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   West end of Deansgate

Spa Road and Marsden Road

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c1957 King Street goes down the west side of the GPO. This corner of Deansgate and King Street is where Manchester stores moved to from Victoria Square. We see the block to the left (west) of the GPO which is presently (2018 and some tears prior) a car park. Further left still we see the corner of the Greyhound pub.

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King St off Deansgate where Samuel Crompton died having lived there for the last few years of his life – demolished 1973

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John Booth’s steel works, its address is Back King Street but that is behind the works relative to our viewpoint. The street we are on with the bridge over the River Croal is St Edmund’s Street. Booth’s headquarters was out of town at the junction of St Helens Road with Hulton Lane.


“Build with steel” “Town works of John Booth and Sons”. This picture is from a book (?) and I only have access to this fairly poor copy. The original had a caption “Booth’s Back King Street foundry. Crompton’s old mill is on the left. This ... in 1938 after this photograph .....”.  

Does “Crompton’s old mill” mean St Helena Mill? – I have seen a statement that Samuel Crompton occupied that mill but have never seen any evidence and have doubts. I am pretty sure he never owned it.


Gordon Readyhough (Bolton Town Centre – A Modern History) says “Crompton rented the top floor of a factory (owned by John Booth and sons from 1894). For many years a board attached to the roof announced that ‘In this ancient Mill Samuel Crompton first worked his spinning mule 1800’ and Crompton’s tenancy is apparently mentioned in the mill deeds.”

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1950 Deansgate, a little west of the GPO. The statue of Our Lady carried by women members of the St Edmund’s procession in May 1950. Behind the parade – the Greyhound pub and Beardsworth’s hairdressers.

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a little further west still with St Edmund’s Street to the left of Holroyd’s. The fire station tower is visible above the roof.

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On the other side of Deansgate we have Blackhorse Street. On the front we see John Bolton 155 Deansgate, and on the left into the picture P Critchley 1 Blackhorse St.

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Black Horse c1920

The Black Horse Hotel was located on Blackhorse Street and dated back to the late-eighteenth century.

Blackhorse Street was initially known as Thweat Street and was named after James Thweat, whose surname was often spelt Thweats or Thwaites. He opened one of Bolton’s first cotton mills in King Street just across Deansgate from here. Isaac Dobson lived at the pub shortly after he arrived in Bolton in 1789 and while he was resident there it became a meeting point for some of the town’s most prominent business people - many of them owning the brass works, iron works etc between this street and Moor Lane.

Isaac and Benjamin Dobson, Peter Rothwell and Benjamin Hick, formed ‘the Black Horse Club,’ where they met informally but no doubt talked business and local politics. Samuel Crompton, who at this time lived in King Street would sometimes meet with them. He seems to have been was famed for "sitting with his one glass of ale and seldom speaking, except when directly addressed, and then always briefly and to the point.”

In Crompton's later years of poverty the Black Horse Club members contributed money to give Crompton an annuity of £63 15s.

All dressed up and (presumably) somewhere to go. The Black Horse Hotel. Picture from David Whenlock.

March 1969

Blackhorse Street widened; Greyhound pub, West End chippy


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Aug 1937 Humphrey Spender “Worktown” photo.


The Gypsy’s Tent is on the left edge.  Behind the bus is the Diamond Jubilee Building so-called for Queen Victoria’s celebrations in 1897. This is the old Salt Pie Mill; it has a new frontage on Marsden Road; how much more of the old mill was rebuilt at this time is unclear.

Aug 1937 Humphrey Spender “Worktown” photo.


The Bolton Motor Co Ltd occupied the building for many years but in more recent times it was well-known as the home of ESB motor cycles.

Just round the corner is the White Lion Hotel from which White Lion Brow opposite gets its name. For some years up to about 2016 the building housed  a sports wear wholesaler. At the moment (2018) it is occupied by a firm of solicitors. Posted on Facebook by Paul Barlow and Gene Watts.

At the end of Deansgate we have White Lion Brow, the junction of Deansgate, Moor Lane, Marsden Road and Spa Road.  On the corner of Spa Road is the Gypsy’s  Tent at one time including “Romany’s”. This was converted into flats in 2017/8 after bring empty for a number of years. Then beyond Chorley Street was have the Navada Skating Rink an further away still, British Hardware and Tools.

