Sunday, 23 November 2014

Wheatsheaf, 76 Blackburn Street (76 Deane Road)

Wheatsheaf Deane Road Bolton
The Wheatsheaf pictured in the 1960s

The area of Bolton at the bottom of Deane Road was originally known as Blackburn  Street from the junction with Cannon Street down to turn and then  Pikes Lane from Mayor Street up to Deane.

Blackburn Street was the home to a number of beerhouses with the 1853 Bolton Directory listing no fewer than eight with one fully-licensed public house. One of those eight beerhouses was the Wheatsheaf, situated near the town end of Blackburn Street.

Like so many pubs at the time, the Wheatsheaf brewed its own beer. But there was a disaster at the pub in April 1875 when an explosion killed one man and one child and completely destroyed the pub. Adjoining premises were also badly damaged.

The landlord at the time was a man named William Greenhalgh who faced criminal charges following the incident, which was caused by a boiler used in the brewery. At the inquest the jury found that Greenhalgh had been negligent in the management of the boiler, which was in a poor condition. But they did not feel justified in returning a verdict of manslaughter against him. [1]

The Wheatsheaf was re-built and by the 1880s it was under the control of Mark O’Boyle, who was landlord of the Derby Arms on nearby Derby Street. He also owned the Shamrock on Soho Street on what is now the site of Morrisons supermarket.

The Wheatsheaf was bought by Magee’s and was a Greenall’s house when it was closed in the seventies. [2]

The site of the pub was used for parking for many years until Bolton College was built on its site in 2010.

[1] Annals Of Bolton, James Clegg (1888).

[2] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Bolton College, re-located from Manchester Road to Deane Road and completed in 2010. The Wheatsheaf was one of a number of buildings that stood on this site.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Commercial Hotel, Victoria Square

Commercial Hotel Victoria Square Bolton

A splendidly atmospheric view of the Commercial Hotel on what looks like a bleak autumn day but which was actually taken on 21 June 1954. Image from the Bolton Library and Museums collection. Copyright Bolton Council. 

Of all the pub closures in Bolton few can have been as controversial at that of the Commercial Hotel, which stood on the corner of the Victoria Square. The pub closed in April1972 after a bitter battle which even reached the debating chamber at the Town Hall.

That debate and the pub's subsequent demolition marked the end of a local landmark that began life in 1809 as the Commercial Tavern. In those days, what is now Victoria Square was then the New Market Place and the Commercial was popular with stallholders and customers from the nearby market.

The Gatty family, William and Ann, were in charge during the early years. William Gatty was listed as the innkeeper from 1814 to 1817 but the 1818 Pigot’s Directory shows Ann Gatty as the proprietor.

The Gattys were succeeded by the Padburys with Thomas Padbury listed as the proprietor in 1821 and he was succeeded by Samuel Padbury, presumably his son.

The Padburys made their mark and it could be argued that the Commercial’s elevation to one the position of one of the principle inns in the town was largely due to their efforts. The hotel was attractive enough to host a regular season of balls and assemblies in the 1820s, at its Assembly Rooms.[1]

The Commercial also hosted a subscription library, which could be regarded as one of the predecessors to Bolton Library, with newsrooms for the manufacturers, professional people and gentry of Bolton. While this was by no means the first reading library in the town, in 1824 it became the highly respectable, reforming Exchange Newsroom and was regarded as the natural resort of gentlemen of all political colours. [1]

The Exchange Newsroom outgrew the pub and moved to a building on the other side of what was then the Market Square – now the Town Hall Square. The Exchange Newsroom became Bolton Library in 1853. Its former premises still stand as a betting shop having been a branch of the Nationwide Building Society until 2009.

The 1841 Census shows John Walmsley as the proprietor at the Commercial but he moved on and business began an association with the Brandwood family that lasted for over 30 years.

John Brandwood was the licensee and his standing as the landlord of one of the principal inns in the town meant that he was able to move in high circles.

For many years Brandwood was the president of the Bolton Licensed Victuallers Association. He became a local councillor: a Liberal representing Derby Ward from 1858 to 1867. One election, in 1861, saw two seats up for grabs and was unusual in that all four candidates represented the Liberal Party. Brandwood and Councillor Constantine were elected but it is worth pointing out that in brief note to the election in his book Annals Of Bolton, John Clegg noted that the two defeated candidates represented “the teetotal interest”.

However, Brandwood must have fallen out with the Liberal Party. In the 1867 election he stood as an Independent candidate and was defeated by two Liberals. He later jumped to the Conservatives but was defeated  in 1873 when he came fourth out of four candidates in Exchange ward, two Liberals defeating the two Tories. [2]

Brandwood died in February 1878 in his 66th year. His name lives on in Brandwood Street and its eponymous primary school situated off Willows Lane. The Commercial was taken over by Brandwood’s daughter, Sarah Ann and her husband, John Priestley, who married just a few months after John Brandwood’s death. Priestley also became a councillor spending three years representing the Conservatives from 1879 to 1882 in the same Exchange ward that had rejected his father-in-law just a few years earlier.

Sadly, Priestley died a young man. The former chemist turned licensed victualler died at the Commercial Hotel in June 1885 at the age of 43.

The Commercial was eventually taken over by Magee Marshall and by the early seventies it was in the hands of Greenall Whitley, who had bought out Magee’s in 1958.

Greenall’s put the Commercial up for sale in 1971. Even at that stage pubs in the area close to the Town Hall were finding it difficult to attract custom. The nearby Crown and Cushion was closed around the same time the Commerical was put up for sale. Would the decision in 1969 to close off Newport Street, Oxford Street and Victoria Square mark the end for an already struggling pub? Perhaps it made no difference. 

