Friday, 19 September 2014

Red Cross, Bradshawgate

Bradshawgate pictured in 1965. This picture is taken from Bolton Library Museum Service’s Local History collection and is copyright Bolton Council. The Red Cross is the second building from the end and closed down the year before the picture was taken. 

Bradshawgate pictured in April 2012, copyright Google Street View. The Red Cross and the properties on either side of it were demolished and replaced by  Sun Alliance House. The Prosecco Italian restaurant closed the same year and is now the Downtown bar. Note the presence in both pictures of one of Bolton town centre’s great survivors: Arthur Morris’s cigar shop. The fourth generation of Morrises run the shop, which has been around since 1903.

The Red Cross was situated on the Silverwell Street corner of Bradshawgate.

Although it doesn’t appear in Pigot’s Directory for 1818-1820 Gordon Readyhough [1], in his book Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, states that it was built in 1817. The building was certainly in existence by 1821 when William Taylor was listed as landlord.

Although many pubs include the suffix ‘Hotel’ as part of their name the Red Cross really was a place for overnight accommodation, at least in the early part of its existence. It was one of only nine hotels listed in the ‘Inns and Posting Houses’ section of the 1853 Bolton Directory. By the time the 1871 edition was published it had left ‘Hotels’ and skipped over to the ‘Innkeepers’ section, so it became a drinking-only establishment in the 1860s rather than a place of temporary lodgings.

It was known locally as T’Blood Tub. One can only imagine why, but in his book Classic Soil: Community, Aspiration, and Debate in the Bolton Region of Lancashire, 1819-1845, Malcolm Hardman suggests it was so-called because the “industrially maimed” would call there for a stiff drink on the way to the infirmary situated at the top of Nelson Square.

Hardman adds that Richard Carlile, the 19th-century campaigner for universal suffrage and the free press was the guest of a dinner hosted in his honour in August 1827 by the Red Cross’s then landlord, James Fogg, a military man from an old Darcy Lever family. Carlile was one of the speakers scheduled to address the meeting at Peterloo in 1819 before the assembled crowd was attacked by the yeomanry in what became the Peterloo Massacre. He later took up with Eliza Sharples, the daughter of a Bradshawgate quilt manufacturer. She became his common-law wife and they had four children together. [2]

A number of local societies were based at the Red Cross including one named the Love and Unity Of The World Friendly Society, a name that sounds as though it came straight out of the 1960s but which was actually based at the pub in 1877. The local branch of the Beamers, Twisters, and Drawers' Association was meeting at the Red Cross in 1910.

An advertisement for the Red Cross believed to date back to around 1870.

As a pub it was eventually bought by a brewery, in this case the local firm of William Tong’s who brewed at the top of Blackshaw Lane, off Deane Road. The Red Cross was later sold to Magee, Marshall & Co of Daubhill, probably after 1923 when Tong’s were themselves bought out by Walker Cain Ltd.

It was owned by Greenall Whitley when it closed in 1964, six years after Greenall’s bought out Magee’s. However, the building remained empty for four more years before it was demolished along with neighbours Joshua and Tom Taylor’s, a jeweller’s and properties on Silverwell Street.

In 1971 Sun Alliance House opened the site. The ground floor of the new building was given over to an Italian restaurant and for over 40 years the site of the Red Cross hosted Enzo’s, Tiggi’s and finally Prosecco. But in 2012, a new pub opened on the site, Downtown, a bar and disco aimed at the over-40s but this closed in 2016.

The Red Cross pictured from the top of Nelson Square. Workers injured in industrial accidents in the 19th century would call for a stiff drink at the pub before presenting themselves at the infirmary situated behind the photographer.

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Classic Soil: Community, Aspiration, and Debate in the Bolton Region of Lancashire, 1819-1845, Malcolm Hardman. Published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.

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