Saturday, 26 April 2014

Clarence Hotel, 176 Bradshawgate

Clarence Hotel Bradshawgate Bolton

The Clarence Hotel pictured around 1990 shortly before its closure. The cafe, the barbers shop and Dzubias's electrical component shop have all gone. Only the Clarence, the newsagent and the Alma at the other end of the block remained. All bar the Alma were pulled down to make way for a retail unit.

The Clarence was situated at 176 Bradshawgate, not far from its junction with Trinity Street and close to where it becomes Manchester Road. For many years it stood opposite the Trotters and its predecessors, the Queens and the Brown Cow.

The Clarence was a large ornate building and by the time it closed it consisted of a hard core of older customers many of whom had drank in there for years. The pub was noted for its 'free-and easy' live shows.  There was a central bar with two separate entrances leading to a lounge and a vault. The real revival of the seventies and eighties seemed to have passed it by, though that could be said of a lot of Greenall’s pubs in Bolton. But it was a nice traditional local, though in a part of the town centre where trade was declining.

The Clarence was built in 1844 by Rowland Hall Heaton [1].  Born around 1807, Heaton had an interesting business career. He was a local joiner, builder and timber merchant who had a saw mill in Deansgate, according to the 1836 directory.  That same year he built a cotton factory, the Parkfield Mill – also known as Solomon’s Temple - in Dawes Street on what is now the site of Morrison’s car park. There were also three streets of housing next to the mill, presumably for the benefit of its employees. The street’s names: Rowland Street, Hall Street and Heaton Street. Only the latter still existed according to the Bolton map of 1891 although the area – known as Newtown – had a reputation as having some of the worst housing in Bolton. The other two streets and the mill had both gone, having been replaced by St Patrick’s school. The mill was eventually converted into a theatre, known as the Colossal Temple. It burned down in 1882.

In 1839 Hall was granted a patent along with John Williamson Whittaker for “certain improvements in the means of connecting or uniting straps or bands for driving machinery.” [2] However, around that time things began to go wrong. In March 1840 Parliament was informed that Heaton’s factory was one of several in Bolton and Stockport being investigated under the Factories Act, apparently at the behest of workers in those mills. [3] The following month he was declared bankrupt though he appears to have remained at his home in Victoria Terrace, a pleasant row of houses situated on land later occupied by Bolton Technical College and whose gardens fronted onto Manchester Road. [4]

By 1843 Heaton was back in business as a joiner, builder and timber merchant at the bottom end of Bradshawgate where a number of timber yards were situated. He must have sensed another business opportunity. Trinity Street station had opened a few years earlier and somehow Heaton got the money together to build a hotel for people arriving in the town by train. The Clarence Hotel – named after the Duke Of Clarence, who later became King William IV – was completed in 1844. However, Heaton died in Ormskirk in June 1845 and control of the new enterprise fell to his wife, Marianne.  

The Heaton family remained in control of the Clarence for a number of years but by the end of the 19th-century it was bought by the Manchester Brewery Company. The Bolton brewery concern of Magee, Marshall & Co bought the Clarence in 1941 and it became a Greenall’s pub when they took over Magee’s in 1958.

 There were once reports that the pub was haunted. A feature in the Bolton Evening News in 1999 – some years after the pub was closed – claimed that a band named Nothing Sacred used one of its upstairs room to practice in. As the BEN put it:

"Manager Sandra Southern described how three gun shots were heard during a rehearsal. The horrified band tried to bolt from the room only to find the door was locked.After several attempts one of the band members found the door opened with ease despite his earlier difficulty.” [5]
The Clarence closed down around 1991. Breweries were keen to divest of both pubs and breweries and almost the whole of the block including the Clarence – a Post Office, a cafĂ©, Maurice Kobelt’s hairdressers and Dzubias’s electrical components shop – were bought by a property company looking to build a retail store. Only the Alma survived.
A JJB Sports store was built in its place before being closed after the company got into financial difficulties. At the time of writing (April 2014) the store was closed again having most recently been a retailer of motor cycle leatherware.

The site of the former Clarence Hotel. Situated on the corner of Bradshawgate and Byng Street, the pub was one of a number of properties pulled down in the early nineties to facilitate the construction of a retail outlet. A post office was situated next door to the Clarence, the location of which was where the pillar box still stands. Image date 26 April 2014. Copyright Lost Pubs Of Bolton 2014.

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

[3] Mirror of Parliament, Volume 2, 1840. Retrieved 26 April 2014.

[5] Bolton Evening News, 19 July 1999Retrieved 26 April 2014.

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