddington’s, Banks’s and Holt’s [2] the Sunnyside was bought by Harry Byrne in 1986. Harry spent £20,000 on a refurbishment, installing a children’s playground and beer garden to the rear and in May 1986 it re-opened with a late licence that enabled the Sunnyside to open until 1.30 at the weekends. [3] But despite an upturn in fortunes the Sunnyside closed as a pub in September 1988 after Harry received an offer for the premises from a nursing home operator. The pub was refurbished once again, this time as a home for the elderly which it remains as to this day. Housing now surrounds the Sunnyside as the former Townson’s works to the rear was re-developed in 1990-91. The famous bowling green has been sold off in recent years and a residential property has slowly – very slowly – been built on the site.

Sunnyside Mills were demolished soon after they closed although parts remain visible to this day as this picture shows.

Tootal’s laid out extensive leisure facilities for its employees on a site between Ellesmere Road and Higher Swan Lane. Tennis, cricket bowling, a miniature golf course and putting green were all available along with a fine pavilion. These were turned over to Bolton council many years ago; the cricket field was used for many years by Bolton YMCA but has been used since 1986 by Manchester Association side Deane & Derby CC. The rest of the amenities form part of Sunnyside Park, and is still a much-used local amenity.

[1] What’s Doing, December 1988.
[2] What’s Doing, July 1986
[3] What’s Doing, June 1986

* Article updated 9 February 2015 with details of the Rising Sun.

A side view of the former Sunnyside pub in March 2011. The house to the right is being built on the site of the pub's famous bowling green and had been undergoing construction for around two years when the photo was taken.

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