Saturday, 2 January 2016

Bridgeman Arms, 81 Bridgeman Street

The original Bridgeman Arms was open from around 1825 and closed down in about 1843. It was situated close to the junction of Bridgeman Street and Crook Street. On its closure the name was used by a beerhouse that had just opened a couple hundred yards away on Bridgeman Street and it is this pub we shall deal with in this article.

The owner of the second Bridgeman Arms was James Leach who would later go on to open the Albert on Derby Street  and would found a brewery at that pub that was to last until the 1930s. In 1841, James owned a shop on the north side of Bridgeman Street, the other side of the road to where the pub was situated. He worked as a carder with his wife Ann running the shop, but they moved across the street and James decided to expand the business through the sale of beer that could be consumed on the premises.

James Leach is listed on the 1851 census as being at the Bridgeman Arms. At the time he was 38-years-old and lived there with Ann (34) and five children: James (14), Alice (12), Selina (10), Levi (7) and Emma (1). The following year they left for the Albert.

By 1853, the pub was being run by a firm named Shaw and Co but by the 1860s it was in the hands of the Williams family. Thomas Williams was hauled before the magistrates in August 1869 accused of selling beer “at improper” hours. That meant a Sunday morning and local Police Constables Dearden and Greenhalgh were often on the prowl looking for pubs selling beer to people who really ought to have been in church. On this occasion PC Greenhalgh saw a woman inside the pub. Thomas Williams was in the cellar where he was observed filling a jug and then a quart bottle with beer. He turned to walk up the cellar steps and saw the constable in front of him. Williams was fined 10 shillings. [1] The bad news was that the conviction imperilled Thomas Williams’ licence as his conviction took place just a matter of weeks before beerhouses had to re-apply for their licences for the first time. Thomas Williams also had a beerhouse in nearby Moncrieffe Street. His son Henry took over the Bridgeman Arms.

Under Henry Williams the Bridgeman Arms was again featured in the Bolton Evening News just a few weeks later, but this time it was for the success of the pub’s leek show. The paper described it as:

“in all respects one of the most successful not only in point of quality but attendance of visitors.” [2]

Thirty-four leeks were on show and a “capital table of prizes” included a number of copper kettles and teapots.

Henry Williams ran the Bridgeman with his wife Mary but by 1881 he had moved to Birkdale just outside Southport where he became the proprietor of the Park Hotel which still [2016] stands close to Birkdale station. He was running the Park along with Sarah-Ann Pennington who is described as his cousin. There was no sign of Mary.

Back at the Bridgeman Arms, a Scot, Thomas Robertson, was landlord in 1881. He had moved on to the Oxnoble further up Bridgeman Street by 1891, the Little John on Lever Street by 1895 and in 1901 he was at the Cotton Tree, also on Lever Street. His daughter Edith married ‘into the trade’. She married James Ferguson in 1904 and by 1911 they were at the Black Lion on Turton Street. 

In 1891 the then landlord of the Bridgeman Arms, Henry Parkinson was fined after being found guilty on one charge of betting and one charge of gaming. The police were on the prowl in 1891 and a series of raids on Bolton pubs resulted in 56 cases brought before the courts. Parkinson was accused of taking bets and of allowing a game of ‘nap’ to take place in his pub. He was fined 40 shillings on both counts – a total of £4 and the equivalent of £450 today. His license was endorsed and he left the pub soon afterwards. [3]

Parkinson was succeeded by William B Lodge. A native of Bradford, Lodge was only 21 when he took over the pub in 1893. He was a plumber’s apprentice in 1891 living with his grandparents in Chorley Street. He married Alice Howarth in 1892 and their son William was born in October of that year. The family moved into the Bridgeman in 1893, but Alice died in 1898 and William left the pub soon afterwards. He died in Blackpool just a year later at the age of 27.

The Bridgeman was an Atkinson’s pub who supplied it from their brewery on Commission Street, off Deane Road. It was sold to Magee’s in the 1890s but was nominally a Greenall’s house when it closed in 1959. The whole of the bottom end of Bridgeman Street was remodelled. Hundreds of nineteenth-century properties were demolished and replaced by an industrial estate.

David Robinson has posted a number of photos and anecdotes from final days of the Bridgeman Arms on the excellent Facebook group I Belong To Bolton. David’s grandparents were the final licensees of the pub before its closure in 1959.

[1] Bolton Evening News, 26 August 1869
[2] Bolton Evening News, 18 October 1869
[3] Manchester Courier, 29 May 1891

Bridgeman Street looking up from the Thynne Street end. The entrance to Sainsbury’s on the right-hand side was carved out of the rear entrance to the old Hick, Hargreaves factory in 2004. A part of the former factory still stands and is visible on the right. Hick, Hargreaves moved out of that part of the complex in the eighties. Brolit Welding and River Street Glass have been there since. The Bridgeman Arms was situated opposite the nearest edge of the building as we look. The beginning of the bus stop lay-by now stands on the site of the pub.

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