Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Wellington Inn, Bury New Road

The Wellington as seen in 2012.

A 2002 view of the pub can be seen here.  [1]

The Wellington Inn was situated at number 51 Bury New Road, Bolton.

The pub was on the edge of the densely-populated and heavily-pubbed Mill Hill district just a few hundred yards away from the town centre, but in the opposite direction was Castle Street, Dorset Street and rows of more desirable terraced housing. As this area of Bolton was developed in the late-nineteenth century it attracted a better class of punter than the older housing in Mill Hill and it was perhaps with these streets in mind that the Wellington obtained a full licence as opposed to the beer-house licenses that were prevalent in Mill Hill.

The Wellington was certainly in existence by 1871and was probably there some years earlier. Worrall's Directory for that year notes William Stubbs as the brewer there.

It was owned for  much of its existence by the Crown Brewery of Bury. Crown had a number of pubs in Bolton: the Man and Scythe on Churchgate and another Wellington, the one on Market Street in Farnworth, to name but two. Crown and its 127 pubs was taken over by Dutton’s of Blackburn in 1959, but Dutton’s sold out to Whitbread in 1964 and the Wellington spent the next 30 years or so under Whitbread ownership.

In 2010, the Wellington was bought by Pritesh Chauhan who spent £10,000 on re-decorating the pub. A function room was created and a big screen installed in time for the 2010 World Cup. Pritesh’s family helped out on the food side. He got a couple of good write-ups in the Bolton News and on the Best Of Bolton website but sadly the venture failed to take off.

In late-2012 the Wellington was put up for auction but was bought before it went under the hammer by the owner of Nash’s Pharmacy on Castle Street. It appeared on the list of 12 Bolton pubs to close in 2013 although Bolton Council’s spreadsheet of empty properties showed that it was vacated just before Christmas 2012.

Planning permission was lodged in April 2013 for the Wellington to be turned into ground-floor offices and six two-bedroom flats and this was granted in September 2013.

More pictures of the Wellington - while it was still  open - can be seen here and here from 2011

[1] Bolton.org.uk  Retrieved 29 April 2014.

The picture below shows the Wellington during its conversion into flats, April 2014. An extension was being added to the rear of the pub to help accommodate some of its six two-bedroomed flats. 






Monday, 28 April 2014

Anchor Inn, Union Buildings


The Anchor Inn, closed and boarded up on this image from the Rightmove website at the time of its sale by auction in 2010.

The Anchor Inn was those pleasant traditional back-street pubs that has been largely swept away in Bolton.

Situated in Union Buildings, off Bradshawgate, the Anchor dated back to the middle of the 19th century and we have a postman named Henry Orrell to thank for it becoming a pub.

While Union Buildings was a little longer in the 1840s than it was today, it was still only a relatively short thoroughfare, but it was home to no fewer than 71 households according to the 1841 census.[1] Henry Orrell decided to take advantage. The 1830 Beerhouse Act enabled anyone to open a public house selling only beer – not wine and spirits – on payment of 2 guineas (£2.10). So Henry opened numbers 14 and 16 Union Buildings into a beerhouse. Across the street, his neighbour at number 11, Nicholas Heyes opened a beerhouse and brewery, the Welcome Sailor, and while Heyes was still running his premises in the 1880s the Wellington, as it was then known, closed in 1906 [2]

The Bolton firm of John Atkinson & Co bought the Anchor later in the nineteenth century. Atkinson’s were taken over by Boardman United Breweries of Manchester in 1895 and Boardman’s Lancashire properties were bought by another Manchester firm, Cornbrook Brewery in 1899. Cornbrook’s were in control until 1961when they were taken over by Charrington United Breweries Ltd. Charrington merged with Bass in 1967 to form Bass Charrington and it is as a Bass house that many readers familiar with the Anchor would know it as.

Bass decided to refurbish the Anchor in 1987. [3] Walls separating the small lounge on the right-hand side of the pub were knocked down to give a more open-plan feel, while the semi-circular bar was ripped out and replaced by a long bar. With the pub’s name in mind the décor assumed a vaguely nautical theme.

At the same time real ale was introduced in the form of Bass 4X Mild and Draught Bass and while 4X Mild was withdrawn a couple of years later [4] the range was extended in the nineties. The quality of the pub’s beer was sufficiently high enough for it to be included in the Good Beer Guides for 1993, 1994 and 1995.

The Anchor went through spells of closure in the early part of the millennium but its demise as a pub came when it closed down in 2007. After being boarded up and unoccupied for three years it was sold at auction in 2010. The premises re-opened as the Babylon Café & Smoothie Bar in 2011 but closed again in 2013 and were recently offered for rental at a rate of £750 per month.




The interior of the pub in its incarnation as a cafe can be seen here after it was offered for rental in 2013. (Image from rightmove.co.uk). The bar is the same as it was in the Anchor's day and dates back to the 1987 refurbishment when it replaced a smaller semi-circular bar. 


[1] Lan-OPC. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
[2] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[3] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester Beer Drinkers Monthly Magazine. June 1987 issue.

[4] What’s Doing, November 1989.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Three Tuns, Chapel Street


Chapel Street in 1949. The Three Tuns can be seen in the foreground with the three immaculately-whitened steps leading up to the door although by this stage it hadn’t been a pub for over 15 years.

The Three Tuns was situated at number 15, Chapel Street in an area that was then known as Little Bolton, just north of the River Croal. The pub dated back to the late-nineteenth century and was one of three pubs in the town to bear that name. One was on Moor Lane while the other was on Bridge Street, not too far away from Chapel Street. (The name comes from the City Of London guilds representing brewers and vintners).

Running parallel with Chapel Street was Folds Road. In the early-nineteenth century it was known as the Edenfield Turnpike Road and was so narrow that there was room for only one cart. The road skirted the Three Tuns' bowling green which was situated where Folds Road car park now is. In 1822 the bowling green was leased to a religious group who constructed the Fold Road Independent Methodist Church on the site. The church lasted until 1968. [1]

The Three Tuns’ landlady for much of the early part of the nineteenth century was Martha Knott, who was at the pub from around 1800 until her death at the age of 79 in 1849. She ran the pub single-handedly following the death of her husband in 1815.

The Three Tuns came into the hands of local brewer Joseph Sharman until that company was taken over by George Shaw & Son Ltd of Leigh in 1926.

