Thursday, 22 January 2015

Houghton Street Tavern (Bricklayers Arms), Houghton Street

The Houghton Street Tavern was one of those ‘back street’ pubs that somehow managed to keep going until the early 1970s. It was situated on the corner of Houghton Street and Shaw Street, close to the bottom of Derby Street.

The pub was in business for over 100 years and was originally known as the Bricklayer’s Arms. In 1871, the landlord was George Timson, but he had only been at the pub for a couple of years. In June 1869, he married the landlady of the Bricklayers, a lady named Susannah Bishopp. Neither were from Bolton: he was from Lincolnshire, while she was from Buckinghamshire. George was 25 and a cab driver who lived in Coe Street, not a million miles from Houghton Street – it was around 400 yards away on the other side of Bridgeman Street. Susannah was 32, a widow who had taken over the Bricklayers on the death of her husband.

The Timsons were gone by the end of the 1870 and their union didn't last. The 1881 Census shows her alone in west Yorkshire running a small shop. 

The Bricklayers Arms became the Houghton Street Tavern and the pub eventually came under the control of the Leach family whose brewery was based at the Albert Inn on Derby Street. The Leaches built up a small tied estate including the Houghton, the Albert, the Clifton Arms on Newport Street and the Albion, which still stands on Moor Lane.

But the Leaches went out of business in 1936 and they sold their remaining pubs – namely, the above with the exception of the Clifton - to the Leeds brewery, Joshua Tetley. The Leach purchase, along with the separate purchase of the Sweet Green Tavern, gave Tetley’s a small foothold in Bolton. They added considerably to this with the merger of Walker’s of Warrington in 1961, which had also ended up with a sizeable tied estate in Bolton after a series of takeovers. From then until the vertically-integrated model in the brewing and pub industries began to unravel in the 1990s Tetley Walker was the largest pub owner in Bolton.

The Houghton was a beerhouse until 1961 when it was granted a full licence enabling it to sell wine and spirits. It carried on until the early-seventies but by then a redevelopment programme at the bottom end of Derby Street had seen huge swathes of properties demolished. Houses on Rothwell Street, Pilkington and Derby Street were cleared away and streets such as Apple Street, Hammond Street, Peel Street and Glass Street were no more. When the council offered to buy the Houghton Street Tavern from Tetley’s they snatched their hands off. All the pub's customers had moved on.

The land occupied by the Houghton has never been built on. A car park for the Centredart fireplace showroom now occupies the site as can be seen below in the Google Streetview image from September 2014.

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