But the decision to sell the Commercial caused an outcry in the town. It was bought by Mothercare who proposed to demolish the pub and replace it with a retail store. The issue was brought up in the Town Hall where Councillor Hanscomb told those opposing the plans not to be “silly and sentimental”. As is often the case, the Commercial would have thrived had those in opposition to its closure chosen to patronise the pub.

The Commerical closed in April 1972. It was demolished in November of that year and in August 1974, Mothercare opened on the site. The retailer remained there for 36 years until 2010 when it closed the store and sold the site to Barclay’s Bank. [3]

[1] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, 1982
[2] Annals Of Bolton, John Clegg, 1888
[3] Bolton News, 16 December 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2014.

Due to its proximity to the Town Hall, the Commercial was one of the most-photographed pubs  in the town. Here are a few images from the Bolton Library and Museum Services collection. All images are copyright Bolton Council. 

Commercial Hotel Victoria Square Bolton


Commerical Hotel Victoria Square Bolton
A night-time shot from 1958

Commercial Hotel Victoria Square Bolton

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Railway Hotel, corner of Trinity Street and Newport Street

Railway Hotel Trinity Street Bolton

The Railway Hotel on the corner of Trinity Street and Newport Street pictured in 1937 by Humphrey Spender for the Bolton Worktown project (copyright Bolton Council). 

A number of railway stations in Bolton had pubs built nearby and they were almost inevitably named the Railway or the Railway Hotel. Moses Gate and Bromley Cross stations still have their Railway pubs. The Railway on St Helens Road and the Railway Inn on Bridgeman Street were both named in honour of the Bolton to Leigh line – the world’s second oldest – which ran close to both pubs. The Railway next to Great Moor Street station lasted long after the station was closed, but the opposite was true of the Railway Hotel on the corner of Newport Street and opposite the old Trinity Street.

The Railway dated back to the 1860s and was originally a beerhouse named the Railway Tavern. It gradually expanded into two neighbouring buildings and in 1879 it gained a six-day public house licence (which meant it couldn't open on a Sunday) when a pub named the Talbot (or Old Dog) on Brown Street surrendered its licence. Seven-day opening only arrived in 1935 when the Railway took over the licence of the Cross Keys on Cross Street.

As befits its name, the Railway operated as a hotel for a good part of its existence. There was also an upstairs function room.

Norman King reminisces about the Railway on the Bolton Worktown website. He says that in the fifties and early sixties a man named Jack Francis used to sell newspapers from a window ledge outside the Railway. Later, Jack’s son Stu Francis gained fame as a comedian and children’s entertainer as the presenter of the BBC television programme Crackerjack (“it’s Friday, it’s five o’clock….”). Mike Wilson adds that new management moved into the Railway following Jack’s death and refused to allow newspapers to be sold from their property, even if it was only from a small part of their window ledge.

The Railway was owned for many years by Threlfall’s brewery and passed into Whitbread’s hands when they took over the Salford brewery in 1967. Within six years the Railway had closed down. The pub was demolished soon afterwards for a number of years until the late eighties the site was an empty patch of land.

By the mid-eighties plans were advanced to replace the former Trinity Street station building with a new construction across the road. The plan wasn’t popular and readers of a certain age will forever compare the current building somewhat unfavourably with the far more grand building that once stood on Trinity Street bridge. Anecdotal evidence of the time from staff at the station suggested that subsidence and strain put on the bridge were apparently the reasons for the change. A new bus station was also to be built replacing a number of bus stops that had previously been sited on Newport Street a little further down from the Railway (buses to Astley Bridge were amongst those running from there).

In 1987, Bolton Interchange was opened incorporating the site of the Railway as well as the former buildings behind it on Newport Street.  After the interchange was completed the clock from the old Trinity Street railway station was placed on land formerly occupied by the pub.

This view, taken from the old Johnson Street footbridge in 1973, shows the rear of the Railway Hotel just prior to its demolition. Also shown is the Holy Trinity church, which was converted into flats in 2014 after being empty for a number of years.Taken from the Bolton Library and Museums collection  (copyright Bolton Council).

Railway Hotel Newport Street Trinity Street Bolton

A 1960s view of the corner of Newport Street and Trinity Street showing the Railway Hotel. The photo would have been taken from the offices at the corner of the Hick, Hargreaves factory on the corner of Crook Street. Taken from the Bolton Library and Museums collection (copyright Bolton Council).

A May 2012 view of the corner of Trinity Street and Newport Street with the clock from the old Trinity Street station building on the site of the former Railway Hotel. (copyright Google Street View).

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hawthorns, Club Indie-Go, Crompton's Mule

Hawthorns pictured in 2009 (copyright Google Street View).

In December 1978, Crompton’s Mule restaurant opened in a former grain store and garage on Spa Road. [1]

The restaurant was an early outlet for Theakston’s beers but by the early-eighties the local real ale magazine reported that it had been selling Draught Bass. That was withdrawn from Crompton’s Mule towards the end of 1982. [2]

Hawthorns pictured during its piano-bar days in the 1980s.

The change to Hawthorns came in July 1984. By this time it was owned by veterans of the local nightclub scene who decided to try something different. Initially, Hawthorns was a piano bar, complete with large grand piano – which wasn't merely for decorative purposes. A pianist was employed to tinkle the ivories most nights of the week. Again, real ale was tried but it proved to be short-lived. [3] [4]

A change of management came in April 1993 when Hawthorns came under the auspices of the people who ran Oscar’s Café Bar underneath The Wellsprings on Le Mans Crescent. The club had moved on from being a piano bar and was now a nightclub playing mainstream pop music, but it was a little off the beaten track. The change of management meant that for the three nights a week it opened – Thursday to Saturday -Hawthorns became an outlet for rock and indie music and like Oscar’s, Hawthorns had a live music policy with bands on most nights it was open.

