Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Legs Of Man, 24 Churchgate




Legs Of Man Churchgate Bolton

The Legs Of Man can just about be seen in the distance in this 1950s view looking up Churchbank towards Churchgate.


The Legs Of Man public house stood at 24 Churchgate in between the Grand Theatre and the Theatre Royal in what for over a hundred years was the entertainment centre of  Bolton.

The pub dated back to the late-eighteenth century. Gordon Readyhough puts its establishment at 1790. [1] Certainly, it doesn’t appear on the 1779 list of Bolton alehouses [2], though it was certainly in existence by 1800. That was when it was first used as the headquarters of one of Lancashire’s earliest Masonic lodges, Anchor and Hope, which was based at the pub from 1800 to 1801 and from 1804 to 1844. [3] The St John’s lodge also met there from 1846 to 1856. [4]

The Legs Of Man was run by the Thorp family for much of the nineteenth century. William Thorp took over around 1818. A year earlier, when he married the widow Mary Cooper, his profession was described as a warehouseman. But by the time the Bolton Directory for 1818 was published just a few months later he was the landlord of the Legs Of Man. He ran the pub until his death at the age of 62 in 1845 and was succeeded by his widow, Mary who ran the pub with John Cooper, a son from her first marriage.

Mary died in 1856. John Cooper – described as a ‘brewer’ when he married Ann Butler in 1858 - remained at the pub for a few years after her death.

Cooper’s profession suggested that, like many other pubs in the town, the Legs Of Man brewed its own beer. But while it became a tied house owned by a brewery later in the eighteenth century it was actually owned by three breweries in succession: Magee’s, followed by Tong’s, and finally the Salford brewery of Groves and Whitnall. Pubs usually changed hands when breweries were taken over so it was perhaps an indication of the competition in the Churchgate area with seven pubs and two theatres in a stretch of around 200 yards.

But it could also be argued that competition of a different kind saw off the Legs Of Man. The advent of television, which reached the north-west in the early-fifties, affected theatre audiences as customers stayed at home and watched the new medium. The Legs was hit due to its reliance on passing custom before and after shows.

The Legs Of Man closed in March 1962. The Theatre Royal closed later that same year. The Grand Theatre became a bingo hall in 1961, but that failed and it closed in 1963. [5] All three buildings were demolished and Churchgate House was built in their place.


[1] Bolton Pubs, 1800 – 2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).
[2] Pubs Of Bolton Town Centre, 1800 – 2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (1986).
[3] Lane’s Masonic Records. Accessed 11 March 2015.
[4] Lane’s Masonic Records. Accessed 11 March 2015. 
[5] Arthur Lloyd. Accessed 11 March 2015.

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