Friday, 18 July 2014

Mortfield Tavern, Gaskell Street

Gaskell Street as it turns into Bromilow Way, pictured in April 2012 (copyright Google Street View). Nelson Mill and the adjoining cottages, which date back to the early-nineteenth century, are pretty much as they were when the Mortfield Tavern was in existence. The car park on the right marks site of the Mortfield.

The name ‘Mortfield’ crops up frequently around the Chorley Old Road area. An area on the north-eastern side of the bottom end of Chorley Old Road was known as Mortfield and even today the name lives on in the Mortfield Angling Club fishing at Mortfield Lodge, while Bolton Rugby Union Club’s ground is known as the Mortfield Pavilion and a housing development on the site of the former Polish Club is named Mortfield Gardens.

Previously, there was the Mortfield Bowling Club on Osborne Grove – now one of our lost clubs – and the Mortfield Bleachworks, owned by the Cross family (later known as Shepherd-Cross) and which was in existence from around 1821 to 1961. It is pictured here in 1927. [1] The Shepherd-Cross family lived in Mortfield House, just off Mortfield Lane, at the back of the bleachworks.

The Mortfield Tavern was situated at number 18, Gaskell Street, a bit further along from the bleachworks and it probably took its name from its proximity to Mortfield Street, which ran down by the side of the pub.

This area of Bolton was built up in the 1870s and the Mortfield Tavern opened up as a beerhouse around that time. It was owned by Robert Wood of the Prince Arthur Brewery, which was situated in St John Street, off Higher Bridge Street.

When the Prince Arthur Brewery ceased trading in 1915, the Mortfield Tavern was sold to William Tong’s, whose brewery was situated on Deane Road. There was an element of having their ‘tanks on someone else’s lawn’ as the Mortfield was only a stone’s throw away from Sharman’s Mere Hall Brewery.

Not that it mattered, ultimately. Both breweries’ pubs ended up in the hand of the Warrington company Walker Cain with Tong’s selling out in 1923.

The Mortfield Tavern continued until 1957. Walker’s had just built the Castle on Crompton Way and in order to get a full drinks licence they had to surrender the licences of no fewer than three beerhouses. The Mortfield; the Pineapple on Radcliffe Road, Darcy Lever; and the Bee Hive on Duke Street all bit the dust as Tonge Moor gained a rare pub.

The whole of that part of Gaskell Street was redeveloped in the sixties and seventies. The Mortfield Tavern was demolished and the likes of Mortfield Street, Lyon Street and Orm Street were all swept away. The old Gaskell Street Primary School, which stood near the Mortfield, was knocked down and rebuilt.

The site of the Mortfield now forms part of the car park of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of The Latter Day Saints a new church set back from the road.  Ironic, really, given the Mormons’ less than welcoming attitude to booze.

[1] St Mark’s website, David Dunne.

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