Saturday, 12 April 2014

Crompton's Monument, 35-39 Mill Street



Mill Street, Mill Hill, Bolton looking towards the town centre, photographed in April 2014. Photo copyright Lost Pubs Of Bolton.  The Town Hall can just about be seen in the distance, Bury New Road runs across the image beyond the traffic lights in the background. St Peter’s Way cannot be seen but runs parallel with Bury New Road though at a lower level. Before the area was redeveloped Mill Street ran at an angle roughly beyond the where the traffics lights are all the way down to Church Wharf and the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal. Given that the pub was still standing when St Peter’s Way was open it is likely that it stood close to the banking that now leads down to the by-pass. Hilary Devey lived in the pub shortly before it closed and said it was at the top of a hill.

The 1830 Beerhouse Act saw an explosion of public houses all over the country. In Bolton, there was a particular increase in the number of small pubs opening in working-class residential areas and the Mill Hill area saw a huge increase.

Nowadays, Mill Hill is roughly bounded by St Peter’s Way, Folds Road, Bury New Road and Kestor Street. Prior to the 1830 Act there were no pubs in the area, but as our map shows there were subsequently around a dozen beerhouses in this densely populated part of Bolton.

One of the pubs that opened after 1830 was the Crompton’s Monument on Mill Street. By 1862 it was brewing its own beer and was under the control of John Cooper and that year John’s cousin Joseph Sharman moved to the pub to work alongside him.

Sharman was born in Derbyshire in 1841 and by the age of 8 he was working down a coal mine. He moved to Bolton to help out at his cousin’s pub, but John Cooper died in 1868 and his widow, Ann, leased the pub and the brewery to Joseph.

The enterprise clearly prospered and by 1874 Sharman had built his own brewery on Mere Hall Street, about a mile away from the Crompton’s Monument. He went on to build up a tied estate of some 58 pubs and became a Conservative councillor for the North Ward in 1886.

Sharman died in July 1916 and is buried at St Peter’s, Halliwell. The brewery was sold to George Shaw and Son Ltd of Leigh in 1927. Shaw’s subsequently merged with Walker’s of Warrington in 1931, while Walker’s in turn merged with Tetley Walker of Leeds in 1960. A number of former Sharman pubs remain and were Tetley houses for many years, at least until breweries sold off much of their tied estates in the nineties. The town centre pub now known as the Flying Flute was once a Sharman’s pub named the Fleece.

Back to the Crompton’s Monument and it seems that Sharman didn’t hang on to the pub after he moved to Mere Hall Street.  Gordon Readyhough states that it later became a Cornbrook pub after their purchase of the tied estate of John Atkinson & Co Ltd from Boardman’s United Breweries in 1898, which suggests that either Joseph Sharman or Ann Cooper had already sold out by then, most likely when the Mere Hall Brewery was built. [1]

The family of local businesswoman and Dragon's Den judge Hilary Devey were the final licensees of the Crompton’s Monument. In her book Bold As Brass: My Story, Ms Devey describes the pub:

“The main room, which was filled with chairs and tables, was always heaving and off it was the vault, a tiny room where all the diggers used to sit playing cards and dominoes.” [2]

The diggers were the Irish labourers employed on the construction of St Peters Way and who frequented Crompton’s Monument while constructing the by-pass.

Eventually, the Crompton’s Monument was the subject to a compulsory purchase order and it closed in 1972. The entire Mill Hill area has been redeveloped as an industrial estate. The final pub in the area, the Wellington, closed in 2013.

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

[2] Bold As Brass: My Story, by Hilary Devey. Published by MacMillan (2012). 

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