Please cite this article as:

Swain, P. Benjamin Bradley Hart, the All-England Sprint Champion of the 1820s and 30s, In Day, D. (ed), Pedestrianism (Manchester: MMU Sport and Leisure History, 2014), 34-56.



Benjamin Bradley Hart, the All-England Sprint Champion of the 1820s and 30s

Peter Swain



From the middle of the eighteenth century onwards the small town of Bolton, in Lancashire, started to experience the sort of accelerating structural changes that were taking place elsewhere across Britain surrounding industrialization and urbanization. These changes led eventually, by the mid-nineteenth century, to the emergence of the factory system and municipal conurbations in which many villages became suburbs and farmlands were covered over with brick.[1] By the 1780s, this process was well underway in the south-east Lancashire cotton town with the development of a commercial centre as the inventions of Kay, Hargreaves, Arkwright and Samuel Crompton, in particular, started to impact on its cotton trade. The Mule, Crompton’s invention in 1779, at Hall i’th’ Wood in the nearby township of Tonge, gave an immense impetus to this trade and by the end of the eighteenth century Bolton was becoming well-known as a centre for specialist cotton spinning and weaving.[2] This centre was, like most common industrial configurations of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, surrounded by a circle of straggling industrial villages and one of these, near Bolton, was the township of Deane.[3] At the heart of this township was the old church of St. Mary the Virgin, erected in 1452, and it was here that Benjamin Hart married Mary Bradley on 7 January, 1784.[4] Twelve children ensued from the marriage, including Benjamin Bradley Hart, born on April 23rd, christened in Deane Church on 12 July, 1806, and destined to become the all-England sprinting champion of the late 1820s and early 30s.[5]

Benjamin Bradley Hart went on to become a remarkable sporting figure of the early nineteenth century – athlete, footballer, entrepreneur, stakeholder, coach, trainer and publican – who made a major contribution to the developing rich sporting and cultural practices of the North-West of England. In developing his taste, for what then was called ‘pedestrianism’, he commenced a professional career in the sport that was eventually to make him a local and national celebrity. He also had a considerable influence on the development of football in mid-nineteenth century Bolton. This came at a time when some historians have argued the game was only kept alive by the sons of the social elite in the public schools, although revisionist historians have begun to challenge the established picture of football’s creation and a much more complex picture has begun to emerge.[6] In addition, Hart, like many other retired athletes in nearby Manchester, eventually became a publican, a position that that was also to become so prominent in south Lancashire amongst footballers in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Hart’s sporting career then encompassed foot racing, football, gambling and the public house and can be seen as a vital link in the chain that shackles the first third of nineteenth century sporting cultural practices to the last third, a set of cultural practices that ultimately resulted in the introduction of professional football in south and east Lancashire by 1885.[7] His life and career can then be used as a valuable lens to view the history of an early, but increasingly commercialised, nineteenth century sports culture, a culture that, in the main, has been overlooked by social and cultural historians.[8]

The article is in three parts. The first part outlines Ben Hart’s outstanding sprinting career, which made him the noted local and national celebrity and evidences the size and scale of pedestrianism in the 1820s and 30s. Part two traces his involvement in a localized distinctive form of football whilst part three concentrates on his extensive role as a stakeholder for prize money in sprinting contests and in training and coaching other athletes. This section underlines how widespread gambling was on these contests, unchallenged and unhindered by the relevant authorities, together with an increasing commercial involvement of the petty bourgeoisie via the drinks trade and public houses.

Ben Hart’s pedestrianism career

Like many Boltonians, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Benjamin Bradley Hart grew up under the influence of the newly emerging cotton industry and initially commenced work as a weaver.[9] He started, however, to compete in running contests at various ‘local wakes, fairs and other places where prizes are contended for’.[10] Ben, invariably, won the prize.[11] After this, Hart embarked on a professional foot racing career commencing when he was nineteen with a contest on 30 May 1826 against ‘Crappus’ alias Booth for a £5 a-side stake that ended in victory for Hart. Just over a month later, on 1 July, he raced against Joseph Bridge on the Manchester Road in Bolton, over 140 yards with the side stakes this time being £10 per man, again resulting in another success in winning by two yards with ‘a great deal of money changing hands amongst the sporting fraternity on this occasion’.[12] A rematch with Crappus meant another victory and another £10 side wager won. His first defeat, however, came when he attempted to run a longer distance, the half mile. He lost his £40 side stake to Bill Booth on Deane Moor, near Bolton, on 14 December, 1826.[13] Hart was obviously built for speed rather than middle-distance running.

