Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Uncle Tom's Cabin/The New Cabin, 270-272 Lever Street


The former Uncle Tom's Cabin, pictured in May 2014 (Copyright Lost Pubs Of Bolton).


Uncle Tom’s Cabin – or the New Cabin as it was later known – was situated at 270-272 Lever Street, Bolton.

The pub dated back to the late-nineteenth century and was initially a single property standing at the corner of Lever Street and Slaterfield.

A pivotal figure in the early story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was Henry Hilton, a man with pubs and brewing running through his veins. Like his father before him Henry Hilton was a brewer. Both his wives – he was widowed at a young age – were the daughters of publicans. By the time he married for the second time in 1867, five years after his first marriage, he had gone from being a brewer to a licensed victualler – possibly at Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Hilton ran the pub for a number of years and in 1894 he engaged William Green as brewer. Again there was a connection with the trade. Green had previously worked as a wholesale ale and porter dealer based in Great Lever. Perhaps more importantly, he had also married Hilton’s daughter, Sarah, in 1892. But by 1900, William Green was being described as a ‘retired publican’ – despite not yet being 40 - and he and Sarah living on nearby Rishton Lane.

Hilton’s other daughter, Emily, also married someone from the pub trade. Her husband was Wilbraham Leach, the landlord of the Clifton Arms on Newport Street and a member of the Leach family, who owned the Albert Inn pub and brewery on Derby Street. Leach succeeded William Green as the landlord of Uncle Tom’s Cabin around 1898, but like William Green he didn’t last long in the post and by 1904 he and Emily were living in Blackpool where Wilbraham Leach was described as a ‘gentleman’. The couple spent the rest of their lives in Blackpool where they died within a few months of each other in 1927.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was one of the last pubs in Bolton to brew its own ales. Uncle Tom’s Cabin Brewery Ltd was formed to take over the brewing side of the business but it was wound up in 1937 [1] and the pub was sold to the Bromley Cross brewer John Hamer.

In 1951, Hamer’s sold out to Dutton’s of Blackburn and the new owners successfully applied for Uncle Tom’s Cabin to obtain a full drinks licence in 1953. Dutton’s were taken over by Whitbread in 1964. In turn, Whitbread got out of the pub-owning business in 2002 when it sold its tied estate, by then renamed Laurel Inns, to Enterprise Inns plc.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was renamed the New Cabin in the 1990s and it remained a local pub for the residents of the surrounding streets, but the pub closed down in 2011According to Bolton Council’s empty property spreadsheet of April 2014, Enterprise Inns still owned the building. The first floor has been converted into offices and is now occupied by a firm of accountants. The ground floor was still ‘to let’ at time of writing (May 2014).

[1] London Gazette, 25 June 1937.  Retrieved 5 May 2014. 

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