Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Grapes Hotel, Victoria Square

Grapes Hotel Victoria Square Bolton

The Grapes is on the right of this photograph taken from the clock tower of the Town Hall around 1900. Nearby shops included Hyde Brothers, T Hindle, the  British and Colonial Meat Company and Charles Bowker. Photograph from the Bolton Library and Museums Service collection. Copyright Bolton Council.

The Grapes was situated on Victoria Square, though when it opened in 1840 the square was actually the New Market Place

During the early part of the nineteenth century, like in so many of the old-established pubs in Bolton, this pub played host to numerous political discussion groups [1]. The politics discussed depended on how well-furbished the pub was. The Ship on Bradshawgate was quite plush and was frequented by the town’s businessmen, as was the Swan Hotel. The customers in those pubs were more likely to lean towards the Tory Party. The George and Dragon on Oxford Street played host to a Liberal debating society, while in the poorer part of Bolton, the Dog Inn – also known as the Talbot – on Brown Street was a meeting place for more left-wing radical politics. [2]

In the Grapes’ early days it was adjoined by a portable theatre which had been placed there before the pub opened. Parish’s fit-up travelling theatre performed Margaret’s Ghost there in February 1836. The California market was subsequently situated next to the pub. [3]

Gordon Readyhough describes the Grapes as “a typical town centre pub”. Entrances were in Victoria Square and in Exchange Street which still runs down by the side of the former site of the pub. [4]

The Grapes closed in 1960 and was demolished in the same year. Shops were built on the site. A Wimpy bar was on part of the site for many years. That was succeeded by Kingburger and now a cafĂ© named Tiffany's In The Square.  

[1] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, 1982
[2] Malcolm Hardman’s book Classic Soil: Community, Aspiration, and Debate in the Bolton Region of Lancashire, 1819-1845 goes much deeper into the local politics of that time.
[3] Arthur Lloyd’s theatre history site.  Accessed 14 October 2014.
[4] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

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