Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Pilkington Arms, 152 Derby Street, Bolton



The former Pilkington Arms pictured in August 2015 (Google Streetview)


There is a common misconception that the Pilkington Arms was named after the family whose crest still appears on the Man and Scythe, Churchgate. While it was named after a member of the Pilkington family it was perhaps a different branch. John Pilkington built the pub in 1803 on Derby Street on the corner of what later became Noble Street and he simply named it after himself.

By 1820 John Pilkington had gone. A Mr Hiles is named as the landlord on the 1818 Bolton Directory and he was subsequently replaced by Richard Ryley. By the mid-1830s, Edward Smith was the proprietor. Pubs were often the centre of communities and were used for formal administrative proceedings. In 1841, the Pilkington was used by the local coroner for the inquest into the death of Edmund Fairclough, aged four, who died in a fire at the family home on nearby Houghton Street. Edmund’s mother went out to a bakehouse and locked Edmund and two other children in the house. When she returned Edmund was on the bed his clothes having caught fire. A verdict of accidental death was returned.

Edward Smith left the Pilkington around 1850. By 1851 he was a coal and house agent living on Blackburn Street, the name for what we now know as the bottom end of Deane Road. By the time he died in 1873 he was living alone in a boarding house on that same street.

Edward Smith was succeeded by William Seddon and his wife Ellen. William was the son of a farmer from Morris Green and the couple were running a beerhouse at Daubhill in 1851. By 1854 they were at the Pilkington Arms and they were to remain there for the rest of their lives. William died in 1870 and Ellen took over the running of the until her death in 1873. She was also described as the pub’s brewer according to the Bolton Directory of 1871. William Beckwith succeeded the Seddons and he ran the pub until his death in 1881 at the age of 39.

The Pilkington subsequently fell into the hands of Walkers Brewery on Spa Road. No relation to Walker Cain of Warrington, Walkers of Bolton was situated opposite Queens Park. Magnet stands on the site of the brewery which was owned by a number of companies during its 80 years of operation, latterly Howcroft’s which closed in 1969. Walker Street, off Spa Road owes its name to the brewery’s founders.

In 1899 the Walkers operation was being wound up and the Pilkington was one of a number of properties in Bolton and Preston being sold. [1] The job lot became part of the newly-formed Spa Wells Brewery Company in 1900.

Spa Wells lasted four years. It became J Jackson and Sons in 1904. Jackson’s sold out to Shaw’s of Leigh in 1927. Shaw’s were taken over by Walker Cain Ltd in 1931 and Walker’s merged with Tetley of Leeds in 1960 to form Tetley Walker.

The Pilkington was in the Good Beer Guide from 1994 to 1996. At the time it had been in the hands of the Richardson family for some 20 years. It closed down in 2007 and can be seen here in January of that year. 

The Pilkington was converted into a takeaway. It was Bar B Q Base in 2008, Tariq’s in 2011 and, more recently, it became the Xquisite shisha, mocktail bar and grill in 2015.


[1] The other Bolton pubs were: the Milestone on Deane Road; the Queens Arms, Bridge Street; Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Egyptian Street; the Waterloo Tavern on Folds Road; the Sir Colin Campbell Road on Folds Road; the Mere Hall Inn on Vernon Street/Lyon Street; the Union Arms on Deane Road; the Red Lion at Four Lane Ends and the Church Hotel in Kearsley.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Premier Arms, 38-40 Hulme Street, Bolton




The Premier Arms was another example of a corner shop making the transition into a beerhouse. The first mention of the pub is in the 1871 Bolton Directory. By then it had just become licensed premises, though in the census return of that year landlord James Richardson is described as a provision dealer. Presumably that was his  main line of business. James Richardson remained at the Premier Arms until his death in 1886.

The Premier was bought by the Bromley Cross brewery Hamers. But it was in the tough district of Little Bolton bounded by Folds Road, Kay Street and Turton Street – a particularly well-pubbed area of the town.

