Sunday, 30 March 2014

Farmers Arms, Bridgeman Street

The Farmers Arms pictured around 1973. The pub is closed and boarded up ready for demolition. Fletcher Street runs down the left-hand side of the pub. The large building on the extreme left was the Windsor, originally a cinema but which, like so many cinemas, ended its days as a bingo hall.

Situated on the corner of Bridgeman Street at the junction with Fletcher Street, the Farmers Arms was in existence by the middle of the nineteeth century. The Bolton map of 1849 shows the building in a sparsely populated area.

In 1886 the licensee of the Farmers, one Henry Tongue, went out of business and a meeting of his creditors took place on 12 March that year. [1] A few months later  - in  August – the Farmers underwent some external renovation work but one man was killed and two were seriously injured after scaffolding erected outside the pub collapsed.[2]

Licensee James Ramwell owned the Farmers in the 1870s but by 1900 it had passed into the ownership of a local wine and spirit merchant, George Munro & Co, whose premises were situated on Deansgate. It subsequently passed to two more wine merchants, Swan’s Vintage Wine Stores Ltd and Thomas L Robinson, both based in Preston. [3]

The Farmers closed in the early seventies. The pub is pictured here  by the Bolton Evening News in a story about the proposed traffic lights for at the Bridgeman Street/Fletcher Street junction. 

The whole area bounded by Bridgeman Street, Fletcher Street as far as Lever Street and up to the Park Hotel was cleared away around 1973-74. New housing was subsequently built on the site.

The site of the Farmers Arms pictured in 2012. The only common denominator between this and the photo at the top of the page is the traffic signal. The Park Hotel - Bridgeman Street's last surviving pub - can  just be seen in the distance on the extreme right of the picture. Copyright Google Street View.

[2] Annals Of Bolton, John Clegg, 1888
[3]Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Friday, 28 March 2014

Church Inn, Bamber Street

Church Inn Bamber Street Cannon Street Bolton

The Church Inn on Bamber Street photographed in the 1960s. Although the pub was never supplied by Magee's the brewery tower can be seen in the distance. Photograph by Bolton Revisited.

The Church Inn was a beerhouse situated on Bamber Street at its junction with Cannon Street and Weber Street in the built-up area between Derby Street and Deane  Road.

The Church took its name from the nearby Emmanuel Church, a fine building which still stands although it is no longer used for religious observation.

The pub was owned by William Tong’s at the beginning of the 20th century. Tong’s brewed at the Diamond Brewery on the corner of Blackshaw Lane and Deane Road – just a few hundred yards from the Church - until being taken over by Walker Cain Ltd of Warrington in 1923. However, the Church was leased to the Moss Side brewery of Hydes for a while until being taken over by Burtonwood. [1]

The pub received a full drinks licence in 1961 but it closed around 1970 and was demolished shortly afterwards as part of the wholesale redevelopment of the area.

The picture above shows the Church towards the end of its working life. Bamber Street runs up the side of the pub and the tower in the distance belongs to Magee, Marshall & Co, whose brewery stood on the other side of Derby Street.

The picture below shows Cannon Street with the former Holt Hosiery mill in the distance. The houses to the side of Cannon Street roughly mark where the Church Inn once stood.

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

Church Hotel, Crook Street

Church Hotel Crook Street Bolton

The Church Hotel photographed in March 2011. Copyright Lost Pubs Of Bolton.

The Church Hotel was situated on Crook Street at the junction of Moncrieffe Street and was built in the 1830s, soon after the consecration of the nearby Holy Trinity Church.  

It became a Tong’s pub late in the nineteenth century before being one of 21 pubs taken over by Walkers of Warrington when they bought out Tong’s in 1923. It became a Tetley pub in 1960. [1]
During the seventies the Church gained a reputation for its live entertainment. At that point cabaret artists were largely confined to politically-affiliated clubs but the Church put on a number of top acts in a smaller, pub setting. 

By the early eighties the Church became a meeting point for Bolton’s ‘New Romantics’ and later that same decade it became a gay pub after the landlord and landlady of the Railway on Great Moor Street moved to the Church.

Terry Whalebone took pictures of the Church in 2007 (see here and here) but the pub closed a few years later and was sold in 2012 for conversion into flats.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Caledonian Inn

Vernon Street looking towards the town centre. The Caledonian Inn was situated on the corner of Lyon Street and Vernon Street, roughly where the path runs off to the right.

The Caledonian Inn stood on the corner of Lyon Street and Vernon Street and dated back to the late nineteenth-century. [1]

The pub was owned by Robert Wood & Sons of the Prince Arthur Brewery on St John Street but the brewery ceased to operate during the first world war. The pub then passed to William Tong’s brewery of Deane until that company was taken over by Walker Cain Ltd of Warrington in 1923.

The Caledonian closed in the sixties by which time it would have been owned by Tetley Walker. The pub was demolished when the area was cleared away in the early seventies and new housing was subsequently built on the site.

The pub was captured for posterity by photographer Humphrey Spender during Mass Observation’s Worktown project around 1936. The photo can be viewed here.  

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

Angel and Woolpack/Woolpack

There were two pubs named the Woolpack in Bolton. Having two pubs with the same name wasn’t unusual – there were two Three Crowns, two Millstones and two Nag’s Heads. What made this particular case worse was that the two Woolpacks stood on opposite corners of Mealhouse Lane.

The 1778 list of Bolton licensing list [1] had both Woolpacks with Mary Holden and William Mawdsley as the respective licensees – which was the licensee of which cannot be determined.

In due course, the two pubs took on fresh names, the Old Woolpack and the Angel and Woolpack and it is the latter which we shall deal with here.

By 1818 the landlord was Nathaniel Wilson (d.1839) and it was known as the Angel and Woolpack. During the early part of the nineteenth century, as in so many of the old-established pubs in Bolton, the pub played host to numerous political discussion groups [2].

