Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Three Tuns, Bridge Street


Bridge Street looking towards Deansgate in April 2012 (Copyright Google Street View). The Three Tuns was situated were the roller shutter entrance to Wilkinsons is now. Older readers may remember a ginnel running down the gated entrance to the Jobwise property next to Wilkinsons. In the 19th century the ginnel ran to Wood’s Court, one of the many courtyards in the centre of Bolton and which were often home to the town’s poorest inhabitants.

The name Three Tuns is one of Britain’s most common pub names. The sign of the Three Tuns represents the brewers’ trade being the symbol of the City Of London guilds for brewers and vintners.

There were three pubs by that name in Bolton. One was on Moor Lane. The Three Tuns on Chapel Street off Folds Road was the first to hold that name in around in 1800 and it was followed in 1808 by another Three Tuns just a few hundred yards away on Bridge Street. [1]

This Three Tuns was once used as a coroner’s court. It was not uncommon for pubs to be used for judicial sessions. Both the Queen Anneon Chancery Lane and the Boars Head  on Churchgate were used as courtrooms. The White Lion on Deansgate was the usual meeting place for the coroner’s court but one session in 1832 was held at the Three Tuns following the rape and manslaughter of a young woman not far away from the White Lion. It was felt that with the depth of local feeling at that end of Deansgate it was best to hold the hearing at the Three Tuns. [2]

In July 1916 a resident at the Three Tuns, George Brockbank, was killed while on duty in France. [3] George was 35 and had joined the 8th Batallion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Although he was resident at the pub he appears to have been a lodger there. Both his parents were dead. His mother, Eliza, had died when George was just 10, while his father William, a Borough Surveyor, died when George was 19.

The Three Tuns lasted until November 1956. By then it was owned by Magee, Marshall & Co, who were looking to licence a new pub, the Willows on Willows Lane. Fortunately for them, Woolworth’s were looking to extend their Deansgate store into the properties at the top of Bridge Street. They bought all the properties down as far as the Three Tuns and the pub was demolished in 1957.

The new Woolworth’s opened in March 1959 and closed almost 50 years later at the beginning of January 2009. A Wilkinson’s store opened on the site in 2011.



[1] Pubs Of Bolton, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Murderous Bolton, by Steve Fielding Published by  Amberley Publishing (2009). 
[3] DBBCAccessed 12 August 2014.
Also the  Commonwealth War Graves CommissionAccessed 12 August 2014.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Rothwell Street Tavern, 32 Rothwell Street


Rothwell Street looking towards Derby Street in April 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The Rothwell Street Tavern was on the right-hand side on the corner with Parrot Street, which runs across the centre of the image. The site of the pub is now part of a widened Rothwell Street. Moor Mill and its entrance is on the left of the image. Vehicular access to the mill by large vehicles meant the street needed to be widened although this took place some years after the pub was demolished.

The Rothwell Street Tavern was situated on the corner of Rothwell Street and Parrot Street, just off Derby Street. This area of Bolton had a number of back-street pubs and even as late as the sixties the Houghton Street Tavern and Rothwell Street Tavern were still open.

The Rothwell Street Tavern dated back to around the 1860s. It wasn’t around in the 1853 Bolton Directory, but the 1871 Directory lists a beerhouse at number 32 Rothwell Street owned by James Ridings, who is also described as a gasfitter.

One notable licensee was Thomas Howcroft who, according to Gordon Readyhough, ran the pub in the early-twentieth century. [1]

At that time, the Rothwell Street Tavern had its own brewery situated behind the pub. Howcroft was a brewer of some repute and was supplying a number of local pubs as well as his own pub. In 1937 the opportunity arose to purchase the Model Brewery on Spa Road.

Built in 1874, the Model Brewery was known for the first 30 years of its life as the Park View Brewery because it was directly opposite Queens Park. But during the 63 years before it was bought by Thomas Howcroft it changed hands on a number of occasions.

It was initially Walker’s Bolton Brewery Company Ltd before becoming the Spa Wells Brewery Company Ltd and, in 1904, it was taken over by James Jackson & Sons Ltd. Jackson’s were bought out by George Shaw & Co Ltd of Leigh in 1927 and the brewery was sold again the following year to the Bolton Free Brewery Company Ltd.  This was registered to take over the bottling business of Fred Leigh & Co. It changed its name to Bolton and District Clubs Brewery Company Ltd in 1929 and brewed primarily for the town’s working men’s and political clubs. There obviously wasn’t much money in brewing for clubs as the Model Brewery was up for sale again in 1937.

Thomas Howcroft moved from the Rothwell Street Tavern, which was put for sale early in 1939. Walker’s of Warrington bought the pub and it became a Tetley pub when they merged with Walker’s in 1960. It received a full drinks licence in 1961.

The Rothwell Street Tavern eventually became a victim of the slum clearances that took place at that end of Derby Street. It closed around 1970 and many of the buildings on the street were demolished including the row containing the pub.