Hamer’s closed the Premier Arms in 1920 and by 1924 it was back in use as retail premises of sorts. Instead of being a shop it was a fish and chip shop with John Millington the proprietor. It remained as such until its demolition in the 1960s.

Hulme Street is no more – at least not in name – but a part of Charles Street occupies the former Hulme Street and these 1990s flats occupy the corner that was once the home to the Premier Arms (image copyright Google Street View, August 2014).


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Foresters Arms, 63 Smith Street, Bolton



The Foresters Arms was situated at the end of Smith Street, a thoroughfare that ran from Folds Road opposite the junction with Phoenix Street down to Turner Street next to the Bolton to Blackburn railway line. 

The pub dated back to the 1850s and the first record we have is on the 1861 census when William Bridge was the landlord. By 1871 he was at the Horse and Jockey on Bradshawgate.

By the time the pub had to re-apply for its licence in 1868 the landlord was William Holden who had been at the Foresters Arms for three years. The police objected to the licence application after PC Greenhalgh said he had seen people congregating outside the pub and on the street. However, Mr Holden managed to present testimonials as to his good character and the licence was granted on appeal.

William Holden had gone by 1871 and the Foresters was taken over by Henry Jackson. The pub was owned by Thomas Holden who owned the nearby Lord Clyde on Folds Road. who may have been a relative of William Holden. There is also a connection between the Holdens and original landlord William Bridge, who was a witness to Thomas Holden’s third marriage. One of Thomas Holden’s step-children was Susannah Drennan and there was a Drennan Court to the rear of the Foresters Arms.

Thomas Holden died in 1884 leaving a sizeable estate of some £1900 – worth around £250,000 in today’s money. The Foresters was taken over by the Bury Brewery Company and they were pub’s owners when its licence was refused in 1911. The building was demolished in the 1940s though Smith Street itself was around for another twenty years. The area was cleared and the Vernacare factory was built on the site in the 1970s.

Nothing remains of the area where the Foresters Arms stands. The image below comes from Google Earth and shows the Folds Road/Turner Street area. The arrow pointing to the A676 was the approximate entry to Smith Street. The street ran towards the top right of the image towards the car park where the site of the Foresters Arms was situated.


Monday, 14 December 2015

Crawford Arms, 19 Bolton Street, Bolton



The Crawford Arms on Bolton Street was built in 1869. Local builder Robert Bolton built the pub – and the whole street – on land off Draycott Street and he was offering the pub to let by the end of March that year. It was taken on by Isaac Greenhalgh, a former cotton spinner from Kestor Fold, who was there until he died in 1876.

By the 1890s it was being run by Mrs Emma Hargreaves while her husband Robert worked as a slater. They had left the pub by 1901 and were living in Hibbert Street next door to the Cricketers Arms

A later landlord was Jack Bradshaw. According to the author Alison Bruce, Bradshaw’s daughter’s grandfather-in-law was the executioner, William Billington, whose father kept the Derby Arms on Churchgate. More on Alison Bruce’s recollections of Jack Bradshaw can be seen here

The Crawford was bought by Hamers, a sizeable concern which managed to supply a tied estate of some 42 pubs from a relative small brewery at the back of the Volunteer Arms at Bromley Cross. The last of the Hamers, former Mayor of Turton John Hamer, sold out to Duttons of Blackburn for £316,000 in 1951. Duttons became part of the Whitbread group in 1964 and it was a Duttons pub that the Crawford Arms ended its days in 1979. [1]

The pub was demolished in the eighties.  

Bolton Street no longer exists, though Back Bolton Street is still visible off Draycott Street. A housing estate has been built on the site of both Bolton Street and Prospect Mill No 3 which stood to the street. 

[1] More on the sad story of John Hamer can be read here



Draycott Street runs along the bottom of this 2015 picture (copyright Google Street View). The electricity substation in the foreground is on the corner of Back Bolton Street. Bolton Street ran down the other side of the substation starting where the trees are situated.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

General Sir Robert Sale, 97 Newport Street, Bolton



Click here for the first General Sir Robert Sale.

