Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bridgewater Arms, Manchester Road


The Bridgewater Arms pictured in 1964 shortly before its closure (image from the Bolton Museums collection, copyright Bolton Council). Manchester Road can be seen in the foreground with the pub and its neighbours set back slightly from the main road. The street running along the side of Worthington’s garage is Starcliffe Street, which still exists, though in a slightly truncated form. Video footage of the area around Gravel Hole and Moses Gate can be seen in this extract from the video, Bygone Bolton.


The Bridgewater Arms was in a part of Bolton named Gravel Hole situated right on the outskirts of Great Lever close to Moses Gate. The pub should not be confused with the Bridgewater Hotel that still stands on Buckley Lane in Farnworth.

Gravel Hole was actually nothing more than a hamlet – a small collection of buildings on the main road from Bolton situated just before the current turn-off down to Little Lever and stretching for a couple of hundred yards along Manchester Road.  The Gravel Hole colliery was situated in the valley below.

In the late-1820s a Mr E Darbyshire opened a bowling green in the Gravel Hole area and that appears to have been one of the catalysts for the opening of two nearby pubs, one of which was the Bridgewater Arms.

William Burton was one of the first landlords in the 1830s and he was succeeded towards the end of that decade by Thomas Tunstall, who moved into the Bridgewater around 1839.

By 1853, John Shaw was the licensee having moved from the other pub at Gravel Hole, the Bradford Arms. The Shaws were in charge for over 20 years with John succeeded by his son, David, when John died in 1865.

The pub was a meeting place for a number of organisations. The trustees of Farnworth Grammar School met at the pub from 1856 to 1861, while the Rising Spring lodge of the Odd Fellows were meeting there in the late-1870s.  [1]

By the 1920s, the Bridgewater had its own bowling green which was situated to the rear of the pub. That remained until the pub closed.

The end for the Bridgewater came in 1966. The Farnworth and Kearsley By-Pass was planned in 1961, permission was granted in 1965 and building began almost immediately. The Bridgewater closed that year and was soon demolished.

The by-pass opened on 21 December 1967. [2]

[1] Online copy of a pamphlet recording the history of Farnworth Grammar School and published to mark the school’s 250th anniversary in 1965.   Accessed 31 October 2014.
[2] Lancashire County Council article written in 2000 giving details of the planning and construction of the Farnworth and Kearsley By-Pass. Accessed 31 October 2014.

The Gravel Hole area pictured in May 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The whole area has changed beyond recognition. The site of the Bridgewater Arms was roughly where the grass is next to the entrance for the road leading to Darcy Lever.




The Gravel Hole area pictured in May 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The whole area has changed beyond recognition. The site of the Bridgewater Arms was roughly where the grass is in the foreground next to the entrance for the road leading to Darcy Lever.

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