Nathaniel was at the pub until the early-1830s. He was succeeded by Edward Wood and his wife Ann, but Edward died in 1834 and Ann took over the running of the pub alone. She remarried in 1837, this time to Geoffrey Taylor, and they ran the pub until the mid-1840s.

The Angel and Woolpack was then taken over by William Green who had previously run the Bay Horse just a few doors away on Deansgate. Given that Ann Taylor’s maiden name was Green there is a chance that William Green was a relative.

The Green family ran the Angel and Woolpack for around 30 years. William was the landlord until he died in 1870. He was succeeded by his 30-year-old son John Edward Green who appears not to have made a good fist of it. The pub closed in 1874 and its full public-house licence was transferred to the Vulcan on Great Moor Street. By 1881, John Edward Green was living with his widowed mother in Arkwright Street and working as a draughtsman at a local foundry.

Marks and Spencer’s store in Bolton town centre now stands on the site of the Angel and Woolpack.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton Town Centre 1900-1986, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (1986).

[2] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole (1982).

NB This article was re-written on 8 January 2016. Updated with information on the Wood and Green families.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Victoria Buffet/Angel/Angel and Trumpet

The former Number 15 Bar, part of a sixties development built on the site of the Victoria Buffet and Theatre Royal.

The Victoria Buffet on Churchgate began life as the Angel and Trumpet although its name was later shortened to the Angel. It was licensed by the 1770s. [1]

The pub, along with the Museum Music and Concert Hall, along with a wholesale brewery, was sold on 17 August 1877 for the sum of £8450 [2], the equivalent of around £830,000 in today’s money. It seems that the pub’s was changed shortly afterwards and by the early part of the twentieth century it was being run by the Bolton Theatre & Entertainment Company Ltd with the Victoria Buffet – as it was now known – leased to Allsop’s Brewery of Burton-on-Trent.

The Victoria’s licence application was refused in 1912 and the pub was incorporated into the Princess cinema the following year. The nearby Theatre Royal was extended into the Princess in 1928 until its closure in 1962. Photographs of the Theatre Royal can be seen here  and here

The theatre was demolished in 1963. Churchgate House was subsequently built on the site with Lennon’s supermarket (later Gateway) in the space formerly occupied by the Victoria Buffet. That was later converted into licensed premises known as the Brasshouse and Number 15 but had closed by 2010.

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Annals Of Bolton, James Clegg, (1888).


The Portland Hotel viewed from Wynne Street in May 2012. The building is now a private residence. Copyright Google Street View.

The Portland was situated on Portland Street, near its junction with Wynne Street and Burke Street, just off Halliwell Road and was opened in 1880 to satisfy the needs of the newly-built rows of terraces between the main road and Eskrick Street.

The Portland gained its licence through the transfer of the drinks licence of the Antelope’s Head, a small pub situated between the Golden Lion and the Boar’s Head on the already heavily-pubbed Churchgate.

Owned at one time by Sharman’s, whose Mere Hall Brewery was less than a mile from the Portland,  it was one of 58 Sharman pubs that passed into the hands of  George Shaw’s brewery of Leigh when they took over Sharman’s in 1927. The photograph below shows the Portland as a Shaw’s pub and was probably taken in the late-twenties. Shaw’s sold out to Walker’s in 1931 and Walker’s merged with Tetley’s in 1960.

Portland Hotel Portland Street Bolton

As can be seen in the photographs on this page the pub was a fine stone building and when its days as licensed premises came to an end it was sold to be converted as residential property. When that happened is open to some discussion. In his book on Bolton’s pubs Gordon Readyhough claims the Portland closed in the 1980s [1]. However, in early 1990 it was one of four local pubs sold by Tetley to the Sunderland brewery Vaux. [2] However, Vaux’s tenure doesn’t seem to have lasted long and the Portland closed later on the same decade.  It was certainly closed by the time Mr Readyhough’s book was published in 2000.

The Facebook group 70s Bolton contains a number pictures of the interior of the Portland taken by Stanley Covell around 1966/67. Mr Covell recalls drinking in the pub with his family in the sixties and remembers it as a small but friendly pub. [3]

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinker’s monthly magazine. June 1990 issue.

[3] Facebook. 70s Bolton (closed group).  Information retrieved 27 March 2014.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

New Zealand Chief

New Zealand Chief Bolton

The side wall of the New Zealand Chief can be seen on the left-hand side of this photo taken in the late-fifties/early-sixties. Note the small petrol station in the foreground. Photo by Peter Haslam from the Clarke Chronicler's website.

Dating back to the 1830s the New Zealand Chief stood for 150 years on Great Moor Street just a little further up from St Patrick’s church.

The pub was listed in an 1849 list of Bolton pubs as the Indian Chief and there is no indication as to when it changed its name.

New Zealand Chief Great Moor Street Bolton
New Zealand Chief pictured before its closure in 1984.

The New Zealand Chief reputedly had the smallest bar in England – at least until alterations took place in 1959.  The bar measured just 6ft by 2ft 2ins and can be seen in this picture taken by the Bolton Evening News on 24 March 1959.

A story was told that a man weighing more than 20 stones failed to win a bet that he could pull himself a pint from the bar's single set of handpumps. He became wedged while attempting to do so. [1]

The New Zealand Chief closed in December 1984 [2] and was put up for sale by its then owners, Greenall Whitley, who inherited the pub after taking over the Bolton brewery of Magee, Marshall & Co in 1958. It was sold to be redeveloped as offices and demolition began in February 1986. [3]

The new building housed a firm of solicitors until it was demolished at the beginning of 2014 to make way for Bolton’s new bus/rail interchange.

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers monthly magazine. February 1985 issue.
[3] What’s Doing, April 1986.