The General Sir Robert Sale was previously on Crook Street close to the Bowling Green pub. However, it was demolished to make way for modifications to the railway, specifically an expansion of the Crook Street goods depot and improvements to the lines as they entered Great Moor Street station and the landlord, Thomas Lever, decided to move to Newport Street.

Thomas Lever had been running a beer house on Newport Street according to the 1843 Bolton Directory. With the closure of the General Sir Robert Sale he rented premises at 97 Newport Street and opened up again under the same name.

But by 1869, Thomas Lever was ready to get out of the pub business. He was now 82 years old.

“To Be Let – the Sir Robert Sale BEERHOUSE. Apply on the premises. 97 Newport Street.”

Bolton Evening News, 2 June 1869.

The pub was taken on by James Hardman. However, he was soon succeeded by John Balch, a carter whose wife Sarah came from a pub-owning family.

But rather like the original pub the General Sir Robert Sale was once again defeated by the railway. A scheme to build the Johnson Street curve linking the Bolton to Preston line with the Bolton to Blackburn line necessitated the demolition of a number of properties on Newport Street, including the General Sir Robert Sale. The pub closed in the early 1880s and a bridge over the new line was built in its place.

The bridge is still there and can be seen on this August 2015 image looking up Newport Street (copyright Google Street View).


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).



Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Druids Arms, 5 Back Spring Gardens, Bolton



Druids Arms Back Spring Gardens Bolton pictured in 1908


The Druids Arms pictured in 1908. The chimney of Queens Foundry can just about be seen in the distance.

The Druids Arms on Back Spring Gardens dated as a pub to around the middle of the nineteenth century though the building itself was older. It was a private house belonging to Robert Walsh, a local councillor and staunch teetotaller who was strongly opposed to the sale of any alcohol. However, in 1860 it was bought by John Walsh who then rented it out to William Ainsworth. Ainsworth paid the required 2 guineas to the local licensing authorities to open up a beer house.

Back Spring Gardens now only runs from Ashburner Street to the car park outside Elizabeth House, but in the middle of the nineteenth century both Spring Gardens and Back Spring Gardens ran from Deansgate, at its junction with Howell Croft, to Great Moor Street.

The Druids Arms had a reputation for being one of Bolton’s roughest pubs. In March 1869, James Bridge, a riveter from Liverpool, was found – quite literally – with his hand in the till. The wife of landlord William Ainsworth was passing from the bar parlour into the bar when she saw Bridge lean over the par and put his hand into the till. She caught hold of him and he dropped 6 ½ d (about 3p) in coins. He claimed to be drunk but he was sent to prison for 14 days. [1]

When Bolton’s beerhouses had to re-apply for their licences later that year William Ainsworth was the first to appear in front of the magistrates. Chief Constable Beech called Police Constable Dearden to give evidence against the renewal of the licence. PC Dearden claimed he had seen thieves and prostitutes in the vault of the Druids Arms not once but on many occasions. He could not name any of the thieves, but one of the prostitutes was named Mary Tong. However, he didn’t make any file note of his observations claiming instead that he told magistrates when they undertook a tour of the premises before the hearing. PC Greenhalgh, who often worked in tandem with PC Dearden, said he had seen prostitutes at the Druid Arms, but only in the vault. They were never disorderly and Mr Ainsworth never refused to throw out anyone who was disorderly. But under cross-examination he admitted seeing prostitutes in every vault on Deansgate and Bradshawgate. The magistrates granted Mr Ainsworth his licence. [2]

By 1876, William Ainsworth was at the Derby Hotel on Chorley Street and Mark Wilcox was at the Druids Arms. Mr Wilcox was a former stonemason who moved into the pub trade the previous year. His wife was a member of the Walsh family who owned the building. The Wilcoxes lasted about a decade and were succeeded by an Irishman, John O’Connor, along with his Bolton-born wife Catherine. John was a former labourer from Blackhorse Street. They were in turn succeeded by Sarah Mason who moved from the Anglers Home on nearby Queen Street.