The site of the former Rothwell Street Tavern is now part of a widened Rothwell Street, mainly for the benefit of the nearby Moor Mill whose vehicles use the side entrance on the street.

As for Howcroft’s the company fell into the hands of Thomas Howcroft’s son, Atherton. He diversified the company into clubs. Bolton Casino on Crompton Way – later Copperfield’s, the Bees Knees and now a Nisa supermarket – was owned or managed by Howcroft’s.

By all accounts, Atherton Howcroft was a formidable figure. “Think of Lord Alan Sugar but worse,” says Ken Hampson on lankybeat.com [2]. The Casino club in Bolton opened in June 1961 and there were also Casino clubs at Blackpool, Burnley, Westhoughton, as well as the one in Wigan which became popular with Northern Soul enthusiasts in the seventies after Howcroft’s were off the scene. The proposed Burnley operation encountered significant opposition and Atherton Howcroft had to assure the local licensing magistrates that none of the Casino shows would include any striptease! [3]

Howcroft’s brewery merged with B. Cunningham Ltd in May 1969 and the Model Brewery closed down. The merged operation didn’t last much longer and was wound up in December of that year. Atherton Howcroft died in November 1971. The Bolton Casino went into voluntary liquidation in February 1972 [4] and was renamed Copperfield’s later that year.

A descendent of the Howcrofts now runs the Henighan’s chain of pubs in the Bolton area. [5]

Some of Howcroft’s bottle labels can be seen here.

 [1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough (2000).
[2] Lankybeat.com  Accessed 10 August 2014. Ken Hampson’s reminiscences of  the Casino Club are close to the bottom of the page, but the page also includes entries and memories on a number of other clubs in the Wigan, Leigh and Bolton areas and is well worth a look.
[3] Clarets Mad. Accessed 10 August 2014.
[4] Bolton News, Looking Back feature, 20 February 1997. Accessed 10 August 2014.
[5] Bolton News, 23 September 2009.  Accessed 10 August 2014.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Roebuck, Kay Street

The bottom of Manor Street with Bow Street going off to the left, Folds Road to the right and, in the distance and beyond the traffic lights, what’s left of Kay Street. The Roebuck stood at the bottom of Kay Street with its junction with Bow Street, where the trees are in the middle of the photo. Here’s the same shot some 60 or 70 years earlier in an undated picture from the Bolton News archives. Then, as now, the Dog & Partridge is on the right of the shot with the Co-op Bakery premises, which later became the head office and warehouse of Edwin P Lees on the other side of Kay Street from the Roebuck.


The Roebuck Hotel was situated at number 1 Kay Street, on the corner of Bow Street. The now empty site of the pub can still be seen diagonally opposite the Dog & Partridge at the bottom of Manor Street.

The Roebuck dates back to the first decade of the nineteenth century. Kay Street ran from the junction with Bow Street, Manor Street and Folds Road up to the junction with Higher Bridge Street some three-quarters of a mile away. 

A number of maps still show Kay Street as the continuation of the dual carriageway at the end of St Peters Way up to its end at Higher Bridge Street. Confusingly, the branch of B&Q gives its address as Roundhill Way, while the Britannia Garage insists its address is still Kay Street. The truncated old street runs for little more than 100 yards from Bow Street up to St George’s Street.

One of the Roebuck’s former landlords was a motor pioneer in the town. 

There is a curious connection between pub landlords in Bolton and the early days of the motor industry. In the early-twentieth century John Bromilow was the landlord of the Boar’s Head on Churchgate. He went on to become part of the Bromilow & Edwards partnership that exists today as Edbro. Ross Isherwood ran one of the town’s early motor repair garages as well as running the Prince William on Bradshawgate. Meanwhile,  Stanley Parker, the landlord of the  Roebuck in the early years of the twentieth century, also went into the motor trade. In 1911 he was listed as the proprietor of the Stanley Garage on Westbrook Street, off Lower Bridgeman Street. He later moved to 71 Bradshawgate, next to Silverwell Yard and by 1922 he was at 157-159 Bradshawgate trading as as Parkers. The firm was later known as Parkers of Bolton and was a motor dealership for many years until the early-nineties. Stanley Parker died in 1948. [1]

The Roebuck was taken over by Tong’s and it became a Walker’s house when Tong’s were bought out in 1923. In 1960, Walker’s built a new estate pub, the Prince Rupert on the Orlit Estate just off Lever Edge Lane. With a number of pubs already in the town centre they saw that a licence transfer was more desirable than attempting to secure a new licence. Plus the Roebuck was licensed to sell wines and spirits rather than beer. [2]


Walkers successfully applied to transfer the Roebuck’s licence to the Prince Rupert. The Roebuck closed in March 1960 and the building was demolished in February 1961.

[1] Bolton Town Centre, A Modern History. Part One: Deansgate, Victoria Square, Churchgate and Surrounding Areas, 1900-1998, by Gordon Readyhough.

[2] Pubs Of Bolton, 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough.