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          Le Mans Crescent and Howell Croft South

028.10 Le Mans Crescent


The Town Hall Tavern at the right-hand end of the block which is now the Crescent, where the entrance to the magistrates’ court is. Notice it is on Victoria Square, at one time a large open space stretching from this row of buildings to the shops behind the cenotaph. Notice it is the Town Hall Tavern; the (first phase, front half of the) Town Hall was built in 1873, either an existing pub was renamed some time after 1873 or an existing building became a pub at that time. It is slightly out of context with the adjoining weavers’ cottages and was probably built as a pub. The whole block was demolished to make way for the Civic Centre crescent in 1925.

028 x127 site of La Mans Crescent 028 site of Le Mans Cresc 028.1 anne Littler

Right>> No-one is now likely to remember this. This is what was demolished to make way for the Crescent.This is at the oppostite end of the block from the Town Hall Tavern, where the Library is now.


Same picture but we have a nice clear one and one which extends a little further at each end.


We have S Taylor, purveyor of tea coffee and groceries, William Lees a motor coach proprietor who runs daily trips to Blackpool - though this may have been in the Bolton Holidays, and Naylor General Painter.


Above^^ Looking towards those buildings across the back corner of the not yet extended Town Hall. Naylor is now the Steam Printing Works (probably "printing" not "painting"), the sign has changed and the notices on what was Lees Garage now also say Sunlight. Further away we are looking towards what became the market and the bus station so we are seeing the chimneys of the Bessemer Furnace and Hicks engineering works. This picture was posted on Facebook by Anne Littler.


Bottom>> These cars seem to have been put here for a reason, not merely parked.

028.0 XPP TH plus old bldgs 026.6 028.2

June 1930

Demolition of buildings behind the Town Hall in preparation for building the Crescent. Again we are looking at chimneys between Blackhorse Street and Moor Lane.

028.20 XPP Eagle & Child, Back Spring Gdns, behind crescent

Immediately behind Howell Croft and parallel with it were Spring Gardens, Back Spring Gardens and Queen Street. This picture was taken from the top end of Queen St,  looking across to the Eagle and Child on Back Spring Gardens. The building on the left is labelled "Mission Hall & Ragged School" on an 1891 map. It is Queen Street Mission which retained that name after it moved to Central Street.

Grafitti even in those days!

028.35 XPP 1933, work started in 1931 028.32 XPP Le Mans Crescent

Work on the extension of the Town Hall and the building of the Civic Centre, (The Crescent, later Le Mans Crescent) started in 1931. These pictures are dated 1933.

028.40 XPP 1928 Civic Week Town Hall not yet extndd, see through to Vic Sq shops. Howell Croft is against Town Hall so we are on Spring Gardens or Bk Sp Gdns

1928 Civic Week

The Town Hall is not yet extended and it is possible to see through to the Victoria Square shops. Howell Croft is against Town Hall so we are on Spring Gardens or Bk Spring Gdns. Demolition for Crescent and Town Hall extension is now complete. Just off the picture on the left a pair of semi-detached houses were built for Civic Week.

26.7 1993.83.07.06[1] 26.8 arches Bp&p

Bolton Archives

Probably 1937  from the Humphrey Spender "Worktown" project.

You can see the gas works, Elim Chapel, Albion and Mason's fireplaces.


Looking through the arches in Le Mans Crescent across to Moor Lane and Masons. Inspector J H Lythgoe,who had served for over 33 years, on Periwinkle, the force’s youngest horse, with the section’s youngest member PC John Tomlinson ex Dragoon Guards on a more experienced horse. Periwinkle was often known as Perry, the other horse is Howdy (or How-do-you-do) according to respondents to a facebook posting. Dorothy Bernal:- The chestnut on the right looks like Howdy who was at Firwood in the 60s. Isabel Jackson:- Yes Dorothy it is Howdy and the horse on the left is Perry. She was so well-trained she even knew when the traffic lights changed!!

027.5 Bolton Archive 260 1953

The Crescent ready for the Coronation in 1953

027.5 Bolton Archive 260 1953 bike 027.5 c 24sep2009

24th September 2009

Le Mans Crescent

028.8 XPP Town Hall Hotel, Old Hall St South, old wholesale market behind Howell Croft Sth bus stn

We are now on the South side ot the Town Hall (if you were looking at the Town Hall steps, this would be on your left) and the Town Hall is behind us. Here is the far end of the line of cars we saw just above. The picture features the Town Hall Hotel and Old Hall St South with the old wholesale market behind Howell Croft Sth bus station in the distance.

