Two views of the Woodmans Cottage. The 1950s shot at the top shows the pub on the left with Moor Lane bending away in the distance. The Old Three Tuns Hotel can just be seen on the right. The second view (below) is from August 2015 (copyright Google Street View) and shows roughly the same sport.
The Woodmans Cottage was situated at the junction of three thoroughfares: Deane Road, Moor Lane and Derby Street. Its address was variously given as Moor Lane, Blackburn Street and finally, 2 Deane Road. While that suggests it was the first building on the road it was actually part of a block that ran from Stanley Street South to Lupton Street. Its next door neighbour for many years was Kay's pawnbrokers (as can be seen in the image at the top of the page).
The area from where Deane Road meets Mayor Street right down to the junction of Moor Lane and Deansgate was one of the most densely-pubbed areas of Bolton in the middle of the nineteenth century. So much so that when local magistrates were given powers to close down beerhouses in 1869 they targeted that area – Moor Lane in particular.
However, the Woodmans Cottage was one of the first beerhouses in the area after an Act Of Parliament passed in 1830 made it easier to open licenced premises selling beer only. It was certainly in existence by the mid-1830s. Jonathan Haslam appears in the 1836 Bolton Directory as a beer seller on Moor Lane a few doors along from the junction with Stanley Street which ties in with the site of the Woodmans Cottage. At that time, his only competition came from the Britannia Hotel, just across the road, the Old Three Tuns, a little further down from the Britannia, and the Dog and Partridge at the junction of Partridge Street next to the railway bridge.
Jonathan Haslam died in 1845 at the age of 65. By 1849 John Cooper was running the Woodmans Cottage though by 1851 he was at the White Hart on Pikes Lane. By 1861, his wife Jane was at Broom House on Deane Church Lane where she was described as a 'fundholder' – or living off her investments. Presumably, John Cooper had passed away.
William Parkinson was at the pub by 1853, but by 1861 it was run by Samuel Openshaw. He previously ran the Horse and Vulcan, a pub further along Blackburn Street, as the lower end of Deane Road was then known. However, by 1861 he was brewer and beerseller at the Woodmans Cottage where he lived with his wife Sarah. Sadly, Sarah died in 1866 aged just 32. Samuel married Ann Barnes in 1867 and by 1871 he was at the Gibraltar Rock further up Pikes Lane. He died in 1874.
The future of the Woodmans Cottage came under threat at the licensing renewals of 1900. Three local inhabitants plus members of the local temperance party objected to the pub's licence being renewed. They claimed the pub's closure would be “for the good of the town”.  The licensee at the time was Ralph Hall. He had only been at the pub for a few years and no offences had been reported against the house for over 30 years. Quite what Mr Hall had done to raise the ire of the temperance party isn't reported, but the magistrates agreed to renew its licence only if he was dismissed. By 1901 he was living with his in-laws in nearby Shaw Street and was working as a carder in a local cotton mill.
Ralph Hall was succeeded by Walter Copple – or, more likely, by his wife Annie. Walter was a coach painter by trade and he was still painting coaches while he was at the pub. Annie Copple had been brought up in the pub trade – her father ran the Mill Hill Tavern amongst others – so it's more likely that she ran the pub. The couple went on to run the Queen Anne on Junction Road (by 1911) and the Swiss Hotel on Southern Street in Halliwell (certainly by 1918 and he was still there in 1924). Walter had retired to Osborne Grove, off Chorley Old Road, by the time he died in 1928 at the age of 64.
Interestingly, in 1924, Walter Copple's nephew, Walter Tyrer Copple, ran a cabinet-making business from premises on Moor Lane just a few doors down and on the same row as the Woodmans Cottage.
By the early twentieth century, the Woodmans Cottage had become a rare tied house in Bolton for the Openshaw Brewery Company of West Gorton in Manchester. Openshaw was taken over by the Hope and Anchor Breweries Ltd of Sheffield in 1957. Hope and Anchor was later to become part of the Bass empire. However, the Woodmans Cottage didn't get that far. It closed in 1959. The property was demolished in the late-sixties and for many years the site formed part of the Stanley Street car park next to the fire station (opened 1971).
Construction of the Bolton Sixth Form College building began in 2009 on the site of the car park. It was completed in 2010 and the furthest extremity of the complex next to the fire station marks the site of Woodmans Cottage.