A refurbishment in 2003 led to a name change to Club Indie-Go, though the music policy remained unchanged.

The end for Club Indie-Go came at the beginning of January 2006 under the most unfortunate of circumstances. The gable end on a neighbouring building collapsed and building inspectors forced the club to close. At first the closure looked to be temporary: "I have been informed that we will have to stay closed this weekend which is a huge disappointment," Gay Nuttall, who ran the club told the Bolton News. [5]

The building’s owner, Tasos Pattichis, said: "It is my main priority to make the building safe so that the club can start again as soon as possible.”

It never reopened. The building was demolished in 2011, not just Club Indie-Go and the adjoining, structurally unsound business, but the whole of that block. The land - now cleared for any potential development - remains empty. Gay Nuttall ended up in Canada.

[1] Bolton Town Centre, A Modern History. Part One: Deansgate, Victoria Square, Churchgate and Surrounding Areas, 1900-1998, by Gordon Readyhough.  Published by Neil Richardson (1998).
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ monthly magazine. November 1982 issue.
[3] What’s Doing, August 1984.
[4] What’s Doing, September 1984.
[5] Bolton News, 12 January 2006. Accessed 10 November 2014. 

Two fliers reproduced here from the Hawthorns Facebook group. At the top, a December 1993 for both Oscar's and Hawthorns reflects the breadth of live music on offer at the two venues. You could often catch two gigs on the same night. Note the John Cooper Clarke gig at Hawthorns on 23 December. JCC had appeared at various folk clubs in Bolton prior to taking on the mantle of 'punk poet' in the late-seventies. He also appeared in the upstairs room at The Gaiety bar (now the Flying Flute) along with Ed Banger in December 1978. By late-'93 he was down on his luck, but a recent surge of interest in his work sees him playing larger venues. Oscar's played host to more 'mature' acts such as The Lost Boys or veteran blues guitarist Victor Brox. The flier below is from March 1994.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bridgewater Arms, Manchester Road

Bridgewater Arms Manchester Road Bolton

The Bridgewater Arms pictured in 1964 shortly before its closure (image from the Bolton Museums collection, copyright Bolton Council). Manchester Road can be seen in the foreground with the pub and its neighbours set back slightly from the main road. The street running along the side of Worthington’s garage is Starcliffe Street, which still exists, though in a slightly truncated form. Video footage of the area around Gravel Hole and Moses Gate can be seen in this extract from the video, Bygone Bolton.

The Bridgewater Arms was in a part of Bolton named Gravel Hole situated right on the outskirts of Great Lever close to Moses Gate. The pub should not be confused with the Bridgewater Hotel that still stands on Buckley Lane in Farnworth.

Gravel Hole was actually nothing more than a hamlet – a small collection of buildings on the main road from Bolton situated just before the current turn-off down to Little Lever and stretching for a couple of hundred yards along Manchester Road.  The Gravel Hole colliery was situated in the valley below.

In the late-1820s a Mr E Darbyshire opened a bowling green in the Gravel Hole area and that appears to have been one of the catalysts for the opening of two nearby pubs, one of which was the Bridgewater Arms.

William Burton was one of the first landlords in the 1830s and he was succeeded towards the end of that decade by Thomas Tunstall, who moved into the Bridgewater around 1839.

By 1853, John Shaw was the licensee having moved from the other pub at Gravel Hole, the Bradford Arms. The Shaws were in charge for over 20 years with John succeeded by his son, David, when John died in 1865.

The pub was a meeting place for a number of organisations. The trustees of Farnworth Grammar School met at the pub from 1856 to 1861, while the Rising Spring lodge of the Odd Fellows were meeting there in the late-1870s.  [1]

By the 1920s, the Bridgewater had its own bowling green which was situated to the rear of the pub. That remained until the pub closed.

The end for the Bridgewater came in 1966. The Farnworth and Kearsley By-Pass was planned in 1961, permission was granted in 1965 and building began almost immediately. The Bridgewater closed that year and was soon demolished.

The by-pass opened on 21 December 1967. [2]

[1] Online copy of a pamphlet recording the history of Farnworth Grammar School and published to mark the school’s 250th anniversary in 1965.   Accessed 31 October 2014.
[2] Lancashire County Council article written in 2000 giving details of the planning and construction of the Farnworth and Kearsley By-Pass. Accessed 31 October 2014.

The Gravel Hole area pictured in May 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The whole area has changed beyond recognition. The site of the Bridgewater Arms was roughly where the grass is next to the entrance for the road leading to Darcy Lever.

The Gravel Hole area pictured in May 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The whole area has changed beyond recognition. The site of the Bridgewater Arms was roughly where the grass is in the foreground next to the entrance for the road leading to Darcy Lever.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Three Tuns (Old Three Tuns Hotel), Moor Lane

Old Three Tuns Moor Lane Bolton

The Old Three Tuns can be seen boarded up in the distance on this 1973 photograph from the Bolton Library and Museums Service collection (copyright Bolton Council).

There were three pubs in Bolton by the name of the Three Tuns. One was on Bridge Street, one on Chapel Street, off Folds Road, and this one on Moor Lane opposite what is now the fire station.

Having multiple pubs with the same name wasn’t uncommon. Bolton had two Nags Heads – the Higher Nags and the Lower Nags– two Millstones, two pubs named the Hen and Chickens, two Dog and Partridges and there was a whole host of pubs named the  Bowling Green.  

