It’s the 19th Century, and a woman sits alone in Bolton’s oldest pub Ye Old Man and Scythe having a quiet drink in the snug.
Suddenly she looks down, terrified, to see her hands and other parts of her body mysteriously streaming with blood. Fleeing in fear, later she discovers that she hasn’t got a single scratch on her. Not one.
This is just one of many blood-curdling tales to come out of Britain’s fourth-oldest pub, which today sits rather innocently in the town centre, looking the picture-perfect idyll of old-world country drinking.
Inside, it’s a different story. Indeed, time appears to have stopped here – or rather it remains very fluid for the estimated 53 different spirits that haunt the pub to this day.
From a 17th century Earl beheaded by Royalists directly outside (in a chair that is still there now), to a little girl called Jenny that’s known to pinch guests and pull on ladies skirts, the old pub is not short of ghoulish regulars.
Broken glass and moving furniture is a regular occurrence here and, according to landlord Richard Greenwood, ghostly activity happens on an almost daily occurrence.
He even says that none of his female staff will enter the cellar any more because, apparently, when they do they are touched by the spirit of a young boy – although there are also stories of a young woman hanging herself down there many years ago.
The old pub’s history can be traced back to 1251 and includes hundreds if not thousands of slaughtered townsfolk and.a brutal massacre that once saw blood running through the streets outside its doors.
The ancient building is said to be home to a huge range of spirits – including a ghost dog that’s known to lick the live-in manager’s feet when he lets them hang out of bed in the middle of the night.
Apparently, sometimes he’s woken up by his wet feet – but other nights, he stirs only to see the dog peacefully sleeping at the foot of his bed.
Its murderous past dates back to the English civil war and the storming of Bolton, which saw the town seized by Royalist forces in 1644.
In the spine-chilling battle that ensued to defend the town, around 1,600 soldiers and civilians were mercilessly slaughtered and left to lay in pools of blood outside the front of the Old Man and Scythe, or Cider ‘Ouse as it is often known today.
As if that wasn’t enough, the pub was then the scene of another gruesome murder just seven years later when James Stanley, the seventh Earl of Derby, was dragged from its bar and beheaded outside after a few hours of drinking.
In truth, the more we discover the more things just get stranger and stranger.
The Olde Man and Scythe made headlines first ini 2014 after CCTV captured a hooded figure emerging from the bar, surrounded by flickering lights before everything cuts out.
Two years later, it hit the headlines again when The Earl, whose spirit is said to haunt the old pub today, was allegedly “stolen” by Chinese artist Lu Pinguyan in 2016 – leading to international attention from the world’s media.
Artist Lu Pinguyan claimed at the time the ‘burglary’ was “an act of protest against England’s colonialist past”, leading the landlord to write and demand the late Earl’s safe return.
Suffice to say, then, this has to be one of the weirdest buildings in Greater Manchester. Not that stops locals in Bolton from popping in for a drink today.
From the outside its all black and white wooden beams, but step inside and you’ll find leaded windows and stone floors that date back to the early 20th-century.
Sitting near the Parish Church on the historic Churchgate, today it retains a cosy snug and a separate drinking room that in times past was often used for folk sessions and open mic nights.
On the back wall you’ll find a painted mural of the much-missed former landlord, John Jewitt, and outside there’s a small enclosed courtyard that doubles as a smoking area.
With adventurous ales provided by Enterprise Inns and topped up with brews local brewery Bank Top, there’s some good beers to be found on tap here – promising a pleasant afternoon of drinking if you can overlook their more spooky clientele.
Why not pop in for a pint on the weekend and see if you can spot any ghostly spirits for yourself. We double dare you.
According to Ticketmaster, this will be the seating plan for the AO Arena for Peter Kay’s gigs.
It’s a fully seated tour but every block is set to be in use.
Venue security and requirements
The show is strictly for people aged 15+.
The AO Arena has a few strict policies to keep gig-goers safe, so make sure to check entry requirements carefully before you travel.
For example, only one small bag per person is allowed, and bags like backpacks, travel cases and laptop bags are not permitted inside the arena.
All bags are scanned on entry to check for prohibited items like laser pens, flares, projectiles, weapons, drugs and alcohol, and even selfie sticks.
Featured image: Publicity picture
Man uncovers long lost photos in charity shop depicting historic suffragette march
Whilst digging away in a charity shop, a man has uncovered a set of old Victorian era glass slides depicting what appears to be Women’s Sunday – a suffragette march held in London, organised by Moss Side’s own Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
Amongst a heap of slides that appear to be taken sometime around the early 1900s, one depicts a large group featuring women in the signature stripy hats worn by the protest group.
What’s more their new owner, Ray Newman, has even suggested that one of the photos may depict Emmeline Pankhurst herself.
Writing on Twitter, he shared a thread of the images with his followers: adding short commentary to each one.
One the photo in question, he comments: “If you zoom in on the woman in dark clothing seen looking towards the camera from between two PCs she looks like Emmeline Pankhurst, or am I fooling myself?”
Others have chimed in with suggestions as to the date of the photograph, with one writing: “The boater straw hats plus mutton sleeves equals c.1910.”
Given that the Women’s Sunday protest was held just two years prior to this in 1908, it does seem possible that this incredibly old photograph has captured one of the biggest moments in the suffragette’s history.
The event, organised by Pankhurst’s WSPU, featured the organisation’s colours (purple, white and green) for the first time in public. In days leading up to the event, over 10,000 scarves in the colours were sold at two shillings and elevenpence each, whilst men donned ties in solidarity.
Held to persuade the then Liberal government to support votes for women, the march is thought to have been the largest demonstration to be held until then in the country – drawing around 30,000 women marched to Hyde Park in seven processions.
Of course, the photos not being dated or marked in any way, it is hard to know if these really are images of Emmeline Pankhurst and the historic march but there are quite a few people online speculating that it could well be.
Several have pointed to the seemingly large police presence (and one person claims to have counted eleven officers), suggesting that that could indeed point to it being a photograph of a large suffragette protest.
Elsewhere amongst the collection of photos, images show a stately home, school or institution with flamingos outside, what appears to be a boy scout troop or group of cadets armed with rifles, boaters on the water at Alexandra Park, and a number of people posing in period dress.
Writing above a picture that depicts an old British high street, Ray comments on how the glass slides are tricky to scan adding that he had to “do it with my phone against a bright white screen.”
He continues: “This is a high street… somewhere… c.1910, I’d guess. I can see a sign for an inn with an ‘excellent motor garage’ but can’t work out any more than that.”
Above another, he said: “A stately home, school or institution. There are statues of flamingos on the left. Definitely haunted. (House and slide.)”
Offering a fascinating look into a lost world, some of the images are over 100 years old and taken when photography was something of a new art form. Unlike today, when everyone has a camera in their pocket, to own a camera was something of a rarity – making these images even more intriguing.
If you would like to see the full thread of pictures uncovered by Ray, you can do so by clicking here.