Howcroft Inn

Howcroft Pool Street Bolton

The Howcroft Inn, photographed shortly before its closure in May 2012. Copyright Lost Pubs Of Bolton. More photographs are at the foot of this article.

The Howcroft on Pool Street, just off  Vernon Street, closed its doors for the final time on 20 May 2012 after over 150 years as licensed premises. The pub was one of the few remaining pubs in Bolton to have its own bowling green but it would be more accurate to say that the bowling green was the main reason for the pub’s existence – indeed it pre-dates the pub by over 20 years. Certainly, the green was in existence as long ago as 1842 [1] and it is marked as the ‘Howcroft Bowling Green’ on an 1849 map of the area. At that time it was situated just off Back Lane, which is still the only approach road to the pub. Prior to the construction of St George’s Road around the end of the 18th century Back Lane was a principal route out of Bolton, running from Blackburn Road down to Chorley Street even though it was only about as wide then as it is now – the size of a back street.

Although it has been claimed that the Howcroft bowling green existed at least as early as 1842, it may have been in existence even earlier than that. Just as it does now the bowling season ran from April or May to October each year and in his book Leisure In Bolton, Robert Poole claims that the Howcroft bowling green regular had 60-odd attendees at their end of season dinner. [1] However, he quotes local press reports from the 1820s meaning that the Howcroft bowling green could be almost 190 years old.

In his book on Bolton pubs [2] Gordon Readyhough says the Howcroft was once a beerhouse known as the Prince Of Wales, but a historical record which was written in the 1980s and which was displayed in the pub for many years until its closure (see image below) states that it was licensed as a beer house in 1861.

The 1849 map of the area shows a small building next to the bowling green which may well have been part of the current building. An 1893 map shows the pub in its present form which means that an extension comprising the gents’ toilets and the longer back room was built some time in the late-19th century, probably after it was first licensed. In that case the original pub would have consisted of the bar area, the small lounge and the pool room behind the bar.

In 1870 it was listed as the Duke Of Wellington, Back Lane but it was known as the Prince Of Wales towards the end of the 19th century until changing its name to the Howcroft. One theory is that the pub and the bowling green were both owned by local brewer Sharman’s with the pub taking the name of the longer-established bowling green. By then the Lark Hill area, which surrounded the Howcroft, had taken on a different look. From being on the edge of Bolton with countryside to the north when the bowling green was first built, by the end of the nineteenth century it was surrounded by housing with the construction of Clarence Street, Davenport Street, Kent Street and Church Street. By then the pub was on Pool Street which from the pub ran down the hill and across St George’s Road to the River Croal. It remained part of Pool Street until the construction of Topp Way began in 1980.

The Howcroft became a Sharman’s pub before being transferred to the Warrington firm of Peter Walker and then to Tetley’s following their takeover of Walker’s in 1960.

In 1954 the landlady was a Mrs A Doran but she relinquished the tenancy that year in favour of Frank Hardcastle, an employee of the pub who worked as a glass collector – described as ‘Mrs Doran’s pot boy’ in the pub’s history – who took Howcroft the pub along with his wife Olwyn.

Frank was a legendary figure whose photograph was displayed in the Howcroft until it closed. I first went in the pub in the late-seventies. By then the pub had spent 25 years under the control Frank and Olwyn and had a reputation not only for the high standard of its real ales but also for the cider it sold. Coates’s Triple Vintage wasn’t available on draught, nor were you given a bottle, but instead it was poured straight from litre bottles into a pint pot. The pub was busy – heaving on a Friday and Saturday night – but not necessarily with people who lived locally. The Howcroft’s reputation was such that it drew its custom from all over Bolton.

Olwyn Hardcastle died in 1980 and Frank carried on alone before retiring to Blackpool in 1983. He died there in March 1995. 

During his final couple of years in charge Frank had to oversee a major re-siting of the pub’s bowling green due to the construction of Topp Way. The new by-pass hacked off the pub from the rest of Pool Street, and with the construction of the by-pass, it was now only accessible from St George’s Road by taking a circuitous route via Vernon Street. The old bowling green stood parallel to the pub and was bounded by Back Lane, Church Street and Pool Street. It was moved a few yards and turned diagonally – see Google Maps or Google Earth for an overhead view - effectively cutting off Back Lane. Much of the housing constructed in the late-nineteenth century was demolished at the same time although new housing was built in its place.

The work on the bowling green was completed by July 1982 although it was not ready for matches until the following summer. [3] Later that same year the pub was branded a Walker’s outlet after Tetley’s revived the name of the brewery they took over in the early sixties and introduced a portfolio of Walker’s beers, some of which had been based on the original Walkers recipes.

When Frank left in September 1983 there was the potentially thorny problem of who was to succeed him. The choice of the pub’s regulars were Tony and Carole Bretherton, two popular members of the bar staff who had worked at the Howcroft since the early seventies. [4] A petition was set up at the pub to allow the Brethertons to take over the tenancy but it was not to be. Denis Lund and his wife Marion arrived but the Brethertons moved to another Walker’s pub, the Ainsworth Arms at the top of Halliwell Road where they spent over 25 highly-successful years.

With Frank Hardcastle gone Walker’s decided to give the Howcroft a long-overdue refurbishment. The result was tasteful enough to win the Campaign For Real Ale’s Joe Goodwin Award for the Best Urban Refurbishment of 1985. It is unthinkable today for a brewery or pub company to enlist the licensee to advise on a pub’s refurbishment – they are treated as hired hands at best - and to be honest it was just as unusual in the eighties. But having successfully run the Raven in Wigan before moving to the Howcroft, Denis and Marion Lund played a part in the plans for the Howcroft’s refurbishment and the judges hailed their involvement in the refurbishment as being “as crucial as that of Peter Walker’s architects in ensuring the traditional nature of the pub was retained when the improvements were complete.” [5]

Denis left in late-1992 and was replaced by Clive Nightingale, a former soldier who will be remembered for introducing a beer festival at the pub following the demise of Great North Western Beer Festival which had taken place at Bolton Sports Centre in Silverwell Street from 1987 to 1993. Clive’s plan was to place boards and a huge  marquee over the bowling green and run the event in aid of  Bolton Lads and Girls Club. The event lasted until 2007 and has since been run at Bolton Rugby Club. By then Clive had left the Howcroft to run a boarding house in Austria. Clive also oversaw the construction of a conservatory to the side of the pub fronting onto the bowling green.

