Sunday, 28 September 2014

Duke Of Clarence, Bath Street

Duke of Clarence Bath Street Bolton 1986


The top of Bath Street pictured in 1986. The Duke Of Clarence is on the left. Conversion of the former St George’s school into licensed premises known as Ben Topp’s was under way.  Image from the Bolton Library And Museums Service collection. Copyright Bolton Council.

The Duke Of Clarence, at the top of Bath Street, dated back to the 1860s as licensed premises. The pub’s layout was a classic of much of the 20th-century. There was a central bar on the right as you went in through the main Bath Street entrance. A lounge was situated on the left-hand side of the pub with a vault on the right that could also be accessed from Bath Street via a separate entrance.

In 1875 the pub’s owner was Robert Harrison. We noted Mr Harrison as the landlord of the Flag Hotel on Great Moor Street in the 1860s along with his wife, Ellen. By 1871 Mr Harrison was landlord of the Duke Of Clarence leaving Ellen Harrison to run the Flag, which she did until she died in 1888. 

The Duke Of Clarence was a beer house, but Robert Harrison wanted a wine and spirit licence. In 1875 he negotiated with the council to buy the full licence of the Horse And Groom on Bradshawgate. The owner of the Horse And Groom, Johnathan Gorse, had died and the council had bought his pub as part of a plan to widen Bradshawgate close to its junction with Great Moor Street.  Later that year, Harrison obtained the full licence thus enabling him to sell wine and spirits as his pub as well as beer.

The following year, 1876, the Bolton Evening News reported on an unusual wedding party that adjourned to the Duke Of Clarence following a ceremony at St George’s church at the bottom of Bath Street. One Tuesday morning, the clerk to the church, Mr Briscoe, was approached by a man whose wedding was due to take place the following day asking him if he would give away the bride. Mr Briscoe agreed and carried out his duty as requested. As the happy couple were walking up the aisle, the groom recognised a woman whom he recognised. It was his wife - he was already married! In what sounds like a sketch from the Benny Hill Show the groom ran off down Bath Street in the direction of St George’s Road hotly pursued by wife number 1. Wife number 2, meanwhile, headed in the direction of Clarence Street. The newly-weds then met up in the Duke Of Clarence for a post-wedding drink, though the BEN suggested the groom might expect a charge of bigamy. [1]

The Manchester brewery of Threlfall’s owned the Duke Of Clarence for much of its existence. It became a Whitbread pub in 1967 after their takeover of Threlfall-Chester’s as it then was.

The Duke Of Clarence limped on after the big brewers’ stranglehold was broken in the early nineties but it redevelopment of the housing around the pub led to a shrinking customer base. Houses on Bath Street were demolished in the early eighties and the land cleared for use as a car park. The pub closed around 1994 and was demolished in 1996. The Duke Street multi-storey car park was subsequently built on land from Bath Street to Duke Street, including land once occupied by the Duke Of Clarence.

Bath Street Bolton April 2012


The top of Bath Street pictured in 1986. The modest Bath Street car park has been replaced by the Duke Street multi-storey car park. The former Ben Topp’s hasn’t been used as a pub for some years. Image copyright Google Street View.

[1] Bolton Evening News, 15 July 1876 as recounted in the Looking Back feature of 21 August 2001. Retrieved 28 September2014.  

[2] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Joiners Arms, Deansgate

Joiners Arms Deansgate Bolton 1870s
The Joiners Arms was situated on Deansgate, opposite the Old Three Crowns.

The pub was one of Bolton’s oldest and appears on a 1778 list of Great Bolton licensed premises when Robert Yates was the licensee. [1]

By 1839 the Joiners Arms was in the hands of a wine and spirit merchant, Henry Bathe, and was nicknamed ‘Bathe’s Vaults’ – so called because of the area at the back of the pub where Bathe kept his stock. 

Bathe was there  until the 1860s and later retired to Wiltshire where he died in 1894.

The pub was later known as ‘T’Big Tub’.

The image above purports to show the Joiners Arms around 1870. It shows the landlord as being ‘R.Wright’. Richard Wright was the landlord in 1871, according to the local directory of the time. The modern-day image below shows architecture dating from the 1870s when the pub was rebuilt.

The Salford brewery Threlfalls took over the Joiners in 1891. Early in the twentieth century they sold off part of the front of the building to be converted into retail outlets. That left just the front entrace along with the rear of the building to continue to be used as a pub.

Joiners Arms interior 1937
In 1937 the photographer Humphrey Spender took a number of photographs of the interior of the Joiners for the Mass Observation project. This is one of them. It’s from the Bolton Worktown website and is copyright Bolton Council. There are other examples of the inside of the pub here, here, and here






Threlfalls closed the pub and sold off the building in 1958. It continues to be used for a number of retail outlets.

The image below is of the building in April 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The entrance to the Joiners was at number 15, where Vision Express now is. 

The alleyway to the right of the building has been in existence since at least middle of the 19th century and possibly earlier. At one time the thoroughfare led to a small street known as The Shambles, one of a number of small courts and alleyways in existence at that time in the centre of Bolton.


[1] Pubs Of Bolton Town Centre 1900-1986, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (1986).


Friday, 26 September 2014

St George's Hotel, St George's Road

St George's Hotel St George's Road Bolton 1924St George's Hotel St George's Road  Bolton 1930s
Two images of the St George's Hotel on the corner of St George's Road and Knowsley Street. The image on the left dates from 1924 and  is of the original building with W. Rothwell's chemist's shop next door. Both properties plus that at the top of Knowsley Street were demolished in 1927 and the new St George's Hotel arose in their place. Images from the Bolton Libraries, Archive and Museum collection and are copyright Bolton Council. Click on the images for larger view.

