Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ziggis Fun Pub/Victory Conservative Club, Chorley Old Road

May 2012 and the former Ziggis Fun Pub is now a Spar. Copyright, Google Street View.

If people think the pubs of Bolton have had it tough in recent years then the political clubs have had it worse. Labour clubs in particular have not so much been decimated but almost completely wiped out, Farnworth & Kearsley Labour Club survives and what was once Rumworth Labour Club is now the privately-owned Rumworth Hall, but Tonge Ward, Great Lever, Breightmet, Bradford Ward, Bolton Central and Derby Ward have all gone and I have probably missed out a few.

The Conservative Clubs have fared rather better and the Association of Conservative Clubs’ website  [1] lists no fewer than 18 remaining in the town, something that chimes with the often-made suggestion that more people go in Conservative Clubs because they’re more nicely decorated.

But one of the earliest casualties of the demise of the political club was indeed a Tory club - Victory Conservative Club on Chorley Old Road. The club dated back to the first decade of the twentieth century but the decision was taken in 1985 to sell the premises. The club was therefore sold to a reputable Wigan firm named Dickinsons (The Bottlers) Ltd. Dickinsons had been in business since the thirties but their line of trade was bottling beer rather than running pubs. Their plant filled bottles for a number of breweries and eventually became part of the Greenall’s group.

But a former Tory club, a long-established local firm – what could possibly go wrong?

The result was Ziggis Fun Pub and there are two distinctive schools of thought about that establishment. To be fair it is very well-thought of by the people who frequented the place. Go on Facebook forums and those commenting on the pub have fond memories. 

Those who lived nearby  might give a different view.

Dickinson’s gutted the entire club, put a long bar on the left-hand-side wall and the rest was just one big room with a dance floor at the far end. Bar staff frequently got up and danced on the bar and on a platform in front of the DJ stand and the pub did pretty well for a while.

Ziggis also had a late licence and was situated in a residential area and Thursday and Sunday nights were the worst. There were complaints about late-night noise as punters left the pub once it closed at about 1am and the residents took their case to the Bolton Evening News which resulted in some unwelcome publicity.

Pubs such as this tend to be cyclical and fun pubs had their day in the mid-eighties. People get tired of them after a relatively short period of time and their continued success depends largely on location. Fun pubs in Blackpool and Benidorm find it difficult enough, but such a pub in the Chorley Old Road area of Bolton had only a limited shelf life.

When Ziggis closed in 1987 it had been open for just two years but the news was greeted with delight by people living nearby. [2] The premises later re-opened as Nero’s and then Funny’s and limped on into the early-nineties but it was never quite the same.

Dickinsons sold the premises which became a retail outlet and this old Wigan firm was liquidated in 2004. The former Ziggis has been a Spar franchise since 2011.

[1] Association of Conservative Clubs. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester Beer Drinkers monthly magazine. September 1987 issue.


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