The full name of this pub was the Old Three Tuns Hotel. Having ‘Old’ as a prefix usually denoted it was the original. Not so in this case. The Three Tuns on Chapel Street was in existence by 1800, the Old Three Tuns on Moor Lane followed a few years later in 1804.

The pub was a meeting place for the St John’s Lodge of the Freemasons. The lodge was formed in 1815 in Chowbent (or Atherton as it is now known). Unusually, it had its headquarters in a number of towns moving from Chowbent to Tyldesley and then to Halshaw Moor (now Farnworth) before basing itself at the Three Tuns in 1836. The lodge’s itchy feet were in evidence yet again when it upped sticks just two years later and it met at three more Bolton pubs before returning to the Three Tuns in 1842. It remained at the pub for the next 31 years. One of the oldest lodges in the country, St John’s Lodge number 348 still exists and meets these days at the Masonic Hall on Silverwell Street. [1]

The part of Moor Lane around the bottom end of Deane Road gave us two of  Bolton’s oldest sporting institutions. Bolton Wanderers were formed at Christ Church school and were headquartered at the nearby Britannia Inn before moving to Burnden Park in 1895. Meanwhile, in 1908, Bolton United Harriers were formed at the Three Tuns.

One of the pub's landlords who went on to greater things was Frank Whittle. He ran the pub in the early-sixties before the licensed trade took him off to a further seven pubs in various parts of the country. Frank ended up in Stowmarket, Suffolk, where he served as a local councillor and was the town’s mayor in 2007-08. [2]

The Three Tuns was a Magees pub for much of the twentieth century. It was then bought by Greenall Whitley as part of their takeover of Magees in 1958 and the pub lasted until 1973. Council plans for the southern limb of the inner relief road meant it was bought under a compulsory purchase order and demolished soon after it closed.  

[1] Lane's Masonic Records. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
[2] Leigh Journal. 14 May 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2014.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Jolly Waggoner, Deane Road

Jolly Waggoner Deane Road Bolton

The Jolly Waggoner, pictured around 1975. Image from the Bolton Library and Museum Services collection. Copyright Bolton Council.

The Jolly Waggoner was originally a shop at the gable end of Balshaw Street, which ran down the side of the pub.

In the early-1840s a local character named Joseph Atherton owned a donkey and cart and had a business selling cockles and mussels on the streets of Gate Pike, as the area at the bottom of Deane Brow was known. ‘Cockle Joe,’ as he was known, eventually moved to the top of Balshaw Street where he opened a shop and traded as a greengrocer and fishmonger. He was still known as ‘Cockle Joe’ even after expanding his product range and he was later joined in the business by his son Amos, nicknamed ‘Yam Cockle’.

An un-named beerhouse had previously been run by Richard Marsh in the 1840s from his small house in Balshaw Lane, but that had closed by 1853. The Farmers Arms closed in 1869 while the Split Crow beerhouse had also closed. In the early-1870s Cockle Joe sold his shop and on the addition of an extension the premises were converted into two separate businesses. These fronted the main road, then known as Pikes Lane but later re-named Deane Road. One of the businesses was a butcher’s shop while the rest of the premises, on the Balshaw Street side, became a beerhouse.

The licensed premises were originally known as the Red Herring Inn, perhaps as a nod to Cockle Joe, who by now had moved to the top of Gilnow Lane. 

In 1875, John Bennett became licensee. Bennett was a popular local figure, a jovial character who drove his lorry and three horses around Gate Pike and it was from Bennett that the pub took its new name – the Jolly Waggoner.

The pub was an early Magees outlet. Hazel Morgan was born at the pub in 1934 – her parents were managers there for 38 years. Her recollections of the pub are contained here on the Bolton Revisited site

One of Hazel’s anecdotes worth repeating concerned her bridesmaid, Midge, a chimpanzee belonging to Edgar and Phyllis Charlton who owned the pet shop at 148 Derby Street. Hazel’s husband, David Harrison, worked for the Charltons. One night, as Hazel and David slept at the Jolly Waggoner there was a screech of brakes from the street outside. Midge had escaped from the shop on Derby Street and had run down to Deane Road where she narrowly escaped being run over by a lorry. More recollections of Midge can be seen here and here

The Jolly Waggoner was among the first of a huge raft of Bolton beer houses to obtain full public house licenses at the start of the sixties. A large number of pubs successfully applied in 1961, but the year before, in 1960, the Jolly Waggoner was one of a small number that tested the water with an application.

By then it was a Greenall Whitley pub. The image at the top of the page was taken around 1975, according to the Bolton archive records. That would have been five years after Greenall’s had closed Magee’s brewery on Derby Street though it is possible that the photo was taken earlier than 1975.  An earlier image can be seen here in the Bolton News archives.The pub had long since expanded into the adjoining retail premises.

Greenall’s eventually got out of brewing and the licensed trade. Its tied estate was split up and by the time the Jolly Waggoner closed in 2006 it was owned by Hyperhold Ltd, a small operator of pubs and bars that has since gone out of business. 

The Jolly Waggoner was sold de-licensed. It initially became a cybercafé and business centre but is now in use as a restaurant.

The Jolly Waggoners pictured in 2012

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Split Crow, Pikes Lane

Fern Street runs off to the right on this April 2012 image (copyright Google Street View), Deane Road runs to the left. The boarded-up Jolly Waggoner can be seen in the distance, the Lilian Hamer home is in the foreground. The Split Crow was close to the corner with Fern  Street, roughly where the patch of grass is.

The Split Crow is one of those long-lost pubs that even failed to make it into any of Gordon Readyhough’s books, so brief was its existence. We have the early-twentieth century Methodist historian Hannah Cottrell to remind us that it ever existed.