028.70 XPP c1920

The line of cars again, the Town Hall is immediately off picture on the left. We see the gable of the Town Hall Hotel and to its left the row of shops very familiar to people before the widening of Newport Street at the end of the 1950s.Going forward on the right hand edge of the picture is Howell Croft South with a row of properties then the Magee's bonded warehouse and Great Moor Street in the far distance.

There are two stone buildings one on the left and one on the right, both of which used to be libraries.

To the left we see the Exchange building at the Newport Street corner(of Victoria Square. This was erected in the 1820s as a newsroom for subscribers. Later a library for members was opened upstairs. Subsequently the building housed Public Library Departments from 1853 until 1938 and in recent times has been occupied by the Nationwide Building Society and Coral Betting.

In the South-west corner of Victoria Square (opposite the library steps) was Victoria House. This was opened as a lending library in 1893 and remained as such until the new Public Library in the Crescent was ready for occupation in 1938. 12 July 1948 the building opened its doors as the Victoria (Civic) Restaurant but this closed in May 1951. Since then the building has housed National Insurance and local government offices before going full circle with the opening of the Bibliographic Services Unit of the Bolton Public Libraries Department several years ago until its demolition and replacement by Wellsprings. The picture above is sometime in the 1920s.

028.31 Town Hall c1934


Work is well underway with the Crescent and with the Town Hall extension. You can see the old back or the Town Hall still intact in the middle of the new building.  There is a startling contrast between the pristine whiteness of the new building and the smoke soiled blackness of the older part.Behind the clock tower is the still clean Oxford Street Co-op and also still clean is the building on the corner of Deansgate and Knowsley Street erected c1930. The lines of Old Hall Street and Howell Croft are clearly seen, now divided by the Town Hall. The Wholesale Market and Magee's bonded warehouse are at the bottom of the picture with Ashburner Street going almost all the way across.



A very early picture of the Victoria Building. Victoria Square to the left, Howell Croft South forward on the right. Note that at the right hand end of the building we have a window whereas all other pictures have a door – so this dates it to before all the other pictures,

from collection of Angela Thompson

028.5 x 124 Crescent 028.6 1979 028.6 2009 Sep 24

Victoria Building as the Victoria Restaurant which closed in May 1951 though this picture must be later in the 1950s because all the buildings between it and Newport Street have been demolished.

August 1979, Victoria House on the corner of Victoria Square and Howell Croft South. Workmen sandblasted the stonework in a belated spring-clean which cost more than £950.

28 September 2009 ©WDC

The same corner but the site is now occupied by the Wellsprings building with main tenants Barclays Bank then later Bolton News.  The Octagon Theatre can just be seen on the right.

032 x65 Howell Croft south 032.9 Howell Croft South


Howell Croft South

. We stand right in the middle of where the Octagon Theatre is now, but it is still very recognisable, the back corner of the library, Lever Chambers having an upper storey added.  Do you remember the tobacconist on the corner? The building just sneaked on at the left is Magee’s bonded warehouse now covered by the Octagon multi-storey car-park.  The cars are beginning to look quite modern.

Howell Croft South. The new shops on Newport Street and Great Moor Street have been completed but we still have the Magee’s bonded warehouse, there is no Octagon and the Howell Croft bus terminus is still in use. No demolition yet at Dawes Street or Hick Hargreaves.


034 x180 Ashburner St 030.5 posted by Angela Thompson 1970s 030.4 XPP Howell Croft South 1957.


The Prince of Wales (later to be Edward VIII) visits Bolton

We have the Octagon Theatre but not the car park, thpough Howell Croft South Bus station has now been discontinued.  We can see the new shops on Great Moor Street.  Posted on Facebook by Angela Thompson.

Howell Croft South 1957.

The site cleared shortly before building of the Octagon Theatre, c1960. The whole of the Battersby Singer block on Victoria Sq has gone as have the old premises along Howell Croft.

On the next page we will explore Ashburner Street, Coronation Street and Old Hall Street South before setting off along Newport Street.

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