THE news that the council is planning to demolish a block of historic buildings in Bolton town centre gave us the idea of taking a closer look at the area.

Some of the town's oldest buildings will be knocked down in Deansgate to make way for a regeneration project.

Plans for the Croal Valley and Central Street form part of Bolton Council’s £1bn blueprint to transform the heart of the town over the next 12 years.

Bosses want to improve the environment by “opening up” the Croal and building houses and flats overlooking the improved river frontage.

But the ambitious plans would include the demolition of a block of buildings in Deansgate, some of which date back to the 18th century.

These include the former Blue Boar and the old Sweetens book shop, which had once been the King's Arms, a popular pub which also traces its origins to the 1700s.

The Blue Boar saw countless adventures during its lengthy existence.

From 1843 until around 1869 it was owned by one Thomas Dickenson. Mr Dickenson was apparently hauled in front of the courts in April, 1848, accused of breaking the regulations regarding the sale of alcohol on Good Friday. In those days – and until fairly recently – Good Fridays were treated as a Sunday. Selling booze before midday on that day was illegal. Mr Dickenson was caught and fined 20 shillings.

The pub was owned by its licensees for much of its early existence and they would also double as brewers at a small plant behind the pub.

The pub was subsequently owned by three local breweries: Magee, Marshall’s; Tong’s and finally the Bromley Cross firm of Hamer’s based at the Volunteer Inn. It fell into the hands of Dutton’s of Blackburn who took over Hamer’s in 1951 and then Whitbread’s when they bought out Dutton’s in 1964.

The Blue Boar was popular with Bolton's Irish community in the fifties and sixties and prior to its eventual closure in July, 2016, was known as a haunt for students and music fans.

The nearby King's Arms was run by the Stewart family in the early 19th century, with Thomas Stewart as landlord in 1818 and he had been succeeded by Ann Stewart – presumably his wife – in 1824. She was still listed as the licensee in the 1836 directory.

The pub brewed its own beer until the early part of the 20th century.

The noted author and local historian, the late Norman Kenyon, lived at the King’s Arms from his birth in 1917 until 1929. Norman’s father, Frank Kenyon, took over the pub the year before Norman was born and the family remained there until they left to run a fish and chip shop in St Helens Road.

The pub closed in 1962 and the premises became Chapter and Verse book shop in 1974 and then Sweetens in 1980. It finally closed in 2011 and has been boarded up since then.

Other buildings in the block marked for demolition include a former optical business which was founded in 1907 on the corner of Deansgate and Central Street. Next door was for many years Winterburn's book shop. It was taken over by WH Smith's in 1967 and later became the West End News Agency.

To the other side of the Blue Boar, and a small alley, known as Chapel Alley, stands a small branch of Greenhalgh's Bakery, which was at one time a florists.

Chapel Alley itself has seen tremendous changes. It used to lead to the former Albion Works and Velvet Walks, but now the area behind the properties is a car park.

Next door in the early 1900s stood a grocers and later a sports shop. It now stands empty.

Between the former grocers and Sweetens book shop was, believe it or not, another pub in the 19th century, the Hen and Chickens – not the same one as still stands on the other side of the road. In 1888 it became a seed merchants shop, and later a bakery. It is presently home to The Buttery sandwich shop.

On the corner of Deansgate and Ridgeway Gates, stood what was for many years the Fleetwood Fish Supply. The mock Tudor building was later a cafe and now, like most of the buildings, lies abandoned.

Behind the buildings was a hive of now forgotten activity.

As long ago as 1754, Duke's Alley Chapel was opened. The famous John Wesley is believed to have preached there on several occasions. It later became a Welsh Tabernacle in around 1900 and was demolished in 1968 to become a car park.