Hart, however, quickly returned to his winning ways by defeating Taylor of Stalybridge in June 1828 over 100 yards for £10-a-side, Marlow of Oldham in May, 1829 over 200 yards for £40 on Kersal Moor which he won by two or three yards, and Brammel at Ashton for £5-a-side over 100 yards.[14] These were substantial amounts of money as even by 1840 the standard factory worker averaged only two shillings a day (about £30 per year).[15] Others were not so lucky in this period. Notwithstanding the comparatively improved circumstances that handloom weavers in Bolton enjoyed over others in Lancashire their plight in the 1820s and 30s has been well documented.[16] Even those in employment must have looked enviously at Hart’s earnings. In 1834, the average wage paid to 458 weavers, by one of Bolton’s most respectable manufacturers, was 5s 10d for the week, which amounts to £14 6s for the year.[17] In the same year Hart ran against Thomas Lang from Belmont on Kersal Moor (as will be evidenced below), winning £60. Hart’s earnings at this time must have seemed extraordinary, particularly to the handloom weavers, many of whom were now in a state of total destitution.

Ben’s sprinting career, and earning capacity, had now taken off and further victories came against Butterworth on 5 November, 1829, for £20-a-side over 200 yards, Barlow in November, 1830, for £60 over 250 yards and Stretch on 7 April, 1831, for £10 over 50 yards. In a rematch of a disputed 1829 sprint, Greaves was dispatched at Gorton in Manchester on 7 September, 1831, with Marlow also losing to Hart a couple of months later in November of the same year. Hart’s growing prowess and reputation now meant he had to give both Clarke and Bentley a five yards start over a 300 yard sprint, but to no avail. Hart beat them both on 20 September, 1832, at Leigh, for a £10 stake. The same amount was also wagered with Owens on 8 December, 1832, with the same result. 1833 saw Hart triumph against Comp at Hindley for £6-a-side, Radd on Deane Moor on April Fools day over 150 yards for £10, and Shaw, on 17 November, over 200 yards at Rainford for a similar amount.[18]

The following year of 1834 was to be a significant one for Hart. On 3 January, 1834 he married Diana Lever at St. Peter’s Church on Churchgate, Bolton and, later the same year, became the proud father of their first child, Robert, on 23 November.[19] In between, his pedestrian feats had made him the talking point of the town. On 30 August, 1834 Hart was matched to compete against Thomas Lang, the famous ‘Mountain Stag’ from Belmont, a surrounding village of Bolton, at ‘one jump’ for £25-a-side on Bolton Moor. After five attempts Ben cleared 23 feet 51/2 inches, but even with this extraordinary effort he was 11/2 inches behind ‘the Stag’, who only needed to jump once to reach 23 feet 7 inches. The latter was later acknowledged to be the best jumper in England.[20]

Gambling was ‘de rigeur’ at all these matches, whether sprinting or jumping, as evidenced by the odds that were quoted in the Bolton Chronicle report on 15 November 1834 about one of Hart’s races,

On Monday a match between Ben Hart of Bolton and James Hall of Harpurhey, one hundred yards for 5 pounds a side, came off on Kersal Moor. Both competitors came to the post in fine condition, and it being Saint Monday a large concourse of people were present. The betting before starting commenced at offers of 6 to 4 on Ben, but no takers; there were a few hardy plants who nibbled at 2 to 1 but these odds soon went a begging, and the prices closed at 5 to 2.

