Thursday, 10 December 2015

General Sir Robert Sale, Crook Street, Bolton

The first General Sir Robert Sale was situated on Crook Street in between the junctions with Ormrod Street and Blackhorse Street. The pub took its name from a British soldier in the garrison of Jalalabad during the First Afghan War (1839-1842). Known as “Fighting Bob”, General Sale was killed in action in 1844 during the First Anglo-Sikh War and was renowned for always being in the thick of any fighting.

In Bolton during the middle of the 18th century, a pub on Crook Street named after “Fighting Bob” would have been quite apt. The area bordered by Crook Street, Newport Street, Blackhorse Street and Ashburner Street was known as Newtown. There was an influx of Irish immigrants following the Great Famine of 1848-49 and it soon became the roughest part of an already rough town.

Thomas Lever ran a beerhouse in Great Moor Street in 1836, but he was on Newport Street by 1841 and by 1849 he was on Crook Street in the pub which was now named General Sir Robert Sale. Previously the property was a private residence.Two years later he was employing a brewer, Joseph Walton, who lived on the premises along with his wife and two children.

The Bolton Directories for 1853 and 1855 both have the pub’s address as 47 Crook Street. The Bowling Green, close to the junction with Ormrod Street was number 45. Even taking into account the fact that in those days streets weren’t always numbered odd on one side and evens on the other it still puts the General Sir Robert Sale quite close to the Bowling Green.

In 1854, Thomas Lever decided to apply for a full licence for the General Sir Robert Sale. It was one of 23 beerhouses that applied for licences to sell wine and spirits as well as beer. But the application was heard by the staunch teetotaller Robert Walsh and all 23 applications were thrown out. [See here for more details].

Thomas Lever was still at the pub on the 1861. By this time he was 73 and his wife Margaret was 66. According to Gordon Readyhough, the pub was demolished a few years later to make way for modifications to the railway line in the area. The Crook Street goods depot was expanded and properties in the vicinity, including the General Sir Robert Sale, were demolished. But instead of giving up Thomas Lever simply moved to 97 Newport Street and re-opened under the same name. [1]

Click here for the second General Sir Robert Sale.

A car park now stands on the original site of the General Sir Robert Sale, on the right of the image below taken in August 2015. (copyright Google Street View)

[1] Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

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