In June 1908, a customer at the Druids Arms was the subject of a robbery. William Mather, a collier from Tyldesley left the pub and met Mary Briggs. As they walked along Barn Street – the small thoroughfare that still runs from Queen Street to Blackhorse Street to the rear of the job centre – they were met by two men, John William Rigby and Bernard Colgan. Mather had shown Briggs a half-crown coin plus 2 shillings and 6 pence in change - 5 shillings in total and the equivalent of around £25 today. Rigby and Colgan asked Mather if he had any money. Briggs shouted that he had plenty and the two men set about Mather.  Mather shouted for help and the police and two members of the public arrived. Rigby, Colgan and Briggs were arrested and although the half-crown coin was missing they were charged with the theft of 2 shillings and 6 pence. All three were found guilty at Manchester Assizes. Briggs and Rigby were both sent to jail for 12 months. Colgan was sent to six months in jail but in addition he was given 12 strokes of the ‘cat-o’-nine-tails’. [3]

The Druids Arms was owned by J Atkinson and Sons’ Commission Street brewery in the 1890s. By 1910, when it closed down, it was owned by the Cornbook Brewery of Manchester. The building became a private residence before being demolished in the late-1920s. The Civic Centre was built on the site and the bottom end of Back Spring Gardens contained the building which, for many years, was the central police station.

[1] Bolton Evening News, 25 March 1869.
[2] Bolton Evening News, 1 September 1869.
[3] Manchester Courier, 4 July 1908.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Buck and Vine, 142 Kay Street, Bolton



The Buck and Vine dated back to the middle of the 19th century. It was a beer house when James Mangnall took it over, but he decided to put in an application in August 1854 to convert it into a public house which would have enabled him to sell wine and spirits as well as beer. While Kay Street had numerous beerhouse, only the Falcon and the Roebuck were public houses along with the Four Factories on nearby Turton Street and the Three Tuns on Chapel Street. But the nearby Elephant and Castle had also applied for a licence – and so had 21 other beerhouses in Bolton. Unfortunately, the applications were heard by famous teetotaller Robert Walsh. Not only was he less than keen on converting beerhouses into fully-licensed public houses he was in favour of closing 90 percent of Bolton’s beerhouses. He had calculated on the way into the hearing that Bolton had one beerhouse for every 106 people. In his view, one for every thousand people would suffice. All 23 applications were thrown out.

James Mangnall didn’t hang around. He left the Buck and Vine and by 1861 it was being run by William Clegg. Clegg was formerly a roller cover at Claremont, off Bridgeman Street, and when he left the Buck and Vine it was to take over a pub in his former locality, the Coe Street Tavern

By 1870, the Buck and Vine was under the control of the Kennerdell family. Edward Kennerdell had worked as an iron turner in Howell Croft before getting into the pub business. He died in 1872 and the pub was taken over by his widow Ann. She ran it until she died in 1903 at the age of 72.

The Buck and Vine was owned by Wilson’s when it closed in 1960. With such a large number of pubs on Kay Street - even at that time – pubs needed an immediate catchment area. For some years the Buck and Vine had been virtually alone. The Globe Iron Works and Dobson and Barlows had gone. Chemist Street (formerly Chymist Street), which linked Kay Street with Waterloo Street never had many residential properties on it, while nearby streets such as Britain Street and Green Street had been demolished.

A 1928 aerial view of the area can be seen here.  Although the pub isn’t marked it is actually positioned behind the blue marker denoting Kay Street.


Kay Street is now a dual-carriageway and has been so since the early-nineties. The original Kay Street is the north-bound carriageway. The south-bound carriageway is the newer construction and at around this spot, next to the service station, it passes through the site of the Buck and Vine.