The St George’s Tavern – later the St George’s Hotel - was situated at the junction of St George’s Road and Knowsley Street, right opposite the church from which it took its name.

An early landlord was Henry Fishwick and he may well have been the founder of the St George’s Tavern. Fishwick was a tailor who, according to the 1841 Census, was living on St George’s Road along with his parents. It is likely that Fishwick persuaded his parents to open up their home as a pub - not just a beerhouse, as was common at the time, but as a public house fully licensed to sell wine and spirits as well as beer.

Unfortunately, Henry Fishwick didn’t have a long tenure at the St George’s. The pub opened in 1842 but he was dead just five years later. John Rollinson, previously the landlord at the Golden Lion on Churchgate, took over.

The St George’s Tavern later became the St George’s Hotel. The area around the pub changed as well. Knowsley Street didn’t exist when the pub opened in 1842. Instead Bath Street crossed St George’s Street, as it then was, and ended at Bark Street. A few yards beyond that a small wooden foot-bridge crossed the River Croal. There was a large timber yard where the Market Place shopping centre is now is. 

There was also a timber yard next door to the pub, where the Palais nightclub stood for many years. That remained in place until 1927 when work started on the Palais.

Also in 1927 the original St George’s Hotel closed and along with Rothwell’s chemist next door it was demolished and a new building replaced it. The original pub was owned by Magee’s but the Manchester brewery of JG Swales & Co Ltd were now in charge and they decided to completely rebuild it.

The new St George’s Hotel was a three-storey semi-circular building – an altogether much grander affair. But it was to last just a little more than 40 years.

The St George’s Hotel closed in January 1968. The building remained empty for four more years before being demolished in 1972. A number of other properties down as far as the Market Hall were also demolished, including the seemingly luckless Rothwell’s chemist’s shop which had moved just a few yards down Knowsley Street. Also demolished were Morris’s photographers, the Norweb showroom, the Scotch Wool and Hosiery Store and Proffit’s cycle service. [1]

The site remained empty for over 15 years, though it was used for parking until the Market Place was built in 1987-88. The shopping centre still stands on the site.

A number of images of the St George’s Hotel and Knowsley Street around the time of demolition in 1972 can be seen here, here  and here.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

site of St George's Hotel Bolton 1975 
Site of St George's  Hotel 1975 and 2012




1975 image from the Bolton Libraries, Archive and Museum collection , copyright  Bolton Council. 2012 image copyright Google Street View.



Thursday, 25 September 2014

Saddle Inn, 48 Bradshawgate

Saddle Inn Bradshawgate Bolton circa 1970


The Saddle Hotel, pictured shortly before it closed in 1970. Image taken from the Bolton Library and Museum Service collection (copyright Bolton Council).

The Saddle Hotel was originally known as the Weavers Arms and stood on Bradshawgate, opposite the entrance to Wood Street and just two doors down from the Volunteer Inn.  

The pub dated back to around 1790 and was originally known as the Weaver’s Arms. In his book, Pubs Of Bolton 1800 – 2000, Gordon Readyhough [1] claims that it became known as the Saddle after a landlady in the 1840s married a local saddler. The tale does stand up to some scrutiny. In 1844 the landlady was a spinster named Mary Kirkman. In December of that year she married Seth Holding, a local saddler. By the time the 1849 list of public houses in Bolton was compiled the name of the pub had been changed to the Saddle. There was another Weavers Arms around the corner on Ship Gates, which opened at around that time and it could have been a factor in the name change.

William Morris was the landlord of the Saddle in 1868. His son, Nathaniel, was involved in a bizarre incident that year on Crown Street bridge overlooking the River Croal. Morris and his companion, William Brierley, a bookkeeper of Kestor Street, fell into the river, a fall of some 40 feet. Morris broke both his thighs in the fall. Brierley wasn’t as fortunate and died of his injuries some hours later.

The original Saddle was demolished in 1904 as the council set upon a scheme to widen Bradshawgate. But whereas neighbouring pubs the Volunteer and the Ship Inn were never to return the Saddle was rebuilt the following year. Compare the simple structure at the foot of this page with the impressive edifice at the top of the page.The architectural style was similar to that of the Fleece Hotel (now the Flying Flute) which was built at the same time.

But whereas the original Weaver’s Arms/Saddle building lasted for over 110 years, the second building lasted a mere 65 years. The Saddle closed in 1970 and was subsequently pulled down to make way for what became the Arndale Centre. Primark now covers the site.

Saddle Inn Bradshawgate Bolton circa 1900


Bradshawgate from Fold Street looking up towards Nelson Square pictured around 1900 shortly before the row was demolished for the widening of Bradshawgate. Looking from the street corner, T Bromley’s Fine Art Repository is followed by Preston’s jewellers and then the Saddle. The single-storey building at the far end of the row is the Pack Horse Hotel. Image taken from the Bolton Library and Museum Service collection (copyright Bolton Council).

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800 – 2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Annals Of Bolton, by James Clegg. (1888).

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Volunteer Inn, Empire Lounge, Jolly Sailor, Bradshawgate


This photograph shows the Volunteer Inn on the far right of the picture. It was taken just before its conversion into the Empire Lounge which took place in 1890.

The Volunteer Inn began life as the Jolly Sailor towards the end of the 18th century. There was no pub by that name on the 1778 list of Great Bolton Ale Houses so it must have become licensed premises during the final two decades of that century.