It has been suggested that Saint Monday appears to have been honoured almost universally wherever small-scale, domestic and outwork industries existed together with it being found in the pits, and sometimes continued in manufacturing and heavy industry.[21] The above evidence suggests that this extended to the cotton industry in south Lancashire of the 1830s. In addition, it seems to confirm the claim that some employers often had great difficulty in getting their men to work on Mondays, unless by that time they had expended the earnings of the previous week.[22] Indeed, the numbers sometimes involved at races that included Hart would intimate that some mill owners would be quite forlorn at the mention of his name as it is claimed his feats could empty the town’s mills for half a day as people flocked to watch.[23]

During his sporting career, Benjamin Hart was noted as being a remarkably fair and honest runner, always giving of his best, and was considered to be ‘the man what drove the sovereign’.[24] The size and volume of bets placed on matches that he participated in is perhaps indicative of his local popularity and the continuing popularity of sport amongst working people of the day. For example, on 30 September, 1834, when Hart ran, rather than jumped, against Thomas Lang, ‘The Mountain Stag’, on Kersal Moor, near Manchester, for ‘thirty pounds a side’, it is reported that ‘£1,600 pounds changed hands on the event’.[25] A sum equivalent to nearly £1,193,600 by 2010.[26]

That great foot race on Kersal Moor between Hart and the Mountain Stag’ over a staked two hundred yard course was one that generated enormous interest in the surrounding towns and villages of Bolton as well as within Manchester itself. Despite it being on a Tuesday morning, the roads leading to the moor were soon crowded with people hastening to the scene of the action, anxious it seems, to bet upon their respective favourites. The Bolton Chronicle of 4 October, 1834, reported that,

about ten o’clock, vehicles of every variety, crammed with passengers, were on the move, and continued until twelve without intermission, indeed such was the intense anxiety manifested on the event, that there was scarcely a sporting cove left in the town of Bolton.

Betting, it seems, had been ‘rather shy in the weeks leading up to the race’ but from Monday evening on the day before the main event both men had been backed at heavy sums by their respective friends. Heavy numbers of people were also in attendance on the day and the attraction was so great that ‘it is computed that there were not less than 5000 persons on the Moor’. Hart eventually won the race by nearly four yards and was carried shoulder high to ‘Mr. Bilborrow’s the Turf tavern’ in a scene that underlines the link in south Lancashire between the commercial interests of the drink trade, betting and sport.[27]

In order to announce the winner to the surrounding towns and villages, several pigeons were dispatched to different destinations with one arriving in Tonge Fold, a township of Bolton about one mile from the town centre. Tied around its neck was the name of the winner. Meanwhile, on the Manchester Road in Bolton, thousands of people were stationed anxious to know who had won. A rider and horse had been dispatched from the moor and by ten past three the crowd had been informed of Hart’s victory. It was reported that,

Ben, the conqueror he was loudly cheered. In the evening, Bolton-Moor was the scene of gaiety and rejoicing, Ben being a native of the District, and having won every race but one, when the distance was too great for his powers, being half a mile, he is a universal favourite there…it is said that Bolton can now boast of being possessed of the best runner from 100 yards to a quarter mile, the best man at one run jump, and the best bowlers on two greens in the British Empire. The Boltonians are open to contend for these events for any sum of money against all England, Ireland or Scotland.[28]

Hart’s considerable local popularity is evident in the crowds that he drew to this and other contests, the numbers of Boltonians awaiting the result and the size and volume of betting that took place when he entered a race. In a narrative summarizing his feats Hart is spoken of thus,

…let history record it is on a table of steel that he has been honest in the midst of bribes, and to a large amount too; and his uniform character is that of uprightness, sobriety, integrity and faithfulness to his friends to the negligence of his own interests. To conclude – Ben is a man.[29]

It was speculated that an incident that happened in November of 1831 was because Hart had stuck true to his backers despite having been bribed to lose. In a race that he was winning easily on Kersal Moor the brother of his adversary, Marlow of Oldham, had struck Hart and brought him to the ground, but Hart recovered, just in time to win the race. The speculation continued to the effect that ‘the gentlemen of the long robe, we believe, are likely to receive a job on account of the blow struck’.[30] Hart it seems had developed a reputation for honesty that was to serve him well later in his commercial and football career.