In the early-twenties Mrs Cottrell set out to write a history of the Methodist church on Fern Street, off Deane Road. As an illustration  she sets out a vision of the area of Deane known as Gate Pike in the early-1840s immediately prior to the arrival of Methodism.

Gate Pike was a hamlet situated roughly halfway between the outskirts of Bolton and Deane church, at the foot of Deane Brow. It consisted of just three streets: Balshaw Street, Markland Street (later Gate Street) and Moss Street (later Fern Street). The area still exists around by the former Jolly Waggoners pub and the Lilian Hamer old people’s home.

Mrs Cottrell describes some of the characters who lived in the area at the time and the nicknames they were given. There was ‘Owd Woof’ who ran the corner shop at the top of Balshaw Street; Joseph Atherton – ‘Cockle Joe’ – who sold cockles and mussels from a wheelbarrow. ‘Cockle Joe’ was succeeded in the business by his son Amos, nicknamed ‘Yam Cockle’. A clogger named Aspinall was known as ‘Old Sootum’, the Heaton family were known as the ‘Yettons,’ ‘Saut Bob’ was the rag-and-bone man and ‘Owd Hardneck’ the army pensioner.

But as a Methodist it was the plethora of drinking establishments that Mrs Cottrell took aim at. Owd Woof sold beer at his shop; a man named Dick Marsh sold beer at his cottage at the top of Balshaw Street; there was the Farmer’s Arms, the Gibraltar Rock, the Cross Guns and the Split Crow, all within a short walk from each other.

For a small community of perhaps a few hundred people that is a lot of places to sell beer. The Methodists’ promotion of the abstinence from alcohol meant that as they expanded from their chapel at Ridgway Gates in the centre of Bolton, a small self-contained community such as Gate Pike where beer was widely available meant it was a target for the establishment of a Methodist presence. Indeed, the place was known to them as ‘Hell’s Mouth’.

“Swearing, drinking and gambling were excessively indulged in by many of the men whose wives and families were miserably neglected. Their running dogs, fighting cocks and pigeons received far more attention and consideration than did their little children.” [1]

The Split Crow was situated on land now occupied by the Lilian Hamer home. It was in the middle of a row of three houses on Pikes Lane, which later became Deane Road. Next door, on the corner of Moss Street (was William Worthington’s butchers shop where calves and sheep were slaughtered in the cellar.

The Methodists arrived in the area in the spring of 1843 when they rented a cottage, 34 Balshaw Street. The Split Crow was already in operation by then having sprung up in the aftermath of the 1830 Beerhouses Act.

The pub closed some time in the 1850s. By then the Methodists had moved from Balshaw Street to Moss Street (renamed Fern Street around 1869) where they built a small chapel in 1843. In a twist of irony they bought the Split Crow. It reverted back to a private residence and became the chapel-keeper’s house of the Wesleyan chapel.

In 1927 the Methodists moved to a new church a few yards away on Deane Road on land now occupied by Bolton Blinds. The old Fern Street Wesleyan church was converted into a cinema, the Plaza, and number 336 became part of the cinema complex. The Plaza became the Windsor in January 1937 and closed in 1962. [2]

The Lilian Hamer old people’s home was built on the site in 1973. That closed in 2009 and remains vacant. An attempt to sell the home for £325,000 failed in 2010.

[1] Gate Pike: The Story Of 80 Years’ Methodism, 1843-1923, by Hannah Cottrell (Mrs Albert Openshaw). Originally published by Tillotsons (Bolton) Ltd (1924). The book is a comprehensive history of the Wesleyan church up to that time and includes a history of the bottom part of Deane from Deane Brow and Gate Pike down to Chamber Hall closer to town.

[2] Cinema Treasures website. Retrieved 23 October 2014.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

African Chief, Moss Street

Here’s an interesting photo. It’s from the Bolton Libraries and Museum collection. (Copyright Bolton Council) but not much is known about the image.

‘The African’ – African what? It looks as though it may have been a pub sign, in which case it could have been the African Chief on Moss Street. The vehicle in the picture and the dress of the man walking up the street and the men further up all suggest it is later than the turn of the century so it would have been taken some years after the pub closed, which was in 1908.

The African Chief dated back to the 1860s when it was owned by Charles Seddon of the St George’s Hotel, St George’s Road. [1] By 1871 it was one of two beerhouses in Moss Street: one at number 4 owned by George Davison and one at number 5 owned by David Orrell. This latter establishment is more likely to have been the African Chief.

A number of Irish families lived in Moss Street in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1881, the Irish-born William Thompson and his wife Mary kept the pub. Another Irishman, Francis Lenaughan, would soon succeed him. Other Irish-born residents in the street included the Queenans and the Linehans. [2]

The African Chief became an Atkinson’s pub and in 1898 it came into the hands of the Manchester brewery Cornbrook’s after they took over Boardman’s brewery who had bought out Atkinson’s in 1895. Cornbrook’s obviously decided to sell the African Chief as it was owned by Hamer’s when its licence was refused in 1908.

So is the photo of the African Chief? It’s possible but by no means certain. A look at a map of the area in 1893 shows Moss Street coming to an end by Victoria Mills but all we really have to go off is an incomplete sign.

Moss Street was partly redeveloped in the twenties and Moss Street Baths were built in 1924 on the site of the former Richmond Terrace and Richmond Place. The baths remained open until 1987.

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800 – 2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] About Laurence Queenan. Retrieved 20 October 2014.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Red Lion, Crook Street

The Red Lion was situated at the Derby Street end of Crook Street, just four doors along from the Flying Horse.

The pub dated back to the 1840s, probably the latter end of that decade. It first appears in the 1849 licensing records when the licensee was James Nuttall.