It is often said that stability is the key to a successful football team. The same could be said for pubs. By the time Clive Nightingale left the Howcroft the pub had had just three licensees in over 50 years. But licencees have come and gone since he left although the pub was dealt a blow in 2010. Having been taken over in 2009 by Jane McDonald and Frank Smith the Howcroft appeared to be on the up. Sadly, Mr Smith died in September 2010 and in 2011 the owners decided to put the pub up for sale. It was sold in 2012 and has since been converted into student accommodation. Such a shame, this was one of Bolton’s better pubs.

[1] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, 1982. Poole cites reports from the Bolton Chronicle dated 14 April 1827, 5 May 1827, 6 October 1827, 23 May 1829, 15 August 1829, 27 June 1829 and 8 October 1831).
[2] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[3] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ monthly magazine, July 1982 issue.
[4] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ monthly magazine, October 1983 issue.
[5] What’s Doing, February 1985.

The Howcroft pictured c.1974.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sally Up Steps/Stanley Arms

The former Sally Up Steps, now the Nam Ploy Thai restaurant, pictured in May 2012. By the early 1980s the pub consisted of the building at the top of the steps, though the original pub - the  Stanley Arms - was just one half of that building - the part to the right of the door. A 1987 refurbishment saw the pub expanded into the rest of the row to the left of the pub. Image Copyright: Google Street View.

The Sally Up Steps was situated on Chorley Old Road, close to the junction with Kirkhall Lane.

The pub was one of three in Bolton known as the Stanley Arms but acquired its nickname after one of its landladies and because the main entrance was up a flight of stairs at the front of the pub. In his book Peace! Beer In The 1920s and 1930s, Ronald Pattinson maintains that it was already nicknamed Sally Up Steps by the time Mass Observation surveyed the town around 1936.

The Deane brewery, William Tong’s, owned the pub until 1923 when they were taken over by Walkers of Warrington. Walkers merged with the Leeds brewery of Joshua Tetley in 1960 to form Tetley Walkers, but during the 1980s the brewery decided to re-brand a number of pubs as Walker’s outlets and began to brew a new range of beers for those pubs some of which were based on old Walker’s recipes.

In February 2011, Terry Byatt told the Lost Pubs Project this story about the Stanley Arms over a hundred years ago:

My grandfather's elder sister ran the "Sally Up Steps" pub in Bolton before the First World War.  I remember as a child him telling me that she had a parrot that could whistle like the tram conductors and stop the tram outside the pub!  Apparently the parrot also used to drink beer, get drunk and then fall off its perch, when its noted phrase was "Polly Poorly". [2]

By the mid-eighties the Sally Up Steps was a small pub that had already been knocked into an adjoining property a number of years earlier. Then – as now – five stone steps led from the street level to the pub. To the left of the main entrance there was a small vault, access to which was down three more steps. A small lounge was situated at the front of the pub with a pool room and toilets towards the rear.

In 1987 it was time for the pub to receive its refurbishment and a conversion to a Walkers outlet. Its small size meant that with around 30 people in it the pub was packed so in order to try and drum up some more custom to help pay for the refurbishment Tetley Walker decided to buy up three adjoining properties and expand the pub to some four times its former size.

The Stanley Arms was officially renamed Sally Up Steps in the autumn of 1987 when it reopened after an extensive re-fit. There was now a car park to the rear of the pub as the brewery tried to attract food trade. In March 1989 it was reported that the pub had been wallpapered not much more than a year after it had reopened. [3]

In 2009 Sally Up Steps was named as one of the best pub names in the country (Bob’s Smithy was also on the list) but by then the Sally Up Steps had closed. It is now the Nam Ploy, a Thai restaurant.

Stanley Arms Sally Up Steps Chorley Old Road Bolton
Sally Up Steps pictured in the late-1920s.

[1] Peace! Beer In The 1920s and 1930s, by Ronald Pattinson.
[2] Lost Pubs project. Retrieved 25 March 2014.

[3] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers monthly magazine. March 1989 issue.

Tanners Arms

The former Tanners Arms, pictured in April 2012 when it was being used by a distributor of digital instrumentation. Image copyright Google Street View.

The Tanners Arms was situated at the bottom of Lever Street at its junction with Nelson Street. According to Gordon Readyhough, the pub dates back to the pub dates back to the nineteenth century and was originally a brew-pub named the Farmers Arms. [1]

The establishment of Walkers Tannery saw the pub change its name to something more suited to the trade of much of its clientele.

The pub was sold to the Alfred Crowther & Co Ltd of the Star Brewery in Bury in the early part of the twentieth century. Crowther’s were formed in 1897 but sold out to Wilson’s in 1925. However, the Tanners had long since been sold to the Bolton brewery of J Halliwell & Son, whose  Alexandra brewery on Mount Street ceased trading in 1910. Halliwell's pubs were bought by another Bolton concern, Magee, Marshall & Co, situated just off Derby Street about a mile away from the Tanners.