Hart’s pedestrian career continued unabated. On 8 November, 1835, he beat Jack Ash in the Potteries in Staffordshire over 160 yards for £100, but in March, 1836, he met with a rare reverse by attempting to give Rudd at Bradford ten yards start. On 18 August, 1836, though, he returned to his usual podium place by defeating Ashworth at Radcliffe Bridge, despite giving him five yards start in 300 for £100 although his inactivity in 1837 is possibly explained by the birth of his second child, Benjamin, on 21 May, although, as will be evidenced below, he seems to have started coaching and training other athletes at this juncture.[31] On 16 January, 1839, he was matched to race against Wilde of Heywood on Newton Common for £100-a-side over a distance of 440 yards. The time fixed to run the match was half-past two when, according to the arrangements, Ben was ready, but his opponent was not willing to come up to the start line. The odds, at first, were 30 to 20 on Ben, but owing to the delay and backwardness of Wilde’s party, they increased 2 to 1. A little after four o’clock Ben, for the sixth time, paid Wilde a visit, insisting that he should turn out, and a few minutes afterwards, both being in readiness, they started at the signal. Wilde started in front for about 140 yards but when they arrived at the road which crosses the course, Ben leapt over it and went on to win the race by ten yards in 58 seconds. Before this contest Ashcroft, of Nottingham, had challenged Ben to race him after the competition with Wilde, win or lose. Ben didn’t accept the challenge at the time, but, having disposed of his day’s business, challenged to run any man in England. Ashcroft, however, not relishing what he had witnessed, would not make a match. The Blackburn Standard reported that,

…when the match was made with Wilde, about eight weeks ago, Ben weighed 13st 4Ibs: but on the day of the race, in consequence of the diet he had undergone, had reduced himself exactly 3st.[32]

Such was Hart’s reputation that some athletes would avoid him. So, for example, Joseph Mitchell of Manchester advertised he would ‘run any man in England’ over 200 yards to a quarter of a mile for between twenty to fifty pounds a side, ‘barring Ben Hart’.[33] No such reticence was shown by Hart who at a ‘fourteenth anniversary dinner’ was ‘still open to run any man in the kingdom from 100 yards to a quarter of a mile, for any sum from £30 to £100’.[34] The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent newspaper now described Hart as ‘having been for some period the champion of all England’. However, this seemed not to count for much as, when he ran on 5 November, 1839, he was beaten on Doncaster Race course by ‘Oscroft from Nottingham’ over 100 yards for £60-a-side.[35] The same paper also speculated that Hart’s defeat ‘may chiefly be attributed to the disparity in their years; Ben being close to forty, and Oscroft only twenty-four’. Hart was, in fact, only 33 at the time, being described as ‘5 feet 7 inches high, and a remarkably well-made man, and when stripped showed great muscular power about the loins and thighs’.[36] This may explain why, in his next match with John Sale of Denton on 3 March, 1840, over the Knutsford course for £200, his competitor thought better of racing Hart and agreed to forfeit £12 10s rather than meet him.[37] Ben then lost a race to John Fowler, a watchmaker from Liverpool, by 5 yards in a 160 yards race, it being reported that Hart was ‘out of training’, although he figured in a jumping contest against Canby on 29 March, 1840, when he cleared 36 feet at his three-stand jumps, proving too much for his antagonist.[38]

Later that year, on 8 December, Ben was to compete on Newton Race Course over 200 yards against John Spencer, a tailor from Warrington. Spencer was reported to have been ‘an inch taller than Ben and about 20 years younger’, the race starting at two o’clock. Apparently, the crowd was as large as for horse racing with an ‘immense number of friends being on the spot’. Betting immediately commenced with odds being 12 to 10 and 25 to 20 against Ben, readily accepted by the Boltonians in attendance. A straight run of 200 yards was measured in front of the stands, fenced on one side by the rails, and the other by a rope. The Liverpool Mercury added that,

…a gentleman from Warrington was appointed umpire for Spencer, and a celebrated knight of the cleaver from Bolton for ‘Old Ben’, Mr. Frederick Davies of the Red Cross Inn from Bolton, the stakeholder being referee…a pistol shot was the signal for starting, which being given, both went off with Ben being on the instant upon his speed, and taking the lead, beat Spencer by at least 8 yards, and running the distance in 22 seconds.[39]

Once again, after a success, Hart issued a challenge to other athletes present, John Sale and John Fowler, to run either of them that day or Tuesday, a challenge they both declined. The baton, though, was taken up by George Aldred of Charlestown, commonly known as ‘Lobscouse’, and a match was made for 4 January, 1841. Hart also issued an open challenge to run any man in England over 200 yards for £50. Before that though, and still in December, Hart defeated the celebrated Abraham Lomax at two hops and a jump.[40] The match against George Aldred was put back until Monday 5 February when Hart easily defeated ‘Lobscouse’ on Newton Race course at 200 yards for £100.[41]

