Monday, 28 April 2014

Anchor Inn, Union Buildings

Anchor Inn Union Buildings Bolton

The Anchor Inn, closed and boarded up on this image from the Rightmove website at the time of its sale by auction in 2010.

The Anchor Inn was those pleasant traditional back-street pubs that has been largely swept away in Bolton.

Situated in Union Buildings, off Bradshawgate, the Anchor dated back to the middle of the 19th century and we have a postman named Henry Orrell to thank for it becoming a pub.

While Union Buildings was a little longer in the 1840s than it was today, it was still only a relatively short thoroughfare, but it was home to no fewer than 71 households according to the 1841 census.[1] Henry Orrell decided to take advantage. The 1830 Beerhouse Act enabled anyone to open a public house selling only beer – not wine and spirits – on payment of 2 guineas (£2.10). So Henry opened numbers 14 and 16 Union Buildings into a beerhouse. Across the street, his neighbour at number 11, Nicholas Heyes opened a beerhouse and brewery, the Welcome Sailor, and while Heyes was still running his premises in the 1880s the Wellington, as it was then known, closed in 1906 [2]

The Bolton firm of John Atkinson & Co bought the Anchor later in the nineteenth century. Atkinson’s were taken over by Boardman United Breweries of Manchester in 1895 and Boardman’s Lancashire properties were bought by another Manchester firm, Cornbrook Brewery in 1899. Cornbrook’s were in control until 1961when they were taken over by Charrington United Breweries Ltd. Charrington merged with Bass in 1967 to form Bass Charrington and it is as a Bass house that many readers familiar with the Anchor would know it as.

Bass decided to refurbish the Anchor in 1987. [3] Walls separating the small lounge on the right-hand side of the pub were knocked down to give a more open-plan feel, while the semi-circular bar was ripped out and replaced by a long bar. With the pub’s name in mind the décor assumed a vaguely nautical theme.

At the same time real ale was introduced in the form of Bass 4X Mild and Draught Bass and while 4X Mild was withdrawn a couple of years later [4] the range was extended in the nineties. The quality of the pub’s beer was sufficiently high enough for it to be included in the Good Beer Guides for 1993, 1994 and 1995.

The Anchor went through spells of closure in the early part of the millennium but its demise as a pub came when it closed down in 2007. After being boarded up and unoccupied for three years it was sold at auction in 2010. The premises re-opened as the Babylon Café & Smoothie Bar in 2011 but closed again in 2013. It has since reopened on two occasions, first as Sparkles nightclub and latterly as a late-night bar for the town's Polish community.

The interior of the pub in its incarnation as a cafe can be seen here after it was offered for rental in 2013. (Image from The bar is the same as it was in the Anchor's day and dates back to the 1987 refurbishment when it replaced a smaller semi-circular bar. 

[1] Lan-OPC. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
[2] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[3] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester Beer Drinkers Monthly Magazine. June 1987 issue.

[4] What’s Doing, November 1989.

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