Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bay Horse (Scotch Vaults), 37 Deansgate


The Bay Horse, Deansgate, pictured in 1937. The photograph was taken by Humphrey Spender for the Mass Observation project and is one of a number of images from that period at the Bolton Worktown website.

The history of the public house holds many examples of licensed premises that kept the name of a significant figure in its history as a name or a nickname. The Old Original British Queen on Blackburn Road was a known as ‘Pomps’ after the family that owned the pub in the nineteenth century. The Joiners Arms on Deansgate was always known as Bathe’s Vaults even after Henry Bathe left, and a hundreds yards or so up Deansgate, the Bay Horse was always known as ‘The Scotch Vaults’. [1]

The Scot in question was George Munro. Born in 1832 Sutherland, Munro arrived in Manchester at the age of 19 when his uncle, James Hall, who made a fortune in the sugar plantations of Jamaica, got him a job with the Manchester branch of the wine and spirit merchant business of Findlater and Mackie.

By 1860, Munro was confident enough to go into business on his own account. He founded the drinks wholesaling business of George Munro & Co on Deansgate and branches were added in Blackburn, Wigan and Hanley near Stoke-on-Trent. The latter was founded in partnership with John Munro, who was believed to be George’s brother.

George Munro &  Co bought the Bay Horse in 1865. This was one of Bolton’s oldest pubs. It appears on the Great Bolton Alehouses in 1778 and was in existence for some time prior to that.

According to the 1778 list the landlord was one Thomas Middleton.The Sankey family were in control for a number of years at the start of the 19th century. Enoch Sankey was licensee until his death at the age of 45 in 1823. His wife Mary succeeded him until she died in 1830.  John Eglin was in charge, according to the 1836 Bolton Directory. Eglin also ran the Flag on Great Moor Street.  The 1843 directory lists William Green as licensee and in 1853 it was Henry Dobson.

Given that the tied house system of pub ownership was some years away it was obvious that licensees, much like today, were leasing the pub and leaving after just a few years. Munro’s effectively tied the Bay Horse to their wholesale drinks business giving them an outlet for the brands they dealt in. As it was a public house with a full licence they could wines and spirits as well as beer.

By 1871 Munro’s Bolton branch, based at the Bay Horse, employed 10 men, two boys and one woman.

A fire in June 1879 at the back of the Bay Horse, where Munro kept his goods, caused damage estimated at hundreds of pounds. Otherwise, business was good. By 1881 the Munro family were living at Greenbank on Chorley New Road, Heaton.

Munro also bottled their own brand of beers. A Nut Brown Ale proudly proclaimed that Munro’s had been established “in 1747” – a little disingenuous given that Munro was the first of his family to have been involved in the drinks trade.

Like a number of prominent publicans Munro got involved in politics and represented the Exchange ward for the Liberal Party on Bolton Council from 1886 to 1889. A keen Presbyterian he was a member and generous supporter of St Andrew’s Presbyterian church on Bowker’s Row. [3]

Munro married a Scottish lady, Isabella Waugh of Lochmaben, Dumfries-shire and they had three sons and four daughters. He died in Bolton on 30 April 1894. Isabella died in Staffordshire in 1919 at the age of 81.

The Bay Horse continued until 1960. But right up to the end of its life the premises always gave the impression that it was a bonded warehouse rather than a pub as the 1937 photograph from the Humphrey Spender collection shows.

In the end the pub was sold to Marks and Spencer in 1959 and after around 200 years of history last orders were called for the final time in April 1960.

The site of the Bay Horse would form part of M&S’s new Bolton store which was fully open by the summer of 1968.



[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[3] The church can be still be seen and was remodelled in the seventies as a small shopping arcade known as St Andrew’s Court.

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