Thursday, 12 February 2015

St James's Hotel, Buxton Street

Buxton Street was a normal, working-class Bolton street. It ran off Calvin Street which was itself situated off Waterloo Street. Both streets still exist with Calvin Street now hosting the Royal Mail sorting office.

Buxton Street was only around 100 yards long. There were 38 buildings on the street in total. But you couldn’t get out of Buxton Street without passing a pub. At the Calvin Street end was the Buxton Arms, but at the other end – the Luther Street end – was the St James’s Tavern which we’ll deal with in this piece.

The St James’s Tavern dated back to 1870 and was named after the nearby St James The Apostle church and primary school. St James’s church was completed in 1867, though the size of the debt incurred in building the church meant that it wasn’t consecrated until 1871. [1] 

But just as the church was planned to serve the spiritual needs of growing industrial area, so the St James’s Tavern was instituted to satisfy needs of a different nature.

The first landlord was Charles Cordingley who appears as the licensee in the 1871 Bolton Directory. Cordingley grew up in Little Bolton, in Independent Street where Folds Road car park now is. By 1861 he was living at 15 Blackburn Road and working as a patternmaker. By 1864 he was a shopkeeper, again at 15 Blackburn Road, but by 1871 – still working as a patternmaker – he was running the St James’s beer house at 1-3 Buxton Street.

Charles later moved to the St George’s Hotel – perhaps he had a thing for pubs named after churches – but by 1883 he was dead at the age of just 59.

Magees later took over the St James’s and it was subsequently sold to Swales of Manchester. Now there was a brewery with reputation – and not a particular good reputation, either. Its beers were so bad it was known as ‘Swales swill’. The Lodge Bank Tavern and the Prince William were other examples of Swales' pubs.

Swales sold out to Boddingtons in 1971, but whether the customers of the St James’s Tavern got to taste any is open to question. The pub closed in the early-seventies and the whole area was cleared. While much of the area around Calvin Street and Waterloo Street has since been redeveloped with industrial units, there is a patch of land where Buxton Street once stood. A September 2014 view of the area is below (copyright Google Street View).

[1] Lancashire On-Line Parish Clerks project. Accessed 12 February 2015.
[2] Bolton Pubs 1800 – 2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).

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