Shaw’s was taken over by Walker’s of Warrington in 1931 and the Three Tuns was a victim of the same business review that saw the end of the Robin Hood on Lever Street. With the takeover of Shaw’s and also the Bolton brewery of Tong’s a few years earlier, Walker’s already had two pubs within a couple of hundred yards of the Three Tuns: the Roebuck on Kay Street and the Spread Eagle on Hulme Street. All three had full licences, rather than beerhouse licences, so they could sell wines and spirits. Over on Junction Road the Vulcan Inn only had a beerhouse licence so Walker’s surrendered the Three Tuns’ licence and transferred it to the Vulcan.

The Three Tuns closed in 1933. The building was turned over to residential use before being demolished in the sixties ahead of the extension of St Peters Way into the town centre.

Very little remains of Chapel Street these days. What was once a district inhabited by “people of quality” – lawyers, doctors, manufacturers, clergy [1] – was swept aside by the needs of the motor car. Part of it is still visible as part of the rear entrance to the car park on Kay Street situated at what was once the headquarters of Edwin P Lees and before that the Co-Operative Bakery. The image below shows that end of Chapel Street. The Three Tuns was situated near to the wall that now supports the raised part of the sliproad leading from St Peters Way to St George’s Street.
   



Saturday, 26 April 2014

Clarence Hotel, 176 Bradshawgate



The site of the former Clarence Hotel. Situated on the corner of Bradshawgate and Byng Street, the pub was one of a number of properties pulled down in the early nineties to facilitate the construction of a retail outlet. A post office was situated next door to the Clarence, the location of which was where the pillar box still stands. Image date 26 April 2014. Copyright Lost Pubs Of Bolton 2014.



The Clarence was situated at 176 Bradshawgate, not far from its junction with Trinity Street and close to where it becomes Manchester Road. For many years it stood opposite the Trotters and its predecessors, the Queens and the Brown Cow.

The Clarence was a large ornate building and by the time it closed it consisted of a hard core of older customers many of whom had drank in there for years. The pub was noted for its 'free-and easy' live shows.  There was a central bar with two separate entrances leading to a lounge and a vault. The real revival of the seventies and eighties seemed to have passed it by, though that could be said of a lot of Greenall’s pubs in Bolton. But it was a nice traditional local, though in a part of the town centre where trade was declining.

The Clarence was built in 1844 by Rowland Hall Heaton [1].  Born around 1807, Heaton had an interesting business career. He was a local joiner, builder and timber merchant who had a saw mill in Deansgate, according to the 1836 directory.  That same year he built a cotton factory, the Parkfield Mill – also known as Solomon’s Temple - in Dawes Street on what is now the site of Morrison’s car park. There were also three streets of housing next to the mill, presumably for the benefit of its employees. The street’s names: Rowland Street, Hall Street and Heaton Street. Only the latter still existed according to the Bolton map of 1891 although the area – known as Newtown – had a reputation as having some of the worst housing in Bolton. The other two streets and the mill had both gone, having been replaced by St Patrick’s school. The mill was eventually converted into a theatre, known as the Colossal Temple. It burned down in 1882.

In 1839 Hall was granted a patent along with John Williamson Whittaker for “certain improvements in the means of connecting or uniting straps or bands for driving machinery.” [2] However, around that time things began to go wrong. In March 1840 Parliament was informed that Heaton’s factory was one of several in Bolton and Stockport being investigated under the Factories Act, apparently at the behest of workers in those mills. [3] The following month he was declared bankrupt though he appears to have remained at his home in Victoria Terrace, a pleasant row of houses situated on land later occupied by Bolton Technical College and whose gardens fronted onto Manchester Road. [4]

By 1843 Heaton was back in business as a joiner, builder and timber merchant at the bottom end of Bradshawgate where a number of timber yards were situated. He must have sensed another business opportunity. Trinity Street station had opened a few years earlier and somehow Heaton got the money together to build a hotel for people arriving in the town by train. The Clarence Hotel – named after the Duke Of Clarence, who later became King William IV – was completed in 1844. However, Heaton died in Ormskirk in June 1845 and control of the new enterprise fell to his wife, Marianne.  

The Heaton family remained in control of the Clarence for a number of years but by the end of the 19th-century it was bought by the Manchester Brewery Company. The Bolton brewery concern of Magee, Marshall & Co bought the Clarence in 1941 and it became a Greenall’s pub when they took over Magee’s in 1958.

 There were once reports that the pub was haunted. A feature in the Bolton Evening News in 1999 – some years after the pub was closed – claimed that a band named Nothing Sacred used one of its upstairs room to practice in. As the BEN put it:

"Manager Sandra Southern described how three gun shots were heard during a rehearsal. The horrified band tried to bolt from the room only to find the door was locked.After several attempts one of the band members found the door opened with ease despite his earlier difficulty.” [5]
The Clarence closed down around 1991. Breweries were keen to divest of both pubs and breweries and almost the whole of the block including the Clarence – a Post Office, a café, Maurice Kobelt’s hairdressers and Dzubias’s electrical components shop – were bought by a property company looking to build a retail store. Only the Alma survived.
A JJB Sports store was built in its place before being closed after the company got into financial difficulties. At the time of writing (April 2014) the store was closed again having most recently been a retailer of motor cycle leatherware.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000 by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

[3] Mirror of Parliament, Volume 2, 1840. Retrieved 26 April 2014.


[5] Bolton Evening News, 19 July 1999Retrieved 26 April 2014.



Friday, 25 April 2014

Trotters/Duck and Firkin/Queens Hotel/Brown Cow, Bradshagate



Trotters Bradshawgate Bolton




The Trotters on Bradshawgate, built in 1966, demolished in 1997 but pictured here in the late-eighties (picture from the Lost Pubs project). The bottom storey was a public bar, the middle storey was a function room and the top storey was the licencee's living quarters.

The tale of the Trotters is one of three separate pub buildings, none of which are still standing.

The Queens Hotel and the Brown Cow stood side-by-side on Bradshawgate for many years. Both pubs had been owned by the Bromley Cross brewery of J Hamers (Brewers) Ltd whose brewery stood behind the Volunteer Inn on Darwen Road since the 1890s. Hamer’s – one of 67 breweries whose beers were affected by an outbreak of arsenic poisoning in 1900 [1] – had sold out to the rapidly-expanding Dutton’s brewery of Blackburn in 1951 with the move adding Hamer’s 40 pubs to Dutton’s tied estate.

The Queens was the older of the two pubs having been built in 1800 and it was first licensed in 1856. The Brown Cow was a beerhouse until 1961 when it received a full licence. Why the likes of both Hamer’s and Dutton’s tolerated two pubs standing right next to each other is unknown although the fact that the only the Queen’s had a full licence might go some way to explaining it. Beerhouses often catered for the working men, while pubs with a full licence might be somewhere you would take your wife as they sold wines and spirits as well as beer. There was also a class element to it with beerhouses seen as very much the inferior of the two and catering for a different class of clientele.

