Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Cricketers Arms, Hibbert Street

The site of the former Cricketers Arms pictured in May 2012. Copyright Google Street View.

The Cricketers Arms was situated at 33-35 Hibbert Street, off Blackburn Road.

The bottom end of Blackburn Road from Waterloo Street up towards was often referred to as Back O’Th Bank, owing to its proximity to the banks of the River Tonge. Back O’Th Bank House was owned by the Slater family who owned the Little Bolton Bleachworks on Slater Lane.

Bolton Cricket Club played in the Back O’Th Bank area during its formative years but the cricket club left for a new home at Green Lane in 1875.  A few years before their exit the Cricketers Arms opened in premises not far away from Back O’Th Bank House.

The Cricketers Arms provided liquid sustenance for the residents of the recently-built rows of terraced houses: streets such as Hibbert Street, Charles Rupert Street and Blackbank Street. In 1874 William Lee, the pub’s landlord who was also the owner of the pub, obtained a full licence after the closure of the Millstone on Deansgate (not to be confused with another Millstone, on Crown Street, which still stands). [1]

In later years it also drew custom from Warburton’s Bakery, built on the site of Back O’th Bank House and which opened in 1916.

The Cricketers became a Threlfall’s pub and then a Whitbread pub after Threlfall’s were taken over in 1967.

A refurbishment in the early-eighties was done in the Whitbread style of the day. Not as garish as the "House Of Horrors" treatment meted out to the Trotters’ which was fashionable amongst Whitbread’s design teams for a while in the north-west – it was a little more tasteful.

The whole area around Hibbert Street has been redeveloped and while the street is still there the old terraced houses have all gone. But while the Cricketers closed in the 1990s the building still exists, the last of the originals left standing. It was sold off by Whitbread and is now a youth and education centre.  

The Cricketers was one of those ‘street corner’ locals that are dying breed. With the explosion of licensed premises following the 1830 Beer House Act there were many street-corner locals such as the Cricketers. Mill Hill, Halliwell and part of Great Lever were full of them. Now, in Bolton at any rate, these places are few and far between. The New Globe (formerly the Rock) closed earlier in 2014; the Portland  went in the nineties; the Spread Eagle earlier than that. The Edge Tavern and the Howcroft shut a few years ago, while estate pubs such as the Prince Rupert  and the Schooner have also taken a hammering. There aren’t many of these places left. 

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

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