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Shepherds Arms, 44 Kay Street, Bolton



Shepherds Arms Kay Street Bolton pictured in the 1920s
The Shepherd Arms pictured in the late-1920s.
The Shepherds Arms was situated at 44 Kay Street at its junction with Charles Street. The pub dated back to at least the 1860s.The first mention we have is when Bernard Brand – sometimes given as Barnard Brand or even Barnard Band – is listed in the 1869 Bolton Directory. That same year he was one of the first licensees to be awarded a licence under the new system of annual renewals. Mr Brand died on 27 October 1870 and he was succeeded by William Henry who had previously run a number of pubs in the town.

In the early-1900s the landlord was Joseph Burtonwood who moved along with his wife Hannah from her family’s grocery store on nearby Union Street.

The Shepherd’s was bought by local brewer Joseph Sharman whose Mere Hall brewery was situated about half a mile away from Kay Street. Sharman’s and its 58 pubs were taken over by Shaw’s of Leigh. When they were in turn taken over by Walker Cain Ltd in 1931 a trading review took place as a result of which the Shepherd’s Arms closed in 1933. [1]

The pub was situated next door to the Kay Street Congregational Mission and the mission expanded into the Shepherds on its closure. The mission closed in 1958 and was demolished in 1959 for the widening of Kay Street. Construction of the St Peters Way extension in the early-1990s meant the landscaping of Kay Street. The lower end, which once contained the Shepherds Arms and the Kay Street Mission, barely exists apart from a footpath where the street used to run. This can be seen below. Note the statue of Atlas from Walmsleys Forge which now stands on the site of the former BankOf England pub. The Bank Of England was just three doors down from the Shepherds Arms. Note that this isn't the same view as in the image at the top of the page. Charles Street runs along the side of the pub in the 1920s image; this view is up Kay Street (as was).

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




Saturday, 5 December 2015

Sir Charles Napier, 30 Moor Lane, Bolton

Sir Charles Napier 30 Moor Lane Bolton pictured in the 1920s

The Sir Charles Napier pictured around 1929 shortly after it became part of the tied estate of George Shaw and Sons of Leigh.


The Sir Charles Napier existed as a pub from the 1850s until 1939. It was one of a large number of pubs that existed on Moor Lane until 1869 when licensing magistrates managed to get a number of them closed down.

The pub was named after General Sir Charles Napier, the commander-in-chief of the British Army in India in the 1840. Napier was a man of contradictions. He once pointed out: “War is detestable and not to be desired by a nation. It falls not so heavily upon soldiers – it is our calling; but its horrors alight upon the poor, upon the miserable, upon the unhappy, upon those who feel the expense and the suffering, but have not the glory.” However, he also said: “The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed.”

James Nightingale was the licensee at the time of the 1869 crackdown, but he was the latest in a string of licensees who came and went from the pub in a short space of time. William Morris is listed on the 1869 Bolton Directory, but by the early part of 1871 he had been replaced by James Wardle.

Mr Wardle was hauled above the judge in July 1869 for an infringement of his licence with regards to opening hours. Those who remember the days before licensing laws were liberalised in 2005 will hark back to a time when an infringement of opening hours usually meant a few late-night drinks. But while late hours were legal in 1869, Sunday morning opening was frowned upon and the police were active in the town seeking pubs serving patrons when those patrons ought to be at church. On Sunday 18 July 1869 they caught three pubs open. The Rising Sun on Churchbank was serving at 8.30am, but when the case came to court there was a doubt in the case against the landlord and it was discharged. But there was no such luck for Betty Bee of the Three Tuns on Moor Lane, nor for James Wardle of the Sir Charles Napier who was found to be open at 10.15am. Who would want a drink at ten o’clock on a Sunday morning? Well, it was the only day off work for most people. James Wardle was fined 5 shillings plus costs and he left the Sir Charles Napier soon afterwards. [1]

James Wardle was succeeded by James Nightingale, formerly the landlord of the Sir John Falstaff on Blackhorse Street. Mr Nightingale’s first task was to get the pub through the licensing session of September 1869. A recent change in the law meant all beerhouses had to re-apply for their licences so he took the precaution of getting up a petition from his neighbours attesting to his good behaviour. The pub got through and its licence was renewed. [2]

