Tuesday, 15 April 2014

King's Arms, Deansgate

Kings Arms Deansgate Bolton

Elizabeth Ashworth, the licensee of the King's Arms, pictured at the turn of the century. A few years after the photo was taken Mrs Ashworth died and the pub was sold to Jackson's Brewery of Spa Road.

The King’s Arms was situated at 86 Deansgate. The pub dated back to the 18th century and the building can still be seen, though at the time of writing (April 2014) it was not in active use.

By the early-nineteenth century the pub was run by the Stewart family with Thomas Stewart as landlord in 1818 and he had been succeeded by Ann Stewart – presumably his wife – in 1824. She was still listed as the licensee in the 1836 directory.

The pub brewed its own beer until the early part of the 20th century.

The noted author and local historian, the late Norman Kenyon, lived at the King’s Arms from his birth in 1917 until 1929. Norman’s father, Frank Kenyon, took over the pub the year before Norman was born and the family remained there until they left to run a fish and chip shop at 42 St Helens Road.

In his book Bolton Memories, Norman blames a drop in trade after the pub’s owners, Jackson’s Brewery of Spa Road – half a mile away from the pub - were taken over by George Shaw & Son Ltd of Leigh in 1927. [1]

“Many customers didn’t take to the new beer, preferring to go to other pubs such as the Blue Boar,” Norman wrote.

Shaw’s weren’t in charge for long and were taken over themselves by Walker Cain Ltd of Warrington in 1931. The King’s Arms became a Walker’s pub until they merged with Joshua Tetley & Sons Ltd of Leeds to form Tetley Walker Ltd. Tetley’s soon decided to close the pub and last orders were finally called in 1962. The pub remained empty for some 12 years before being taken over by a booksellers named Chapter & Verse.

In his book, Pubs Of Bolton 1800 – 2000 [2], Gordon Readyhough stated that it was a religious bookshop. Others recall a more varied selection of books on sale at the shop, which was run by some long-haired gentlemen. However, the layout of the shop was very much as it was in its days as a pub with a short corridor near the entrance with two rooms on either side.

The image at the top of the page is that of Mrs Ashworth, a former landlady who is pictured standing outside the pub some time in the early 1900s. Norman Kenyon wrote an account he was told of the death of Mrs Ashworth, which took place in December 1909, a year after the death of her husband, Henry.

“It was a stark contrast to the frail old lady pictured at the door of Gordon Readyhough’s book Pubs Of Bolton Town Centre. Before he took the licence, Father worked for Mrs Porteous, who ran the Kings Arms from 1911 to 1916. She told him that when Mrs Ashworth died they had to take the sashes out of a bedroom window and lower the coffin to the street because of the awkward stairs and landing.” [1]

The premises were remodelled in the eighties. Chapter & Verse closed in 1980 and the Preston firm of Sweeten’s took over and converted the shop into an open plan. The rickety floorboards were still a feature as they were in Chapter & Verse days. Two of Sweeten’s employees bought the shop in 1997. The shop was Bolton’s final independent bookseller but it closed in 2011 and the building is no longer used.

The shop is pictured here on its final day of trading. 

Proposals to demolish the row of buildings in 2005 and replace them with 24 small shop units came to nothing.

According to the book Haunted Bolton, the building was supposed to be haunted with a number of people alleged to have experienced some sort of paranormal activity. A former landlord sensed the spirit of an elderly lady said to have passed away at the pub in the early-twentieth century (maybe the ghost of Mrs Ashworth). A subsequent psychic investigation sensed the spirit of a middle-aged man on the upper floor. [3]

[1] Bolton Memories by Norman Kenyon, published by Neil Richardson (1993).
[2] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[3] Haunted Bolton, by Stuart Hilton and Michelle Cardno. Extract here.  Retrieved 15 April 2014.

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