The Volunteer was noted as a meeting place for one of Bolton’s earliest Masonic lodges. According to Lane’s Masonic Records the St John’s Lodge, which was instituted in 1795 and continued until as recently as 2005, met at the Volunteer from 1811 to 1812 and from 1816 to 1820. [1]

A fire at the pub in October 1877 caused £700 worth of damage.

In 1890 the Volunteer was refurbished as the Empire Lounge – and quite a refurbishment it sounds, as well. With Axminster carpets and mahogany fittings it was out of the league of most of the Bolton townsfolk. [2] No doubt there were prices to match but there is no word as to whether the proprietor had security on the doors or if more down-at-heel patrons began to be allowed in when the pub was quiet. 

Whatever, in 1904 the Empire Lounge was demolished. Bolton Council decided to widen Bradshawgate and in order to do this they had to clear  the whole of the western side of the street from the Deansgate end down to Nelson Square. The Empire was pulled down along with its near neighbour the Ship and a number of other properties. Neither were rebuilt. The Bradshawgate side of the Primark store marks the spot where the Volunteer once stood.

Four brewing companies had an interest in the property at one time or another: Allsopps of Burton-on-Trent and also the local firms of William Tong, John Atkinson and Magee, Marshall. It appears as a Magee’s pub in the above picture.

[1] Lane’s Masonic Records. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 


[2] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Junction Inn, Howell Croft

Junction Inn Howell Croft Bolton

This photograph comes from the Bolton Museum collection and is copyright Bolton Council.

It is practically the only record we have of the Junction Inn, a beerhouse that stood on the corner of Howell Croft and Spring Gardens.

Howell Croft still exists, though it is cut in two by the Town Hall. Spring Gardens no long exists, though its back street,  Back Spring Gardens is still there running in between Lever Chambers and the former Odeon Cinema.

The picture was taken in 1910. The Junction Inn, which was owned by William Tong’s, had closed two years earlier in 1908. It doesn’t appear to have been a pub for too  long. There is no beerhouse at its address - 21-23 Howell Croft - in the 1871 Bolton Directory, so it was only licensed premises for around 30 years or so. 

The empty pub has posters on the front advertising forthcoming shows at the Hippodrome, a theatre just a few yards from Howell Croft which was demolished in 1968. A car park now stands on the site of the Hippodrome.

The Junction, along with all the buildings in the forefront of this photograph, was later demolished. The Civic Centre and Bolton Central police station was later built on the site.

Note the chimneys of the Queens Foundry in the background to the picture.

Howell Croft Bolton former site of Junction Inn


Howell Croft North, as it now is, seen from the junction with Deansgate in May 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The Central Police station stood for many years on the site of the Junction Inn.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Scamps, Dance Factory, Bradshawgate

Ad from October 1983
A lost nightclub just for a change.

Scamps opened in October 1973 in what had once been part of the Lido Cinema – later Studio 1 and 2 and the Cannon Cinema.

It was seen as an alternative to the more established nightclubs such as the Palais (later Rockefeller’s, Ritzy and Ikon) and the Cromwellian (later Maxwell’s Plum).

Just a year after opening, in December 1974, Scamps was damaged by a fire which ruined its Christmas trade. However, it re-opened in January 1975.

Around 1977/78 the management had the novel idea of lunchtime strip shows with an admission fee of 5p. 

 Real ale drinkers noted with some surprise in 1981 that Scamps was selling cask Greenall’s Bitter but at 70p a pint. [1] That was when the average price of a pint was had yet to reach 50p. It was also unusual to find Greenall’s served through a handpump. Other real ale outlets sold it via electric meter dispense. [2]

Scamps became The Dance Factory in 1983. But its main problem was that successive refurbishments made Rockefeller’s/Ikon much bigger and brasher.

The management tried to compete. This listing from 1985 showed the club advertising a personal appearance from David Bowie’s ex-wife Angie, synthpop duo Vicious Pink and an evening of mud wrestling, so it was varied fare.

By 1987 the Dance Factory was up for sale. [3] It closed a couple of years later and was converted into Laser Quest, a hi-tech shoot-em-up game where you chased your mates around narrow corridors and were given a computer print-out at the end telling you how many hits you made.

The Cannon Cinema closed in 1998. Laser Quest shut around the same time. The whole site was subsequently sold off and converted into apartments giving the occupants a grandstand view of Bradshawgate on a Saturday night.



The former Lido/Studio 1,2 and 3/Cannon Cinema on Bradshawgate pictured in May 2012. Flats now occupy the site. A Bolton News article here on cinema in Bolton shows a shot from same angle in 1986 looking at the Dance Factory on the right side of the cinema building.








[1] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers monthly magazine, October 1981 issue.
[2] What’s Doing, April 1982.

[3] What’s Doing, October 1987.

Flag Hotel, Great Moor Street

Great Moor Street looking towards the Flag Hotel circa 1962. This image taken from the Bolton Archive collection and is copyright Bolton Council. The row of shops on the right of the image were built just a few years earlier and are still there. In the near distance – in front of the Flag – is Howell Croft bus station.

The Flag Hotel stood on Great Moor Street just in front of where Elizabeth House is now situated.

The pub dates from the early-1820s and apparently got its name from a huge flagstone 15 feet square and weighing over six tons that was transported from a local quarry to Great Moor Street. [1] Eight dray horses using chains and rollers were deployed in  the operation and the flagstone was used to cover part of the floor. Only a small part. Fifteen feet square is equal to less than four feet long by four feet wide.

