Thursday, 22 May 2014

Ram's Head, 275 Derby Street

The site of the Ram's Head at the Derby Street junction with  High Street. 

The Ram’s Head was situated at 275 Derby Street on the corner of High Street and operated as a pub for around 150 years. It was initially a beer house, meaning it opened after the 1830 Beer House Act was passed, and as such it was able to sell beer but not wines and spirits.

It seems we have a man named Peter Hodson to thank for the Ram’s Head. The 1836 Bolton Directory lists Mr Hodson as a beer retailer on Derby Street but by the time the 1843 Bolton Directory was published he was a licensed victualler, meaning he had a full licence to sell the harder stuff as well as beer. However, the 1841 census lists Mr Hodson as a ‘publican’ – in other words he had a public house licence by then. He ran the pub for some years as he is listed as the landlord in the 1853 Bolton Directory. [1]

The pub was later taken over by the local firm of Magee, Marshall and Co, whose brewery was situated just a couple of hundred yards away from the Ram’s Head on Cricket Street. It later became a Greenall’s pub as a result of their takeover of Magee’s in 1958.

The Ram’s Head had a classic pub layout: a lounge to the right of the front entrance and a ‘vault’ or pool room to the left with the bar laid out in the middle.It continued as licensed premises until the early part of the millennium, but the end for the Ram’s Head as a pub came in 1987. [2] 

The Crown Hotel, a little further down Derby Street, had been bought from Greenall's in 1980 by the Royal Antediluvian Order of the Buffaloes. At one time the Crown was Magees brewery tap, but despite the brewery being closed by Greenall’s in 1970 the company still owned the brewery site for its Cambrian soft drinks subsidiary.

Someone had the bright idea of knocking down the Crown Hotel to free up the land for a few more parking spaces – but what about the Buffaloes?  Greenall’s offered them the Ram’s Head instead. The premises closed as a pub and continued for around the next 15 years as the RAOB Club. When it finally closed its doors it was converted into an Asian grocery store.

Rams Head Derby Street Bolton

The Ram's Head can be seen on the right of this view down Derby Street from the 1950s.

[1] Four Bolton Directories: 1821/2, 1836, 1843, 1853. Reprinted by Neil Richardson (1982).

[2] Bolton Beer Break, the magazine of the Bolton Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale. Spring 1988 issue.


  1. Peter Hodson was my Great Great Great Grandfather. Steve Priestley

  2. Peter Hodson was my Great Great Great Grandfather. Steve Priestley