Thursday, 2 October 2014

Grey Mare, 6 Newport Street

Grey Mare Newport Street Bolton

Newport Street in 1957 with Victoria Square in the distance. The third building up, beneath the Allsopp’s sign, is the Grey Mare. Picture from the Bolton Library and Museum Service collection, copyright Bolton Council. All the properties were demolished soon after the photo was taken. Battersby’s  ended up in a property further up Newport Street which was later turned into a supermarket which housed Whelan’s, then Morrison’s, Kwik Save, Iceland and B&M Bargains before being demolished as part of the new bus-rail Interchange.

The Grey Mare on Newport Street dated back to the 1830s although the building was initially constructed for other purposes. In his Historical Gleanings Of Bolton and District, TB Barton states the building was initially built to house the Bolton Chronicle, the local newspaper that began publication in 1824. By the 1830s the Chronicle had moved off and the building put to more useful purposes as a beer house before obtaining a full public house licence in 1844. [1]

In those days the address was given as 19 Cheapside rather than Newport Street. Cheapside ran from Victoria Square up to Ashburner Street. The three streets – Cheapside, Newport Street and Ashburner Street - met where the Newport Arcade now is. It was called Cheapside because in the middle of the nineteenth century this was the town’s main market place and the goods on offer in Cheapside were said to be of an inferior quality and were therefore less expensive than in the Market Place, which was where Victoria Square now is - hence the name.

The 1853 Bolton Directory gives the licensee as Squire Wolstenholme. Two of Mr Wolstenholme's sons went into the licensed trade. One of Squire's sons later ran the Lord Hill on Sidney Street.

By 1871, Thomas Ellis is listed as the landlord. Unfortunately, the entry was already out of date by the time the directory was published. Ellis had gone out of business and was living in an apartment at number 5 McHale’s Court, a row of low-grade tenements just off Derby Street. The McDonald's restaurant opposite the university now stands on the site of McHale’s Court.

Thomas Ellis was succeeded by John Wolstenholme - son of Squire - who remained at the Grey Mare until at least 1885. 

The Grey Mare was later a William Tong’s house and became a Walker’s pub when they took over Tong’s in 1923.

Last orders were called in 1957. Plans were laid to demolish all the properties on the western side of Newport Street along with properties on Old Hall Street South. The Grey Mare stood on the corner of Back Exchange Street, a small thoroughfare running down the side of the pub which was built over when Newport Street was redeveloped.

The pub's full license was transferred to the Mosley Arms, a newly-built pub on Red Lane, Breightmet.

[1] Bolton Pubs, 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough.


  1. Squire Wolstenholme is my Gt Gt Gt Grandfather, he was born in Heywood in 1810. Married Ann Parkinson in 1841 in Walton le Dale and spent a few years in Preston initially working in wool. By the time my Gt Gt Grandfather John Wolstenholme was born in 1846, he had becoming a beer seller but initially still in Preston.

    Squire died in 1866. The entry about Thomas Ellis's short-lived tenancy is interesting. John Wolstenholme was listed as licensee in the census in 1871 and the family continued to live and work at the pub up until 1885 when John's youngest was born there, and probably 1888 when John died.

    I'd only been looking for a photo of the Grey Mare in the last few days and drawn a blank so this is perfect timing; thank you!

  2. p.s. Forgot to add the Squire Wolstenholme at the Lord Hill is probably Squire Snr's son, John's younger brother, who was running a beer house in 1871 at 1&3 Back Defence St, Bolton. He was born in Preston too.

  3. Thanks for that David. I'll correct the entry and also about the Lord Hill. I noticed John Wolstenholme at 6 Newport Street on some of the records I looked at and wondered if he was a relation.

  4. See also the Royal Tiger, 4 Noble Street for more on Squire Wolstenholme. The Royal Tiger.