Friday, 5 September 2014

Bull and Wharf, 12 Church Wharf


The Bull and Wharf on Church Wharf. The image is undated. However, in the background you can see Bolton Parish Church, apparently unfinished, which would date the photo to around 1870.

The Bull And Wharf was built towards the end of the eighteenth century. Originally known as the Black Bull, it changed its name to the Bull And Wharf to reflect its position on Church Wharf at the start of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal. [1]

The canal was built from 1791 to 1805 though the Bolton ‘terminus’ – along with that in Bury - was opened as far as Oldfield Road in Salford in 1796. It was extended to the  River Irwell in 1808. [2] The total cost was £127,700 or the equivalent of just over £8million today.

Two years after canal's opening six packet boats made the journey from Bolton each Monday with four boats on other days. The journey to Manchester took three hours and passengers were carried along the route. 

The Bull and Wharf’s position meant it was an ideal stopping-off point for passengers either at the start or the culmination of their journey. Between July 1833 and June 1834, 21,060 passengers travelled from Bolton to Manchester, 21,212 people travelled from Manchester to Bolton, and 20,818 intermediary passengers hopped on and off the boats en route between the two points. [3]

The Commercial Directory for 1819 and 1820 suggests the Bull and Wharf was nicknamed the ‘Boat House’. Samuel Hamer was in charge at the time. John Gorton had taken over by the time Pigot’s published their directory of 1828.

An Orange Lodge was active at the Bull and Wharf around that time.  Frank Neal’s book Sectarian Violence: The Liverpool Experience, 1819-1914 lists all Orange Lodges active as at November 1830 and says that lodge number 147 met at the Bull and Wharf on the third Saturday on every month. (There were also lodges at the at the Three Arrows in Old Hall Street, the Unicorn in Little Lever, the Brown Cow in Horwich and the Hare and Hounds at Breightmet.) [4]

The Bolton arm of the canal was abandoned in 1941, but the Bull and Wharf continued to serve the immediate community for a further 23 years. By then it was owned by Shaw’s Brewery of Leigh, who inherited the pub when they took over Joseph Sharman’s Mere Hall brewery. Sharman began brewing at the Crompton’s Monument just a short distance away and may even have supplied the Bull and Wharf prior to his move to the Mere Hall brewery in the 1870s.

Shaw’s were taken over by Walker’s of Warrington in 1931 and Walker’s merged with Tetley of Leeds in 1960. It was as a Tetley pub that the Bull and Wharf ended its days.

The needs of the car saw the end for the Bull and Wharf. Plans for a by-pass into the centre of Bolton were proposed in the early-sixties. The pub closed in 1964 and was demolished in 1966. Its site is now covered by St Peter’s Way.

The Bull and Wharf can be seen in this photograph taken by Humphrey Spender in August 1937. One of the comments on the image suggests the pub is the large three-storey building in the background. 

Some images of the general area around the Bull and Wharf can be seen here



[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Society. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
[3] On the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal, Alec Waterson. Published by Neil Richardson (1985).
[4] SectarianViolence: The Liverpool Experience, 1819-1914. Retrieved 5 September 2014.

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