It’s a good job that James Nightingale didn’t have to apply a few weeks later. He was back in court in October 1869 charged with having assaulted Emily Cooper. The complainant lived in a house owned by James Nightingale and she came to the Sir Charles Napier to hand back the key as she was leaving the house. James Nightingale’s wife demanded that the house was cleaned first and she attacked Miss Cooper. On hearing the commotion James ran into the room and smashed a pint pot over Miss Cooper’s head. She claimed that the blood almost blinded her and when she went to have the wound dressed a piece of the pint pot covered in blood was found in the bosom of her dress. [3]

Mr Nightingale was found guilty, but what seems shocking some 150 years later is his punishment. For an assault that involved smashing a pint pot over a female’s head he was fined just 5 shillings – the same penalty meted out to James Wardle for opening on a Sunday morning a few months earlier! It seems that justice was dependent not on the severity of the crime, nor of the person committing the crime, but on the social class of the defendant, and there was a difference between the property-owning Mr Nightingale and his lowly tenant Miss Cooper.

James Nightingale left the pub business later in the 1870s. By 1881 he was a quarrymaster at Horrocks Fold. James Caldwell was at the Sir Charles Napier by 1876.

Sharmans eventually bought the pub and it became a Shaw’s pub when they took over Sharman’s in 1928. It ended its days as a Walker’s pub after they bought Shaw’s in 1931. The Sir Charles Napier closed in 1939.

[1] Bolton Evening News, 22 July 1869
[2] Bolton Evening News, 16 September 1869
[3] Bolton Evening News, 7 October 1869.

The picture below shows 30 Moor Lane in August 2015 when it is Crompton’s Furnishings having been Derek’s Carpets for a number of years. We’re not sure if it is the same building. The roof certainly looks different but it is a three-storey building next to a two-storey. If it was demolished then it would have been in the forties or early-fifties as the current building appears on maps from the 50s. (Image copyright Google Street View)



Friday, 4 December 2015

Masons Arms, 23 King Street, Bolton



The area between Deansgate and the River Croal in the centre of Bolton was once a thriving community. The early settlers to the town were attracted by the river as a source of water and as the town developed streets were built leading down to the Croal: Central Street, Velvet Walks, Queen Street, King Street and Grime Street, to name but a few. But this was often the poorest part of Bolton – certainly as the nineteenth century went on.

King Street contained three pubs in 1853 one of which would have been the Masons Arms. It doesn’t appear on the list of named Great Bolton beerhouses nor on the 1848 Directory, the first in Bolton to name beerhouses rather than just their licensees.

By 1861, James Phoeber was the landlord. He was a carder in Joiners Square in 1851 but he moved into the pub trade and was to spend over 15 years at the Masons.

In 1869 the Masons had to re-apply for its licence for the first time. From 1830 onwards a beerhouse opened simply by paying 2 guineas to the council and there were no annual renewals unless the licensed premises sold wines and spirits as well as beer. But from 1869 beerhouses were subject to annual licencing applications and with a growing temperance movement with members in high places there was pressure on beerhouses to be closed down.

Fortunately for James Phoeber he was able call on a local cotton spinner, Robert Walker, who owned the nearby St Helena Mill. Phoeber had formerly worked for Walker who testified to his good character having known both Phoeber and his wife Ann for over 40 years. Walker said that while he did not approve of beerhouses he knew that Phoeber would not allow his employees to drink in the pub. It sounds unlikely, but it got the Masons Arms through the licensing application. [1]

A few weeks later, James Phoeber put an advertisement in the Bolton Evening News asking for the owner of some lost property to return to the pub to reclaim it. Pub landlords have found a whole manner of items at the end of a boozy night - coats, handbags, wallets and umbrellas – but James Phoeber was faced with a completely different problem.

“Found. A donkey. Owner may have it on paying expenses. Apply, Masons Arms, King Street.”

Bolton Evening News, 1 November 1869

It seems one of his drinkers had left the poor animal behind after a night out and James Phoeber had to feed it while its owner was found.