In 1964 Duttons sold out to Whitbread. The company had grown from a small local brewery based around the Blackburn area in the late-nineteenth century to a regional brewery with 190 pubs in 1938 to a sizeable operation with 764 pubs by the time it was taken over. [2]

Whitbread was one of the new national brewers and immediately undertook a review of their expanded tied estate in Lancashire. Whereas Hamer’s and Dutton’s were happy to have two of their pubs next door to each other Whitbread took a different view, especially as both now had full licenses. The Queens was one of the buildings Graeme Shankland has suggested ought to be retained in his 1964 plan for Bolton town centre. Whitbread’s idea was far more radical - why not knock down the two old pubs and build a new, modern pub in its place?

The Queens Hotel and the Brown Cow both closed in 1965 and in 1966 the modern-looking Trotters arose in their place. The pub opened in December of that year. The name came from the nickname for Bolton Wanderers and the Trotters was a popular pre-match watering hole. The main bar was upstairs and held rock discos in the late sixties and early seventies. As Alec Martin says in his comment below, it "was a hang-out for students, hippies and the like....coolest pub in town!"
In the autumn of 1981 the Trotters closed for a refurbishment. The result was something Bolton had never seen before – more like a surreal fantasy than a pub. First of all, the name had gone: the Trotters became the Duck & Firkin. But the interior décor was something else.

Even now, more than 30 years after the event, it is difficult to read back the inventory without thinking that one has made it all up. Old sewing-machine tables replaced the Formica-topped tables. The carpet had been ripped up and hadn’t been replaced – there were just floorboards complete with sawdust. Agricultural implements had been used to decorate walls that were free of any wallpaper, just bare brickwork. Peep-hole beer barrels were placed around the room. These were empty barrels with small holes drilled into then but with the inside been lit up and illuminated with baudy cartoons, the kind of which might be seen on a seaside postcard. To cap it all there was a large vomiting frog placed over the bar – a stuffed toy expelling what looked like a huge bunch of grapes from its mouth.

The local beer drinkers’ magazine noted that at least real ale was on sale in the shape of Castle Eden Ale from a Whitbread brewery in County Durham [3] but the magazine derided refurbishments such as that seen at the Trotters. 

And it was a concept. 

Numerous pubs in the north-west  received the same treatment and critics dubbed them the ‘Whitbread House of Horrors’. The Blue Boar received a similar treatment in 1983 while the Moses Gate got off with a watered-down version the following year.

As ever, these things didn’t last. By 1988 the vomiting frogs and the baudy beer barrels had been thrown in the skip and the Trotters had its old name back. The following year it was one of three Bolton pubs fighting a cut in its opening hours. Pubs and clubs serving food could apply for an increase in its hours but when police visited the Trotters and two other premises – Maxim’s on Bradshawgate (now known as the Flying Flute) and Maxwell’s Plum – and found no food on sale they opposed their extended hours licenses. [4]

It was one of a number of death knells for the Trotters. Trade had already gravitated towards the other end of Bradshawgate and the Clarence Hotel across the road had already fallen victim to developers by the early-nineties. The Trotters closed down around 1995 and was demolished in August 1997 after being sold to Ian Anthony’s BMW dealership. A motor showroom was built on the site and while it was still open when the image below was taken in 2011 it has now closed and is boarded up. 




[2] The Brewing Industry: A Guide To Historical Resources. Samuel Smith’s Dog & Snipe Brewery on Folds Road had been taken over by Duttons in 1935 while WT Settle’s Rose & Crown Brewery just off Turton Street was swallowed up around the same time as Hamer’s.
  
[3] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester Beer Drinkers Monthly Magazine, March 1982 issue.

[4] What’s Doing, July 1989 issue.



Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bee Hive Inn, 1-3 Duke Street


The Bee Hive Inn pictured in the 1920s. Contrast this image with the 2012 image below.

The Bee Hive Inn stood at the bottom of Duke Street at its junction with Bark Street. The pub was a beerhouse that was free from brewers’ tie for many years although Gordon Readyhough states that it sold Magees beers in the late nineteenth century. [1]

The Ardill and Kerfoot families ran the pub from the 1890s until after the outbreak of the first world war. Mary Ardill and her daughter Frances were in charge according to the 1891 census, while Frances and her husband Thomas Kerfoot were in charge in 1911.

Walker’s of Warrington subsequently purchased the property and it closed in 1957. The licence was one of three surrendered with regards to the newly-built Castle Hotel on the corner of Crompton Way and Tonge Moor Road. The licences of the Bee Hive and the Mortfield Tavern on Gaskell Street were surrendered as part of the transfer of the licence of the Pineapple in Darcy Lever to the Castle.

The property was subsequently demolished and the land remained empty for many years until an office block was built on the site in 2011.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000 by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Robin Hood/Old Robin Hood, 174-178 Lever Street

The former premises of the Old Robin Hood (right) on Lever Street seen here in April 2014. The  Little John, on the left, was just a few yards away and when the two pubs came under the control of the same brewery one of them had to go.


Of all the pubs that have existed in the Great Lever area, the Old Robin Hood was perhaps the oldest. Situated at 174-178 Lever Street in what was later to become a heavily industrialised area the pub dated back to at least the beginning of the nineteenth century and possibly even before that.

The Robin Hood – as it was originally - was run for many years by the Beech family. In 1818 the licensee was William Beech. Isabel Beech was the landlady in 1828 and she was succeeded by Sarah Beech who was the licensee as late as 1853. Elizabeth Beech, a 55-year-old widow, was licensee in 1861 and she was succeeded by John Beech in 1862. William Beech from a different branch of the same family was in control by 1874 until at least the 1890s. This latter William Beech was the son of the town’s chief constable. [1]

Directly behind the pub there stood a bowling green and as we have seen at both the Howcroft and the Gibraltar Rock bowling was a big part at some of Bolton’s pubs. A look at old maps suggests the bowling green may even have outlasted the Robin Hood with ownership possibly transferring to its neighbour the Little John.

Opposite the Robin Hood was Robin Hood Mill which was certainly standing in 1836. The original mill was destroyed by fire in 1862 while a second mill burnt down 20 years later. The current building dates back to 1882 and is still in used today.

When the Beech family owned the Robin Hood in the early part of the nineteenth century it was the only pub on Lever Street. By the early-1930s the Old Robin Hood, as it was now colloquially known, was one of a number of pubs on the same stretch along with numerous beerhouses in the streets between Lever Street, Bridgeman Street and Heywood Park.

