The Merehall Inn (sometimes spelt Mere Hall – two words) was situated at 2-4 Lyon Street, just on the corner of Vernon Street and directly opposite the Caledonia Inn with Mossfield Mill on the other side of Vernon Street. The took its name from nearby Mere Hall although Mere Hall Street was the next street along from Lyon Street.
The first record we have of the pub is in the 1871 Bolton Directory when it was being run by James Hodgkinson and his wife Martha (nee Rostron). The premises were initially a corner shop, but members of Martha’s family had run pubs and it seems the Hodgkinsons hit upon the idea of opening up their shop as a beerhouse.
The 1871 Census describes James as a ‘grocer and beerseller’. But owning a pub has never been an easy business to be in and by 1881 he was working in a foundry and living in nearby Faraday Street. The pub was then bought by George Walker of the Park View brewery on Spa Road.
A similar fate befell a later licensee, Major Mangnall. Despite sounding like a military man, Major Gerrard Mangnall was actually christened thus. He was born in Cheshire in 1862 and he was a carter in Ainscow Street, the next street to Lyon Street as you go down Vernon Street (Ainscow Street no longer insists though, oddly, Back Ainscow Street has survived; it’s the cobbled street leading from Vernon Street to the Gaskell Primary School football pitch).
By 1894, Major Mangnall and his wife Margaret were running the Merehall Inn, but within five years he was back in Ainscow Street and working as a labourer. He eventually went back to being a carter and was then a gardener until he retired. He died in 1934.
The Warburton family appear to have had more success. They were in charge at the Merehall Inn for over 20 years with James Warburton succeeding his late father John after being demobbed from active service following the First World War.
The Merehall closed in 1933. It was owned by the Liverpool company Walker Cain Ltd who came by the pub as part of their takeover of Leigh brewer, George Shaw and Son. Walker’s decided to transfer the full licenses of the Old Robin Hood on Lever Street, the Three Tuns on Chapel Street, and the Arrowsmith Arms on Mill Street, to three other pubs: the Vulcan on Junction Road, the Greyhound on Manchester Road and the Nightingale on Lever Street. But before the licensing authorities allowed the deal to be done they insisted that Walker’s surrendered three beerhouse licenses, as well. The Merehall was one of the unlucky pubs.
The approximate site of Lyon Street shown in 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The Merehall Inn was on the right-hand corner at the junction with Vernon Street.