 The Phoebers went back to spinning during the 1870s. By 1881 they were living in lodgings on White Lion Brow in between Deansgate and Chorley Street and James was working once again as a carder, presumably back at Walker’s.

In 1904 Thomas Rice was the licensee, but he faced a situation where the pub was under threat because of the actions of a previous landlord. The licensing magistrates proposed to close the Masons on account of the pub being “badly conducted and the resort of bad characters”. But Rice argued that a conviction against the pub in November 1903 was down to a previous licensee who had only run the pub on a temporary basis and who had allowed these bad characters to go into the house too freely. Remarkably, despite being in one of Bolton’s roughest neighbourhoods, there had been no convictions against the pub since 1867 – James Phoeber’s time. Before and since that recent conviction the pub had been excellently run. [2]

Thomas Rice was fortunate on that occasion, but the Masons only lasted for a little more than two more years. In late-1906 it was closed down and referred to the Licensing Compensation Authority, a council scheme set up to buy and delicence pubs it regarded as surplus to requirements. The Masons had been owned by the Cornbook Brewery Company of Manchester since 1899 having been in the hands of Boardman United Breweries following their takeover of the Bolton brewing company Atkinson’s in 1895. The Authority awarded Cornbrooks £400 for the Mason’s and the brewery took the cash. [3]

The premises became a boarding house for a number of years after its closure as a pub. It was demolished in the 1940s and the land has never been built on. It is currently used as Blundell Street car park.

[1] Bolton Evening News, 16 September 1869. St Helena Mill was the oldest in Bolton, built c1780. It still stands after a recent refurbishment. More on St Helena mill here
[2] Manchester Courier, 14 April 1904

[3] Manchester Courier, 11 January 1907.


Site of Masons Arms King Street Bolton 2015


Blundell Street car park pictured in August 2015 (copyright Google Street View). King Street can just be seen at the bottom of the picture, Blundell Street can be seen at the right hand side heading down to St Edmunds Street (formerly Grime Street). St Edmunds church and the flats on Marsden Road can be seen in the distance.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Lord Ashley, 29 Tyndall Street, Bolton



The Lord Ashley was one of a myriad of pubs in Halliwell that sprang up as the area became industrialised but was then demolished as the old houses that were built as a result of that industrialisation were knocked down in the post-war era. 

It was named after Lord Anthony Ashley, whose Ten Hour Act of 1833 ensured no child over the age of nine years of age worked for more than nine hours. Less famously, he was also responsible for an overhaul of the Lunacy Laws a few years earlier.

The first mention of the Lord Ashley was in 1882 when licensee John Kay saw his application for a licence blocked at the annual Brewster Sessions due to previous convictions. [1] But the pub stayed open and it was run by the Holt family for over 20 years.

John Holt was at the pub in 1891 along with his wife Rachel and their two children. But by 1901 John was living two doors away at 25 Tyndall Street and working as a carter. He was succeeded by Baxter Holt, who may or may not have been a relative. Baxter had run a pub before in the Egerton area, but he was also a stockbroker and it was in this latter profession, rather than pub landlord, that he described himself when his son William married in 1897.

Baxter Holt died in 1903 and the Lord Ashley was taken over by his wife Ellen. She remained at the pub until she died in May 1920 at the age of 76.

The Lord Ashley had been bought by Halliwell’s brewery on Mount Street around the turn of the 20th century. It became a Magee’s house when Halliwell’s was taken over in 1910 and remained so until it closed.

In Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, Gordon Readyhough tells us that the Lord Ashley shut in the 1950s. It shows on maps from around 1953-54 so it was probably a little after that. 

Tyndall Street was demolished and Kirkhope Drive built in its place. An August 2015 view of Kirkhope Drive is below (copyright Google Street View).


[1] Manchester Courier, 24 August 1882.


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Royal Hotel, 189 Derby Street



site of Royal Hotel 189 Derby Street pictured in 2015



Number 189 Derby Street, the former Royal Hotel pictured in August 2015 (copyright Google Street View), situated in between the ginnel and the entrance to Sass Beauty.