The Robin Hood also had a new owner in the early-thirties. After the Beech family left it was bought by the local brewery of Joseph Sharman & Sons. Sharman’s sold out to George Shaw & Son Ltd of Leigh in 1928 and Shaw’s were bought out by the rapidly expanding Walker Cain Ltd of Warrington in 1931. Walker’s undertook a review of their tied estate and it was clear there was some duplication.  The takeover of Shaw’s/Sharman’s and another local firm, William Tong’s, meant that a sizeable number of Bolton pubs were now owned the duopoly of Walker’s and the Daubhill brewery of Magee Marshall. [2]

Two doors down from the Robin Hood the Little John once belonged to William Tong’s. Now the two pubs stood side-by-side selling the same beer. Further down Lever Street, another former competitor, the Nightingale Inn, was also a Walker’s pub. Similar situations existed elsewhere in the town.

Walker’s tied estate was a mixture of beer houses and public houses, the difference being that a public house licence enabled premises to sell wine and spirits as well as beer. A beerhouse could only sell beer.  [3]

License swaps were a regular feature with one public house licence usually worth two beerhouse licenses. [3] Walker’s decided to do a deal with the local licensing magistrates. Either the Robin Hood or the Little John would have to go and it was the Robin Hood’s full licence that ultimately decided its fate. It made no sense to have two outlets within 10 yards of each other so Walker’s decided to transfer the Robin Hood’s public house licence to the Nightingale and shut the Robin Hood.

 In addition, the full licence of the Three Tuns on Chapel Street was transferred to the Vulcan Inn at Deane while that of the Arrowsmiths Arms was transferred to the King William IV on Manchester Road.  To smooth the deal through Walker’s also surrendered the licenses of four other beerhouses: the Masons Arms on Emblem Street, the Greengate Inn on Hammond Street, the Merehall Inn on Lyon Street and the Black Horse in Chew Moor although it is likely that these were poorly-performing outlets that the brewery had no further need of.

In other words, seven pubs closed so four others could serve gin and tonics.

The Old Robin Hood closed in 1933; the first pub to open on Lever Street was also the first to close. The Nightingale carried on until 1998 when it was sold to the town’s Irish community for use as a social club. It thrives today as the Bolton Irish Centre having been given a new lease of life. The Little John, was reprieved because it didn’t have a full licence but it got a full licence in 1962 and is still open today [4]. The former Robin Hood building was converted into retail premises and was most recently used as a branch of the builders’ merchants, Jewson’s.

[1] St Mark’s website. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
[2] Subsequent takeovers – of Walker’s by Tetley in 1960 and of Magee’s by Greenall Whitley two years earlier – meant that right up to the 1990s most Bolton pubs were owned by either Tetley’s or Greenall’s. 
[3] The last pub in Bolton to have a beer-only licence was the Lodge Bank Tavern which got its full licence in 1980.
[4] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000 by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ziggis Fun Pub/Victory Conservative Club, Chorley Old Road

May 2012 and the former Ziggis Fun Pub is now a Spar. Copyright, Google Street View.

If people think the pubs of Bolton have had it tough in recent years then the political clubs have had it worse. Labour clubs in particular have not so much been decimated but almost completely wiped out, Farnworth & Kearsley Labour Club survives and what was once Rumworth Labour Club is now the privately-owned Rumworth Hall, but Tonge Ward, Great Lever, Breightmet, Bradford Ward, Bolton Central and Derby Ward have all gone and I have probably missed out a few.

The Conservative Clubs have fared rather better and the Association of Conservative Clubs’ website  [1] lists no fewer than 18 remaining in the town, something that chimes with the often-made suggestion that more people go in Conservative Clubs because they’re more nicely decorated.

But one of the earliest casualties of the demise of the political club was indeed a Tory club - Victory Conservative Club on Chorley Old Road. The club dated back to the first decade of the twentieth century but the decision was taken in 1985 to sell the premises. The club was therefore sold to a reputable Wigan firm named Dickinsons (The Bottlers) Ltd. Dickinsons had been in business since the thirties but their line of trade was bottling beer rather than running pubs. Their plant filled bottles for a number of breweries and eventually became part of the Greenall’s group.

But a former Tory club, a long-established local firm – what could possibly go wrong?

The result was Ziggis Fun Pub and there are two distinctive schools of thought about that establishment. To be fair it is very well-thought of by the people who frequented the place. Go on Facebook forums and those commenting on the pub have fond memories. 

Those who lived nearby  might give a different view.

Dickinson’s gutted the entire club, put a long bar on the left-hand-side wall and the rest was just one big room with a dance floor at the far end. Bar staff frequently got up and danced on the bar and on a platform in front of the DJ stand and the pub did pretty well for a while.

Ziggis also had a late licence and was situated in a residential area and Thursday and Sunday nights were the worst. There were complaints about late-night noise as punters left the pub once it closed at about 1am and the residents took their case to the Bolton Evening News which resulted in some unwelcome publicity.

Pubs such as this tend to be cyclical and fun pubs had their day in the mid-eighties. People get tired of them after a relatively short period of time and their continued success depends largely on location. Fun pubs in Blackpool and Benidorm find it difficult enough, but such a pub in the Chorley Old Road area of Bolton had only a limited shelf life.

When Ziggis closed in 1987 it had been open for just two years but the news was greeted with delight by people living nearby. [2] The premises later re-opened as Nero’s and then Funny’s and limped on into the early-nineties but it was never quite the same.

Dickinsons sold the premises which became a retail outlet and this old Wigan firm was liquidated in 2004. The former Ziggis has been a Spar franchise since 2011.

[1] Association of Conservative Clubs. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester Beer Drinkers monthly magazine. September 1987 issue.


Monday, 21 April 2014

Robin Hood, Ashburner Street


The Robin Hood pictured after its closure in 1927. Demolition had begun prior to the construction of the Civic Centre. Part of Bolton Library stands on the site as can be seen in the image at the foot of this page. Spring Gardens runs down by the side of the pub. The former Founders Arms (closed 1926) is at the other end of the block on the corner of Howell Croft South. Image from the Bolton Libraries and Museum Service collection. Copyright Bolton Council.

The Robin Hood stood on the corner of Ashburner Street and Spring Gardens and dated back to some time between the 1840s. It appears on the 1849 list of Great Bolton beerhouses when it was owned by William Ashton Entwistle.

The pub played a major role in the erection of the statue of Dr Samuel Taylor Chadwick, which still stands in Victoria Square. Dr Chadwick was a medical doctor and philanthropist from a wealthy farming family who moved to Bolton from his native Urmston in 1837. He soon gained a reputation as an able doctor with a willingness to help the poor and he worked tirelessly to improve the public health of the town. He gave generously in time and money to a wide range of schemes to improve the lives of the local working classes.

