Metrolands House, built in the mid-sixties on the site of the row that included the Oddfellows Arms. The Laibaz Indian restaurant is now number 93 though the size of each of the units on the ground floor of Metrolands House won’t necessarily correspond to its predecessors, so the Oddfellows may not have occupied that space.
There were a number of pubs in Bolton named the Oddfellows. The Ancient Shepherd on Bold Street was initially named the Oddfellows and a pub by that name still stands on St Helens Road. But the one at 93 Bradshawgate – across the road from the Balmoral - has a claim to be the original Oddfellows Arms.
The Oddfellows was a beerhouse that dated back to the early 1850s. In August 1854 the pub’s owner, Mr J.F Ha.rgreaves, applied unsuccessfully for a full licence enabling him to sell wine and spirits as well as beer. It was one of a number of beerhouses that applied to have their licences upgraded, but they were faced with a petition signed by 3000 ratepayers objecting to the granting of any new licences. The majority of ratepayers – by and large the middle- and upper classes – rarely drank in beerhouses, but they claimed that licensing breeches were rife and that many beerhouses sold stronger alcoholic drinks, anyway. The chairman of the magistrates, Mr Robert Walsh, dismissed the petition as no-one had come forward to substantiate the allegations. But Mr Walsh had calculated that there was licence in Bolton for every 106 inhabitants. One for every thousand was enough in his view. He couldn’t close down the beerhouses without good reason, but he could prevent them from being licensed to serve anything but beer. He threw out the application from the Oddfellows and 22 other beerhouses for full licences and it remained a beerhouse for the rest of its existence.
By 1871, the Oddfellows was in the hands of 35-year-old William J Savage. An Irishman from County Down, he lived at the pub with his Manchester-born wife Martha. Sadly, Martha died in 1877. William re-married the following year and on the 1881 census return he is living with his wife Bridget T Savage and their newborn daughter. Bridget was only 24, but ten years on from being 35 William was giving his age as just 40. Presumably, that’s what he was telling his wife. Then again she wasn’t being truthful about her age. When she died in 1929 her age was given as 70 so she would have been 23 years younger than William rather than 16. William Savage died in 1885. Bridget married Henry Parkinson and moved to Halliwell. Henry died in 1891 but Bridget never married again.
Patrick Closick was in charge of the Oddfellows by 1895. By then it had expanded into the premises next door. At the start of the 20th century the pub was in the hands of Samuel Stott.
The Oddfellows was owned by Seeds Brewery of Spring Lane in Radcliffe but was sold to Magee Marshall and Co. Magees closed the pub in 1938 and it later became retail premises.
In Bolton Pubs 1800 – 2000, Gordon Readyhough tells us that 93 Bradshawgate housed Marie’s hairdressers in its final days. Along with the rest of the row the building was demolished in 1962 and Metrolands House now stands on the site.
The Oddfellows Arms can just be seen to the left of this 1921 photograph of a delivery wagon belonging to the pub's next-door neighbour, the pie manufacturer Longton's. James Stobbs was the licensee of the Oddfellows at the time and that could be him standing in the doorway of the pub.