A Bolton army veteran is trying to stop the "slow decline" of the town centre by bringing a coffee shop to his tattoo parlour.

Glen Clarke has owned the 1st Edition Tattoo Parlour on Bath Street for six years.

Last month, the born-and-bred Boltonian decided to add a coffeehouse to the front of his shop.

The 35-year-old, who has 25 tattoos, said: “As everything’s starting to shut down, I’m just trying to create a nice space for people to come in and relax and talk about the things they enjoy.

“All the shops seem to be closing down, everything seems to be going online. I’m just trying to create more of a unique space, really.”

The Bolton News: 1st Edition Tattoo & Coffee is located on Bath Street, in the town centre1st Edition Tattoo & Coffee is located on Bath Street, in the town centre (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

The coffee shop uses locally sourced ingredients, with milk sourced from Smithills, pastries from Hunters The Bakers, and honey from a farm in Johnson Fold.

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While in the army for seven-and-a-half years, Glen saw action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the born-and-bred Boltonian decided to get out after a "tough tour" where he dug up an improvised explosive device (IED).

After a secondary team came in to confirm the IED, they got blown up by a secondary device, leading to a three-day search to find one of their comrades.

Glen said: “Eventually we found him, we walked into ambush after ambush. The enemy knew we were missing him.”

Sadly, he had died.

Glen added: “After getting back from this tour, I was like ‘I don’t want to do that again’.”

The Bolton News: The shop's menu is conciseThe shop's menu is concise (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

Glen then decided to look for something artistic, and decided to go into tattooing – despite his mother’s doubts.

He said: “I always remember I told my mum when I was growing up that I wanted to be an artist, and she always used to say to me: ‘the only time you’ll make money is when you’re dead.’

“Because that’s when artists used to make money, when their art became relevant.

“But, tattooing seemed to be a way to be an artist and your work could be relevant, and you’d be able to make a living from it.

“I think there’s a lot of artists who want to be able to make a career from their art, but it’s a struggle.”

The Bolton News: Glen is a tattoo artistGlen is a tattoo artist (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

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At first, Glen worked in studios around Bolton and Manchester, before deciding to open his own tattoo parlour in Bolton.

Now out of the army for 13 years, Glen has taught three of the four artists who work at his tattoo parlour.

He now hopes his new coffee space will become a place for people to talk and learn.

Glen is already contacting veterans’ charity groups and mental health groups to create a safe space for people to speak about their experiences, young or old.

He added: “We’ll hopefully be entering into some charity work to help the community - and help ex-serving soldiers as well - to have a place where they can come and get a brew.”

If you have a story, I cover the whole borough of Bolton. Please get in touch at jack.fifield@newsquest.co.uk.