Saturday, 20 June 2015

Bark Street Hotel (Bark Street Tavern), 251-253 Bark Street



The Bark Street Hotel – known as the Bark Street Tavern for much of its history – stood at the junction of Bark Street and Pool Street.

The pub was founded by James Albinson, whose background was in the iron industry, and he converted part of his residence into a beerhouse in the early-1860s.

But the Bark Street Tavern was very nearly shut down in 1869. That was when licensing magistrates were given the power to close down beerhouses. Previously, they were in business on payment of a two guinea fee and other than that there was very little way of closing them down. But a good number were indeed closed down in Bolton in 1869 and the Bark Street Tavern was almost one of them.

At issue was the sale of alcohol on Sunday mornings. At that time, pubs were able to open pretty much when they pleased from Monday morning until midnight on Saturday night. But Sundays – and in particular Sunday mornings when people were expected to be in church - were a different matter.

On 1 September 1869, the process began whereby every beerhouse in Bolton had to re-apply for their licence. With a surname close to the top of the alphabet, James Albinson’s was the one of the first cases to be heard. He stated that he had worked at Messrs Dobson’s for Mr William Taylor for 14 years and previously for his uncle, John Albinson (the 1861 census shows James Albinson as a junior partner in a small iron foundry).  But the police objected to James Albinson’s licence. They said the Bark Street Tavern had been troublesome, that the beerhouse had ‘watchers’ stationed there on a Sunday morning to watch out for any approaching officers. It was because of these watchers that the police constables were unable to get at the pub to ascertain whether or not any illegal drinking was going on. Men had also been congregating around the pub at times when they ought not to be. In his defence, Mr Albinson said that there were two yards at the pub – it was essentially two premises converted into one - and he said he would do whatever he could in order that the bench might remove the objection. But if James Albinson had been selling beer on a Sunday morning then his system of watchers had done their job effectively. He had never been fined for any illegal activity, nor was the beerhouse used by thieves and prostitutes, another reason licenses were objected to. The bench, which included a notable teetotaller in the shape of Mayor James Barlow, allowed the licence to stand. [1]

James Albinson left the pub a few years later. He had continued to work as an iron moulder  and is believed to have gone back to his profession without the hassle of running licensed premises. He was succeeded by John Ridyard, who also worked as a joiner and builder while his wife Agnes ran the pub.

By the turn of the twentieth century the pub was in the hands of James Parkinson. His father had been the managing director of a cotton mill in Chorley Old Road in 1881, but his business acumen didn’t rub off on poor James. By 1911 he was living with his second wife off John Brown Street and was described as being out of employment.

William Blinkhorn on the I Belong To Bolton Facebook group claims that in the late-fifties and early-sixties the Bark Street Tavern was known as the 'Little Lads Pub' due to there being more  under-age drinkers in there than boozers of legal age.

The Bark Street Hotel was bought by Magees and it ended its days as a Greenalls pub. The area around Bark Street had been largely depopulated by the late-sixties. A few houses still remained towards the bottom end of Pool Street but there was no local catchment area to speak of. The pub closed in 1969 and it was demolished shortly afterwards. Pool Street South car park opened on the site in 1971. [2]

[1] Bolton Evening News, 1 September 1869
[2] Bolton Pubs, 1800 – 2000, by Gordon Readyhough. Published by Neil Richardson (2000).


The corner of Bark Street and Pool Street, once the site of the Bark Street Tavern. Bark Street goes off to the left, Pool Street to the right on this 2014 view of the junction of the two streets (copyright Google Street View). Pool Street car park was built on the site of the Bark Street Tavern.


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