Monday, 24 March 2014

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).

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