Saturday, 22 April 2017

Mill Hill Tavern, 121-123 Mill Hill Street, Bolton

Mill Hill Tavern Bolton site of Sep 2014
Mill Hill Street and the site of the Mill Hill Tavern (copyright Google Street View) pictured in September 2014.

The Mill Hill Tavern was situated right at the top of Mill Hill Street at its junction with Windley Street and Kestor Street.

The name Windley is significant in the history of the pub as the first recorded landlord of the Mill Hill Tavern was John Windley in the middle of the 19th century. It is thought that Mr Windley was formerly a schoolmaster who gave his name to the street formerly known as Hill Lane that ran alongside the pub.

The Mill Hill Tavern doesn’t appear on the 1849 list of beerhouses in the Little Bolton area, but by 1853 John Windley is listed as being in business at licensed premises that are assumed to be the Mill Hill Tavern.

John Windley left the Mill Hill in the mid-1860s. He died in October 1871 and was described as a retired publican in the census taken earlier that year. He was succeeded by John Wood, a man already in his seventies. He died in 1868 and his wife Ellen took over the running of the pub. She was assisted by her son Thomas who brewed the pub's beer.

The pub was sold by the Woods to Henry Heyes who owned the Fox and Goose on Deansgate. On Heyes' death in 1881 the Mill Hill Tavern was sold again.

The Mill Hill's very existence was under threat in August 1881 when the annual brewster session refused the transfer of its licence to Thomas Pickersgill. The session was presided over by the then Mayor of Bolton, Joseph Musgrave. A factory owner, Conservative and no friend of pubs or their customers, Musgrave refused the licences of 14 pubs and beerhouses at the 1881 session, but Pickersgill appealed and was granted the licence at a later hearing.

Magee Marshall owned the pub for a while at the end of the 19th century. It then became a rare outlet for Grant's Tower Brewery of Ewood, near Blackburn before being sold to William Tong's whose Diamond Brewery was situated just off Deane Road. Tong's was taken over by Walker Cain Ltd in 1923. Walker's merged with Joshua Tetley Ltd to form Tetley Walker.

It was a Tetley Walker pub that the Mill Hill ended its days. It was granted a full licence in 1962 that enabled it to serve wines and spirits as well as beer. But the whole of the Mill Hill area was redeveloped in the 1970s. The pub closed in 1972 and the building remained standing for a few years later but it was demolished along with much of the rest of Mill Street.

The Mill Hill caravan park now stands on the site.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

White Hart (Carringtons), 155 Deane Road, Bolton

The White Hart in a picture taken as part of a survey of Tetley pubs in Bolton around 1974. Image: Gerard Fagan/Bolton Lancs Bygone Days Facebook group.

The White Hart was situated at the corner of Deane Road and Cannon Street. According to Gordon Readyhough's book Bolton Pubs 1800-2000, the pub dated back to 1808. It was one of the principal inns on the road leading out of Bolton towards Deane, Westhoughton and Wigan.

In 1818 the licensee was James Pendlebury who owned the pub for at least a decade. It was during Mr Pendlebury's tenure that a bowling green was opened on land behind the pub a little further up Cannon Street. It was used as such for around 50 years until the land was sold for housing. Houses to the north of Royle Street were built on the old green.

By the time of the 1836 directory Thomas Welsby was the landlord and according to the 1841 census it was owned Thomas Johnson. However, both Mr Johnson's predecessors still lived in the area. Thomas Welsby was in business with his son on nearby Cannon Street where they described themselves as 'manufacturers'. However, James Pendlebury appeared to be operating in somewhat reduced circumstances. Now aged 65 he was a cotton spinner living behind the pub on Back Blacburn Street, as that part of Deane Road was then known.

One former landlord had even less luck. John Forshaw was at the pub in the late-1840s, but he was hauled in front of a debtors' court in 1851. He had left the White Hart – a fully-licensed public house – to run the St Patrick's Tavern, a beerhouse in Great Moor Street. However, he had since gone out of business and was now living in lodgings at the Man and Scythe on Churchgate.

Like many pubs at that time, the White Hart had its own brewery. John Cooper was an experienced brewer and came to run the pub in 1852, but he had gone by the end of the 1850s to be replaced by John Proffitt.

The Proffitt family were in charge for around 20 years. John's son Peter Proffitt lived in Cannon Street and worked as a brewer at the pub. By 1875, John had retired and was living with another of his sons in Mayor Street opposite Queens Park. Peter Proffiit then took over the running of the pub until he retired and went to live with his son in Wellington Street. The two pub-owning Proffitts died within a year of each other: John in 1896 and Peter Proffitt in 1897.

Many prominent local societies met at the White Hart. One such was the Derby Lodge of Ancient Shepherds. At their anniversary meeting at the pub in 1869 the lodge's chairman Thomas Unsworth gave a speech in which he advised all young men to join some order and provide for themselves against some unavoidable calamity. [1] The Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds was – and still is - a friendly society set up to help families against hardship brought about by illness or death.

