Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Clifton Arms/Gateway, Newport Street


A rather forlorn-looking Gateway (formerly the Clifton Arms) pictured in April 2012 (copyright Google Street View). By then the pub had already been closed for two years.

It’s always a shame to see a pub closed and boarded up. Sometimes the pubs that have gone are ones that only ever sold keg or smooth beer and while one feels they aren’t much of a loss even that is never the case. Some of these pubs have stood for a hundred years or more and served thousands of customers. But in the case of the Gateway – or the Clifton as most people will remember it – the fact that it closed is nothing more than a crying shame.

Twenty years ago there was a good little crawl from the Clifton to the York to the Sweet Green – or the other way round before carrying on to town.

Under the stewardship of landlord Pete Morris the Clifton began selling guest beers a full three or four years before the 1990 Beer orders chipped away at the brewery tie. Jennings Bitter was a regular on his bar alongside cask Tetley Mild and Bitter long before independent brewers from outside the area got space in a tied house.

By the time Pete retired in the early 2000s he regularly had about five real ales on the bar.
But it was never the same after he left. Many regulars left. The hand pumps soon fell into disuse and although the pub began to do food at lunchtime it simply wasn’t the same any more.

Licensees came and went and nobody seemed to be able to make a go of this once-thriving pub and it closed in early 2010.

The Clifton dated back to the 19th century and in the 1870s it was a beerhouse known as the Newport Arms. In those days that part of Bolton now bounded by Newport Street, Great Moor Street, Trinity Street and Blackhorse Street was known as Newtown and was inhabited mainly by Irish immigrants who moved to Bolton after the famine.

Despite that, the Clifton claimed to be celebrating its centenary in April 1987 although presumably it was the centenary of being renamed the Clifton. Anyone buying a pint with an old penny would get it at 1887 prices (1d, or 1/2p in new money). [1]

In the early part of the twentieth-century it was one of the few tied houses belonging to Leach’s Brewery based at the Albert Arms on Derby Street, a concern that went out of business in 1936 [see the entry for the Albert for more about Leach’s]. A member of the family, Wilbraham Leach, was the landlord of the Clifton in the 1890s and married another member of a pub-owning family, Emily Hilton, whose family owned the Uncle Tom’s Cabin pub and brewery on Lever Street. 

The Clifton was sold to the Empress Brewery of Manchester before becoming a Walkers pub in 1929. Walkers merged with Tetley of Leeds in 1961. [2]

The pub underwent a refurbishment in 1980 [3]. It was one of a number of Tetley pubs that were re-branded as Walker’s outlets and were given a new range of Walkers beers as well as a refurbishment in a more traditional style.  The bar was moved to the right-hand side of the pub and the premises were re-decorated throughout. Another refurbishment took place in 1986. [4]

The Clifton was renamed the Gateway around 2004 and after its closure it was up for sale for a few years before being converted into retail premises in 2013. The Post Office based across the road from the Clifton moved into the premises after being displaced due to the demolition of properties on that side of Newport Street for the construction of Bolton’s Bus/Rail Interchange.

The pub can be seen here in 2002  and  in the background in this picture from 2010.  But this is a great pic from 1989 Note the etched windows. 

[1] Bolton Beer Break, published by the Bolton Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, Summer 1987 edition.
[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, January 1981 edition
[4] What’s Doing, September 1986

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