Kay Street stood right in the middle of a heavily built-up working class area. Worrall’s 1871 Bolton Directory shows no fewer than ten beerhouses on the street alone, along with two fully-licensed pubs the Falcon and the Roebuck. The former was the last pub on the road to close, in 1987 and what was onnce Kay Street is now just an extension of St Peters Way.
One of the ten beerhouses in the 1871 directory was the Bank Of England, which dated back to around 1860. It was a sizeable pub standing opposite the Co-op Dairy at the junction with St George’s Street and Lark Street. The Kay Street Congregational Mission stood right next door to the pub.
An often-told saying about the pub was that you could stand with your back to it and say “I’ll never go broke – I’ve got the Bank Of England behind me.”  How often that was actually said before the locals grew tired of it – who can say.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t something you could say after 1956. That was when this Magee’s pub finally closed. The council had a plan to widen Kay Street from Turton Street down to the junction with St George’s Street. The row of properties fronting Kay Street and those to the rear forming one side of Union Street were all demolished in 1958 and Kay Street was widened.
Some years later, in 1971, Kay Street's junction with St George’s Street formed part of the entry on to St Peters’s Way, which opened that year. But Kay Street was later widened again. It took its current form in the late-eighties when St Peters Way was extended up to the junction with Higher Bridge Street and Blackburn Road. The junction with Kay Street was re-modelled so that Kay Street itself was effectively truncated to run from Manor Street as far as St George’s Street. The original commencement of St Peters Way became a small slip road enabling motorists to exit the by-pass into town. A subway was built under the motorway extension which was some 20 feet above Kay Street.
In 1989, Thomas Walmsley’s Atlas Forge on Bridgeman Street was demolished (the site is now the Mill View nursing home). A large statue of Atlas with the world on his shoulders was rescued from the old forge and was placed on Kay Street at its junction with St George’s Street on the corner formerly occupied by the Bank Of England.
|Atlas being moved onto the site of the Bank Of England, 1989|
Kay Street - or what's left of it - in this Google Street View image from September 2014.
St George's Street runs off to the left. Offices occupy what was once the Co-Op Dairy. Opposite the offices, the statue of Atlas rescued from Walmsley's forge on Bridgeman Street had been in place on the site of the Bank Of England for 25 years by the time this photograph was taken.
The image is copyright Google Street View. The 1989 photo is copyright Bolton Council.