The Royal Hotel was relatively short-lived pub which ran from the early-1850s until the early-1870s.

The first record we have is when Edward Wroe applies for a full licence for the pub, which was situated at 189 Derby Street, just a few doors up from the Albert Hotel.

Edward Wroe was at the Wheatsheaf on Blackburn Street (now Deane Road) in 1851, but by 1854 he was at the Royal Hotel. At the annual licensing sessions in August of that year he applied for a full licence to serve wine and spirits alongside beer. There were no fewer than 22 other such applications, seven of which were for pubs either on Derby Street or nearby. The magistrates received a petition of some 3000 signatures opposing the granting of any further licences and the chairman of the bench, Robert Walsh, a staunch teetotaller who was strongly opposed to the sale of alcohol, calculated that there was one pub for every 106 people in Bolton. “One for every thousand would do,” he insisted. All 23 applications failed.  [1]

By 1869 the Royal Hotel was in trouble. On 31 March that year the following advertisement appeared in the Bolton Evening News:

“To Let, that Well-Accustomed BEERHOUSE and BREWERY, known as the Royal Hotel, Derby Street. Fixtures, Brewing Utensils, etc, to be taken at a valuation. Apply to Wm Horrocks on the premises.”

William Horrocks had placed a similar advert a couple of months earlier on 28 January in which he referred to a “change in occupation”. He was soon able to take up his new job as Abraham Ogden, a 25-year-old turner from Thynne Street answered the ad and took over the pub. We know this because by August of that year he was up before the court accused of selling beer outside licensing hours. Opening times were quite liberal at that time, but the police were always on the lookout for licensees opening illegally on a Sunday morning. Mr Ogden was caught and was fined 10 shillings plus costs. [2]

This was bad news especially as, like all Bolton’s beerhouses, the Royal had to re-apply for its licence the following month. The magistrates were looking for any excuse to close pubs and in the case of the Royal they had the police on their side. Constables Dearden and Greenhalgh were the bane of pub landlords in Bolton. It was this duo who frequented pubs – often on a Sunday morning- and together they brought numerous landlords to court, including poor Abraham Ogden who had only been at the Royal for a matter of months.

When the Royal’s application was heard, Constable Dearden described the pub as “objectionable” and complained about the low walls to the rear. Low walls enabled easy access, especially on a Sunday morning. He also claimed to have seen cards being played in the tap-room on at least two occasions. Card games were usually played for money. Constable Greenhalgh weighed in by saying the house was “troublesome”. That was it. The Royal’s fate was sealed and the pub closed down later that year. [3]

By 1876, the Royal was a tripe shop. By 1905 it was the premises of a clogger, Albert Rooney. By 1924, Mr Rooney was sharing number 187 Derby Street while 189 was owned by a rubber dealer, Miss Emma Brooks. By the seventies, numbers 187 and 189 were occupied by Lindley’s Removals and in the eighties the whole of that property became the Bantry Club. It is currently a cosmetic laser clinic.

[1] Manchester Courier. 2 September 1854. The other unsuccessful pubs were:

Flash Tavern, Weston Street
Albert, Derby Street
Robin Hood, Ashburner Street
Buck and Vine, Kay Street
Peel Hotel, Higher Bridge Street
Windmill, Blackburn Street
Queen’s, Bradshawgate
Albion, Moor Lane
Derby Arms, Derby Street
Queen Elizabeth, Pitt Street
British Queen, Trinity Street
Oddfellows Arms, Trinity Street
General Sale, Crook Street
Three Tuns, Great Moor Street
Greengate, Hammond Street
Elephant and Castle, Kay Street
British Oak, Derby Street
Anchor, Bright View [Bury Old Road]
There were also applications for one un-named beerhouse in Derby Street, two proposed new pubs in Derby Street and a proposed new pub in Lum Street.

[2] Bolton Evening News, 12 August 1869

[3] Bolton Evening News, 17 September 1869.




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.