The Farmers Arms pictured in August 2008 (copyright Google Street View).
The Farmers Arms was situated at 86 and 88 Chorley Street. The address suggests that at some stage two properties were knocked into one, though in such cases it was common for an existing pub to be extended into the property next door.
Exactly when that happened at the Farmers Arms is difficult to ascertain, though we do know that by 1871 – at the latest - it was a beer-house rather than a fully-licensed public house.
The 1849 list of beer-houses in Little Bolton shows just two named beer-houses (not all of them had names) on Chorley Street: the Brinks Brow Tavern, run by Robert Crawford, and the John O’Gaunt, run by John Johnson. Gordon Readyhough suggests this latter pub may have become the Derby Hotel situated at 2-4 Chorley Street opposite the Bridge Foot. But given that Mr Johnson was running a beer house at 74 Chorley Street, according to the 1853 Whellan & Co Directory, that sounds unlikely - though it cannot be ruled out for definite. The Brinks Brow Tavern possibly changed its name to the Farmers Arms, but again there’s no saying for definite.
The 1853 Directory also shows beer-houses owned by Richard Carlisle, Richard Parker (neither of which were numbered) and William Heaton (number 80), as well as John Johnson. Worrall’s Directory for 1871 shows a beer-house at 86 and 88 Chorley Street with James Beddows as the proprietor - what became the Farmers Arms. The only other licensed premises on Chorley Street were at number 2 and owned by Jonathan Waddington. This became the Derby Arms.
The Farmer’s eventually became a Magee’s pub. By the time it received a full drinks licence in 1962 that enabled it to serve wine and spirits as well as beer, it was owned by Greenall Whitley.
When Greenall’s got out of pubs and brewing during the nineties the Farmer's was bought by Punch Taverns. By the end of that decade it had a reputation as a live music venue. Despite being two houses knocked into one the Farmers wasn’t a large pub and bands played close to the entrance at the lower end of the pub – it was set on two levels. A crowd of about 40 or 50 people meant something of a crush for the more popular combos.
The licensees constructed a shelter at the side of the pub for smokers after the 2007 ban. But the Farmers stumbled on for just a few more years. The live music stopped and Punch Taverns closed the pub in 2010. It was sold towards the end of that year.
The estate agent's entry for the Farmers can still be seen here and although the images have been shaded out they clearly show the pub’s interior after closure. One of the images is reproduced here:
In a sense the Farmer’s has turned full circle. The building was most likely two houses that were converted into a pub some time around the middle of the 19th-century. Planning permission was granted in 2011 to convert the pub into three dwellings: two with two bedrooms and a smaller home with just one bedroom.
The pub can be seen here after closure and before it was closed.
Terry Whalebone took this picture of the Farmers Arms pub sign in October 2006.
The site of the Farmers Arms in April 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The pub has been converted into three dwellings. Two can be seen at the front of the pub with an entrance to the third in the side street.