   Fire Station corner, Deansgate, Marsden Road

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FireStation c1900 The Bolton Evening news seem to have made the fire-station its favourite photographic topic  going by the frequency with which it appeared in the paper. The pictures were never the same however, there seemed to be a never-ending redesign of the junction, no island, one island, a few islands, “Silly Isles”, traffic lights. Although we think of the fire-station we knew and loved, so much better than the monstrosity which has replaced it, in fact the building itself changed over the years, its original fancywork being gradually removed and the shops around the corner disappearing. We now have shops again on the ground floor of Marsden House.


Note the fancy tower, the balustrades and finials round the roof, two enhanced frontages with raised roofs and dormer windows. The road junction seems to be clear of islands, bollards etc.


Bolton Corporation Gas Department; Crane and Sons, high on frontage Crane’s Pianos.


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Picture posted by Peter Lodge

Very similar to previous; ironwork on the three parts of the building with dormers is not visible on the previous picture but that is probably a fault with the picture – but what is the structure in the middle of the road?

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Fire station and horse drawn fire-engine

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Fire Station decorated for the coronation of Edward VII

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Date not known

Building almost same but dormers removed from raised roofs. Bolton Corporation Gas Dept replaced by Evans sign writers. Lamp-post in middle of junction. Be wise, Buy, Bolton co-op, Bread

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Balustrade still round corner but finials and fancy gables gone, raised roof at left hand end has gone, plain tower. Silly Isles. Still Evan's Sign Writers

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OUR photograph is a view of the roundabout junction complete with flowers galore — at Marsden Road and Deansgate in July, 1955. The main building housed the fire brigade and we can also see Metro Dyers and Cleaners. Unfortunately, the beautiful building has gone — along with the roundabout replaced by traffic lights — and a modern development now stands there housing the Cinnamon restaurant, Pizza Hut, a pharmacy and shops. At the junction of Deansgate and Moor Lane, to the right, the original White Lion building still stands, but is now Matchwinners, a supplier of sports wear, trophies and equipment. (2018 - a solicitors) At the corner of Spa Road and Marsden Road, just out of view, stands the derelict Gypsy's Tent public house (2018 converted to flats). We can also see, just coming out of Deansgate, the number 19 bus to Doffcocker, with Holroyds Cycles, just behind it. Drivers those days seemed to find their way with minimal signage - just a small sign in the middle of Marsden Road pointed the way to Manchester, Bury and Burnley, and in Deansgate were directions to Leigh and Wigan.

Balustrades gone, plain brickwork, Evans gone, Metro cleaners still there, Silly Isles, Bolton Corporation bus


Allen’s the cleaners. On the right is the Hippodrome Theatre and the Hen and Chickens. On the right edge of the picture is one of Magee’s warehouses.


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1963 Demolition of Mason’s warehouses, probably the last remnants of the Bessemer Foundry. A railway line from Great Moor Street ran to here.

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Building the same with Allens the cleaners

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Just round the corner is the White Lion Hotel from which White Lion Brow opposite gets its name. For some years up to about 2016 the building housed  a sports wear wholesaler. At the moment (2018) it is occupied by a firm of solicitors. Posted on Facebook by Paul Barlow and Gene Watts.



No shops, windows on right make it look abandoned, has the new fire-station already been built by this point?

August 1998


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May 2001 - White Lion Brow, Marsden Road High-Level, old fire station demolished  

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May 2001 St Edmund Street, old fire station demolished  

St Edmund's Church, St Edmund's Street. At the bottom of St Edmund’s Street is Bolton’s oldest surviving mill, St Helena Mill built in 1777. Date c1900? Is the house the Presbytery (RC Vicarage)? Perhaps the figure on the steps is the priest.

not a lot changed in September 2016

April 2004 ©David Whenlock


Starting construction of Marsden House, the much hated replacement for the old fire-station. Critics should note that much of the original ornamentation of the firestation had been removed long before it was demolished. However the Council and the builders promised to retain many of the features of the frontage which remained. In the event reasons were found which made it impossible to retain these features. People do wonder if the promise was ever intended to be taken seriously.


The original walls would not have supported the weight of the much higher structure we have now but in any case, if new foundations had been provided inside the original and the old walls pinned to the new it is hard to see how the old and new could have blended aesthetically.

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24 September 2009 too tall and oppressive, lost the fine detail of the ground floor with its arched doorways, but the building as a whole has detail, it is not simpy bland and featureless, and is not as different from the firestation immediately before demolition as people like to claim.

