Sunday, 18 February 2018

Black Cow, Fernhill Gate, Bolton

The Fernhill Gate area of Wigan Road looking towards the former Rumworth Hotel. The Black Cow is believed to have been situated in one of the houses immediately before the Rumworth. 

Fernhill Gate is the area of Deane that slopes down Wigan Road towards the junction with Beaumont Road. The name hasn't completely fallen out of use but any reference to the area is usually indicated by the Sutton Estate which was constructed in the area in the late fifties and early sixties.

A number of pubs came and went in this area of Deane and one of those was the Black Cow. The pub was run for the whole of its existence by a spinster, Ann Helme. 

Miss Helme was born around 1807 in the village of Longworth situated some five miles north of Bolton. The village was purchased by Bolton Council in 1907 and Delph Reservoir was constructed on its site. 

Little is known of Ann Helme's early life. However, by 1841 she was working as a servant at Grundy Fold, a small collection of buidlings situated not far from Fernhill Gate at the end of what is now Greenhill Lane (known at that time as Green Lane). 

By 1861, Ann Helme was living with a servant at the Black Cow beerhouse on the Bolton to Westhoughton road. This was sometimes referred to as the 'Old Road' and is now known as Wigan Road. Given that the beerhouse doesn't appear in the 1855 local directory we can only assume that it was set up in the late-1850s. 

 In 1863, Miss Helme was prosecuted for allowing her pub to be open before midday on a Sunday. Opening hours in those days were quite liberal the exception being on a Sunday morning when people were expected to be at church and pubs were forced to close. The 1830 Beerhouse Act enabled people to set up pubs on payment of 2 guineas (£2.10). Many pubs began in this fashion and were initially just a person's sitting room. There was no bar and because only beer was served there were no optics or bottles of spirits. Quite often there would be a beer barrel on a stillage. As a result, the cost of setting up a pub was minimal. 

This arrangement also made it easy to close down a pub and convert the premises back to a home residence. That's what appears to have happened in the case of the Black Cow. By 1881 Ann Helme was a retired beerseller living at 506 Fernhill Gate, which was how Wigan Road was known in those days. 

Number 506 still exists. It's one of a small row of houses near what used to be the Rumworth Hotel. 

The Black Cow was one of a number of pubs and beerhouses that have come and gone in the Fernhill Gate area over the years. James Heyes was running a beerhouse next door to the Black Cow in 1871. This was named the Wellington in 1881 but subsequently disappeared. There was also pubs in the area named the Colliers Arms that appears on maps from the 1890s. The most permanent pub in the area was the Rumworth Hotel which opened in 1893 and closed in 2011.

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