On his retirement in 1868 Dr Chadwick gave £22,000 to establish an orphanage and model dwellings in the town. The rent from the houses would be used to provide revenue for the orphanage. The Chadwick orphanage opened in 1874 on Chadwick Street, The Haulgh. It remained in use as a children’s home until 1930 and the building was demolished in 1968. [1]

The idea of a statue for Dr Chadwick originated among the working classes with the first meeting on the subject held by landlord James Ashton at his pub, the Robin Hood, in January 1868. The idea soon spread and a public meeting chaired by the town’s mayor, James Barlow took place later that same month. A fund was set up with an upper limit of one guinea each the idea being that the subscription should not be dominated by the wealthy. However, momentum stalled and by the time the statue was cast in 1871 the fund hadn’t reached the £963 owed to the manufacturer. The one guinea limit was lifted and it was telling that 17,683 subscribers donated less than sixpence each – or the equivalent of less than £2.50 in today’s money.

The statue was unveiled outside the newly-built Town Hall in August 1873 although neither Samuel Chadwick, nor his wife Anne, were present, his ill-health having caused him to retire to Southport.

Four months after the unveiling James Ashton, who was instrumental in the idea for the statue, died at the age of 49. [2]

The Robin Hood was a Sharman’s pub until the last two years of its life. Sharman’s sold out to George Shaw & Son Ltd of Leigh in 1926 and in 1928 the Robin Hood shut its doors for the final time. The building had been bought for demolition by Bolton Council along with the Founders Arms just a few doors along.

The council built the Civic Centre on the site and Bolton Central Library stands on the exact site of the Robin Hood.  

[1] Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. Retrieved 21 April 2014.

[2] Annals Of Bolton, James Clegg, 1888

The site of the former Robin Hood pub, now part of the Bolton Central Library. Spring Gardens runs down the hill on the left of the building in this picture, Ashburner Street continues to the right of the image. Both the Robin Hood and the Founder’s Arms, which was situated at the other end  of this block, were demolished in 1928 to make way for the Civic Centre.


Victoria, 238 Bridgeman Street

The former Victoria on Bridgeman Street pictured on 21 April 2014. The building is now used as a Hindu mission centre.

The Victoria stood on Bridgeman Street, just a bit further down from Rothwell Street on the left-hand side as you head to town.

The building still stands – as can be seen in the image above – but at one time it was in the middle of a row of shops, including a branch of Boydell’s toy store. Walmsley’s Atlas Forge was just a couple of hundred yards away, while the Derby Iron Works of
W. Crumblehulme & Sons Ltd was situated behind the pub in Rothwell Street. [Images here ]. [1]

The Victoria dated back to the latter part of the nineteenth century. At one stage it had its own brewery but it fell into the hands of local brewers J Halliwell & Son of the Alexandra Brewery on Mount Street. Halliwell’s sold out to Magee, Marshall in December 1910 [2] which meant that supplies came from a brewery just half a mile away. Magee’s sold out to Greenall Whitley in 1958 and the brewery closed down in 1970.

The Victoria had a classic pub layout with two entrances on Bridgeman Street, a central bar and two rooms:  lounge to the left, public bar on the right. By early 1990 the local beer drinkers magazine were suggesting a little crawl of Bridgeman Street as the three remaining pubs, the Victoria, the Lodge Bank Tavern and the Park, all sold real ale.


The Victoria didn’t last for too many years longer. It closed in the 1990s and the building was sold off to become the UK centre of the  Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission.

[1] St Mark's website. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
[2] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Parkfield Inn, Crook Street

Crook Street in the foreground, Morrison's supermarket in the background in this image taken in March 2011. The green sward of grass represents the approximate location of the Parkfield Inn. Copyright, Lost Pubs Of Bolton.


The Parkfield Inn was situated on Crook Street and dated from the second half of the nineteenth century. 

The pub was stood on the corner of Dawes Street and an older, narrower thoroughfare named Parkfield Street. The area behind the Parkfield – on land now occupied by Morrison’s supermarket - was known as Newtown in the middle of the nineteenth century and was the poorest part of the town. Parkfield Street was in the heart of Newtown.  

The area was settled by Irish immigrants fleeing the famine of 1848 and the squalor of the conditions in the area were recounted by Dr. Edward Ballard in his Report Upon The Sanitary Condition Of The Registration District Of Bolton,Lancashire, And Particularly Upon Its Infant Mortality. A copy of the report still lies in Bolton Central Library.

We know the pub was standing in the 1870s as the landlord, Robert Dobson, died in 1888 and his will was considered important enough to be published in the London Gazette [1] demanding that anyone who had a claim on his estate need contact the late Mr Dobson’s solicitors. The executor of the will was Adam Smith of the Pike View on Derby Street which, Gordon Readyhough says, was owned by Dobson in the 1870s when he was described as a wholesale brewer based at the Parkfield Inn. [2]

The Parkfield eventually came under the ownership of William Tong & Son at their Diamond Brewery in Deane.  Tong’s were taken over by Walker Cain in 1923 and Walker’s merged with Tetley’s in the early sixties.

The construction of Bolton’s inner relief road marked the end for the Parkfield. The pub was under a compulsory purchase order and bought by Bolton council in the early seventies. The pub closed on 19 July 1973 and its closure marked the retirement of licensee Annie Hamer after 50 years at the pub. She was also said to be teetotal!

The Parkfield was subsequently demolished although that section of the inner relief road – the Trinity Street extension – wasn’t completed until 1979.


[2] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Golden Cup, 12 Haigh Street off Higher Bridge Street




Haigh Street looking towards Higher Bridge Street pictured in May 2012 (Copyright Google Street View). The Golden Cup was situated on the left-hand side on this view.


In the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century it was common for pubs to brew their own beer. Most were supplied by wholesale or ‘common’ brewers but in 1853 it was estimated that around a third of Bolton’s pubs and beerhouses brewed their own ale, which amounted to around 100 breweries in the town (in April 2014 there are three).

The Golden Cup on Haigh Street situated just off Higher Bridge Street was one of those brewing its own beer. In the 1880s it was owned by a Farnworth man, John Tong, described as a provision dealer and beer retailer of Dixon Green. [1]

The early part of the twentieth century saw brewpubs snapped up by wholesale brewers anxious to build up a tied estate for their products and this vertically-integrated business model was the modus operandi for the brewing industry until the 1990s. 

By 1932 the Golden Cup was one of just seven brewpubs left in Bolton (the others were: the British Oak on Derby Street, the Colliers Arms on Chorley Old Road, the Greyhound on Manchester Road, the Lord Raglan on Halliwell Road, the Rope and Anchor on Kay Street and the School Hill Hotel on School Hill).