Arrangements for foot racing and jumping contests appear to have been made in the 1830s and 40s through correspondence between the competitors as indicated in a report in the Bolton Free Press of 3 April, 1841. The reporter writes,

…some misunderstanding having arisen between our townsman Ben Hart and Fish; Ben has announced that Fish wrote to him on the 16th ult. stating that he was ready to run him 200 yards for £50 a side, and give or take 10s. as expenses for arranging the time and place of running. Ben agreed to give 10s. and a meeting was appointed to take place at his house, the Sir Sidney Smith tavern, Bridgeman street but Fish came not, and the matter dropped. Fish’s statement that a match had been made, Ben declares to be totally unfounded. To settle the question Ben is ready to run Fish 200 yards for £50 a side, and give or take £1 for the expenses of meeting to arrange the match.

The penultimate race in Hart’s professional racing career came in August of 1841 when he was beaten by a younger man, Thomas Brian of Bradford, at Liverpool in a 350 yards race for £50-a-side when ‘a considerable amount of money changed hands’.[42] It was later claimed that ‘Brian had youth on his side, and to this advantage on his head was attributed victory’.[43] Similarly, in his last race against Charles Scanlon from Macclesfield on Monday 23 January, 1843, Hart raced a much younger man, being now nearly 38 years of age, his opponent under 20. The match was at Knutsford and the race course was set out over 220 yards with side stakes of 25 sovereigns. Hart was the favourite, with odd of 5 or 6 to 4 in his favour as he had previously beaten Spencer of Warrington and Spencer had beaten Scanlon. Nevertheless, Scanlon’s supporters were still confident as his defeat by Spencer occurred when he was scarcely seventeen years of age and still a novice, something that must have interested Hart as he later went on to coach him after his retirement. It was, however, known that this was to be Hart’s farewell performance and so his supporters thought he would put it ‘all in’ and his friends backed him heavily. The contest started at 2 o’clock and, after two false starts, off went the competitors, Scanlon having the lead. The Era newspaper reported that it was ‘now Scanlon, now Ben’ as their supporters shouted them on. However, as the contest unfolded it was apparent, about twenty yards from the finish line, that

…age must succumb to youth and poor old Ben ‘the hero of a hundred races,’ was defeated a full three yards by the Macclesfield champion. After the race was over, the Boltonians, who are very celebrated for their ‘trotting’ propensities had not a word to say, and looked very much like the man who had won a shilling and lost a pound. The Macclesfield lads were all alive and merry, and cracked their jokes most heartily upon the ‘chaps of Bowton’.[44]

Benjamin Bradley Hart had come to the end of his illustrious pedestrian racing career having been for some period the champion of all England, being known as ‘the man what drove the sovereign’ and the ‘hero of a hundred races’. Despite this, a champion’s pride seems to have driven him to one last race in February, 1846, when,

…a young man named Horrocks challenged the veteran, who not being enabled to stand the taunts of the would-be pedestrian, agreed to run him ‘there and then’ fourscore yards for a barrel of his (Ben’s) home brewed, and a few ‘particulars’ be invited to drink it. Hundreds flocked to see the race, and although Ben is now between ten to eleven score, his weight in his ‘flying days being but 7 score 2lb, he took the lead at starting, gradually increased his advantage, and at the finish left his discomfited opponent full four yards in the rear.[45]

Ben Hart and football

On 9 March 1878, the Darwen News, in a report based on interviews with surviving participants, recalled a match between Darwen and Tottington played in 1830 in the outlying village of Turton. This was a return fixture after a game held on ‘Collop Monday’ (the day before Shrove Tuesday) at Round Barn, near Edgworth, when the competing teams had each fielded twenty players and played for £2-10s (£2.50) a side with the stakes being ‘lodged in the hands of the landlord of the Round Barn Public House’. The practice of publicans organizing football matches and holding stake money was endemic in south and east Lancashire at the time, with their obvious commercial interests being served by so doing. Interestingly, this game was played on what was described as a ‘triangular pitch’. The fixture ended in a dispute upon which the Darwen players returned to the pub first, claimed the five pounds and ‘spent the whole of it in the Grey Horse Inn before leaving’. Their opponents regarded this as unfair and issued a challenge to play for £5 a side, a match which took place a month later on a pitch ‘a few hundred yards from Turton Church’. The Darwen News went on to report that,

…all the players now living agree that there would be 5,000 or 6,000 spectators present. The stakes would have been held by Willey-at-Wood at Chetham’s Arms, Turton, but we believe never were fairly put down. The teams met as at Round Barn with the exception of one or two names different and our opponents had engaged among others Ben Hart from Bolton, the great sprint runner.

