This image of the Ninehouse Tavern was taken in the 1920s shortly after the Leigh brewery of George Shaw took over the pub’s then owners, William Tong’s. Note the door on the right advertising ‘Jug and Bottle’. This was the off-sales counter for punters who wanted to drink at home.
The Ninehouse Tavern was situated on Ninehouse Lane, just off Rishton Lane. The pub stood on the original row of nine houses that gave the thoroughfare its name, but it was known locally as ‘the Rag’.
Ordnance Survey maps from the 1840s show ‘Nine Houses’ on Ninehouse Lane opposite two brick fields. To the rear of the houses ran Jenny Beck, which in the middle of the nineteenth century formed part of Bolton’s southern municipal boundary.
Jenny Beck was a small stream, a continuation of Crowshaw Brook, which ran at the bottom of a hill next to Crowshaw Lane (now Ellesmere Road). It became Tanner Hole Brook in the area of the modern-day Higher Swan Lane and from there it ran towards Great Lever and became the more substantial Jenny Beck around Rishton Lane before emptying into the River Croal at Burnden.
The stream was eventually culverted and much of it was built upon many years ago. Jenny Beck Grove, off High Street, takes its name from the rivulet. This map shows Jenny Beck as still being in existence. The path of Crowshaw Brook can still be seen in between the houses on Ellesmere Road and the Deane and Derby Cricket Club. A footpath leading from Chelsea Road to Ellesmere Road goes over the remains of the brook.
There is no record of the Ninehouse Tavern in the 1853 Bolton Directory. The 1871 edition shows the pub in existence as a beer house with Susannah Atkinson as the licensee.
The pub was bought by the Deane brewer William Tong. It became a Walker Cain pub when that company bought Tong’s in 1923.
The Ninehouse operated as a beerhouse until 1934. By then the area surrounding the pub had changed dramatically. Jenny Beck had been culverted and new housing had sprung up around Weston Street, Rishton Lane and Settle Street. But whereas the developments around Lever Street and Bridgeman Street had led to an explosion of pubs, the Ninehouse was the first port of call, at least until Magee’s took over the Brooklyn on Green Lane some years later.
The houses around Rishton Lane were have a higher standard than the terraces closer to town and Walker’s decided that the Ninehouse would better serve this more affluent local community if it had a wine and spirits license.
As with much of British society in the 1930s – and later – the class system was evident in the licensing of public houses. The beer house made up the majority of licensed premises that were common in working-class areas. The fully licensed public house appealed to a more upmarket clientele and any brewery wishing to upgrade the license of one of their beer houses had to recognise that a public house license was worth at least two beer house licenses.
So it was that another pub had to close so the Ninehouse could sell wine and spirits. Walkers had a number of properties in that part of Bolton and the Sir Sidney Smith on Bridgeman Street was sacrificed.
The Ninehouse Tavern continued until 1972. The area around Grecian Crescent and Burlington Street was due to be redeveloped with streets such as Bull Lane, Rebate Street, Plover Street set to disappear. Ninehouse Lane – including the original nine houses that gave it its name – was demolished a few years after the pub’s closure although part of the lane west of Grecian Crescent still survives as a narrow footpath with new housing.