The Cross Keys was one of Bolton’s oldest pubs. It stood at the junction of Cross Street and Kay Street for over 130 years. It was certainly in existence by 1800 and by 1818 it was owned by the Wallwork family. Joseph Wallwork was the licensee.
Much later, in 1850, while Joseph was at the Rope and Anchor on Kay Street, his daughter Ellen married a bookkeeper named Evan Dixon. The couple ran the Cross Keys for a while and were certainly there by 1855.
The Cross Keys was also owned by the Entwisle family. Abraham Entwisle was there in 1828, but he was at the Lord Nelson on Derby Street by 1836 and his son John was running the Cross Keys.
The Entwisles were succeeded by Henry Lea who was at the pub in 1848. He had gone by the following year and according to the 1851 Census he was a journeyman brewer living in Howell Croft with his wife Elizabeth, who was a greengrocer. Henry died in 1853.
By 1909 the Cross Keys was owned by Tong’s Brewery and was run by Joseph Walkden. He died in 1909 and his widow, Sarah Ann married a local mill manager named James Pickering in 1912. She continued to run the pub for some years after at least until 1924.
The Bromley Cross brewer Hamers bought the pub from Tong’s. In 1935 the area around the Cross Street junction with Kay Street was earmarked for council housing and the Cross Keys was to be demolished. Hamers transferred the pub’s full licence to the Railway at the corner of Newport Street and Trinity Street.