William Wood was at the White Hart by 1891. He had previously been at the Brewers Arms in nearby Atherton Street and by 1895 he had moved to another local pub, the Noble Street Tavern. By then, Daniel Duke, a former landlord at the Hen and Chickens, was in charge at the White Hart.

Tong's Brewery, situated just a little further up Deane Road on the corner of Blackshaw Lane, took over the pub in the early part of the 19th century when James Guffogg was the licensee. By 1924, Charles Makin Rothwell was landlord. Formerly a cotton spinner from Sunninghill Street, off Derby Street, he later moved to Blackpool where he died in 1947.

Tong's sold out to Shaw's of Leigh in 1927 with the White Hart being part of a considerable local tied estate that formed part of the deal. In 1931, Shaw's were bought out by Walker Cain of Liverpool. They merged with the Leeds firm of Joshua Tetley to form Tetley Walker in 1960. That in turn became part of Allied Breweries Ltd the following year.

By 1960 the old White Hart building was over 150 years old so Tetley Walker decided it was time for it to be rebuilt. To ease the transition the brewery bought buildings to the rear and side of the pub, in particular houses numbered 1 and 3 Cannon Street plus a small engineering works fronting Defence Street which ran parallel to Cannon Street on the other side of the pub. Those buildings were all demolished around 1961 and the new White Hart pub was built on the site. When that was completed the old building was closed down and demolished with the land turned into the pub's car park.

The new White Hart was built in the same design of other estate pubs built by Tetley Walker around that time. The Prince Rupert off Lever Edge Lane was another example. Whereas the old White Hart had a central entrance with equal-sized lounge and vault on either side of the front door, the new pub had its entrance somewhat off-centre. That meant a much smaller vault but also a much bigger lounge where there was more comfort as pubs tried to make themselves more attractive to couples – particularly females. It also led to increased profits as lounge prices were a penny or two a pint more than in the vault.

These estate pub designs of the fifties and sixties were functional but have been much-maligned for their architectural qualities and it is only now, as many of these pubs disappear, that the style has found some appreciation. See here for a collection of images of estate pubs in Manchester and surrounding towns, including Bolton. 

But having a larger lounge meant pubs could take on the local political clubs in offering live entertainment. At the beginning of 1964 a young singer named Michael Haslam took up a residency at the White Hart where he sang songs by the likes of Roy Orbison. He built up a decent local following, so much so that Beatles' manager Brian Epstein travelled from Liverpool in May of that year to watch Michael perform and immediately signed him up to a mangement deal.

Michael is ready to move into the centre of the entertainment business,” said Epstein. Haslam recorded two singles and he toured with the Beatles, Gerry And The Pacemakers and Billy J Kramer. But that was a good as it got. He went back to obscurity and died in 2003. [2] [3] His sister, Annie Haslam, went on to enjoy a successful career as vocalist with prog-rock band Renaissance.

When the White Hart was rebuilt it went over to keg beer which replaced traditional, cask-conditioned ale in many pubs in the sixties. But in 1978, real ale drinkers noted with some glee that handpumps had been re-installed at the pub. [4] The reason only became apparent the following year [5] when a new Tetley beer called Walker's Warrington Ale was introduced at a small number of local outlets. As well as the White Hart these included the Bradford on Bradford Street, the Church on Crook Street, the Crofters at Bradshaw, the Gaiety on Bradshawgate and the Prince Rupert on Holmeswood Road. However, the new beer didn't last very long. In April 1980, the local beer magazine What's Doing announced that the handpumps had been ditched in favour of fast-flow dispenserettes.

The White Hart was renamed Carrington's around 1986 as a nod to the family of that name from the American television series Dynasty. It was attempting to appeal to a younger audience. By this time the live music had long since ended largely due to the presence of Derby Ward Labour Club which had been rebuilt in the late-sixties just a few yards away from the White Hart. Derby Ward boasted a huge concert room which singers – and customers – preferred to the much smaller lounge at the White Hart.

The Carrington's experiment didn't last long and the White Hart closed in 1990. It was converted into the Deane Medical Centre the following year. The building still exists though the frontage was altered in 2011. [6]

The former White Hart premises pictured in July 2016 (copyright Google Streetview). Note the extension on the left-hand side of the building, constructed in 2011.

[1] Bolton Evening News, 28 July 1869.
[2] Bolton News. Original article 17 January 2005. Accessed 19 April 2017.
[3] Manchester Beat. Accessed 19 April 2017. 
[4] What's Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers monthly magazine, April 1978.
[5] What's Doing, November 1979.
[6] Accessed 19 April 2017. 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

New Bridge Inn - Printers Arms, 15 Churchbank, Bolton

New Bridge Inn,Printers Arms,Churchbank,Bolton

The New Bridge Inn was originally known as the Printers Arms. It was situated on the left-hand side going down Churchbank close to where it becomes Churchgate.