The Darwen News went on to describe the ferocity of the Darwen–Tottington match. It confirms Goulstone and Harvey’s arguments, based on evidence drawn from Bell’s Life and elsewhere, that forms of football other than ‘folk football’ or ‘public school football’ existed in the mid-nineteenth century, certainly in the north west of England.[46] According to the Darwen News, football was being played in 1830 for money or other prizes by teams with an agreed number of players on each side, usually twenty, on an agreed pitch and with agreed rules. It dated the start of this trend from around 1820 when football as ‘played about the end of the last century’ with ‘no limit to the football ground’ had given way to a pitch with a boundary, ‘a good sized meadow or field, as square and level as could be got; none but players were allowed inside the field, the spectators being in the adjoining lands’. The inclusion of the local celebrity, Hart, in the Tottington team would have enhanced the size of the crowd and encouraged gambling on the outcome of the match. Hart figures prominently in other accounts of Bolton football. The report also indicates that Darwen having adopted this form of football ‘was [then] more famous and envied by the surrounding clubs, considerably than it is at present’. It is noteworthy that there were ‘surrounding clubs’ presumably playing a similar style of football in the 1830s.

Hart had often competed in front of vast numbers of people during his foot racing career. What is worthy of note however is that crowds of this size were prepared to turn out to watch sporting activities, be they foot racing or football. Hart’s reputation was such though that when a match was,

…prepared to play at foot-ball with twenty of the best men in the Rifle Regiment now stationed in Bolton, for £10 a side; to come off on New Year’s Day, in the neighbourhood of Bolton, providing the regiment be stationed in or near Bolton’ he was considered to be ‘a player’, and is appointed to pick out the men of Bolton, and unless approved of by him such person or persons will not be allowed to play in the match. The money is ready at his house, where alone arrangements can be made.[47]

Here we have an instance of the publican being involved, of gambling taking place and of teams playing with agreed numbers on each side. It also seems that someone like Hart would be presumed to know footballers in Bolton, a presumption that suggests the existence of a thriving football culture in the town. This is confirmed by the Bolton Free Press of December 24, 1841 which reported,

…some little chaffing having taken place between a portion of the military stationed here, and some of our sporting civilians, we are authorised to say, that twenty Bolton men are prepared to be matched to play a game at football against twenty of the best men belonging to the rifle regiment, stationed in this town, for £20 a side. The Bolton men to be picked out and approved by the veteran Ben Hart, and unless approved of by him will not be allowed to play in the match. To come off on New Year’s Day or earlier, if it will be better suit the soldiers. The money is ready any day at Ben Hart’s, Sir Sidney Smith Tavern.

Hart had taken possession of the Sir Sidney Tavern in Bridgeman Street, Bolton, around 1837 and it was one of a number of public houses that he went on to administer in the town including the Grey Mare in Cheapside to the rear of Newport Street, The Horse Shoe, the side of which formed part of the old Town Hall, and the Prince William on Bradshawgate which is still standing today.[48] Hart then was part of a local sporting culture that was based around the public house. This confirms what has been noted previously about working people in Bolton of the period that their leisure was for the most part public and gregarious, and that its principal everyday setting was that of the public house.[49] As has also been recorded about the public house, it was only one of the two places to go in that age where an individual could spend time away from the home, the other being the church, the latter being seldom open, the former seldom closed.[50] Bolton’s newspapers, though, were full of the attractions that the pub might have in respect of mid-century leisure activities such as, bowling, quoiting, glee clubs, free and easies, amateur and professional dramatics, fruit and vegetable shows, flower shows, sweepstake clubs and the meetings of trades and friendly societies.[51] Hart’s pedestrian and football career was over though by the time he was in his late 30s and he then turned to training other pedestrians from around the late 1830s onwards.