The Red Lion was owned by William T Settle whose brewery was based near the Rose and Crown pub, off Turton Street. However, in the early days of its ownership the brewery was known as Booth’s. William T Settle was born out of wedlock to Robert Booth and Rachel Settle. The couple later married and had two more sons, Albert and Daniel. Meanwhile, William T Settle went to work in the Rose and Crown’s brewery as a 14-year-old and later took over the business. He expanded the tied estate and installed his brothers at two of its pubs, Daniel at the Rope and Anchor on Kay Street and Albert at the Red Lion.

One day, during a visit to the pub, William and Albert got into an argument during the course of which Albert remarked that the name of the brewery – Booth’s – didn’t correspond with William’s surname of Settle. William picked up a stool, smashed the window with the Booth’s brewery name on it and said “It will have Settle’s Ales on it tomorrow”. All the pubs were subsequently changed to Settle’s.

Settle’s remained in control of the Red Lion until 1951. The brewery and its pubs were then sold to Dutton’s of Blackburn.

The Red Lion last for just two more years before being closed in 1953. It remained standing for some years afterwards but it was demolished in the mid seventies.

This image of the slip road to Aldi looking towards the bottom of Derby Street was taken in May 2012 and is copyright Google Street View. The site of the Red Lion was on the left of the image roughly where the slip road starts. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Grapes Hotel, Victoria Square

Grapes Hotel Victoria Square Bolton

The Grapes is on the right of this photograph taken from the clock tower of the Town Hall around 1900. Nearby shops included Hyde Brothers, T Hindle, the  British and Colonial Meat Company and Charles Bowker. Photograph from the Bolton Library and Museums Service collection. Copyright Bolton Council.

The Grapes was situated on Victoria Square, though when it opened in 1840 the square was actually the New Market Place

During the early part of the nineteenth century, like in so many of the old-established pubs in Bolton, this pub played host to numerous political discussion groups [1]. The politics discussed depended on how well-furbished the pub was. The Ship on Bradshawgate was quite plush and was frequented by the town’s businessmen, as was the Swan Hotel. The customers in those pubs were more likely to lean towards the Tory Party. The George and Dragon on Oxford Street played host to a Liberal debating society, while in the poorer part of Bolton, the Dog Inn – also known as the Talbot – on Brown Street was a meeting place for more left-wing radical politics. [2]

In the Grapes’ early days it was adjoined by a portable theatre which had been placed there before the pub opened. Parish’s fit-up travelling theatre performed Margaret’s Ghost there in February 1836. The California market was subsequently situated next to the pub. [3]

Gordon Readyhough describes the Grapes as “a typical town centre pub”. Entrances were in Victoria Square and in Exchange Street which still runs down by the side of the former site of the pub. [4]

The Grapes closed in 1960 and was demolished in the same year. Shops were built on the site. A Wimpy bar was on part of the site for many years. That was succeeded by Kingburger and now a café named Tiffany's In The Square.  

[1] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, 1982
[2] Malcolm Hardman’s book Classic Soil: Community, Aspiration, and Debate in the Bolton Region of Lancashire, 1819-1845 goes much deeper into the local politics of that time.
[3] Arthur Lloyd’s theatre history site.  Accessed 14 October 2014.
[4] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Oscar's, The Wellsprings, Le Mans Crescent

An Oscar's gig guide from the spring of 1994. Members of Lost Boys are now in Glam 45.

Oscar’s opened in 1989 in the cellar of The Wellsprings, an office block built on the site of which a large stone building that once housed Bolton Central Library.

The old library building opened in 1893 but closed in 1932 when the library service moved to the newly-built Civic Centre across the road. It remains there to this day. Its former premises was the Victoria (Civic) Restaurant from 1948 to 1951 before housing National Insurance and local government offices until they moved to Elizabeth House when that was completed in 1971. It was subsequently used as the Bibliographic Services unit of the library until it was demolished in the mid-eighties. The Wellsprings was built in its place. [1]

Part of the entrance to Oscar’s was on the site of the Town Hall Hotel, a former pub that closed in 1933.

Oscar’s was initially a café bar but it soon gained a reputation as a live music venue and it had live acts on most nights of the week as the above leaflet shows. It’s hard to imagine a pub having so much live music on these days with only the Alma Inn or the Dog and Partridge coming close.

The pub was run by the same management team that ran Hawthorn's on Spa Road. 

Oscar's closed around 2004, supposedly when the lease ran out. Far from the premises being taken up by another pub lessee the premises were given over to a ladies-only gym.

A night-time view of The Wellsprings from March 1996 can be seen here.  

Another gig poster from the 1990s can be found here

[1] Bolton Town Centre, A Modern History. Part One: Deansgate, Victoria Square, Churchgate and Surrounding Areas, 1900-1998

Bush Hotel - Star Inn - Star Concert Room, Churchgate

Bush Hotel Churchgate Bolton

The Bush Hotel on Churchgate pictured in 1938. The Bush is in front of Theatre Royal’s canopy as we look.

The music hall was the most popular form of mass entertainment for the working-class public of Britain in the nineteenth century. In his book Popular Leisure And The Music Hall in 19th century Bolton, Robert Poole claims the first music hall in Britain was at the Millstone on Crown Street in Bolton where landlord Thomas Sharples opened a singing and supper room in 1832. [1] This is the same Millstone that exists today and given the size of the pub – twice the size now as it was before it was extended in 2000 - such a supper room can only have been held upstairs.

In 1840 Mr Sharples moved to the Star Inn on Churchgate. Some reports claim this was formerly a pub known as the Cock Inn where cock fights were often held. There is some doubt about this if only because the 1824 Bolton Directory shows the Cock Inn being at number 21 Churchgate. Odd numbered properties on Churchgate were on the opposite side of the road to the Star, leading down to the River Croal, and it is known that there were cock fights behind those properties.

