The British Queen pictured by Humphrey Spender in August 1937. The pub was right at the top of Newport Street which can be seen tailing off into the distance. Image coyright Bolton Council from the Bolton Worktown website.
Every day, hundreds of Bolton people will head out of Trinity Street railway station on their way home from work. They will walk across Newport Street and head off along the dual carriageway, or perhaps cross at the traffic lights to head to Sainsbury’s. Up to 1972 neither of those choices would have been open to them without stepping into the British Queen.
According to the 1841 census, Edmund Seddon was a junior tailor living in Back Mawdsley Street. By the time Edmund’s son John Seddon married Mary Winward at Holy Trinity church in February 1865, Edmund was living at 144 Newport Street but he still described himself as a tailor for the benefit of the wedding certificate. But by the time Worrall’s published their Bolton Directory for 1871 number 144 Newport Street was a beerhouse with Edmund Seddon as its licensee. So did Edmund open a tailor’s shop at the top of Newport Street before turning it into a pub? It’s entirely possible. Either way, it seems Edmund Seddon founded the British Queen, but it wasn’t a long stay in the pub as he died in 1878, aged 62.
The British Queen subsequently became an Atkinson’s pub supplied from their brewery on Commission Street, off Deane Road. By the end of the nineteenth century it was owned by the Manchester’s Cornbrook Brewery. Cornbrook had taken over Boardman’s United Breweries in 1898 Boardman’s having themselves taken over Atkinson’s in 1895.
According to Gordon Readyhough’s book Pubs Of Bolton 1800 – 2000, the British Queen was later sold by Cornbrook to the local firm of Magee Marshall. If so, that sale would have taken place after the above photograph was taken in 1937. Given that Cornbrook wasn’t exactly over-represented in Bolton it seems a strange move to have given up one of their local pubs – and to the town’s major brewery.
The area around the British Queen underwent a huge change in the early seventies. Perhaps some older readers can recall the number 5 bus pulling into the lay-by outside the pub on its journey from Plodder Lane before continuing on its way into the town centre and on to Markland Hill. It was redirected along Crook Street and Soho Street when Newport Street was made into a one-way street from Trinity Street down to Great Moor Street.
Across the road, the Railway Hotel closed in 1972 and the British Queen shut its doors for the final time in the same year. Both were demolished in 1973 – the same year the Parkfield Inn closed its doors. All three made way for the southern limb of Bolton’s Inner Relief Road which opened in 1979.
This image taken in September 2014 (copyright Google Street View) is from almost exactly the same position as the one at the top of the page. The long-standing firm of Clough’s opticians moved to its current premises in Newport Street in 1968 and stood next to the British Queen until the pub’s demolition in 1973. The small wall outside the optician's marked the end of Allsop Street which still runs to the rear of premises on Newport Street.