Saturday, 15 November 2014

Railway Hotel, corner of Trinity Street and Newport Street

Railway Hotel Trinity Street Bolton

The Railway Hotel on the corner of Trinity Street and Newport Street pictured in 1937 by Humphrey Spender for the Bolton Worktown project (copyright Bolton Council). 

A number of railway stations in Bolton had pubs built nearby and they were almost inevitably named the Railway or the Railway Hotel. Moses Gate and Bromley Cross stations still have their Railway pubs. The Railway on St Helens Road and the Railway Inn on Bridgeman Street were both named in honour of the Bolton to Leigh line – the world’s second oldest – which ran close to both pubs. The Railway next to Great Moor Street station lasted long after the station was closed, but the opposite was true of the Railway Hotel on the corner of Newport Street and opposite the old Trinity Street.

The Railway dated back to the 1860s and was originally a beerhouse named the Railway Tavern. It gradually expanded into two neighbouring buildings and in 1879 it gained a six-day public house licence (which meant it couldn't open on a Sunday) when a pub named the Talbot (or Old Dog) on Brown Street surrendered its licence. Seven-day opening only arrived in 1935 when the Railway took over the licence of the Cross Keys on Cross Street.

As befits its name, the Railway operated as a hotel for a good part of its existence. There was also an upstairs function room.

Norman King reminisces about the Railway on the Bolton Worktown website. He says that in the fifties and early sixties a man named Jack Francis used to sell newspapers from a window ledge outside the Railway. Later, Jack’s son Stu Francis gained fame as a comedian and children’s entertainer as the presenter of the BBC television programme Crackerjack (“it’s Friday, it’s five o’clock….”). Mike Wilson adds that new management moved into the Railway following Jack’s death and refused to allow newspapers to be sold from their property, even if it was only from a small part of their window ledge.

The Railway was owned for many years by Threlfall’s brewery and passed into Whitbread’s hands when they took over the Salford brewery in 1967. Within six years the Railway had closed down. The pub was demolished soon afterwards for a number of years until the late eighties the site was an empty patch of land.

By the mid-eighties plans were advanced to replace the former Trinity Street station building with a new construction across the road. The plan wasn’t popular and readers of a certain age will forever compare the current building somewhat unfavourably with the far more grand building that once stood on Trinity Street bridge. Anecdotal evidence of the time from staff at the station suggested that subsidence and strain put on the bridge were apparently the reasons for the change. A new bus station was also to be built replacing a number of bus stops that had previously been sited on Newport Street a little further down from the Railway (buses to Astley Bridge were amongst those running from there).

In 1987, Bolton Interchange was opened incorporating the site of the Railway as well as the former buildings behind it on Newport Street.  After the interchange was completed the clock from the old Trinity Street railway station was placed on land formerly occupied by the pub.

This view, taken from the old Johnson Street footbridge in 1973, shows the rear of the Railway Hotel just prior to its demolition. Also shown is the Holy Trinity church, which was converted into flats in 2014 after being empty for a number of years.Taken from the Bolton Library and Museums collection  (copyright Bolton Council).

Railway Hotel Newport Street Trinity Street Bolton

A 1960s view of the corner of Newport Street and Trinity Street showing the Railway Hotel. The photo would have been taken from the offices at the corner of the Hick, Hargreaves factory on the corner of Crook Street. Taken from the Bolton Library and Museums collection (copyright Bolton Council).

A May 2012 view of the corner of Trinity Street and Newport Street with the clock from the old Trinity Street station building on the site of the former Railway Hotel. (copyright Google Street View).

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