Thomas Sharples built a separate music hall to the rear of the Star that included a separate bagatelle room and the Star Concert Room was up and running in 1840.

The Star went through its fair share of trials and tribulations. Like many music halls and concert room there were a variety of acts, some of which involved wild animals. On 11 February 1844, Matthew Ferguson, the keeper of the menagerie, was killed by Barney, one of the Star’s leopards. It seems that Barney didn’t take too kindly to Ferguson’s liberal use of the whip and attacked the hapless keeper. There was no-one else present at the time.  [2] [3]

In July 1852 three people were killed by a wall which collapsed when the Star’s concert room burned down. At that stage the Star had the reputation of being one of the most popular and attractive concert rooms in the country. Entry was two old pence and four old pence (1p or 2p today) and you got a drink thrown it with that. The Star also contained a museum the wonders of which were famed far and wide – 262 items including paintings, wax figures and a piece of pressed iron from Hick’s foundry on Bridgeman Street.

After the fire the theatre was rebuilt and opened in January 1855 as the Victoria Theatre of Varieties although the Star pub retained its former name.  It was sold, along with the nearby Theatre Royal and the Angel Inn as well as a wholesale brewery in August 1877 for a price of £8450.  

The Star was rebuilt again in 1886 but by 1900 it had reverted back to being a public house and was renamed the Bush Hotel.

From its latter days as the Star the pub was supplied by John Atkinson of the Commission Street brewery, just off Deane Road. Atkinson’s sold out to Boardman’s United Breweries of Manchester who were in turn taken over by Cornbrook’s Brewery.

The Bush ended its days as a Bass Charrington pub. Bass took over Cornbrook’s in 1961 and perhaps it is telling that just two years after Bass took over the Bush and the nearby Derby Hotel both pubs and the Theatre Royal were all closed and demolished to make way for the redevelopment of Churchgate.

The site of the Bush and the Theatre Royal was converted into a supermarket, first known as Lennon’s, then Kwik Save and finally Foodsave, but in 1996 the premises were converted into a pub, The Brasshouse. This in turn became Number 15, a live music venue, and then Club Kiss before closing again in 2008.  In September 2014 it reopened as The Venue, described as an over-25s cabaret bar. [4]

[1] Popular Leisure And The Music Hall in 19th century Bolton, Robert Poole. Published by Lancaster University (1982).
[2] Annals Of Bolton, James Clegg, 1888
[3] Arthur Lloyd’s website. Accessed 12 October 2014. The site contains a more detailed history of the Star as well as other theatres in Bolton.
[4] Bolton News. 10 October 2014. Accessed 12 October 2014.

Royal Oak, Churchgate

Churchgate House pictured in April 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The Royal Oak once stood on this site. A pub with the same name was later situated on Paley Street, which can be seen running by the side of Churchgate House.

The Royal Oak stood on Churchgate from at least the 1770s until it was destroyed by fire on 30 June 1848 killing George Radcliffe, a Breightmet man sleeping there for the night. [1]

Gordon Readyhough [2] claims that the location of the pub is unknown but that it was not to be confused with a pub on nearby Paley Street that took the Royal Oak name some time after the original pub burned down. However, in a report for the town’s mayor on Bolton’s sanitation in 1848 - the year the Royal Oak was destroyed  - John Entwisle puts the pub in the vicinity of Molyneux’s Yard, the Flaggs and Oliver Lane, all of which stood roughly in front of the site of the current Churchgate House, opposite what is now Hogarth’s, the former Capitol and Boars’s Head pub. [3] 

Bolton’s population stood at around 17,000 in 1801. By 1841 it had grown to almost 50,000 as people moved to the centre of town during the Industrial Revolution to look for work. [4] Entwisle goes on to describe the sanitary conditions at that time in the dirtiest part of what he had already ascertained was a filthy town.

“In immediate contiguity [to Molyneux’s Yard]…is the Flaggs and Oliver Lane; here fever had infested the whole neighbourhood. In the houses behind the Royal Oak there were several cases; in one the husband had an attack six weeks in duration. In the next house a family of seven, four of whom had fever, and one died. Immediately opposite the houses is a necessary in a broken condition, the privy full, and heaps of ashes and night soil occupied a considerable portion of the yard. Beyond this heap of refuse is the cesspool of Molyneux’s Yard, only separated by a wall which is part falling down.”

To give another aspect of life in Bolton in the 1840s Entwisle analysed all the deaths in the town in the five years to 1847 and calculated the average age of death. But in an interesting twist he also calculated the average age of death by social class.

According to Entwisle, 116 “gentlemen and persons engaged in professions, and their families” died at an average age of 51 years. In addition, 614 people he described as “tradesmen and their families” died at an average age of 27 years and 2 months. But “Operatives and their families” died at an average of just 19 years and 6 months.

The outstanding point about this last social grouping – the lowest of the three social classes – was their sheer number: 8142 of them. In other words, over 90percent of the people in the town died before their 20th birthday between the beginning of 1843 and the end of 1847. Of course a lot of them were children – over 50percent of the children of the lower orders died by the age of five – but with an average at death of 19, pubs like the Royal Oak were probably losing almost all of their custom every two years simply due to them dying off.

Fortunately, that part of town was cleaned up and Entwisle’s report perhaps had an impact. It’s available to borrow at Bolton Central Library and makes for grim reading. Running water was laid on in that part of Churchgate. Molyneux’s Yard was swept away although Flaggs and Oliver Lane remained into the 20th-century.

