Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hawthorns, Club Indie-Go, Crompton's Mule

Hawthorns pictured in 2009 (copyright Google Street View).

In December 1978, Crompton’s Mule restaurant opened in a former grain store and garage on Spa Road. [1]

The restaurant was an early outlet for Theakston’s beers but by the early-eighties the local real ale magazine reported that it had been selling Draught Bass. That was withdrawn from Crompton’s Mule towards the end of 1982. [2]

Hawthorns pictured during its piano-bar days in the 1980s.

The change to Hawthorns came in July 1984. By this time it was owned by veterans of the local nightclub scene who decided to try something different. Initially, Hawthorns was a piano bar, complete with large grand piano – which wasn't merely for decorative purposes. A pianist was employed to tinkle the ivories most nights of the week. Again, real ale was tried but it proved to be short-lived. [3] [4]

A change of management came in April 1993 when Hawthorns came under the auspices of the people who ran Oscar’s CafĂ© Bar underneath The Wellsprings on Le Mans Crescent. The club had moved on from being a piano bar and was now a nightclub playing mainstream pop music, but it was a little off the beaten track. The change of management meant that for the three nights a week it opened – Thursday to Saturday -Hawthorns became an outlet for rock and indie music and like Oscar’s, Hawthorns had a live music policy with bands on most nights it was open.

A refurbishment in 2003 led to a name change to Club Indie-Go, though the music policy remained unchanged.

The end for Club Indie-Go came at the beginning of January 2006 under the most unfortunate of circumstances. The gable end on a neighbouring building collapsed and building inspectors forced the club to close. At first the closure looked to be temporary: "I have been informed that we will have to stay closed this weekend which is a huge disappointment," Gay Nuttall, who ran the club told the Bolton News. [5]

The building’s owner, Tasos Pattichis, said: "It is my main priority to make the building safe so that the club can start again as soon as possible.”

It never reopened. The building was demolished in 2011, not just Club Indie-Go and the adjoining, structurally unsound business, but the whole of that block. The land - now cleared for any potential development - remains empty. Gay Nuttall ended up in Canada.

[1] Bolton Town Centre, A Modern History. Part One: Deansgate, Victoria Square, Churchgate and Surrounding Areas, 1900-1998, by Gordon Readyhough.  Published by Neil Richardson (1998).
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ monthly magazine. November 1982 issue.
[3] What’s Doing, August 1984.
[4] What’s Doing, September 1984.
[5] Bolton News, 12 January 2006. Accessed 10 November 2014. 

Two fliers reproduced here from the Hawthorns Facebook group. At the top, a December 1993 for both Oscar's and Hawthorns reflects the breadth of live music on offer at the two venues. You could often catch two gigs on the same night. Note the John Cooper Clarke gig at Hawthorns on 23 December. JCC had appeared at various folk clubs in Bolton prior to taking on the mantle of 'punk poet' in the late-seventies. He also appeared in the upstairs room at The Gaiety bar (now the Flying Flute) along with Ed Banger in December 1978. By late-'93 he was down on his luck, but a recent surge of interest in his work sees him playing larger venues. Oscar's played host to more 'mature' acts such as The Lost Boys or veteran blues guitarist Victor Brox. The flier below is from March 1994.

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