When the nearby tannery began to wind down its business in the early-eighties the pub's trade fell off and by June 1985 it was being reported that the Tanners had been closed and boarded up, as had the Peel on Higher Bridge Street [2]. The Tanners was de-licensed and put up for sale and by the middle of the following year it had been sold for use as a joinery [3]. The premises are now owned by a company manufacturing digital portable tachometers and associated devices. [4]

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinker’s monthly magazine. June 1985 issue.
[3] What’s Doing, July 1986 issue.
[4] Compact Instruments.   Retrieved 25 March 2014.

Bentley's/Chester Moonshine's/Revolution

The former Bentley's premises pictured in April 2012 after it had closed down as  Buffet King. Copyright Google Street View.

John Willies furniture store stood on the corner of Bradshawgate and Great Moor Street for many years until it was sold for conversion into bar premises. It opened as Bentleys in May 1988 [1] but underwent numerous name changes over the next 20 years or so. At various times it was known as Chester Moonshines, then in 1999 it became the Revolution Bar, part of a chain of vodka bars best known for offering multiple different flavours of vodka. 

There was one further change of name when it became an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant named Buffet King. By 2011 that had closed and at the time of writing the premises were still empty.

[1] Bolton Beer Break, published by the Bolton branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, Summer 1988 edition.

Falcon, Kay Street

Falcon Hotel Kay Street Bolton

The Falcon in the late-1920s when it was owned by William Tong & Sons Ltd of Blackshaw Lane, Deane. Tong's was taken over in 1923 by the Warrington brewery of  Walker Cain Ltd who commissioned photographs of their recently-acquired pubs.

The Falcon was situated on the corner of Kay Street and Turton Street but was a casualty of road improvements when Topp Way and St Peter’s Way were extended in the eighties.

The pub dated back to 1803 [1] and was one of 21 pubs owned by William Tong & Sons Ltd, whose Diamond Brewery stood on the corner of Blackshaw Lane and Deane Road.

It was a rounded corner pub although the room on the left next to the entrance to the pub had less of a curve than the vault to the right of the entrance where the bar was also rounded in parallel with the curvature of the outer wall of the building.

There were also two back rooms one of which was regularly as a meeting room by a number of local societies.

It was a good local’s pub in a working-class area and in its final years it served cask Tetley Mild and Bitter that was kept well enough to merit inclusion in a number of editions of the Good Beer Guides during the eighties.

The pub closed in early 1987 when, along with the Peel on Higher Bridge Street, it was demolished to make way for the extension to Topp Way. There was some scepticism about the scheme – a correspondent to the Greater Manchester beer drinker’s magazine, What’s Doing, pointed out that similar plans over the previous 15 years “had come to nought” [2]. However, within a few months of the plans being made public a closing date was set. [3] Licensees Keith and Helene Partington, who had been in charge of the nearby Spread Eagle, when it closed its doors for final time some six years earlier, moved to the  Bowling Green on Blackburn Road.

Nothing remains of the site of the Falcon. It was demolished soon after closure along with neighbouring properties. The top end of Turton Street was subsequently widened so anyone driving along Topp Way and then down Turton Street towards Tonge Moor probably drives through the space once occupied by the Falcon. The area to the rear of what was the pub is now occupied by the Bolton Gate retail park.

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson.
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinker’s monthly magazine. July 1986 issue.
[3] Bolton Beer Break, published by the Bolton branch of Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale. November 1986 issue.

The site of the Falcon Inn. The pub was situated on the corner of Kay Street and Turton Street roughly where the traffic lights are in the centre-left of the photograph. Copyright Google Street View. Image dated April 2012.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Dome, Knowsley Street

The British Heart Foundation occupied the premises which once house The Dome for a short while in the early nineties. Image taken April 2012. Copyright Google Street View.

A pub so short-lived it failed to make Gordon Readyhough’s reference book on the subject, the Dome was situated on Knowsley Street in the former Gregory & Porritt’s building.  The pub’s name came from its distinctive dome-shaped roof in the centre of the premises.

The Dome opened towards the end of 1989 when a local beer drinkers’ magazine proclaimed it was offering the seldom seen (in Bolton, anyway) Bass Special Bitter on handpump. [1] However, the same magazine stated just months later that the pub was already up for sale. [2]

An estimated £600,000 was spent converting the retail premises into a pub, but it had a capacity of 250 standing and 150 seated and the pub failed as it was claimed it just didn’t have the right atmosphere.

Like Ben Topps just a few hundred yards away at the top of Bath Street, the Dome tried to capitalise on the pre-club crowd on their way to Ritzy at the top of Bridge Street. However, just a few people in a pub with a capacity of 400 people gave the pub a reputation of always being empty – even at the weekend - and within a few years it was back as retail premises.

[1] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ magazine. February 1990 issue.

[2] What’s Doing, June 1990.

Gladstone Hotel, Deane Road

The site of the  Gladstone Inn is on the right of the image where the filter lane passes the University of Bolton sign on the grass verge. To the left is Deane Road heading towards the town centre and in the distance is the Grosvenor Casino (Sainsbury's premises from 1990 to 2004). In the 1870s this stretch of around 250 yards consisted of 10 pubs, including the Gladstone. 

The Gladstone Hotel began life as a beer house called the Returned Sailor around 1860 [1] and was situated on Deane Road on the block between Shuttle Street and Harris Street.

The short stretch of Deane Road where today we see Bolton College, Bolton Sixth Form College and Bolton One saw the birth of what we now know as Bolton Wanderers Football Club during the 1870s. On the left-hand side of the above photograph, on a site now occupied by Bolton College, once stood Christ Church school. The story goes that the club was founded in 1874 by teachers and scholars at the school as Christ Church FC. Three years later the vicar objected to the club meeting in the school hall without him being present so they upped sticks and moved, thus severing its links with the school.

Schools and churches had become increasingly involved in sports, especially football which had been introduced to Bolton two years before Christ Church FC was founded. The Victorian era saw the rise of ‘muscular Christianity’ – not so much an earlier attempt at bodybuilding but the promotion of physical strength and health as well as an active pursuit of Christian ideals. Plus it kept people from the pub.