24 September 2009 same junction with White Horse Brow off to the left. Note the rather pleasing St George's House in the far distance, the Diamond Jubilee Building (Salt Pie Mill) has survived so far, the Gypsy's Tent is on the extreme left, soon to close as a pub and the White Horse (closed some years before) is on the extreme right.

20 September 2016 a view along Marsden Road (the High-Level Bridge

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9 September 2013 closer view of St George's Court, an imaginative and rather attractive, whimsical maybe, block of apartments.

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plus west end of St George's Rd

26130 St George's Road, Marsden Road March 1955 - 26140 St Georges Rd, ToppWay1981 26145 St George's Rd 26146 St George's Rd garage - Copy 26147 1998 2940 IMG3_0990 - Copy 26150 2013 08 09 44 - Copy 26160 2013 08 09 45 - Copy 26170 St George's Road, Marsden Road VinceWayne 26180 2013 08 09 46 - Copy 26210 Crofters - Copy 26200 St Georges Rd, Crofters - Copy 26190 1998 2920 IMG3_0988 - Copy 26250 2013 08 09 47 - Copy 26260 181.9 Moor Lane from Marsden Road Lilian Whittle Moore, Bolton Lancs Bygone Days 26220 crofters 26280 172.7 XPP Chorley St., donkey stone maker 26290 ele 0050 elephants, Bridson Croft, Chorley St 26291 ele 0060 elephants Dennis Pilling 26300 Bolton Royal Infirmary 26310 infirmary post card 26320 infirmary pc2 26330 1998 2932 IMG3_0989 icopy - Copy 26340 172 24sep2009 small 26350 170 x110b Spa Road small 26360 ele 0250 P9201498 small 26370 169.7 SpaRdDW - enhanced 26380 2016 09 20 490 Spa Rd Chorley St, Salt Pie M 26390 Spa Road 26430 172 x212 Spa Road - Copy 26450 ele 0200 P9201496 small 26450 h15 26460 h25 small 26470 h26b

Bolton News picture and text. This is a old photograph showing an area of Bolton town centre that we assume few Looking Back readers will recognise -- ut we know there will be one or teo eagle-eyed history enthusiasts who will not be fooled. This was a time when many people lived in or near the town centre. That must have been handy for shopping and work -- no doubt many local trsidents would have shopped at Bolton Market, both the fruit and vegetable section as well as the fish market.We believe that the photograph was taken in the early part of the 20th century and shows part of Spa Road but all the buildings you can see here have since been demolished. We wonder if we can see part of the Bolton Royal Infirmary.......


No you can't. The ornate Victorian building just a little of which pokes up above the embankment is the Chadwick Museum which is just inside Queen's Park alonside Park Road just opposite its junctions with  Gilnow Road. The photograph is probably NOT taken from Spa Road itself but from the end of one of the short streets going north from Spa Road. To get to that spot now go about 100 yards from Park Road along Croal Street, not Spa Road.

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March 1955 - changes to the road layout at the corner of St George's Road and Marsden Road. The shops we see on this corner were to be replaced by Topp way and St George's Court

1981 the new Topp Way ploughs its way through the shops on the corner. St George's Road is left and right from this junction.

Probably 1950s, a view straight along the fine Georgian street which is St George's Road. The chapel on the left still stands. St George's Road Congregational Church (now St Andrew and St George URC) still has its steeple (removed in 1969). The Co-op Drapery (maybe Prescription Pricing Authority by this time) retains its  pagoda .

Probably 1960s. The garage has replaced the chapel. The Sunday School behind still stands.

August 1998 - St George's Road. No steeple, no pagoda.

9 August 2013. The end of Marsden Road. The single storey building on the left actually has three floors with its ground floor on Bark Street. The building on the corner had been built as the Workshops for thr Blind. We see that St Georde's Court has ben built and Topp Way has been open for some years.

9 August 2013 Workshop for the Blind now in use for other purposes. A pleasant enough looking building though with no particular features.

St George's Road up from the Marsden Road corner - Workshops for the Blind on the left. Tyson and Gill tile company. Another pleasant enough building which is in complete contrast to what replaced it. It featured on the original Bolton Elephant Walk though I never found the elephant. Picture posted on Facebook by Vince Wayne.

9 August 2013. St Catherine's House is what replaced it. name??

August 1998 St George's Road, Vernon Street on the right.

St George's Road and the Crofters 1951.