The Second World War finished off much of the brew pubs as raw materials became scarce. However, there is evidence to suggest that the Golden Cup had already brewed its last even before 1939.

Have a look at this set of photographs from the Humphrey Spender archive. [2]  Although the interior of the pub has not been positively identified it is thought to have been the Golden Cup. The photos were taken in 1937 and already the pub is advertising Walker’s beers. We know the Golden Cup was a Walker’s pub when it closed in 1959. Perhaps it had stopped brewing and was stocking only Walker’s beers when Spender took these shots in August 1937.


The area was cleared  in the sixties and seventies and one of  Gordon’s Ford repair sheds now stands on the site. Haigh Street itself acts as an exit from the filing station on Kay Street.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Bolton Worktown project. 

Bridge Foot Inn, St Helena Road/Chorley Street


The Bridge Foot Inn on the corner of St Helena Road. The Great Bridge can be seen to the right of the pub running along Chorley Street. That the pub is advertising Shaw's ales suggest the photo was taken after 1927. 

The Bridge Foot Inn stood on St Helena  Road on the corner of Chorley Street in an area of Bolton still referred to as some maps as  Great Bridge.

This ‘Great Bridge’ wasn’t the splendid 1870s high-level bridge over the River Croal at Marsden Road but a much more modest affair named Great Bridge or Clayton Ford Bridge. This ran over the river as it left what is now Queen’s Park on its way towards the town centre. The Bridge Foot Inn took its name from the fact that it was quite literally at the foot of the bridge which was situated on Chorley Street just outside the pub.

The pub dated back the late 19th century and was a beer house owned by Joseph Sharman’s Mere Hall brewery. Sharman’s was taken over by George Shaw & Son Ltd of Leigh in 1927 which was itself taken over by Walker Cain Ltd of Warrington in 1931. Walkers had a review of their newly-expanded tied estate and decided to axe some pubs. The Sir Sidney Smith on Bridgeman Street closed in 1934 and time was called at the Bridge Foot that same year.


Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the Bridge Foot was what happened next. In short: nothing happened. The pub remained closed and empty for over 50 years until the land was acquired for the construction of a car park. Walker’s merged with Tetley’s in 1961 and even they waited over 25 years before selling off the premises. There can be few examples of commercial premises left abandoned for 50 years.

Chorley Street looking towards St Helena Road which runs off to the left. The Great Bridge still stands but the Bridge Foot was demolished in the 1980s. The site of the pub is now covered by a car park.

Rising Sun/Imperial Hotel, Churchbank


Not a great image, but the Imperial Hotel can be seen behind the lamp post on the right. When this photograph was taken in the 1950s the pub had already been closed for around 20 years and was being used as a boarding house for performers at the Grand Theatre and the Theatre Royal which can be seen in the distance.


The Rising Sun was situated at 3-5 Churchbank, just outside the parish church, although in some directories of the time it is described as being on Churchgate. Then, as now, Churchbank was merely an extension of Churchgate.

The Rising Sun was certainly in existence in the 1770s and Bolton Old Band was formed at the pub in 1803. This was originally a reed band – it converted to brass in the 1850s – and practised at the pub with the then landlord playing clarinet. Four band members were either innkeepers or were later to become innkeepers including Thomas Sharples who open the notable Star Inn and Concert Room, just a few yards away from the Rising Sun, in the 1840s.

The Bolton Old Band certainly had its characters in the early nineteenth century. It was accompanied by a resident fiddler whose fondness for what were described as “drink and company” eventually got him the sack. There was a piccolo player who regarded playing the flute for dancing as beneath him while the bassoonist also earned money playing at the circus where his daughter performed. There was also a serpent player who was a strict Methodist and Sabbatarian. The serpent was a wooden instrument with a twisted body and a metal mouthpiece which was very hard to blow. This particular player once stayed out so late playing on his serpent one Saturday night that he didn’t get home until dawn was breaking on the Sunday morning. He was so full of remorse at having thus broken the Sabbath that he buried his serpent, swearing never to play it again. [1]

It isn’t known for how long the Bolton Old Band was linked with the Rising Sun but the band became a well-known outfit and some of its members were travellers in one of the carriages at the opening of the Bolton and Leigh Railway in 1828 playing at both ends of that historic first journey.

Here’s a nineteenth-century gig review of sorts, of the band’s appearance at the Bolton Floral and Horticultural Society’s show of 1829 as reported by The Gardener's Magazine and Register of Rural & Domestic Improvement:

“The Bolton old band was in attendance, as usual, and performed several interesting airs, in very creditable style.”

The band was attached to Bolton Volunteer Regiment under Colonel Fletcher and lasted until around 1884. [2]

John Hamer was listed as the landlord of the Rising Sun in 1818 and John Entwisle was licensee in 1824. During Mr Hamer’s tenure the Rising Sun was first used as host to a Masonic lodge. The Lodge Of Antiquity began to meet at the pub from 1816 and used it as its headquarters until 1855.  The St John’s Lodge also met there, from 1873 to 1874. [3]

By the end of the nineteenth century the Rising Sun had become the Imperial Hotel but it closed in 1934 and its full licence was transferred to the Kings Arms on Chorley Old Road. [4]. The premises became a guest house and was popular with performers at the Theatre Royal and the Grand Theatre on nearby Churchgate.

Since the end of the sixties the building has been used as offices and studio space. In a neat link given the Rising Sun’s involvement with the Bolton Old Band the premises are now the headquarters of the Talent Pool recording studio. Talent Pool was recently set up by Booth’s Music whose shop was opened by James Booth just 150 yards up Churchgate in 1832. It is entirely possible that the likes of Thomas Sharples and his colleagues in the Bolton Old Band would have bought their instruments from Mr Booth’s shop before assembling for practise at the Rising Sun.

The image is of the premises in April 2014 (copyright Lost Pubs Of Bolton).

[1] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, 1982
[2] IBEW. Retrieved 18 April.
[3] Lane’s Masonic Records.


Friday, 18 April 2014

Va Va/Pips/Rotters/Space City/High Society/Kiss/Club Liquid


The entrance to the cellar at Elizabeth House, the entry to a night club that had six different names over a period of 20 years.


When Elizabeth House was built on Great Moor Street in 1971 it was decided to lease the cellar premises to a company who wanted to open up a nightclub. The Va Va club opened that year, the club’s name coming from the French word for ‘go’ – The ‘Go Go’ club, in other words.

