Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Eagle And Child, Spring Gardens

Eagle and Child Manchester Court Spring Gardens Bolton

Before the Civic Centre was built in the 1920s the local council had to clear away a whole swathe of buildings, many of which dated back to the late-eighteenth century. One of the buildings demolished was the Eagle and Child pub which used to stand on a site now covered by the old police station in Howell Croft North.

One street, Spring Gardens, disappeared completely, though curiously its back street, Back Spring Gardens, still exists. Despite its pleasant-sounding name Spring Gardens was anything but spring-like and by the early-twentieth century it certainly contained nothing like any gardens. The name was no doubt accurate in the eighteenth century but as this picture shows it was a rather grey-looking urban street by 1908.

The street did contain one pub, the Eagle and Child, which was situated towards the bottom end of the street, near to Queen Street. By the time it closed in 1906 the Eagle and Child was a Tong’s pub and there is one picture of it in the Bolton Museum collection, taken around 1900, a few years before it closed.

If you enlarge the above picture, the devil is in the detail. The Town Hall clock can clearly be seen in the distance but the street running outside the pub is Back Spring Gardens, whereas the pub’s address was Manchester Court, Spring Gardens which was on the other side of the pub as we look at it from this angle. Technically speaking, then, this is the back of the pub. Even so, it is fully-signed which suggests that the rear entrance was actually its main access. The building on the left in the foreground is the Queen Street Mission Ragged School, which was also demolished to make way for the Civic Centre, but which moved a couple of hundred yards down Deansgate to Central Street. Note the graffiti chalked on the walls, the landlord and landlady, Mr and Mrs Wood, standing resplendently in the doorway, Mr Wood smoking his pipe; their next door neighbour standing in her doorway and the two grinning characters hidden away at the right of the photograph, captured for posterity.

The pub’s name is another link with the Earls Of Derby, whose crest was an eagle and child.

The pub building stood for a number of years after it closed until it was demolished. Queen Street, then just a short thoroughfare off Deansgate, was extended to run all the way to Ashburner Street when the Civic Centre was built.

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