More from last weekend (19-20 Jan), with a trip to beautiful Bolton, always good for a GBG surprise or two.

Great place names here

The walk from the station to my new pub is a story of continued decline, with a string of boarded shops on and off Bradshawgate, and some tired looking recent GBG pubs (sadly, Sparkles isn’t one of them).

Sparkles sparkles after midnight

Yes, there’s the usual sprinkling of redbrick buildings,

“THE” is a great name for a building

and some fish’n’chip bargains

Cheaper than Wigan

but the pedestrianised shopping streets along Newport Street fail to stir the soul.

Grim up north

Wigan stole a march on Bolton with their impressive shopping developments in the last decade, and I begin a mental note to bury Bolton (pun intended) in my post.

It’s a good job the town still has some civic grandeur.

Town Hall

I had no idea where “Great Ale @ The Vaults” is, as I’ve never heard of the Vaults. I wandered aimlessly, trying to get WhatPub loaded while bumping into gentlefolk carrying Primark bags.

And then it hit me. It’s in the vaults of a shopping centre.

Proper shopping centre

And what a shopping centre it is, with the restoration of Victorian vaults a work of art to compare to Bradford’s Sunbridge Wells. I’ve no need for shops at my age, of course, but this is wonderful.

The Vaults

The highlight of my trip to the Gents is the scariest loo art of the year so far.


Great Ale will split opinion among pubbers, with a setting alongside chain restaurants, an excess of purple, and high tables.


Quite a contrast to the earthier Great Ale outlet at the market, this is the sort of flashy bar you expect from cutting edge places like Southport (e.g. Tap & Bottles). But it’s quirky and cheery and with helpful staff who want to offer you tasters, so beware.

A bit early for Bolton’s youth, the lunchtime custom came for four coffee drinkers, so my Outstanding beer probably needed the pulling through it got. Very tasty but not cool (NBSS 3).

Top lacings

To its credit, some really good pub snacks like cheese plates and local pork pies, but by now I had my mind set on goat curry.


Music was flooding the Vaults from an unmanned piano, an instrumental version of Boogie Wonderland. Stuff yer Las Vegas.


20 thoughts on “BOLTON – INTO THE VAULTS

    1. I agree, Mark, another naff name for a bar/micro/bottle shop. What’s wrong with Ye Olde King’s Head @ The Vaults, eh ?

      Is “player piano” the word for those automated things then ? I had an uncle who had a room in his house in the Fens full of automatons from the last century. Odd.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “an excess of purple,”

    The abundance of purple might be due to the fact that they won a Revo Purple Apple Award last year. ๐Ÿ˜Ž



  2. Divided opinion about purple lighting in drinking establishments. As if. You’ll have us choking on our flat Bass. Are you sure it’s not the bar formerly known as the Bass Museum? That had a purple stage when it’s Worthington E was served freezing cold in plastic glasses whilst being in the GBG.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was quite a savvy move to put another Great Ale in Bolton, as the removal of the old Bus Station where the market is, is costing business footfall over that side.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Bolton is indeed all over the place in many aspects of social interactions, renovations and generally curious building decisions.

        Liked by 1 person

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