The Va Va became well-known throughout the north in 1973 for its all-night northern soul sessions. Local DJ Wick Barrett (nowadays a civil servant in Cardiff) invited another DJ, Richard Searling to help him out at the 12-hour sessions which began in April 1973. Richard had just returned from a trip from Philadelphia and had brought back with him a large number of obscure soul records and took up Wick’s offer. The first few hours at the Va Va’s Friday night sessions would be the pop hits of the day followed at 1am by ‘rare soul’ – the term which later became ‘Northern  Soul’ was initially known by – until the club closed at 8 the following morning.

The Va Va had a capacity of around 400 and by the summer of that year was attracting around 300-400 people every Friday night from all over the north of England, partly helped by the management advertising in Blues & Soul magazine.

But as always seems to be the case in the case of night clubs with what could be termed a ‘cult following’ drugs were instrumental in its downfall.

As Richard Searling puts it:  “During a casual look around the club drugs were found and the management, quite understandably, became worried about their relations with the Police who had discovered the 'Pills'.  Nothing was said on that Friday in August, but on the following Wednesday I received a phone call from the manager saying that the Va-Va all-nighter was no more”. [1]

After just four months the all-night sessions were dead, but for an event that lasted such a short space of time the sessions are still fondly remembered. The Va Va is mentioned in the same breath as the King Mojo in Sheffield, The Catacombs in Wolverhampton and the Room at the Top in Wigan as clubs that helped pioneer Northern Soul and is remembered with a great deal of affection both locally and by aficionados of the genre from further afield. A simple Google search for ‘Va Va Bolton’ digs up a whole host of  memories on blogs and forums from people who attended the events in those heady days of the summer of '73.

A month after the Va Va ended its Northern Soul all-nighters, Wigan Casino began theirs. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Va Va endured two name changes before the seventies were out as the owners went for a more mainstream audience and tried to compete with other nightclubs in the town such as the Palais, Scamps and the Cromwellian/Maxwell’s Plum. It changed its name to Pips nightclub and became Rotters in 1978. However, it closed after a fire in 1979 and remained empty for over a year.

In December 1980 the premises re-opened as Space City. The club licence had gone but Space City promoted itself as a pool hall and amusement arcade specialising in ‘space invader’ games that had recently become popular.

The popularity of ‘space invaders’ began to wane as the eighties wore on and in the summer of 1984 Space City’s management began to put on heavy rock discos following the demise of rock nights in the Swan Hotel’s cellar bar the previous year. It was a strange choice. While the Swan’s cellar was dank and wet the inside of Space City still looked like the trendy nightclub it had been in the seventies complete with mirrors and disco balls. Even so, the Space City rock disco ran for four years until the owner sold up in 1988. Like the Northern  Soul events over a decade earlier, the rock nights are still remembered affectionately by those who were there, but the rockers moved on to yet another cellar bar, Sundowners in Mawdesley Street (now J2) where they remained – in a club re-named Sparrow’s - for the next eight years.

The premises that once housed Va Va and Space City then became High Society, before being renamed the Kiss night spot from 1992 and Club Liquid in 1997. This closed soon after the turn of the millennium.

Moves were afoot around ten years ago to re-commence rock nights in the Elizabeth House cellar, but police objections centred around the manning of resources away from the Bradshawgate/Deansgate area and it looks unlikely ever to re-open as licensed premises.

The Bolton Council list of empty properties as at September 2014 has Heineken UK Ltd as its owners.

[1] Rumworth Soul Club. Accessed 17 April 2014.
[2] Wikipedia entry for  Northern Soul. Accessed 17 April 2014.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Ship Inn, Bradshawgate

Yates's Wine Lodge and the Flying Flute - as they are now - stand on either side of Shipgates. Both pubs were rebuilt after Bradshawgate was widened in 1906; however, the Ship Inn relinquished its licence and its demolition enabled Ship Gates to be opened out. Prior to demolition, entrance to Ship Gates was via a narrow alleyway that ran beneath one of the Ship's bedrooms. Image taken April 2012. Copyright Google Street View.


The Ship Inn was situated on Bradshawgate. While the address at the time of its closure was 22 Bradshawgate, it was also numbered 135 and 136 in various directories in the early part of the nineteenth century.

A nearby street, Ship Gates, was named after the Ship Inn. An alley ran under one of the bedrooms of the pub, into a yard then through another covered entry into a short and narrow street opening on to Mealhouse Lane [1]. The Gates shopping centre on the site of the street was initially named the Shipgates Centre when it first opened.

The Ship Inn dated back to at least the eighteenth century and was one of the principal hotels in the town. It was also one of the most prestigious, a respectable Tory inn housing a news room for the manufacturers, professional people and gentry of Bolton. [2]

The news room ran from around 1816 to 1825. It consisted of nine newspapers and magazines and subscriptions and membership was an expensive 16 shillings a year, the equivalent of £65 today - and that was just to read the publications! Members could buy bound volumes of the newspapers at the end of each year for anything from 5 shillings to £2 and seven shillings. [2]

There was also a Ship Inn Social Club, a debating society which existed around 1804, but perhaps for not long afterwards. The society debated such topics as “whether disappointments in love or trade are hardest to bear.” [2] 

The Ship was also a meeting place for the local Caledonian Society. Composed of descendants of the large Scottish contingent who settled in Bolton after the failure of the 1745 rebellion, the Caledonian Society was founded in Bolton in 1799. Its main function was to host an annual dinner to which Scotsmen from Manchester, Bury, Wigan, Rochdale and other Lancashire towns were invited. [2]

The Caledonian Society had 118 members by 1829, but only 75 ‘members and friends’ were present at the 1831 annual dinner which was held for a change at Watson’s Cloth Hall, situated on the south side of Deansgate. The society was still going some decades later. They set up a Caledonian Curling Club in 1864 and a Caledonian Shinty Club in 1876. [2]

There was also a strong Scottish connection in the running of the Ship. The licensee at the beginning of the 19th century was Susanna Jardine; the secretary of the Caledonian Society was Thomas Jardine, presumably a relative. He was perhaps not the landlord, though an attorney by that name practised in Shipgates close to the pub, according to the 1819 local directory.  

By 1824 the Ship Inn was being run by John Brooks. There may also be a link here with the Jardines given that three of Brooks’s children were named Thomas Jardine Brooks, Elizabeth Jardine Brooks and Susannah Jardine Brooks. The chances are that he married Susanna Jardine’s daughter.

The Ship Inn was the scene of an attempted murder of its barmaids in 1882. On 30 January that year Miss E Briercliffe was attacked by a young man who was later sentence to five years penal servitude. [3]

An image of the pub decked out for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887 can be seen here at Bolton Museum’s local archive collection.  The proprietor is named on the image as S Crowther.