Ben Hart: Coach, trainer and stakeholder.

Hart’s coaching career seems to have started around 1837, the year of his previously noted inactivity from competitive racing, when Bell’s Life reported that a match had been made between ‘Sparrow and Gethen’ and that ‘Sparrow has taken flight to Bolton, and is snugly perched under the roof of Ben Hart, his trainer’.[52] The next year Hart was training Peter Murphy, from Stockport, for his race against Thomas Whitehead, of Moston, over a quarter of a mile on Monday, 20 August, 1838, as well as Edward Marsden, from Huddersfield, who had previously been beaten by Sykes from the same town, and had now ‘placed himself in the hands of Ben Hart of Bolton’.[53] Although Hart had not entirely given up competitive racing he indicated his intention to ‘give up running matches’, ‘six months from now’ in January, 1839, but signalled his willingness to coach athletes as he was ‘happy to train any other pedestrians who will run an honest race’.[54] Byrom from Miles Platting in Manchester must have been one of these ‘honest’ athletes as Hart coached him in his match with Giles Shaw from Oldham in his mile race over the Newton Course on Easter Tuesday 1839, for £30 to £40.[55] He also successfully trained Job Loaton from Clifton in his match of 120 yards for £10 against Nathan Thompson of Pilkington in January, 1840.[56] More success for Hart, and his training methods, came in May of the same year with a race over 200 yards between Edward Marsden (Parrott) of Lindley and Noah Walsh of Stalybridge. ‘Parrot’, won the race by about a yard and a quarter, the correspondent stating that the distance was run in 21 seconds.[57] A setback occurred though when Hart coached Shalecross, of Furness, in his contest with Daniel Sutton of Kettleshulme, seeing his charge beaten by ‘several yards’.[58]

A different story was to emerge, however, when David Cuthebert, ’under the care of the veteran Ben Hart’, beat William Thorpe of Tentwistle at Woodhead in Cheshire on Saturday 26 December, 1840, over three-quarters of a mile.[59] Hart was also present when ‘five thousand persons (a great number of whom were women) assembled on the Belle Vue Grounds, Manchester’, on Monday 12 April, 1841, to witness a race of 100 yards, for £20 a side, between Grimshaw, of Gorton, and Walker, of Stockport. The betting was 6 to 1 on Grimshaw, who was ‘trained by the veteran Hart’ and ‘whose superiority of condition spoke volumes’ and who won by two yards.[60] Controversy stalked Hart though, when Needham, of Tyldesley claimed he had ‘not had justice done him’ whilst being trained by Hart for a half-mile race against Bamber, of Westhoughton. Hart reacted furiously stating, ‘he (Hart) will take Bamber and back him against Needham, to run the same length over the same ground, and stake £20 to £10’. The money would be ready at Hart’s own house, ‘or he will be prepared to stake £5 to Needham’s £2 10s at any other house in Bolton’. Ben, in conclusion added that it was ‘quite in opposition to his principle to act wrongly against any man in his care, and is surprised that Needham should attempt to injure his character’.[61]

Around the same time as he took an interest in training other athletes the entrepreneurial publican Hart also started to use his local celebrity status to his own advantage. So, towards the end of his career, he was organizing his own race meetings. Again the size of the crowd at a meet he had arranged on a Tuesday afternoon is indicative of his popularity and of the popularity of such events. The Bolton Chronicle of 22 May, 1841, under the headline ‘Ben Hart’s Sweepstakes’ reported,

It ‘wor’ asserted that there were not less than 7,000 persons present; but of this we are rather doubtful, and should not like, in an estimate, to exceed 5,000.

