Stockport & South Manchester

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Campaign for Real Ale

Weekday Wander - Bolton

Tuesday 29 November 2022

This Weekday Wander to Bolton has been shoehorned into the timetable because the convenient direct trains may or may not be on the new [December 11] timetable (this is being prepared before the timetable is announced). Not that there are going to be no trains to Bolton, but direct travel is in jeopardy, but connections will always be possible.

After a scenic stroll around and through some of the Victorian splendour of Bolton a.k.a. the Town Hall, Cenotaph, Library and Museum, we will take advantage of Tuesday being market day and visit One For The Road in the Market Hall. Opening hours are limited by the market, but these are still 9:30am to 5:30pm! Like many market hall outlets, seating is shared with neighbouring stalls, so can be busy at times. The advantage is, many of these are food stalls from such places as Malaysia and Cameroon, with more local Wigan pies and Bury Black puddings for the less adventurous.

On leaving we turn left and perambulating along Black Horse Street (passing the old bus station) the Hen and Chickens can be found on your right as you reach the Deansgate junction. This is a proper traditional town centre pub, which was much busier when the town's bus station stood across the road. Originally a two roomer, it has been made into a single room, but not barn like, and definite retaining its two sides.

While travelling to our next pub, time must be taken to salute Bolton's most famous celebrity. Who do I mean you ask. Samuel Crompton? Hylda Baker? William Lever? Sarah Cox? Ian McKellan? If I were to say "One mistake up here and it's half a day out with the undertaker!" would you know? As we will be passing, we must visit the statue erected to Fred Dibnah, along with a working steam engine [unfortunately powered by electricity — having someone permanently stoking the boiler would be very impractical!]

Next up we will be visiting the Olde Man and Scythe down by the Parish Church [with weather vanes repaired by Fred]. Reputedly the fourth oldest pub in Britain, but defiantly being around in the Civil War as it accommodated the 7th Earl of Derby's before he had a "little off the top" in 1651 outside the pub's doors. As you would expect from an old establishment, the floors are stone flagged and the inevitable wooden beams are low. Unfortunately the prices aren't in groats nor is the beer served in earthenware pots.

Heading back towards the station we have two options, both situated either side of Nelson Square, where, confusingly there is also a "spare" cenotaph which duplicates [in function not architecture] that seen earlier in Victoria Square opposite the Town Hall. You can't say that Bolton does things by half!

Option one is Bolton's Wetherspoon outlet, the Spinning Mule. This isn't named after some psychotic Equus asinus x caballus which is chasing its own tail, but a revolution in cotton manufacture invented by the aforementioned Samuel Crompton. There is no example of a typical factory mule internally [they could be up to 150 feet long by 5 foot travel!] but there is a statue of Samuel outside in Nelson Square.

Option two can't be entered before 4pm, but is very conveniently on the other side of the square. Northern Monkey Bar is associated with the brewery of the same name, so expect two of their beers, along with guests. Originally the Northern Monkey Brewery was housed in this former Italian restaurant but is now in a local industrial estate. The food on offer continues this link with its former incantation, being in the form of pizzas. If intending catching the 4:54pm train home this visit might need to be fleeting as you need to allow a good 15 minutes travel time because the Manchester bound platforms feel to be halfway back to Piccadilly.

11:00am11:10amMeet Stockport Rail Station
11:11am11:50amCatch Hazel Grove to Blackpool train [all station to Piccadilly]. Arrive Bolton 11:50
12noon1:00pmOne For The RoadStalls F14, Ashburner Street Lifestyle Hall, Bolton BL1 1TJVarious
1:05pm2:00pmHen & Chickens143 Deansgate, Bolton BL1 1EXPies
2:05pm2:10pmFred DibnahOxford Street and Deansgate junction
2:15pm3:45pmOlde Man & Scythe6-8 Churchgate, Bolton BL1 1HL
two options
5:00pmSpinning MuleUnit 2, Nelson Square, Bolton BL1 1JTVarious
Northern Monkey BarNelson Square, Bolton BL1 1AQPizza
5:10pm5:51pmAlderley Edge train, all stations Piccadilly to Stockport. Arrive Stockport 17:51
5:22pm6:01pmHazel Grove train, all stations Piccadilly to Stockport. Arrive Stockport 18:01
5:55pm6:35pmAirport train to Piccadilly then express Cross Country to Bornmouth. Arrive Stockport 18:35

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