Saturday, 8 April 2017

Blue Boar, 96 Deansgate, Bolton




Another recent closure and a sad loss both to local drinkers and local historians. The former for obvious reasons, the latter because the Blue Boar was one of the oldest pubs in Bolton dating back to the 18th century. Until its closure in 2016 it was one of the few surviving pubs from the Bolton licensing list of 1779.

From 1843 until around 1869 the pub was owned by Thomas Dickenson. Mr Dickenson was hauled in front of the courts in April 1848. He was accused of breaking the regulations regarding the sale of alcohol on Good Friday. In those days – and until fairly recently – Good Fridays were treated as a Sunday. Selling booze before midday on that day was illegal. Mr Dickenson was caught and fined 20 shillings. That was £1 in old money and the equivalent of around £115 today. (Getting a drink on a Good Friday afternoon was hard work up to the Sunday licensing laws were liberalised in 1995). [1]

The pub was owned by its licensees for much of its early existence and they would also double as brewers at a small plant behind the pub. One of the last of those was Thomas Wright. He was the licensee in 1895 though prior to that, in 1891, he was at the Church Inn on Bamber Street. He was back in the Daubhill area on the next census in 1901 when he is described as a journeyman brewer living in Birkdale Street.

The pub was subsequently owned by three local breweries: Magee, Marshall’s; Tong’s and finally the  Bromley Cross firm of Hamer’s based at the Volunteer Inn. It fell into the hands of Dutton’s of Blackburn who took over Hamer’s in 1951 and then Whitbread’s when they bought out Dutton’s in 1964.

The Blue Boar was popular with Bolton's Irish community in the fifties and sixties. By the early eighties it was a two-roomed pub with a vault to the right of the entrance and a lounge in front, but a controversial refurbishment in the autumn of 1982 saw vault and lounge knocked into one large room, though the bar remained in the same place. There was sawdust instead of carpets on the floor and beams made from rough timber appeared along with farm implements and chains on the walls. [2]

Local drinkers noted the refurbishment with some horror although they were partly mollified by the reintroduction on real ale for the first time in a number of years. Castle Eden was initially on offer followed in 1983 by the cask version of Whitbread Trophy Bitter. [3]

By the summer of 1985 the sawdust had been replaced by carpets. [4]

In 1994, the Blue Boar became one of Whitbread’s Hogshead pubs meaning it sold a number of real ales. But Whitbread decided to get out of pubs and brewing and the Blue Boar was one of a parcel sold by the company to Enterprise Inns. Enterprise themselves later sold the pub and it was owned by a succession of individuals until its closure in July 2016. It was a live music venue around 2008/2009.

Oddly, the pub was owned by Bolton Council at the time of writing – April 2017. The council also owns the former Sweetens bookshop building. It is believed that the whole block will eventually be demolished to provide access to the car park to the rear although some rumours suggest it will become student accomodation.
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We’d love to think that the pub will one day re-open and we consign this entry to history, instead. That’s unlikely. Cultural vandalism might be one way to reduce the proportion of empty shops in the town, but what a sad and ignominious way to end almost 250 years of history.

[1] Manchester Courier, 29 April 1848
[2] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers’ magazine. January 1983
[3] What’s Doing, October 1983
[4] What’s Doing, August 1985

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