Sunday, 19 October 2014

African Chief, Moss Street

Here’s an interesting photo. It’s from the Bolton Libraries and Museum collection. (Copyright Bolton Council) but not much is known about the image.

‘The African’ – African what? It looks as though it may have been a pub sign, in which case it could have been the African Chief on Moss Street. The vehicle in the picture and the dress of the man walking up the street and the men further up all suggest it is later than the turn of the century so it would have been taken some years after the pub closed, which was in 1908.

The African Chief dated back to the 1860s when it was owned by Charles Seddon of the St George’s Hotel, St George’s Road. [1] By 1871 it was one of two beerhouses in Moss Street: one at number 4 owned by George Davison and one at number 5 owned by David Orrell. This latter establishment is more likely to have been the African Chief.

A number of Irish families lived in Moss Street in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1881, the Irish-born William Thompson and his wife Mary kept the pub. Another Irishman, Francis Lenaughan, would soon succeed him. Other Irish-born residents in the street included the Queenans and the Linehans. [2]

The African Chief became an Atkinson’s pub and in 1898 it came into the hands of the Manchester brewery Cornbrook’s after they took over Boardman’s brewery who had bought out Atkinson’s in 1895. Cornbrook’s obviously decided to sell the African Chief as it was owned by Hamer’s when its licence was refused in 1908.

So is the photo of the African Chief? It’s possible but by no means certain. A look at a map of the area in 1893 shows Moss Street coming to an end by Victoria Mills but all we really have to go off is an incomplete sign.

Moss Street was partly redeveloped in the twenties and Moss Street Baths were built in 1924 on the site of the former Richmond Terrace and Richmond Place. The baths remained open until 1987.

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800 – 2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] About Laurence Queenan. Retrieved 20 October 2014.

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