Saturday, 25 October 2014

Three Tuns (Old Three Tuns Hotel), Moor Lane

Old Three Tuns Hotel, Moor Lane, Bolton  1973
The Old Three Tuns can be seen boarded up in the distance on this 1973 photograph from the Bolton Library and Museums Service collection (copyright Bolton Council).

There were three pubs in Bolton by the name of the Three Tuns. One was on Bridge Street, one on Chapel Street, off Folds Road, and this one on Moor Lane opposite what is now the fire station.

Having multiple pubs with the same name wasn’t uncommon. Bolton had two Nags Heads – the Higher Nags and the Lower Nags– two Millstones, two pubs named the Hen and Chickens, two Dog and Partridges and there was a whole host of pubs named the  Bowling Green.  

The full name of this pub was the Old Three Tuns Hotel. Having ‘Old’ as a prefix usually denoted it was the original. Not so in this case. The Three Tuns on Chapel Street was in existence by 1800, the Old Three Tuns on Moor Lane followed a few years later in 1804.

The pub was a meeting place for the St John’s Lodge of the Freemasons. The lodge was formed in 1815 in Chowbent (or Atherton as it is now known). Unusually, it had its headquarters in a number of towns moving from Chowbent to Tyldesley and then to Halshaw Moor (now Farnworth) before basing itself at the Three Tuns in 1836. The lodge’s itchy feet were in evidence yet again when it upped sticks just two years later and it met at three more Bolton pubs before returning to the Three Tuns in 1842. It remained at the pub for the next 31 years. One of the oldest lodges in the country, St John’s Lodge number 348 still exists and meets these days at the Masonic Hall on Silverwell Street. [1]

The part of Moor Lane around the bottom end of Deane Road gave us two of  Bolton’s oldest sporting institutions. Bolton Wanderers were formed at Christ Church school and were headquartered at the nearby Britannia Inn before moving to Burnden Park in 1895. Meanwhile, in 1908, Bolton United Harriers were formed at the Three Tuns.

One of the pub's landlords who went on to greater things was Frank Whittle. He ran the pub in the early-sixties before the licensed trade took him off to a further seven pubs in various parts of the country. Frank ended up in Stowmarket, Suffolk, where he served as a local councillor and was the town’s mayor in 2007-08. [2]

The Three Tuns was a Magees pub for much of the twentieth century. It was then bought by Greenall Whitley as part of their takeover of Magees in 1958 and the pub lasted until 1973. Council plans for the southern limb of the inner relief road meant it was bought under a compulsory purchase order and demolished soon after it closed.  

[1] Lane's Masonic Records. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
[2] Leigh Journal. 14 May 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2014.


Moor Lane pictured in this April 2012 image (copyright Google Street View). The site of the Old Three Tuns was roughly on the flowerbeds at the side of the building, which was a Sainsbury's supermarket from 1990 to 2004.






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