It is believed the name ‘Bolton Wanderers’ came about after the vicar objected to the players ‘wandering off to the pub’ and that the club renamed itself to cock a snook, as it were, to the vicar. However, former Bolton Evening News editor Leslie Gent maintains that the name came about after the club moved headquarters not once, but twice, first to the Gladstone and soon afterwards to the Britannia Hotel some 200 yards away at the junction with Crook Street.

But the vicar had a point. Walk today from where Deane Road meets University Way down to the market and you will pass three educational institutions, the fire station, a casino and with the health centre recently added. In 1877, when the Wanderers broke away from Christ Church, there were ten pubs in that short stretch at the bottom of Deane Road.

Why the Gladstone was the club’s first HQ and not, say, the Weavers Arms right next door to the school is unknown? The club was presumably made up of local lads who might have had their own regular pub. But from the Gladstone downwards there was the Horse and Vulcan, the Union, the Milestone, the White Horse and then the Britannia with the Weavers, the Wheatsheaf, the Windmill and the Woodman’s Cottage on the other side of the road. Ten pubs in 250 yards and a few more beyond that – the vicar had a job on his hands.

Presumably at some stage before 1877 it was renamed the Gladstone in honour of the Liberal prime minister who by then had served the first of his four terms as premier.

The pub closed around 1964 and lay derelict for a while before being demolished around 1967, part of the clearance of an area which became the Bolton Institute Of Technology (now the University Of Bolton).

Gladstone Hotel Deane Road Bolton

This picture shows the pub on 13 May 1964 next to the much larger Regent cinema. On the other side of the cinema is Harris Street, which can still be seen at the bottom end of Deane Road. The site of the Gladstone is roughly at the traffic lights at the bottom of University Way.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000 by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Rainforth Hotel, School Hill

Approximate site of the Rainforth Hotel, now covered by housing. Image taken May 2012. Copyright Google Street View.

Named after John Rainforth who built the School Hill chemical works (‘Chymical Works’ as it is named on some old maps) further down School Hill. The Rainforth Hotel stood on the right hand side as you go up the street in the direction of Prince Street.

The Rainforth was a Tong’s and later Walker’s House and was closed in 1959. It was demolished shortly afterwards and housing now stands on the site.

Rainforth is regarded as the father of the medical profession in Bolton having practised in the town for 57 years. He died at School Hill House aged 78 on 30 May 1857. The pub was later built on the site of the house.

One of Rainforth's apprentices was Abraham Paulton, the son of local brewer Walter Paulton and a future political journalist who campaigned in the 1840s for the repeal of the corn laws.

Concertina Row, a row of stepped houses on School Hill, was opposite the pub.


The Back Cheapside car park. The Busin was situated about half-way up the street on the left-hand side. Image taken May 2012. Copyright Google Streetview.

The Busin was situated on Back Cheapside, an unusually-named street. The existence of Back Cheapside suggests a street named Cheapside but it seems the name was simply a nineteenth-century nickname for Newport Street where the goods on offer by local traders were said to be of an inferior – and therefore cheaper – calibre than elsewhere in the town centre.

Initially, the Busin was the social club for drivers and conductors working for Bolton Corporation Transport (later Selnec and Greater Manchester Transport) from at least the 1950s onwards. Ernest Forth wrote on the Bolton Lancashire Bygone Days Facebook group that he played there with his skiffle group in 1957. but was sold in the seventies to local businessman – and later Labour councillor, Jim Sherrington.

The club is perhaps best remembered for two things: its rough-and-ready clientele and its punk nights which began around 1978, once a week during the quieter midweek nights. It began to put live bands on during the early part of 1979 beginning with the Genocides and the Raw Boys, something that inspired other local musical wannabes to form bands of their own.

Issue 11 of the local punk fanzine Trends described the venue as such in May 1980:  “The opening of the Busin was the advent of a host of new talent able to get gigs to an audience of punks who had not only gained a disco but also acquired a dossing place easily accessible from all surrounding areas. But foremost it was at your disposle [sic] to perform to a live audience for the first time.” The article goes on to list some of the bands that performed at the venue including Ltd. Edition, The Parelettix, Nervous Disorder, Gun Control, The Reducers, The Grout, The Droogs and Ex-Directory. However the article points out that “Due to trouble with the police the Busin looks doomed as a punk club but in recent weeks it has re-opened again but only as a disco.” [1]

Patrons of the punk nights reported that there was never any trouble.

The end for the Busin came in 1982 when it closed down and was taken over to be used as premises for a computer firm [2]. Jim  Sherrington concentrated on his other business interests and on Sundowners nightlcub (now Level) which he also owned.

In 1986, the Busin premises. became a footwear retailer named Shu-String. It was later demolished and its site is now a parking area on Back Cheapside.

Busin Back Cheapside Bolton

[1] Trends, Issue 11, May 1980.

[2] Bolton Town Centre, A Modern History. Part Two: Bradshawgate, Great Moor Street and Newport Street, 1900-1998

Churchill's/Rose Hill

Churchills Rose Hill Manchester Road Bolton

Churchill's on Manchester Road, pictured on 25 September 2014. Copyright Lost Pubs Of Bolton. There doesn't appear to have been any activity at the pub for some years and most of the side windows have been put through. A sad sight.

The Rose Hill opened as a beer house shortly after an 1830 Act of Parliament relaxed the licensing regulations for premises wishing to be opened as public houses serving beer but not spirits.

In the early part of the twentieth century it was unusual in being owned by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company before being sold to local brewery Magee Marshall. [1] It became a Greenall Whitley house after Magee’s sold out in 1958.