The pub first appears in the local directory for 1824 when the licensee was Robert Warr. By the time the 1836 record was published Warr had been succeeded by John Eglin who also ran the Bay Horse on Deansgate. Eglin was briefly succeeded by David Morris before James Lowe began a long tenureship around 1842.


From the late-1850s the Flag was run by the Harrison family. Robert Harrison hailed from Liverpool, his wife Ellen was a Bolton girl. By 1871 Robert was off the scene - the Duke Of Clarence on Bath Street was owned at the same time by a Robert Harrison who may have been the same person. Meanwhile, Ellen Harrison was running the Flag alongside her mother, Elizabeth Ratcliffe. Indeed, the 1871 Bolton Directory gives Mrs Ratcliffe as the licensee. But it was Ellen Harrison who was not only the proprietor but was also the brewer as the Flag produced its own ales in a small brewery at the back of the pub.




Ellen Harrison died in 1888 at the early age of just 51. The Flag was eventually bought by Magee, Marshall and Co and remained a Magee’s house until their takeover by Greenall Whitley in 1958. Many Magee’s pubs retained their livery until the brewery was closed by Greenall’s in 1970.

The Flag was eventually bought by Magee, Marshall and Co and remained a Magee's house until their takeover by Greenall Whitley in 1958. Many Magee’s pubs retained their livery until the brewery was closed by Greenall’s in 1970.

It’s hard to believe but in those days the Flag was in the middle of a residential area. Howell Croft ran from Deansgate to Great Moor Street and right behind the pub – on the site of what is now Elizabeth House – was a row of houses.  Houses were also situated at the side of the pub on land that for many years was Bolton Wholesale Market but which is now the Octagon Car Park. When the market moved to Ashburner Street in 1932 the site became Howell Croft bus station until 1969. A post office and the Railway Hotel stood on the opposite side of Great Moor Street to the Flag.

In the end, the needs of the motor car and, to a lesser degree, of local government marked the end for the Flag. The closure of Howell Croft bus station in 1969 robbed the pub of some of its passing trade, but in any case its days were already numbered. The construction of local government offices at Elizabeth House meant the pub was to be cleared to make way for parking. This photograph from the Bolton News archive shows the Flag in 1970. Elizabeth House can be seen rising in the background.

The Flag closed in November 1970 and was demolished three months later in February 1971. The exact spot of the pub is by the pelican crossing in front of Elizabeth House.



This image of the Flag comes from 1937 and comes from the Bolton Worktown collection (copyright Bolton Council). It is one of only three shots taken by photographer Humphrey Spender using flash photography. The  image depicts the Flag with its customers leaving at last orders, which in those days were at 10pm every night of the week.




Saturday, 20 September 2014

Soho Tavern, Trinity Street


Crook Street at the junction of Thynne Street and Trinity Street. The Soho Tavern stood on the corner of Trinity Street and Crook Street at a time when Trinity Street curved round by the front of Holy Trinity church in the distance to meet Crook Street.


The Soho Tavern was situated at number 1, Trinity Street. It took its name from the Soho Foundry, built across the road on Crook Street in 1832 and which was, until 2002, the headquarters of Hick, Hargreaves and Co.

The Soho Tavern came much later. It dated from the late-1850s and existed as licensed premises for little more than 50 years. William Edgerley was the licensee in both 1861 1871. Edgerley was a brewer by trade and may well have brewed his own beer at the pub. By 1880 he was gone -living in Union Buildings where the Wellington had its own brewery - and Preston-born Robert Wilcock was in charge of the Soho. He died just two years later.

Competition was tough at that end of town. The British Queen was just a few doors along while the Railway Hotel  across the road where the interchange now stands. The Sweet Green Tavern and the Painters Arms were both just a few yards away and there were numerous beer houses along Crook Street.

In 1910 the Soho Tavern closed. It was used as a hairdressers in the twenties and thirties and was later demolished.

Although the pub was situated on Trinity Street, the layout of the roads in the area was somewhat different prior to the construction of the dual carriageway in 1978-79. In those days Trinity Street curved round in front of Holy Trinity church to meet Crook Street. The Soho would have been almost in front of the church near to the slip road leading from what is now the end of Thynne Street onto the extended Trinity Street dual carriageway.




Friday, 19 September 2014

Ancient Shepherd, Bold Street

Bold Street in 1962. This picture is from the Bolton Archives collection. Copyright Bolton Council. 

The Ancient Shepherd is on the left-hand side in the distance. Shops on the left include  Openshaw's Surgical Aid store and Orrell's DIY ("Don't hesitate - decorate!"). 





Bold Street in May 2012 (copyright Google Street View). Openshaw's and Orrell's have gone, the latter replaced by The Hub, built in 1990.









On the 1841 Census results for Bolton, Samuel Boardman of Bold Street was listed as a Mechanic. By the time the 1843 Bolton Directory was printed, Samuel was a ‘beer retailer’ and his modest home at number 11 was a beer house named the Odd Fellows Arms. Boardman ran the pub until he died in 1851, aged 49. His wife Margaret then took over.

Lawrence Kenyon was the licensee in 1871. He moved to the pub in 1865 having married another widowed landlady, Ellen Whalley. Her first husband, Gilbert Whalley, was licensee after the Boardmans.

The pub was renamed the Ancient Shepherd.  It was bought by Magee’s and it became a Greenall’s pub when they sold out in 1958. 

The Ancient Shep was sold on to Thwaites’ in the early eighties.

