Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Boneyard Club - Caroline Lounge, 21-23 Manchester Road


The World Of Wicker premises on Manchester Road pictured in September 2014 (copyright Google Street View) looking most unlike the venue for a gig by mid-sixties rockers The Pretty Things, a band still going in 2015.

More a club than a pub, the Boneyard – or the Caroline Lounge as it was also known – is one of Bolton’s lesser-known licensed premises and it was in existence for just a few years. A number of comments appeared on the Manchester Beat website about the Boneyard in 2012. [1]

Numbers 21 and 23 Manchester Road date back to the late-nineteenth century and other than their time as the Boneyard they have been either commercial or retail premises for the whole of that period. For instance, by 1905, number 21 was occupied by a warehouse owned by Henry Coates and Sons, while the printing firm of Ferguson and Sons was at number 23. Three more buildings, numbered 25, 27 and 29, went down to the junction with Lower Bridgeman Street. They included smallware dealers Gregory & Porritts at number 25 which also housed the Bolton offices of the Manchester Evening Chronicle. In 1924, Coates and Sons were still at number 21 and a cotton waste dealer named Charles Crook was at number 23. Gregory & Porritts had moved on, though the Chronicle office was still there.

Maps of the area in the 1950s show that 21 to 25 were all one premises and at some stage in the early sixties it became the Boneyard Club.

Writing on Manchester Beat in 2012, one of the Boneyard’s bouncers, Jack Stokes, says that the club's owners were Terry and Pauline Allan. For Jack, the most memorable night was a gig by the Pretty Things. 

“Viv Prince on drums was amazing. I had my back up against his bass drum to stop it falling off. The crowd was going wild in front of me, he was lathered in sweat, so was I.”

The Pretty Things were formed in London in 1963 and began to have chart hits in 1964 which is possibly when the Bolton gig took place.

There were two rooms at the Boneyard. A large room where punters would just sit on the floor and a smaller room which had coffins for tables. The venue was used by mods who would park their scooters outside and it was noted for its all-nighters which began at midnight and ended at 8am.

Dave Evans points out on Manchester Beat that the Boneyard had coffins for tables and that he often wore a coffin-shaped necklace that he made itself. But it didn’t go down well with the door staff when the Boneyard became the Caroline Lounge after a change of ownership.

An entry on the Soulbot website adds: “Although it was not a cellar dive, you reached it by a set of stairs going up and over a musical instruments store, it was one of THE places to go to.” [2]

The name was perhaps inspired by the success of the Radio Caroline pirate radio ship which pre-dated Radio 1 and introduced popular music radio into the UK from 1964 onwards. However, the Manchester Soul website claims the Boneyard was a nickname and that the Caroline Lounge was the club’s real name for the whole of its existence. [3]

We don’t know when the Boneyard/Caroline Lounge closed. The musical instrument store referred to was Woods which remained at the premises until the late-eighties. World Of Wicker then took over  before moving to Falcon Mill, Halliwell in November 2013.

There’s very little information about the Boneyard or the Caroline Lounge. Any memories would be welcome.

[1] Manchester Beat. Accessed 5 August 2015. The site also contains contributions on a number of other Bolton club venues in the sixties including the Cromwellian, the Blue Lagoon and the Bolton Casino. Click here for the full list. 

[2] Soulbot. Accessed 5 August 2015. Soulbot is another excellent historical resource dealing with sixties soul and the later Northern Soul cultural phenomenon. Click here for more details. 


[3] Manchester Soul. Accessed 5 August 2015.

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