St George's Road from the Crofters with Chorley off to the right.

c1910 The Crofters, we have tram lines and the date is after electrification. The posts were supports for the cables - more clearly seen on the one at the right. There is no sign at all of any motor vehicles. Despite being on a tram route we still have horse cabs and the main feature of the picture is the cabbies' hut. The public fountain is now near the entrance to Moss Bank Park

We now return to the Gypsy's Tent corner in preparation for our journey along Spa Road.

Above left: 9 August 2013 (C)WDC A view back over the High Level Bridge. Marsden House has by now replaced the old firestation.

Above right: picture posted by Lilian Whittle Moore on Bolton Lancashire Bygone Days.

Moor Lane from Marsden Road. We see Magee’s warehouse, White Lion and on the right of Moor Lane the gas works, Harry Mason’s fireplace maker and extreme right the Gypsy' Tent.

Buildings behind the White Horse, probably including the Magees warehouse brgan life as railway goods warehouses, served by a single track from Gt Moor Street goods yard. They closed c.1928 when the Bessemer Forge, Bolton Iron works, Bolton Brass works etc were demolished. One of the buildings beyond what we can see was used by Harry Mason & Sons as a warehouse for some years prior to demolitiom in c.1962.

24 September 2009 we see the Gypsy’s  Tent at one time including “Romany’s” now closed down and for sale. This was converted into flats in 2017/8 after being empty for a number of years. Beyond Chorley Street is the Lads and Girls Club on the old Nevada site.

We take a short detour down Chorley Street where we see the local donkey stone maker. The name comes from the facf that one of the earliest and best known stone had a picture of a donkey impressed into it.

Elephants on the gateposts of Bridson’s Croft at the bottom of Chorley Street. You may well have passed them if you walked from the Infirmary into town.

These were made of cast iron and weigh more than half a ton each. They were removed in 1977 when that area was demolished and  donated to the town by the then owners, William Kay Timber Importers and were put into storage somewhere.

The Marks and Spencer Charity Canopy was built in 1984 and the elephants took pride of place on the brick columns either side. The canopy was demolished in 2014 and the elephants disappeared again for a little while.

They are now to be seen on top of the pizza kiosk between Lever Chambers and the Octagon Car Park.

keep walking up Chorley Street and you would have reached the Bolton Royal Infirmary.

In 1998 the Infirmary ws no more.

Back to Spa Road


Looking back to Deansgate having just gone into Spa Road, St Paul’s Church is on the right. The row of shops to the left of the Gypsy's Tent is still standing (January 2019).

Similar view, 2017. There is a new building on Chorley Street but the row of shops between that and the Gypsy's Tent date from 19th century.

Picture from David Whenlock’s collection substantially improved by WDC. Picture is later than 1899 when the Marsden Road firestation was built. The nearer row of houses on Spa Road itself were demolished in the first half of the twentieth century being replaced by the cinema which became Navada skating rink. Then we see buildings on Chorley Street as it goes down to the left. Some have been replaced but the right most shops are still standing. Over the roofs we can see part of Salt Pie Mill with Harry Mason painted on the side and the top of the firestation.

September 2016


The alley way at the left corner of the pub leads to Salt Pie Yard. Salt Pie Mill is seen over the roofs of the old houses/shops, though it is not clear whether this is the original Mill or a rebuilding when it

became the Diamond Jubilee Building in 1897 when at least the whole frontage was renewed.


Towering over the whole scene is Marsden House - apartments which replaced the firestation in 2004, the firestation having been demolished in 2001.

Spa Road, clearing the old Nevada site  May 2001


The old Bolton Corn Mill, Spa Mill, a building later owned by Fisher Raworth & Co, and the building starting life in 1909 as the Olympia skating rink, becoming the Regal Cinema, then Navada skating rink, burned down by an arson attack in 1985. Now Bolton Lads and Girls Club Bolton Lads Club having changed its name and moved into a new purpose built building here in 2002.

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1985 Picture by Owen Lythgoe

Navada after the fire.


Navada skating rink. Built as a skating rink, then Olympia Cinema, then New Olympia, then the Regal and finally back to skating/dancing as the Navada. It burned down in an arson attack in 1985, was derelict for many years, is now Bolton Lad’s and Girls’ club who were in Bark Street previously as Bolton Lads’ Club.

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Bolton News. Working on garden area between Spa Road and Garside Street.

Spa Road, the old electricity offices. In the brick building behind, Bolton’s electricity was generated before the move to Back o’ th’ Bank.

Almost at the far end of Spa Road, the footway under the railway leading to the part of Deane known as the Pocket.

Close to the top of Spa Road,the River Croal where it starts to be cobbled.

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