The Ancient Shepherd in 1978
Through all that time the pub retained its unspoilt traditional look: a central entrance leading to a vault on the left-hand side and a lounge on the right. And that’s pretty much how it remained until 1998.

That’s when Thwaites decided that the Ancient  Shepherd’s licence would be put to be  better use at a new property they were developing on Nelson Square.  So in 1998 the Ancient Shepherd closed and the licence was transferred to Red On The Square. That lasted until around 2005 before becoming the Olive Press restaurant and is now Blind Tiger.


The Ancient Shepherd was sold by Thwaites and converted into small flats.  This picture, from 1990, shows the pub with its Thwaites livery and new building just finishing construction next door. 

Red Cross, Bradshawgate

Red Cross Bradshawgate Bolton
Bradshawgate pictured in 1965. This picture is taken from Bolton Library Museum Service’s Local History collection and is copyright Bolton Council. The Red Cross is the second building from the end and closed down the year before the picture was taken. 

Bradshawgate pictured in April 2012, copyright Google Street View. The Red Cross and the properties on either side of it were demolished and replaced by  Sun Alliance House. The Prosecco Italian restaurant closed the same year and is now the Downtown bar. Note the presence in both pictures of one of Bolton town centre’s great survivors: Arthur Morris’s cigar shop. The fourth generation of Morrises run the shop, which has been around since 1903.

The Red Cross was situated on the Silverwell Street corner of Bradshawgate.

Although it doesn’t appear in Pigot’s Directory for 1818-1820 Gordon Readyhough [1], in his book Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, states that it was built in 1817. The building was certainly in existence by 1821 when William Taylor was listed as landlord.

Although many pubs include the suffix ‘Hotel’ as part of their name the Red Cross really was a place for overnight accommodation, at least in the early part of its existence. It was one of only nine hotels listed in the ‘Inns and Posting Houses’ section of the 1853 Bolton Directory. By the time the 1871 edition was published it had left ‘Hotels’ and skipped over to the ‘Innkeepers’ section, so it became a drinking-only establishment in the 1860s rather than a place of temporary lodgings.

It was known locally as T’Blood Tub. One can only imagine why, but in his book Classic Soil: Community, Aspiration, and Debate in the Bolton Region of Lancashire, 1819-1845, Malcolm Hardman suggests it was so-called because the “industrially maimed” would call there for a stiff drink on the way to the infirmary situated at the top of Nelson Square.

Hardman adds that Richard Carlile, the 19th-century campaigner for universal suffrage and the free press was the guest of a dinner hosted in his honour in August 1827 by the Red Cross’s then landlord, James Fogg, a military man from an old Darcy Lever family. Carlile was one of the speakers scheduled to address the meeting at Peterloo in 1819 before the assembled crowd was attacked by the yeomanry in what became the Peterloo Massacre. He later took up with Eliza Sharples, the daughter of a Bradshawgate quilt manufacturer. She became his common-law wife and they had four children together. [2]

Ad from around 1870.  
A number of local societies were based at the Red Cross including one named the Love and Unity Of The World Friendly Society, a name that sounds as though it came straight out of the 1960s but which was actually based at the pub in 1877. The local branch of the Beamers, Twisters, and Drawers' Association was meeting at the Red Cross in 1910.

As a pub it was eventually bought by a brewery, in this case the local firm of William Tong’s who brewed at the top of Blackshaw Lane, off Deane Road. The Red Cross was later sold to Magee, Marshall & Co of Daubhill, probably after 1923 when Tong’s were themselves bought out by Walker Cain Ltd.

It was owned by Greenall Whitley when it closed in 1964, six years after Greenall’s bought out Magee’s. However, the building remained empty for four more years before it was demolished along with neighbours Joshua and Tom Taylor’s, a jeweller’s and properties on Silverwell Street.

In 1971 Sun Alliance House opened the site. The ground floor of the new building was given over to an Italian restaurant and for over 40 years the site of the Red Cross hosted Enzo’s, Tiggi’s and finally Prosecco. But in 2012, a new pub opened on the site, Downtown, a bar and disco aimed at the over-40s. 

[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Classic Soil: Community, Aspiration, and Debate in the Bolton Region of Lancashire, 1819-1845, Malcolm Hardman. Published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bay Horse (Scotch Vaults), 37 Deansgate


The Bay Horse, Deansgate, pictured in 1937. The photograph was taken by Humphrey Spender for the Mass Observation project and is one of a number of images from that period at the Bolton Worktown website.

The history of the public house holds many examples of licensed premises that kept the name of a significant figure in its history as a name or a nickname. The Old Original British Queen on Blackburn Road was a known as ‘Pomps’ after the family that owned the pub in the nineteenth century. The Joiners Arms on Deansgate was always known as Bathe’s Vaults even after Henry Bathe left, and a hundreds yards or so up Deansgate, the Bay Horse was always known as ‘The Scotch Vaults’. [1]

The Scot in question was George Munro. Born in 1832 Sutherland, Munro arrived in Manchester at the age of 19 when his uncle, James Hall, who made a fortune in the sugar plantations of Jamaica, got him a job with the Manchester branch of the wine and spirit merchant business of Findlater and Mackie.

By 1860, Munro was confident enough to go into business on his own account. He founded the drinks wholesaling business of George Munro & Co on Deansgate and branches were added in Blackburn, Wigan and Hanley near Stoke-on-Trent. The latter was founded in partnership with John Munro, who was believed to be George’s brother.

George Munro &  Co bought the Bay Horse in 1865. This was one of Bolton’s oldest pubs. It appears on the Great Bolton Alehouses in 1778 and was in existence for some time prior to that.

