Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Cotton Tree, 9-11 Edgar Street, Bolton

Edgar Street still exists running parallel to the bottom of Derby Street before coming to a halt at Aldi’s car park. These days it is nothing more than a glorified back street with the rear of the shops on Derby Street on one side of the street and mill buildings on the other side, but from the middle of the nineteenth century until the 1920s there was a small community of people in Edgar Street along with nearby Closes Street and Carey Street.

The Cotton Tree was at number 9-11 Edgar Street and next door at number 13 was the engineering works of Thomas Mitchell and Sons Ltd. The firm was founded in 1838 and dealt in new and reconditioned machinery mainly for the cotton industry. [1]

Like many beerhouses, the Cotton Tree seems to have started life as a shop. Its first mention is on the 1861 census when James Moore, a 60-year-old beerseller and shopkeeper is running the premises. Mr Moore in on the 1841 census as a cotton spinner living in Coe Street, off Bridgeman Street, so that could give us a clue as to how the pub got its name. There were couple of other pubs by that name in Bolton in the 1860s: one on Moor Lane and one on Lever Street

James Moore was assisted by John Hargreaves and it seems the Hargreaves family eventually took over the pub. Peter Hargreaves appears as landlord on the 1869 Directory while John Hargreaves is in charge from 1871 onwards.

By 1895, the Cotton Tree was being run by the 24-year-old James Thornley whose father John Thornley was the landlord of the Flag Inn on Great Moor Street. He didn’t last long and by the time he married in 1901 he was working as a pattern maker on Bridge Street.

The Cotton Tree was owned by the Mort family in the last years of its existence. [2] It was leased to Wingfield’s Silverwell Brewery and that would have been no later than the end of the nineteenth century as Manchester Brewery Company took over Wingfield’s in 1899. It was a Manchester Brewery pub when it closed in 1908. William Lord was its final landlord. After closure the pub was converted into a private residence.

Many of the houses in Edgar Street, including the Cotton Tree, were demolished in the early-thirties. One of residents in the area was local historian the late Norman Kenyon who describes the houses on Edgar Street thus:

“The property in Edgar Street was very old and behind our cottage in a narrow alley, six or seven feet wide, was the communal lavatory. This was kept clean in turn by the ladies living in the row. Each lady carried out her task dutifully….The cottage in Edgar Street was a blessing in one sense, for we lived there at a time when Bolton Council was embarking on Clearance Orders to get rid of our old property and was building new housing estate such as Platt Hill and Willows Lane.”

Bolton, Daubhill and Deane. A Sentimental Journey, by Norman Kenyon. Published by Neil Richardson (1998).

The Kenyons headed off to Malton Avenue, off Hulton Lane in the early-1930s and the former Cotton Tree building was demolished along with the rest of its row and much of the surrounding street. The only building to remain was number 13, Mitchell’s offices. The factory was also spared.

Mitchell’s built a garage on the land occupied by some of the demolished properties. With a diminishing market for reconditioned machines and no younger family members willing to carry on the business after four generations Mitchell’s went into Members Voluntary Liquidation in 2007. An image of the factory taken in 2006 can be seen on this page

Cotton Tree Edgar Street layby is site of May 2012

The car park at the Aldi Store at the bottom of Derby Street pictured in 2012 (copyright Google Street View). A truncated Edgar Street can be seen on the right hand side of the picture. Mitchell’s factory was situated directly in front of us and the site of the Cotton Tree, number 9-11 Edgar St, is roughly where the lay-by is at the side of the store on the left-hand side of the image.

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