Entwisle couched his arguments in language the mayor and rest of the businessmen that ran Bolton could understand: it was counter-productive maintaining a situation where 90 percent of your workforce failed to reach the age of 20. But this was 1848, a year when revolution was taking hold in Europe and the monied classes in Bolton couldn’t help but look over their shoulder at the potential for social unrest.

Churchgate later became the theatre centre of Bolton with the Grand and the Theatre Royal built on the site of the slum dwellings in the area where the Royal Oak once stood. The theatres made way for offices in the sixties and Churchgate House was built in their place.

[1] Annals Of Bolton, James Clegg, 1888.
[2] Bolton Pubs 1800 to 2000, Gordon Readyhough, 2000.
[3] A Report On The Sanatory Condition Of The Borough Of Bolton, John Entwisle, 1848.
[4] Wikipedia entry on Bolton, retrieved 12 October 2014. Figures combined for Great Bolton and Little Bolton. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Beaumont Club, Deane Church Lane

Beamont Club Deane Church Lane Bolton
The Beaumont Club in 1929.

Not a lost pub but an interesting one, nonetheless. This is a picture of the Beaumont Club, a private-members’ bowling club that existed just off Deane Church Lane until some time in the 1960s.  The image is from the Bolton Library and Museum Services collection and is copyright Bolton Council.

The occasion is the visit of the recently-victorious Bolton Wanderers side which had carried off the FA Cup for the third time in seven seasons with a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth in April 1929. That looks like team captain Joe Smith behind the cup. The man sat next to him wearing a splendid pair of breeches could be goalkeeper Dick Pym who played in all three Wembley finals.

The Beaumont Club was at the St Helens Road end of Deane Church Lane on land which has only recently been redeveloped as housing. The Bolton Wanderers manager of the time, Charles Foweraker, lived not far from the Beaumont Club in a terraced house on St Helens Road. It is entirely possible that he was either associated with the club in some capacity or that he was friendly with some of its members.

But it is the Beaumont Club itself that interests us as very little is known about this establishment. It came about following a growth in the popularity of bowls in the mid-to-late 19th century. Several pubs had their own greens, principally the Gibraltar Rock on Deane Road. At the Howcroft on Pool Street the bowling green pre-dated the pub, while the King’s Head at Deane was advertising two bowling greens in 1873. [1]

In his book about leisure in Bolton in the nineteenth century Robert Poole informs us that a bowling green was set up at the Stag’s Head on St Helens Road in 1865. [1] He suggests that this was perhaps the Rumworth Bowling Green Company Ltd, which was set up in 1880, though that assertion appears to be incorrect.

An 1893 map of the area shows two bowling greens in the area: one at the Stag’s Head, situated on St Helens Road, and one just off Deane Church Lane. The Stag’s Head bowling green was actually situated behind the pub but on the other side of the tracks of the Bolton to Leigh Railway. Access was via Wilton Street or via Bertwine Street, which ran down the side of some early-nineteenth century cottages that stood raised up from St Helens Road until they were demolished around 1969.

The Stag’s Head green lasted until at least the fifties. Warburton’s Soreen bakery and, later, Park Cakes was built on the site of both the green and the cottages on St Helens Road. The Bakewell Tin and Metal works were right next to this green with the Daubhill Brick Works not far away.

But an event in 1906 suggests that the Rumworth Bowling Green Company wasn’t at the Stag’s Head. While it was established as a limited company in 1880, the London Gazette for 16 February 1906 suggests the company had collapsed. More crucially, it gave its address as Deane Church Lane, so it wasn’t at the Stag’s Head.

After the Rumworth Bowling Green Company failed the premises became the Beaumont Club. By September 1906 the liquidator, Mr S.H. Horrocks, was able to distribute proceeds from the sale of the old company’s assets to its creditors. So the green was obviously sold on and it seems to have become the Beaumont Club at that time.

The splendid clubhouse in the image above was a much more modest affair up to around the time of the First World War. By the time this photograph had been taken the Beaumont Club had added tennis courts at the side of the bowling green but these had disappeared by the time of the 1954 map of the area. Entrance to the club and its grounds were via Hudson Road, just off Deane Church Lane.

Unfortunately, old maps are really all we have to go off as there is very little evidence – either anecdotally or otherwise – that the club ever existed. The bowling green itself last appears on a 1967 map. The Beaumont Bowling Green Company's final appearance in a local phone directory was in 1952. It must have closed around that time and abandoned. Certainly the company was struck off in 1957 its officers having resigned and the firm - like the bowling green - abandoned.

It was used as industrial premises after that until a housing development began to be built on the site around 2007.

Any information on the Beaumont Club would be gratefully received in the comments below.

The outline of the Beaumont Club’s bowling green can be seen on the left of this January 2005 satellite image (copyright Google). The club’s tennis courts were situated in the five-sides enclosure to the right of the former green. Deane Church Lane runs from top to bottom of the picture. The large, light-coloured building on the right is Park Cakes. The row of houses that juts into the bakery is Jubilee Street and it is at this end of that street on land now occupied by Park Cakes that the original Stag’s Head bowling green was situated. The Daubhill branch of Asda, St Helens Road and the former Stag’s Head are in the bottom right of the picture.

Hudson Close (formerly Hudson Road). This housing development was built on the site of the former Beaumont Club and the shot is taken from roughly the same point as was the photograph of the victorious Bolton Wanderers side at the top of the page. Image taken in April 2012. Copyright Google Street View.

[1] Popular Leisure and the Music Hall in Nineteenth-Century Bolton, by Robert Poole. Published by the University Of Lancaster (1982).
[2] London Gazette, 16 February 1906. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
[3] London Gazette, 7 September 1906. Retrieved 11 October 2014.