There have been four pubs in Bolton named the Cotton Tree. The one on Prince Street looked as though it would become a lost pub in 2014 but is still open, the one on Moor Lane closed in 1869 and the one on Edgar Street closed in 1908. This Cotton Tree stood on Lever Street at its junction with Nelson Street.
The road lay-out is different now to how it used to be. A look at maps from the 1950s, for example, shows Thynne Street not as the dual carriageway it is today for most of its length, but as a street with a single lane in each direction running from Crook Street to its current junction with Nelson Street and Lever Street.
The Cotton Tree was opposite the Tanners Arms, but a little further forward so that it almost jutted out into the road. Directly opposite the Cotton Tree, on Nelson Street and in front of the Tanners Arms, was a bus shelter and public lavatory
The pub dated back to around the 1860s. An early licensee was Jeremiah Aspin, who took over the pub in 1871 moving from the Egerton Arms at the other end of Lever Street. Aspin was a brewer, which suggested the Cotton Tree had its own brewery.
Aspin was a widower, but he married again in 1872, this time to Alice Brindle a widow four years older than him at the age of 43. She bore him a daughter, Clara – his third.
|Atkinson's ad from the 1880s|
The Cotton Tree was later taken over by local brewer Atkinson’s whose brewery was on Commission Street, just off Mayor Street. William Atkinson was a brewer based at 1 Manor Street in the town centre in 1871. John Atkinson – possibly his son - took over the business and moved it to industrial premises on Commission Street. He then began a plan of expansion and bought a number of local pubs. These included other pubs near to the Cotton Tree, such as the Coe Street Tavern, and brewpubs like the Lord Clyde on Folds Road, which still stands. Other of its pubs that are still in existence include the Greyhound on Deansgate and the Griffin on Great Moor Street.
In 1895 Atkinson’s sold out and the Cotton Tree and the rest of their pubs were bought by Boardman’s United Breweries of Manchester. Boardman’s sold their Lancashire pub and the old Atkinson’s brewery to another Manchester brewery, Cornbrook’s, in 1898.
But Cornbrook’s later sold the Cotton Tree to Magee’s. Quite why they did so is puzzling as Magee’s already owned the Tanners Arms across the road. Breweries tried to space apart their properties and having ten yards or so between the two pubs must have counted against the Cotton Tree at the end of the day.
Magee’s sold out to Greenall Whitley in 1958 and after the inevitable review of their newly-expanded tied estate Greenall’s decided to close the Cotton Tree in 1962. The pub was later demolished as part of a wider redevelopment of the area.
The bottom of Lever Street in September 2014 (copyright Google Street View). The Tanners Arms can still be seen on the left. The Cotton Tree was on the opposite corner just in front of the car parts building seen on the picture.