Pubs in their heyday

The Earl of Balcarres at Scholes

The Earl of Balcarres at Scholes

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PUBS are often said to have been the beating heart of community. Nowhere was that once more the case than in Scholes area before the former close-knit terraces were swept with the slum clearance programmes of the post-war period.

With rapid industrial growth in mining and foundry work, street corner beer houses sprang up within the streets and their numbers increased until the 1870s when there more than 64 between Greenough Street and Darlington Street East in 1900.

Although they were originally actually only licensed to sell beer, a good number of these “house pubs” would go on to acquire full licences while being extended or completely rebuilt by their owners, sometimes by buying up the adjoining terraced house to form a pub proper.

We may think that pub closures are something new - but pubs have actually been closing for 100 years. In fact, about a dozen Scholes pubs never made it any further than the first decade of the 20th century.

When the licence of Millgate’s Douglas Tavern came up for renewal in 1906, police objected stating that it was “hardly fit for a dwelling house, never mind a public house.”

Altogether a dozen Scholes pubs were closed in the first decade of the last century. These included The Raven, on Hardybutts and the Roebuck in Scholes, once opposite Vauxhall Road.

Another spate of closures had occured in 1903 when two Oldfield Brewery houses - the Traveller’s Rest and the Moulder’s Arms (once known as The Forge Inn) along with The Clockface (adjacent to School Lane), plus the Odd Fellows (at the junction of Upper Morris Street) all succumbed.

In 1911 it was the turn of Greenall Whitley to ask for permission to renovate the off-licence sales department of the surviving Balcarres Arms, which was agreed on condition that they closed the Red Lion.

Closure of pubs under the 1904 Compensating Act continued steadily right up to the time of the Great War, claiming pubs like the Waggon and Horses in Millgate, plus the Thatched House and Horse and Jockey in Scholes.

When the war broke out, the Government imposed a War Tax which increased the prices of a pint by a third.

Scholes’ Bird I’th’ Hand - owned by the Earl of Crawford but leased to the former Sumner’s brewery in Haigh - came under the scrutiny of the Magistrates in the 1915 sessions. The brewery had claimed that its popularity was proved by the four-and-half to five-and-a-half barrels of beer it sold per week.

Sadly for Sumner’s, the landlady let slip that the real figure was more like one-and-a-half-barrels and the pub was closed.

In comparison with the closures before the war, only a few Scholes pubs were taken from us in the years leading up to the Second World War.

Pubs could lose their licence for being “redundant” if there were judged to be too many licensed premises in an area.

And this was the reason given when The Gilbraltar, Scholes, came under the axe in 1921.

The Rope and Anchor closed in 1919 after the Chief Constable reported that it was being frequently flooded by the Douglas, leaving the cellar in 5ft of stinking water.

But there was another significant cull in the 1950s and 60s when The Grapes, The Vine, The Stag, The White Swan, the Shamrock and the Angel all shut.

Apart from The Earl of Balcarres, the ones which survived the longest were of the edge of slum clearance developments. They included The Foundry (claimded by Lidl in the 1980s) and the still operating Silverwell, the Crispin Arms in Birkett Bank, the Black Bull and Sam’s Bar (formerly Ther Ball and Boot).

Do you have any pub memories? Email jean.fisher@lancspublications.co.uk