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.

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