There is no mention of the pub in any directories from the 1850s and the first mention we have is in 1869 when it was being run by Wilson Inman.

By 1871, John Butterworth was in charge. Born in 1832, Mr Butterworth was a cotton operative in Simpson Street in 1861.

The 1876 Bolton Directory shows Thomas Derbyshire as the landlord. At that time it was still known as the Printers Arms, possibly as a nod to the vocation of a former landlord.

The landlady in 1895 was Mary Ann Witter. She had taken over the pub with her husband Thomas a couple of years previously having run the Peacock on Kay Street for a while. By this time it had been named the New Bridge Inn presumably to commemorate the rebuilding of the bridge on Churchbank that ran over the River Croal. The pub was the last building before the bridge. 

The New Bridge was owned by Wingfield’s Silverwell Brewery whose brewery premises stood on Nelson Square. Wingfield’s later became part of the Manchester Brewery Company who wanted to rebuild another of their pubs, the Crofters Arms on St George’s Road. In what became a confusing deal the Crofters was sold to Bolton Council who then sold it on to Magee, Marshall and Co. But the council would only give planning permission to Magee's for the rebuilding of the Crofter's if the licence of the New Bridge was given up. The confusing aspect is that the New Bridge was still a Manchester Brewery pub. Nevertheless, the Crofters was re-built and the New Bridge closed in 1907. The final landlord was George Jackson, a Yorkshireman who was originally a saddler by trade.

The building subsequently became a boarding house. It was demolished in the sixties along with three other properties along that row.

[Click here for more on Wingfield's Silverwell Brewery]

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Blue Boar, 96 Deansgate, Bolton

Another recent closure and a sad loss both to local drinkers and local historians. The former for obvious reasons, the latter because the Blue Boar was one of the oldest pubs in Bolton dating back to the 18th century. Until its closure in 2016 it was one of the few surviving pubs from the Bolton licensing list of 1779.

From 1843 until around 1869 the pub was owned by Thomas Dickenson. Mr Dickenson was hauled in front of the courts in April 1848. He was accused of breaking the regulations regarding the sale of alcohol on Good Friday. In those days – and until fairly recently – Good Fridays were treated as a Sunday. Selling booze before midday on that day was illegal. Mr Dickenson was caught and fined 20 shillings. That was £1 in old money and the equivalent of around £115 today. (Getting a drink on a Good Friday afternoon was hard work up to the Sunday licensing laws were liberalised in 1995). [1]

The pub was owned by its licensees for much of its early existence and they would also double as brewers at a small plant behind the pub. One of the last of those was Thomas Wright. He was the licensee in 1895 though prior to that, in 1891, he was at the Church Inn on Bamber Street. He was back in the Daubhill area on the next census in 1901 when he is described as a journeyman brewer living in Birkdale Street.

The pub was subsequently owned by three local breweries: Magee, Marshall’s; Tong’s and finally the  Bromley Cross firm of Hamer’s based at the Volunteer Inn. It fell into the hands of Dutton’s of Blackburn who took over Hamer’s in 1951 and then Whitbread’s when they bought out Dutton’s in 1964.

The Blue Boar was popular with Bolton's Irish community in the fifties and sixties. By the early eighties it was a two-roomed pub with a vault to the right of the entrance and a lounge in front, but a controversial refurbishment in the autumn of 1982 saw vault and lounge knocked into one large room, though the bar remained in the same place. There was sawdust instead of carpets on the floor and beams made from rough timber appeared along with farm implements and chains on the walls. [2]

Local drinkers noted the refurbishment with some horror although they were partly mollified by the reintroduction on real ale for the first time in a number of years. Castle Eden was initially on offer followed in 1983 by the cask version of Whitbread Trophy Bitter. [3]

By the summer of 1985 the sawdust had been replaced by carpets. [4]

In 1994, the Blue Boar became one of Whitbread’s Hogshead pubs meaning it sold a number of real ales. But Whitbread decided to get out of pubs and brewing and the Blue Boar was one of a parcel sold by the company to Enterprise Inns. Enterprise themselves later sold the pub and it was owned by a succession of individuals until its closure in July 2016. It was a live music venue around 2008/2009.

Oddly, the pub was owned by Bolton Council at the time of writing – April 2017. The council also owns the former Sweetens bookshop building. It is believed that the whole block will eventually be demolished to provide access to the car park to the rear although some rumours suggest it will become student accomodation.
We’d love to think that the pub will one day re-open and we consign this entry to history, instead. That’s unlikely. Cultural vandalism might be one way to reduce the proportion of empty shops in the town, but what a sad and ignominious way to end almost 250 years of history.

[1] Manchester Courier, 29 April 1848
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ magazine. January 1983
[3] What’s Doing, October 1983
[4] What’s Doing, August 1985