By the early part of 1984 the Rose Hill was bought by Bandmatic, a company that operated pool tables in fruit machines in a number of local pubs and was renamed Churchill’s. The same company bought the Gipsy’s Tent and renamed it Winston’s. [2]

The pub was re-decorated in 1986 [3] and at some stage, according to Zozzy on the Wanderers Wayswebsite, it was being used as the bus drivers’ social club after their original club was sold to Sainsbury’s along with the First Bus depot on Crook Street. [4]

It closed some time between 2009 and 2011.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).

[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ monthly magazine, April 1984 edition.

[3] What’s Doing, April 1986.

[4] Wanderers Ways, post dated 15 December 2008, retrieved 23 March 2014.

Bridge Inn, Bridge Street

The Market Place, approximate location of the Bridge Inn until its demolition around 1932.

Located on Bridge Street next to the site occupied by Bolton’s fish market until the late-twenties, Bridge Inn was originally called the Gartside Arms and was in existence by 1800. [1]

The pub hosted a Literary and Philosophical Society in 1813 though it subsequently moved to a room in the New Shambles. [2]

The Bridge Inn saw its licence refused in 1926 and it was demolished in the early-1930s for the widening of Bridge Street. Also demolished was the fish market, which was moved to the new market premises on Ashburner Street.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).

[2] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, 1982.

Cross Axes, off Deansgate

Woods Court, off Deansgate. Roughly the site of the Cross Axes in the nineteenth century. Copyright, Google.

This former alehouse dated back at least to the 1770s and was known both as the Cross Axes and the Crown & Anchor. It closed in 1879 when the licence was transferred to the Globe, which was later known as the Market Tavern (T’Crate Egg) on Ashburner Street. [1]

The premises were demolished to make way for an extension to the Bank Of Bolton, now the branch of Natwest Bank on Deansgate, close to the Old Three Crowns.

In his book Bolton Town Centre, A Modern History. Part One: Deansgate, Victoria Square, Churchgate and Surrounding Areas, 1900-1998, Gordon Readyhough states that Cross Axes Entry then became known as Woods Court. The 1849 map of Bolton shows that Woods Court already had that name although it didn’t all the way to Deansgate as it does now and it is likely that Woods Court would  have been extended to include Cross Axes Entry.

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

Boar's Head

The Capitol, successor to the Boar's Head, photographed in 2011. The Capitol closed in June 2014. Hogarth's, a pub with its own brewery, opened later that year.

The Boar’s Head stood on Churchgate on the site of what is now Hogarth's and was formerly the Capitol and before that the Varsity. The pub was the middle of three properties that were demolished to make way for the re-development, the others being the Sandwich Inn café bar on the right, and a fish-and-chip shop on the other side called the Chip Inn. The Boar’s Head itself was only quite small, probably less than a third the size of Hogarth's.

The pub was built in 1721 and at a time when the life of the town revolved around the Churchgate area it was one of the principal inns of the time doubling up as a post office and was even a courthouse as the local magistrates sat there for many years after the 1780s. [1] It became a Magee, Marshall pub and then Greenall’s when Magee’s sold out in 1958.

In the early-twentieth century the landlord was a John Bromilow. There must have been something about pub landlords and the fledgling motor industry as Mr Bromilow – as well as Ross Isherwood, then the landlord of the Prince William on Bradshawgate, and Stanley Parker of the Roebuck on Kay Street – was one of the pioneers of the motoring industry in Bolton [2]. In 1916 Mr Bromilow entered into a design partnership with a brilliant engineer named Maurice Edwards and although the Bromilow and Edwards partnership only lasted for some 13 years, the company they founded still lives on today as Edbro on Lever Street.

In his reminiscences of life in Churchgate [3], Fred Hill recalls that boxing matches used to take place upstairs. Given the small size of the pub – not much bigger than a reasonably-sized house - and the need for living quarters this beggars belief but we must take his word for it.

I well remember the Boar’s Head in the eighties when on a Friday and Saturday night it would be packed out with a variety of customers. The Camra Greater Manchester Good Beer Guide of 1980 [4] described it as being “popular with the young”, which was true, but there was always a great atmosphere and the Boar’s Head welcomed just about everybody at that time and without any trouble. A 1982 refurbishment saw it spruced up a bit and the then landlord made anyone wearing a leather jacket take it off on the way in. As the eighties wore on landlords come and went, with the pub moving from a managed house to a tenancy after Greenall’s accountants worked out it was losing them money. [5] Through all that the mainstay of the pub was the genial barman Gordon, who had worked at the pub since 1966 and who certainly made life easier for successive licensees.

The Boars Head pictured in 1980. Taken from the Greater Manchester Good Beer Guide published by the Greater Manchester branches of the Campaign for Real Ale. (Published 1980).

To be honest it was a cracking little pub that always served real ales – Greenall’s admittedly – from one of those now-outlawed electrically-operated diaphragm pumps where a handle was moved across to pump the beer into the glass. Handpumps were later installed and it was an early outlet for Greenall’s Original Bitter in the mid-eighties when the brewery tackled what was a pretty poor reputation for its cask beers. OB was a decent drop when well-kept and the Boar’s Head ended up in a few editions of the Good Beer Guide.

By the late eighties the pub’s future was in doubt and by 1988 structural problems meant that it was surrounded by scaffolding as Greenall’s worked out what to do with it (though in truth they were also working out what to do with their wider business and eventually got out of pubs and brewing altogether). At the time it was reported that they wanted to extend the pub while the council were warning it might have to be demolished. [6] By then the Boar’s Head was somehow putting on live music, despite its diminutive size. [7]. The whole of the pub was on the ground floor of the premises with the landlord’s living area upstairs and it covered an area no more than a quarter of the current Capitol pub.