According to the 1778 list the landlord was one Thomas Middleton.The Sankey family were in control for a number of years at the start of the 19th century. Enoch Sankey was licensee until his death at the age of 45 in 1823. His wife Mary succeeded him until she died in 1830.  John Eglin was in charge, according to the 1836 Bolton Directory. Eglin also ran the Flag on Great Moor Street.  The 1843 directory lists William Green as licensee and in 1853 it was Henry Dobson.

Given that the tied house system of pub ownership was some years away it was obvious that licensees, much like today, were leasing the pub and leaving after just a few years. Munro’s effectively tied the Bay Horse to their wholesale drinks business giving them an outlet for the brands they dealt in. As it was a public house with a full licence they could wines and spirits as well as beer.

By 1871 Munro’s Bolton branch, based at the Bay Horse, employed 10 men, two boys and one woman.

A fire in June 1879 at the back of the Bay Horse, where Munro kept his goods, caused damage estimated at hundreds of pounds. Otherwise, business was good. By 1881 the Munro family were living at Greenbank on Chorley New Road, Heaton.

Munro also bottled their own brand of beers. A Nut Brown Ale proudly proclaimed that Munro’s had been established “in 1747” – a little disingenuous given that Munro was the first of his family to have been involved in the drinks trade.

Like a number of prominent publicans Munro got involved in politics and represented the Exchange ward for the Liberal Party on Bolton Council from 1886 to 1889. A keen Presbyterian he was a member and generous supporter of St Andrew’s Presbyterian church on Bowker’s Row. [3]

Munro married a Scottish lady, Isabella Waugh of Lochmaben, Dumfries-shire and they had three sons and four daughters. He died in Bolton on 30 April 1894. Isabella died in Staffordshire in 1919 at the age of 81.

The Bay Horse continued until 1960. But right up to the end of its life the premises always gave the impression that it was a bonded warehouse rather than a pub as the 1937 photograph from the Humphrey Spender collection shows.

In the end the pub was sold to Marks and Spencer in 1959 and after around 200 years of history last orders were called for the final time in April 1960.

The site of the Bay Horse would form part of M&S’s new Bolton store which was fully open by the summer of 1968.



[1] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[3] The church can be still be seen and was remodelled in the seventies as a small shopping arcade known as St Andrew’s Court.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Crown and Cushion, Empress, Spencer's, Bar Retro, Mealhouse Lane


The Crown and Cushion pictured around 1996. The original pub was on the ground floor, where the Yorkshire Building Society is situated in this image.

The Crown and Cushion was one of the oldest pubs in Bolton. However, the building that housed the pub on Mealhouse Lane only dates from the early part of the 20th century.

The Crown and Cushion appears on the list of Great Bolton Alehouses for 1779 when the licensee was John Mawdsley [1]. In those days it was just two dwelling houses at 6 and 7 the Acres – as Mealhouse Lane was then known - joined together “now occupied and used as a public house known by the sign of the Crown and Cushion”.

Mawdsley appears to have left the Crown and Cushion when it was sold in 1781. Landlords appear to have come and gone according to directories of the early nineteenth century: Richard Critchley in 1818, James Crompton in 1821, James Nicholson in 1824, Robert Crompton in 1836, Ellis Howarth in 1843 and John Thompson in 1853. [2].

Skip a few years to 1888 and the landlord was one Bethel Robinson. Born in Wheelton in 1862 he had something else to occupy himself with – he was a professional footballer. On 8 September 1888 Robinson made a little history of his own when he was part of the Bolton Wanderers team that played Derby County on the opening day of fixtures in the new Football League. As a defender he appears to have had a busy afternoon as the Wanderers were beaten 6-3. He went on to play 18 league games for Bolton that season and was the subject of a curious loan agreement with West Bromwich Albion for whom he spent three seasons playing only in FA Cup games.


The original Crown and Cushion was demolished in 1900 and was replaced by owners William Tong's by the imposing building that still stands today. This new Crown and Cushion was much bigger than the original pub and overhead was the Empress Hall which hosted balls and dinner dances as well as music concerts until it became a club in the sixties. [1]

Another professional footballer who ran the Crown and Cushion was Albert Shepherd. Born in Great Lever in 1885, Shepherd scored 90 goals in 120 games for Bolton before being transferred to Newcastle United for a fee of £800 in 1908. He was the first player in Newcastle’s history to score more than 30 goals in a season and won the league title and the FA Cup with the team. He later joined Bradford City and became a pub landlord when his career ended. He was landlord of the Crown and Cushion for a number of years and died at the pub on 8 November 1929 at the age of just 44.


The Crown and Cushion was a Tong’s pub until they were taken over by Walker’s in 1923. Indeed, Tong’s had an office in the building for many years and their logo can still be seen. 






The Crown and Cushion closed for the first time in 1971. The ground floor pub was converted into shops. Tracks record shop was there for a number of years in the seventies and eighties.

The Empress Ballroom eventually became the Club Empress but was destroyed by fire in February 1976 amidst of rumours of unpaid protection money by the club’s owners. An image of the charred remains of the club’s interior can be seen here.  

The Bolton News website shows photographs of the Empress in happier times:  in the 1930s , at the Miss Bolton contest in 1966.  plus this undated picture of Hal Bentham and his Scarlet Syncopations preparing for a Tango number. 

In 1978 the Empress reopened as Spencer’s Club and Bar opened by former World Snooker champion John Spencer, a native of Radcliffe. Spencer’s was quite popular, particularly at the weekend. It was trendy and it did well – at least for a while. But Spencer sold out and in 1988 the bar was renamed the Crown and Cushion.