Note how narrow Bradshawgate is in the image compared to today. In the end, the narrowness of Bradshawgate proved to be the Ship’s undoing. In 1906 the street was widened, but that necessitated the demolition of many of the properties.  But while the likes of the nearby Fleece Inn was rebuilt, the Ship Inn gave up its licence. 

The local firm of Magee, Marshall & Co were owners towards the end of the nineteenth century but by 1906 ownership had passed to Wilson’s Brewery of Manchester. After demolition the Ship’s full licence was transferred to the Sunnyside Hotel on Bloom Street at the bottom of Adelaide Street in Daubhill. [4] Given that the Sunnyside was a Sharman’s pub one can only assume the licence was purchased from Wilson’s.

Ship Gates still exists and its junction with  Bradshawgate marks the former site of the Ship Inn.

 [1] Bolton Town Centre, A Modern History. Part Two: Bradshawgate, Great Moor Street and Newport Street, 1900-1998. Published by Neil Richardson, (1998).
[2] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, (1982)
[3] Annals Of Bolton, James Clegg, (1888)
[4] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).


Gibraltar Rock, Deane Road



Two views of the Gibraltar Rock. This image was taken around 1975. The pub still advertises Magee's Ales despite there also being a Greenall's pub sign on the outer wall. This was around five years after the Magee's brewery was closed. The Pikes Lane school can be sign on the right of the pub. Image from the Bolton Library And Museums Service collection. Copyright Bolton Council.  




A second view:  the forlorn sight of the Gibraltar Rock as captured by Google Street View in 2009, some months after its closure (Copyright Google Street View). To the right of the pub can be seen the Pikes Lane Health Centre built on the site of the former primary school. The health centre opened in 1999, the school was rebuilt on a new site in Gibraltar Street behind the pub.




The Gibraltar Rock dates back to 1806 when it was known as the Gibraltar Tavern. [1]

By 1812 it was known as the Gibraltar Rock. Some time between the end of February and the beginning of March 1812 a small meeting of up to eight local weavers was held at the pub. The meeting was joined by two weavers from Stockport who urged the Bolton men to take up an “oath of engagement.” Unemployment was high among weavers and this was being blamed on increasing industrialisation. In the end only one of the Bolton weavers, Samuel Kay, swore the oath in front of the Stockport men. A fuller account of this meeting can be seen here at the Luddite Bicentenary blog from 2012  which commemorates key events in Luddite history in a series of blog entries dated to coincide exactly with the events of 200 years previous. [2] The blog also includes the Google Street View photograph at the top of the page and the image below of the Gibraltar Rock in its current use.

Several Bolton pubs had bowling greens at the start of the nineteenth century and the Gibraltar Rock seems to have been one of them. Robert Poole trawled through old copies of the Bolton Chronicle from the 1820s and unearthed a report concerning a green at the Gibralter Rock [sic] [3].

A green can be seen behind the pub in an 1849 map of the area.  That end of Deane was quite sparsely populated in 1849, at least when compared to the centre of Bolton. Gilnow Lane had a row of 11 houses named Cobden Terrace close to its junction with the main road, while behind the pub, on land now occupied by Gibraltar Street, was another row of 11 houses named Bright Terrace. The area directly opposite the pub was largely undeveloped though there were houses further up and down Pikes Lane (Deane Road). A few hundred yards down from the Gibraltar Rock and heading towards town, stood Chamber Hall and its grounds. At one time this was the home to the Ormrod family of cotton spinners whose firm of Ormrod and Hardcastle was prominent in the town.

By 1880, the pub was owned by Elizabeth Rostron, who also owned the Founders Arms - which still stands on St George’s Street - as well as the Bridge Inn on Bridge Street

Gibraltar Rock Deane Road Bolton bowling green
The bowling green was central to the Gibraltar Rock’s existence for many years. In August 1937, Humphrey Spender took a superb set of 13 photographs that can still be viewed at the Bolton Worktown website. (Image copyright Bolton Council). [4] With smart-looking park benches around the outside of the green and even a small covered terrace this was serious business and big events could attract hundreds of spectators.

The competitions weren’t trifling affairs, either. When the formidable local professional bowler Tom Mayor reached the semi-final of the Bolton Infirmary Handicap at the Gibraltar Rock in 1924 he was in the last four of a tournament that had begun with no fewer than 1024 entrants, meaning he had had to get through eight rounds just to get to that stage. [5] The competition was held at greens all over the town but the final was regularly contested at the Gibraltar Rock cementing its reputation as Bolton’s premier bowling venue.

Click here for an image from the Railway Club on Green Lane showing a packed Gibraltar Rock for the 1926 Bolton Infirmary Handicap final. 

Tom Mayor was unsuccessful in the 1924 competition but triumphed ten years later in 1934 out of an initial field of 880 entrants defeating Jack Martin in the final of a competition designed to raise funds for the infirmary.

The Gibraltar Rock became a Magee’s tied house followed by Greenall Whitley when they bought Magee’s in 1958.

In 1987, the local beer drinkers’ monthly magazine reported that landlord Jim Hunter was leaving the Gibraltar Rock after 19 years (further down Deane Road and at the same time, Fred Croft was leaving the Gilnow after 25 years). [6]

Greenalls got out of the brewing industry themselves in 1991 and they also sold off their entire tied estate – including the Gibraltar Rock - to Scottish & Newcastle in 1999.

The Gibraltar Rock lost its bowling green, which was bought by the NHS in the early part of this century. Anyone parking their car next to Pikes Lane health centre will be treading the place where local heroes Tom Mayor, Jack Martin as well as thousands of amateur bowlers played over a period of almost 200 years.

The end for the Gibraltar Rock came in 2008 by which time it was owned by Enterprise Inns. The pub closed and was put up for sale – as seen here in June 2009, captured by Terry Whalebone.   



The pub was bought by a Spar franchise and can be seen here in 2011. In a nod to the pub’s past – or perhaps by way of saving money – the new owners have left the pub’s lettering on the outside of the building.

(photo credit Mike Faherty under a Creative Commons License)





[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough, published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Luddite Bicentenary. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
[3] Leisure In Bolton, 1750-1900, Robert Poole, 1982. Mr Poole accessed copies of the Bolton Chronicle dated 14 April 1827, 5 May 1827, 6 October 1827, 23 May 1829, 27 June 1829, 15 August 1829, 8 October 1831.
[4] Bolton Worktown project. Retrieved 16 April 2014. There are a total of 13 images in the set.  
[5] Tom May genealogy. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
[6] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ monthly magazine. September 1987 issue.