The word ‘Vulcan’ keeps cropping up in our research into Bolton’s pubs. The name still exists at the Vulcan on Junction Road, Deane and in Walkden at the Vulcan on Bolton Road, but there aren’t many other examples of the name. WhatPub – not a comprehensive list but a decent enough guide – lists just 12 in the whole of the country.
The name comes from the Roman god of fires, volcanoes and metalworking and with the number of foundries and steelworks in the area it isn’t difficult to see why variations have cropped up at a number of pubs in Bolton. There was the Vulcan Inn on Derby Street, the Eagle and Vulcan on Folds Road, the Old Vulcan on Croasdale Street and this, the Horse and Vulcan on Deane Road.
Edward Kearsley was a butcher in Blackburn Street in 1841. By 1843 he is a beerhouse keeper, also in Blackburn Street. It wasn’t unusual for premises to be used for dual purposes and it is likely that Edward Kearsley was also serving beer at his butcher’s shop.
Edward Kearsley died in 1848 and the pub was taken over by his brother, Wright Kearsley. Wright was a carrier living in Chancery Lane in 1841 and he carried on in that trade even after he moved to the pub. It is entirely possible that he named the pub the Horse and Vulcan, perhaps as a nod to his profession but also to the presence not far from the pub of the Union Foundry on Blackhorse Street and the Soho Foundry on Crook Street, which later became Hick, Hargreaves.
Wright Kearsley eventually went back to being a courier. He left the Horse and Vulcan in the late-1850s and by 1871 he was 60-years-old, working as a courier and living in Kirk Street, the next street off Blackburn Street, as it still was.
Ellis Boardman succeeded Wright Kearsley and spent over 15 years at the Horse and Vulcan. A native of Deane and a former miner he moved to the pub along with his wife Jane and was there until the mid-1870s.
Like many pubs, the Horse and Vulcan brewed its own beer in the early days, but by the end of the 19th century it was owned by a local brewery, Joseph Sharman.
The 1905 Bolton Directory shows Walter Copple as the licensee. He married in to the pub trade – his father-in-law ran the Mill Hill Tavern on Mill Hill Street – and Walter would later go on to run the Swiss Hotel at Halliwell. But it was the occupant in 1905 of number 57 Deane Road - the premises next door to the Horse and Vulcan- that was to be key to the pub’s future. Joseph Foster had been making his ‘running pumps’ since 1895 and his business was expanding. There is no record as to what the catalyst was behind the Horse and Vulcan’s closure in 1912, but Joseph Foster was looking to expand his business. He bought the Horse and Vulcan and opened what is believed to be the world’s first athletic shoes factory in the enlarged premises.
The former Horse and Vulcan is pictured here as part of the enlarged Joseph Foster premises, the Olympic works, shortly before it was demolished in 1966 to make way for the Bolton Institute Of Technology. It was situated on Deane Road in the block between Ebenezer Street and John Street.