The Boar’s Head closed in March 1992. Three years earlier Greenall’s had applied for planning permission to pull it down and replace it with a building consisting of a new pub at the base of a five-storey office building. Bill Brown of Bolton Civic Trust argued that it could only be demolished if the new building “enhances the existing character of the area,” but according to Greenalls, the adjoining café was unsafe while the pub and the chippy were in “poor condition.” [8]

After closure the three properties remained empty and boarded up for some years afterwards until eventually the site was bought by Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries who knocked it down and rebuilt it – though without the offices - as Varsity in 1999. It was later renamed the Capitol after the cinema which stood on the site of the tax offices.

There were rumours at the time of demolition that some local potholers had been given access to the site to look for evidence of tunnels leading under Churchgate towards the Parish Church. Rumours of those tunnels have abounded for centuries – were any found?

These days the Capitol stands on the site though that closed in June 2014. As a replacement for the Boar’s Head it wasn't bad, selling a fair drop of real ale and while it was still “popular with the young” as the Camra guide stated over 30 years ago  it still attracted its share of a more mature clientele just as the old pub did.

The Capitol closed in June 2014 and the premises were bought by Amber Taverns. Rumours it was to become a sports bar proved to be unfounded. It re-opened in October 2014 as 'Hogarth's' - a micro-brewery/gin palace.

[1] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, 1982
[2]A History Of The Motor Trade In Bolton – Dennis O’Connor, 2009.
[3] Churchgate 50 Years Ago: A Biography Of Lifestyle In The Early Thirties, Fred Hill, 1981.
[4] Greater Manchester Good Beer Guide, published by the Campaign for Real Ale, 1980.
[5] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ monthly magazine, August 1985.
[6] What’s Doing, November 1988.
[7] Bolton Beer Break, Summer 1988.
[8] What’s Doing, July 1989

Crofters Hotel/Magees/Smudge's

Crofters Hotel St Georges Road Bolton

The former Crofters Hotel pictured in April 2012. Copyright Google.

 The Crofters Arms at the junction of St George’s Road, Chorley New Road, Chorley Old Road and Chorley Street was initially licensed at the turn of the 19th century. At that time it was known as the Whitsters Arms, a whitster being another name for a crofter.

Until around 1907 the pub was a much smaller building and can be seen here in a photograph held by Bolton library and dated between 1895 and 1900. It had been owned by the Manchester Brewery Company since at least the 1870s and was subsequently acquired by Bolton Corporation before being sold on to local brewery Magee Marshall & Co. The pub was rebuilt in 1906/07 with Magees paying the council £500 and giving up the licence of the New Bridge Inn on Churchbank. [1]. The ‘MM & Co’ sign can still be seen near the roof of the pub [see picture here]

The Crofters remained in the company’s hands until it was taken over by Greenall Whitley in 1958. It was refurbished in 1983 with many of the old features of the pub being retained. The carved bar was turned round dividing the pub into two but with one large lounge replacing the old lounge and pool room. [2]

The pub was later known as Magees after its former owners but after a period of closure it re-opened as Gallaghers Oyster Bar. By March 2000 it was the Oystercatcher Brasserie before becoming the Conquistador tapas eaterie and then the Moghuls Palace Indian restaurant.

In 2009 the pub was taken over by Jane McDonald and Frank Smith, the then licensees of the Howcroft and the Roundhouse in Halliwell. Ms McDonald and Mr Smith evicted squatters who had taken up residence in the pub and spent around £30,000 in a refurbishment. The pub became known as Smudge’s – Mr Smith’s nickname. [3]

 Sadly, Frank Smith died in September 2010 and the pub closed shortly afterwards. The building is still up for sale though it is unlikely to be used again as a pub.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000 by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester Beer Drinkers monthly magazine, November 1983 issue.
[3] Bolton News, 14 September 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2014.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Ben Topp's/McGinlay's/Absolutely Fabulous

Two shots of the former Ben Topp's building. On the left a view taken in 2012 (copyright Google Street View). On the right an image of the building from the 1960s when it was still part of the nearby St George's church. For many years it was used as a school building. Photo from the Bolton Library and Museum Services collection.  Copyright Bolton Council. 

Ben Topp's opened at the top of Bath Street in 1986. The former St George’s school building, which since the early-eighties has backed onto Topp Way, was built in 1847 but was bought in 1981 by businessman Des Duxbury who wanted to turn it into a free house. A finance company backing the project stepped down so Tetley’s brewery stepped in with a free trade loan. [1].

 It was initially named after Ben Topp, which was something of an oddity as the prominent trade unionist Mr Topp is believed to have been teetotal. In 1986 the pub won an award from the Civic Trust, much to the puzzlement of the writer in local beer magazine What’s Doing [2], but the premises did nothing as a pub, probably as it was too far out of the town centre. Revellers weren’t likely to make a detour along St George’s Road on their way to the nightclub on Bridge Street (the old Palais building knows as Ikon, Ritzy and initially the Palais) and by 1988 it was up for sale for a price of £350,000.

In 1994 the then-Bolton Wanderers striker John McGinlay took over and turned it into a sports bar named McGinlay’s. That wasn’t as successful as McGinlay’s spell at the Wanderers and it later became a cabaret bar called Absolutely Fabulous before becoming a furniture showroom.

In 2009 the Bolton News reported plans for the building to be turned into a restaurant. Owner Clarence House Properties Ltd planned to add a number of one-bedroom apartments on the upper floors but went bust before the plans could come to fruition. The building remains empty.

[1] Bolton Beer Break, Summer 1988.
[2] What’s Doing, June 1986.
[3] Bolton News, 17 September 2009.

Here is a side view of the building taken at the same time as the image at the top of the page. Clarence Street can be seen tailing off into the distance. Clarence Street once linked Vernon Street with Kay Street but is now a fraction of its former length. Photo from the Bolton Library and Museum Services collection.  Copyright Bolton Council.