Sunday, 1 February 2015

Vulcan Inn, 130 Great Moor Street

Vulcan Great Moor Street Bolton

The Vulcan pictured in 1961. Great Moor Street runs from left to right across the front of the pub; Crook Street can be seen running down the side of the pub. Derby Street Secondary school is in the background.

The Vulcan Inn stood on the junction of Great Moor Street and Crook Street. It began as a beerhouse around 1860, but became a fully-licensed house in 1874 [1] following the closure of the Angel and Woolpack on the corner of Deansgate and Mealhouse Lane. The Angel and Woolpack’s wine and spirits license was transferred to the Vulcan thus enabling it to save the full range of alcoholic drinks.

The Vulcan was a Magee’s pub at the end of the nineteenth century, but a few yards along from the Vulcan was the Grey Man, also a Magee’s pub. The brewery decided to sell one of the pubs rather than have two outlets so close together so the Vulcan was sold on to the Manchester Brewery Company in the early-twentieth century.

The move perhaps wasn’t for the best for the Vulcan. At that time, MBC had already expanded its tied estate in Bolton through the takeover of TR Wingfield’s Silverwell brewery which stood on the site of what is now the Pack Horse student accommodation. But the purchase of Wingfield's, plus that of Manchester brewery, Broadbent’s, had financially stretched the company. A shareholder’s committee was formed in 1904 which drank its way across the whole of MBC’s tied estate. This included pubs in Preston, Oldham, Manchester plus a sizeable number of pubs in Staffordshire around the Black Country area. Disgruntled tenants and a lack of investment in the company’s pubs coupled with poor beer meant that some pubs were actually losing money. [2]

Vulcan Great Moor Street Bolton
The Vulcan Inn taken from Hargreaves House shortly before the pub closed in 1973.

In 1912, MBC was taken over by the Salford brewery of Walker and Homfray. They were in charge until 1949 when the Vulcan was one of 477 Walker and Homfray’s pubs to be bought when the brewery was taken over by Wilson’s of Manchester.

The Vulcan was reputed to have been a gay pub in the early seventies which would have made it one of the earliest such pubs in Bolton. It closed in 1973 and was demolished as part of the construction of the Trinity Street dual carriageway. That part of Moor Lane which runs along the side of Bolton One now stands in its place.

In 1937, the photographer Humphrey Spender took a number of shots of the interior of a Bolton pub. It is believed to be the Vulcan because of the image in the pub’s vault window. Two of the photos are reproduced below. The photos are from the Bolton Worktown website and are copyright Bolton Council. Other photos from the set are here, here and here.

Vulcan Great Moor Street Bolton

Vulcan Great Moor Street Bolton

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Manchester Breweries Of Times Gone By, by Alan Gall. Published by Neil Richardson (1982).


  1. i am interested in old houses its really great .
    i see lots of old houses i love to stay in this type of house .
    really amazing .

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  2. In 1937, when Spender took his photos, there were 304 pubs in Bolton. I wonder how many of those are left? Any still serving the same brewery's beer?

  3. Someone has passed us a list of the 270-odd pubs in the Bolton Metropolitan Borough area (inc Farnworth, Horwich, Westhoughton, etc). If I still have it I'll have to copy it and post it on here. The last time I looked I think about a quarter of them had closed in the 33 years. Most of those have gone in the last 15 years.

  4. As to serving the same beer - hardly any. Maybe a pub long-owned by one of the family breweries such as Thwaites. Prior to the 1990s and the dismantling of the vertically-integrated business model where breweries owned pubs the 'Big Two' in Bolton were Tetley's and Greenall's. Both owed their positions to takeovers. Greenall's have gone as have other names from that time such as Wilson's and Whitbread's, However, there were a small number of Tetley pubs supplied from the company's original brewery in Leeds before the war. The Sweet Green was one of them, I think the Albion on Moor Lane might have been another. If either of them sell Tetley Mild and Bitter then that's perhaps as close as we'll get especially as Tetley's Leeds brewery has gone and it is brewed elsewhere.