The Jolly Waggoner was originally a shop at the gable end of Balshaw Street, which ran down the side of the pub.
In the early-1840s a local character named Joseph Atherton owned a donkey and cart and had a business selling cockles and mussels on the streets of Gate Pike, as the area at the bottom of Deane Brow was known. ‘Cockle Joe,’ as he was known, eventually moved to the top of Balshaw Street where he opened a shop and traded as a greengrocer and fishmonger. He was still known as ‘Cockle Joe’ even after expanding his product range and he was later joined in the business by his son Amos, nicknamed ‘Yam Cockle’.
An un-named beerhouse had previously been run by Richard Marsh in the 1840s from his small house in Balshaw Lane, but that had closed by 1853. The Farmers Arms closed in 1869 while the Split Crow beerhouse had also closed. In the early-1870s Cockle Joe sold his shop and on the addition of an extension the premises were converted into two separate businesses. These fronted the main road, then known as Pikes Lane but later re-named Deane Road. One of the businesses was a butcher’s shop while the rest of the premises, on the Balshaw Street side, became a beerhouse.
The licensed premises were originally known as the Red Herring Inn, perhaps as a nod to Cockle Joe, who by now had moved to the top of Gilnow Lane.
In 1875, John Bennett became licensee. Bennett was a popular local figure, a jovial character who drove his lorry and three horses around Gate Pike and it was from Bennett that the pub took its new name – the Jolly Waggoner.
The pub was an early Magees outlet. Hazel Morgan was born at the pub in 1934 – her parents were managers there for 38 years. Her recollections of the pub are contained here on the Bolton Revisited site.
One of Hazel’s anecdotes worth repeating concerned her bridesmaid, Midge, a chimpanzee belonging to Edgar and Phyllis Charlton who owned the pet shop at 148 Derby Street. Hazel’s husband, David Harrison, worked for the Charltons. One night, as Hazel and David slept at the Jolly Waggoner there was a screech of brakes from the street outside. Midge had escaped from the shop on Derby Street and had run down to Deane Road where she narrowly escaped being run over by a lorry. More recollections of Midge can be seen here and here.
The Jolly Waggoner was among the first of a huge raft of Bolton beer houses to obtain full public house licenses at the start of the sixties. A large number of pubs successfully applied in 1961, but the year before, in 1960, the Jolly Waggoner was one of a small number that tested the water with an application.
By then it was a Greenall Whitley pub. The image at the top of the page was taken around 1975, according to the Bolton archive records. That would have been five years after Greenall’s had closed Magee’s brewery on Derby Street though it is possible that the photo was taken earlier than 1975. An earlier image can be seen here in the Bolton News archives.The pub had long since expanded into the adjoining retail premises.
Greenall’s eventually got out of brewing and the licensed trade. Its tied estate was split up and by the time the Jolly Waggoner closed in 2006 it was owned by Hyperhold Ltd, a small operator of pubs and bars that has since gone out of business.
The Jolly Waggoner was sold de-licensed. It initially became a cybercafé and business centre but is now in use as a restaurant.