If this final reincarnation of the Crown and Cushion is to be remembered it is for two things. First of all it became a thriving live music venue and a number of bands from the alternative end of the musical spectrum played there, either while their careers were on the way up or when they were on the way back down.

The Charlatans played there in February 1990 as shown by this page from their fanzine at the time. The Verve were there in November 1991, Mike Peters, formerly of The Alarm played in October 1994 and there were also appearances by Primal Scream, Frank Sidebottom, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, UK Subs, The Damned and Hugh Cornwell, amongst many others.

Unfortunately, the other aspect the Crown and Cushion will be remembered for is just how rough it was at weekends when alternative bands were replaced by more mainstream punters. The pub’s nickname of the Crown and Flicknife wasn’t entirely unwarranted and many a brawl ended with its participants tumbling down the stairs.

Local beer drinkers also noted that real ale had made an appearance for the first time since the old Crown and Cushion closed. [2] However, that didn’t last long. [3]

A name change to Bar Retro failed to drag in the punters. Spencers and the Crown and Cushion were good stopping off points from Deansgate and Bradshawgate to Ritzy or Ikon. But as more and more town centre pubs got late licences the punters stopped making the detour and the pub was finished. It closed around 2002. It was for sale for a number of years and is currently empty.

[1] Pubs Of Bolton Town Centre 1900-1986, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (1986).
[2] Crown and Cushion sells Marstons Pedigree. What's Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinker's monthly magazine. March 1989 issue.
[3] Crown and Cushion dispenses with real ale. What's Doing. November 1990 issue. 



This image shows the Crown and Cushion in 2012. The pub is signed Bar Retro under which it operated in its final days. This image, along with the images of the Tong’s brewery window and the William Tong crest are copyright Alan Murray-Rust and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence





Rose and Crown, 55 Cross Street


Cross Street pictured in April 2012 (copyright Google Street View). The Rose and Crown was  near the top of the street on the left-hand side. 

The Rose and Crown was situated on Cross Street just off Turton Street on the outskirts of Bolton.

The pub was owned for many years by the Settle family, who also went under the name of Booth. Robert Booth came from a pub-owning background as his father, Richard Booth, was the landlord of the Little John on Lever Street in the 1860s and 1870s.

William Settle was born towards the end of 1868 to Robert Booth and Rachel Settle. The couple weren’t married, but in January 1869, just a matter of weeks after William’s birth, Robert did get married – to Martha Clough.

In a letter to the Bolton Evening News in 2003, Robert’s great-granddaughter says that according to the story passed down the family, Martha had £100 and that she and Robert used the money to buy the Rose and Crown. [1] The beer-house was an established business dating back to at least 1836.

Sadly, Martha Booth died in the summer of 1878 at the age of just 43. But just six months later, in January 1879, Robert Booth married again - this time to Rachel Settle, the father of his son. They went on to have two more sons: Daniel Booth born in October 1879, and Albert Booth born in October 1881.

William Settle’s entry into the family business came suddenly. When he was just 13 years old his mother sacked the Rose and Crown’s brewer after an argument. On arriving home from school later that day William was told he would have to leave school and assist with the brewing. It was the start of an association with the Rose and Crown that was to last almost 70 years.

Rachel Booth died in 1891, aged 54. Before she died she made her husband Robert sign an agreement enabling William to take over the Rose and Crown pub and brewery, buying out the stakes of his brothers, which he subsequently did. Eight years later, in 1899, Robert Booth died and William had control of the pub and its brewery

The business had already expanded beyond the Rose and Crown with the purchase from Joseph Atkinson of the British Oak on Derby Street and the Alfred The Great on Noble Street. Further pubs were bought and William’s brothers were installed as the landlords of two of them: Daniel at the Rope and Anchor on Kay Street and Albert at the Red Lion on Crook Street.

Meanwhile, the brewery had outgrown the Rose and Crown and new premises were found at the former Bradshaw Field Mill owned by Thomas Pearson. This was in Dean Street, which ran parallel to Cross Street and was just a hundred yards or so away from the pub.

At that time all the pubs advertised themselves as selling Booth’s beers. During an argument between William Settle and Albert Booth at the Red Lion one day Albert asked William why he advertised Booth’s beers when his name wasn’t Booth. William took a stool from the pub, smashed the window with the brewery name on it and said “It will have Settle’s Ales on it tomorrow”. All the pubs were subsequently changed to Settle’s.

The 39-year-old William Settle married 22-year-old Alice Crompton in 1909. The following year their son William was born with a daughter, Alice, born in 1912.

William Settle junior joined the family business, even though he remained teetotal all his life.  Each summer, Settle’s organised an outing for each of their pubs in a Daimler brewer’s dray. The body was taken off the dray and replaced by a coach body. The younger William would stand at the door of the coach and hand each man a shilling to buy his beer for the day.

William Settle senior died in Newland Nursing Home on Chorley New Road on 26 January 1949, aged 80. The decision was taken to sell the Rose and Crown, its brewery and a tied estate of six other pubs. [2] The business was bought by Dutton’s of Blackburn and the brewery was closed and converted into a paper works.

The Rose and Crown closed in 1960. Cross Street still exists, just off Cable Street at the back of Turton Street. Some of the original buildings from the pub’s time still stand. A council estate was built in the 1930s but much of the area was cleared again some years ago.

[1] Bolton Evening News: “When Brewing Was A Family Affair” – 24 April 2003. Retrieved from the Bolton News website [link here] 12 September 2014.

