The Kay Street Arms began life as the Golden Lion in the 1850s. It was situated at the north end of Kay Street near the junction with Higher Bridge Street and Blackburn Road. The beerhouse appears to have been founded by Robert Atherton who ran it for over two decades from around 1853 until the mid-1870s. Robert became a widow in 1872 when his wife Jane died aged 70. He married again the following year though eyebrows were no doubt raised when his new bride was the 27-year-old Sarah Haslam. Robert died in 1878 by which time he had left the pub. Sarah married again the following the year, this time to Charles Septimus Fryer, but she died in 1888 at the age of 42.
By 1890 the pub was known as the Kay Street Arms and the landlord was Cornelius Maine. In 1894 it was one of three pubs raided by police looking for evidence of betting. The other pubs were Uncle Tom’s Cabin on Egyptian Street and the Milk Street Tavern. All three were raided the night before a big race meeting at Kempton Park. Inspector Rhodes found a grand total of 309 betting slips at the Kay Street Arms. There was a book containing 113 betting slips inside Maine’s coat; a cigar box contained 93 slips of paper relating to 212 bets; a teapot in the kitchen contained 53 slips relating to 119 bets and a satchel in the dresser contained 43 slips relating to 106 bets. Maine and his customers were frog-marched to the town hall where they were given bail. At his trial he was found guilty of allowing betting on licensed premises and fined £25 – the equivalent of almost £3000 today. The guilty verdict marked the end of Cornelius Maine’s stint in the licensed trade. He became a tobacconist 131 Higher Bridge Street (the building still stands and housed a tattoo studio until around 2010) and he later moved to Little Lever where he worked as a carter. He died there in 1904 at the age of 44.
By 1905 Samuel Unsworth was at the pub. He was a foreman lamplighter living in Ellesmere Street in 1901 but he moved to the Kay Street Arms a few years later and staying for over 20 years.
In the 1890s the pub was bought by Atkinson’s brewery before being sold to the J Halliwell and Co after the betting scandal. Halliwell’s were taken over by Magee, Marshall in 1910 and it remained a Magees pub until it closed in 1966. It was demolished soon afterwards. The St Peters Way extension runs through the site of the pub. An August 2015 image is below (copyright Google Street View).