[2] For the record the other pubs were: the British Oak on Derby Street, the Alfred The Great on Noble Street, the Rope and Anchor on Kay Street, the Red Lion on Crook Street, the School Hill Hotel (T’Skennin’ Door) on School Hill and the Britannia, which is taken to be the one on King Street in Farnworth as the Britannia on Derby Street was a Cornbrook pub. If so, the Britannia is the only Settle’s pub to survive.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Alfred The Great, 44 Noble Street




The remains of Noble Street, now a fraction of its former size, pictured in April 2012 (copyright  Google Street View). At one time there were three beer houses on this street, which linked Derby Street with Noble Road. Now it is a hotbed of religious activity with the Noble Street Independent Methodist Church clearly visible on the right and the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall at the bottom of the street.

The area around Derby Street became industrialised in the middle of the 19th century and with it came the beer houses.

Noble Street was built in the early part of the nineteenth century and an 1849 map of Bolton shows the street in much the same shape as it would be until the 1960s. Looking down from Derby Street, there was a long row of terraced houses down the left-hand side of the street. The right-hand side was also developed, though some of those buildings were later demolished to facilitate the development of a number of side streets such as Bristol Street and Claughton Street.

The Derby Ironworks backed on to the houses on the west side of Noble Street. It was built in 1854 under the name Brown, Altham and Co. later becoming Hiton and Brown. It later became a more substantial concern after it was bought by a former employee, William Crumblehulme, but even by the 1860s it still only employed 12 men and eight boys.[1] But the iron works was one of a number of bourgeoning small businesses that began in the area as the nineteenth century progressed.

Atkinson was from Bentham, near Doncaster. Born in 1824 he moved to Bolton as a young man and by 1851 he was living in lodgings on Ridgway Gates while working as a moulder in an iron foundry.  

The 1853 Bolton Directory shows no licensed premises on Noble Street, just the long-standing Pilkington Arms on the corner with Derby Street. But the 1861 Census shows Atkinson working as a beerseller at 44 Noble Street and the 1871 Directory shows three beer-houses, one of which was the Alfred The Great, owned by Joseph Atkinson.

Indeed, it is entirely possible that the enterprising Joseph Atkinson simply converted his living premises in Noble Street into a beer-house, as he was perfectly entitled to do under the 1830 Beer House Act.

Later in the 1860s, Joseph Atkinson added four more pubs. The Masons Arms was in Emblem Street, the next street along from Noble Street. The British Oak and the Craven Heifer were both on Derby Street just a few hundred yards away, while the Nelson Arms was a little further away on Nelson Street.

The 1871 Worrall’s Directory also shows that Atkinson was listed as a brewer. So by the early part of that decade he had built a brewery and a small tied estate of five pubs. Not a huge business empire, but not bad going for a man whose illiteracy prevented him from signing his own marriage certificates with anything other than an ‘X’.

Atkinson married a widow, Alice Slater in 1859. Their son James was born in 1860 and later took over the running of the British Oak. Alice died in 1874. In 1881 and at the age of 55, Joseph married another widow, Jane Boardman.

There were two other beerhouses on Noble Street, as well as a whole host of hostelries on nearby Derby Street and Deane Road. But Atkinson would also have had the Methodists to deal with. In 1872, the Noble Street Independent Methodist church was built just yards away from the Alfred The Great. It was a time when there was a war on drinkers. Pub hours were curbed in 1872 – though they were still able to open for 17 hours a day - and teetotal candidates were put up for election in some council wards, though not with much success.

The Independent Methodist Church, an imposing edifice compared to the tiny dwelling houses of Noble Street, made their message clear from the outset. In a move that suggested they may have had some clout within the council’s highways department, they managed to get the name of the newly-built street running alongside the church as Temperance Street. That Atkinson also brewed his own beer right under their noses would have further irked the teetotal Methodists.

Joseph Atkinson sold his business in 1890 after 30 years in the licensed trade. Both the Alfred The Great and the British Oak ended up in the hands of WT Settle, a small brewery based at the Rose and Crown, just off Turton Street. [2] Joseph died on 6 January 1901 at the age of 74. At the time he was living in a modest house in Cannon Street, not far from Noble Street, but he left an estate worth £23,000 - the equivalent of almost £2.5million in today's money.

Settle’s remained in control of the Alfred The Great until 1951 when the brewery and its seven pubs were sold to Dutton’s of Blackburn and it was as a  Dutton’s house that the pub ended its days.

Although the Alfred The Great was one of a number of Bolton pubs to receive full drinks licences in 1961, it was closed in 1964. Its neighbours on Noble Street, the Noble Street Tavern and the Royal Tiger, were both long gone having closed in 1906 and 1911 respectively.

The building was later demolished along with much of the rest of Noble Street. The street, which at one time ran all the way down to Deane Road, was truncated to less than a quarter its size though it is still there, near the bottom end of Derby Street.

But while the pubs and brewery of Noble Street have all bitten the dust, the Independent Methodist still survives today after 140 years in the same building. So, too, does Temperance Street which is the last street on the right as you go down Noble Street.

A recent picture of Noble Street Independent Methodist Church can be seen here.

An image of Noble Street taken in 1963 can be seen here on the Bolton News website though it doesn’t include the Alfred The Great. Some of the houses were already boarded up ready for demolition. 

[1] Bolton Revisited: The Story Of Crumblehulme’s Iron Works. Retrieved 12 September 2014.

[2] Pubs Of Bolton 1800-2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).