Competitors at the meet were drawn from local towns and villages, Harwood, Cockey Moor near Bury, Chorley and Westhoughton, and the course selected was ‘through the circuitous lanes from Ben’s house, round the Pike (at Rivington) and back again, being in distance 1 mile and 200 yards’. Apparently ‘old Ben, from all appearance, had a good benefit and the neighbouring beer sellers received no harm’. Indeed, it seems that drinking was the order of the day and that the ‘infection was so strong that two teetotallers were led to break the pledge’.[62]

Hart continued to prove his worth as a trainer later that year when he was in charge of the eighteen year old William Howarth of Bury who defeated John Grimshaw of Gorton at Belle Vue, in front of a crowd of ‘at least 3,000’. Grimshaw’s supporters had ‘booked the race as a dead certainty’ but young Howarth beat him ‘by a full yard’ over 120 yards.[63] Hart would have been disappointed with the result of the contest between John Spencer and William Birchal, alias Whig of Golborne, over 100 yards for £30-a-side at Newton Racecourse. ‘Whig’ was trained by Hart but lost by ‘about a yard’. George Barratt, also under the care of Hart, had a similar result against Elijah Phillips ‘over eight score yards, for £25 a-side, at the Moss Rose, on the Leek Road, about a mile from Macclesfield’.[64] A mile race, though, between James Kay. of Ramsbottom, and Thomas Greenhalgh of Worshaw Lane, near Bury saw Hart’s charge return to the winner’s enclosure. Greenhalgh won by ‘about 20 yards’ in ‘five seconds under five minutes, and a little less if the truth were known’.[65]

Besides arranging his own meets and training his own athletes, Hart would also be in attendance at other courses and was noted as a celebrity guest on a Wednesday afternoon at Whittle-le-Woods, in Lancashire, in June, 1843. There, he watched Hanlon of Nottingham and George Eastham from Preston, the ‘Flying Clogger’, who later, in 1845, reputedly recorded 22.5 seconds for 220 yards on the Belle Vue track in Manchester. This race, though, was over 200 yards for twenty-five sovereigns-a-side with the ‘Flying Clogger’ easily winning ‘by eight or nine yards’.[66] Hart was also in attendance at the new Belle Vue track in Manchester in December of the same year when his charge, Thomas Greenhalgh, and Peter Hardacre raced over a quarter of a mile for twenty-five sovereigns-a-side. Both men were trained in Bolton, one by Hart and the other by ‘Shock’s brother’. Hardacre came out on top, winning by four yards, the stakes being given up the same day, at Mr. Holden’s, White Lion in Manchester.[67] Also at Belle Vue, and also with the same person, James Holden, as stakeholder, Lowe from Heywood took on Howarth of Bury over 25 yards for twenty-five sovereigns-a-side in January, 1844. Hart had ‘Howarth under his wing and brought him to his task in ‘splendid condition’ ultimately prevailing by about a yard, after a dozen false starts and a first rate race with the ‘losers being perfectly satisfied their man had done his best’.[68]

On many occasions Hart was also the stakeholder as well as being one of the trainers. So, for example, in June, 1843 in the match over 160 yards between Peggy and Bromiley ‘at the top o’ the pike, near Bolton’, Hart was the ‘stakeholder, and Peggy had been under his superintendence’.[69] In many instances, though, James Holden, was the man entrusted to hold the stakes, being part of a sporting family dynasty in Manchester that promoted sports within their various establishments in the middle of the nineteenth century. He had been born in Manchester around 1799 and became the owner of the White Lion public house on Long Mill Gate, going on to become ‘the great stakeholder in Lancashire pedestrianism’, his pub becoming a well-known pedestrian haunt during his reign of over thirty-five years.[70] Increasingly, Manchester became the centre of pedestrianism in the north-west of England as the surrounding fields and moors of Lancashire’s towns and villages were gradually industrialized and urbanized. As a result, across the century, pedestrian races progressively moved from the moors, streets, and roads onto racecourses and purpose built stadia, particularly in ‘the shock city of the age’, Manchester.[71]

One of these purpose built stadia, Belle Vue, was the site of the match between John Leyland of Bury and Thomas Coop of Todmorden, over 120 yards for £30-a-side. It was reported that ‘both men were in excellent condition, Leyland having been trained by the veteran Hart’. That training paid off with Leyland winning the stakes by ‘about one and a half yards’.[72] Hart now seems to have been in great demand as a trainer with over thirty athletes, between 1837 and 1842, already having had the benefit of his coaching methods. Indeed, it was advertised that,

Joseph Beamond, near Holmfirth, and Geoffry Kay, of Hown, near the same place, are matched to run two miles on the turnpike road leading from Huddersfield to Holmfirth, on Saturday next for £10. Beamond is under the excellent superintendence of the veteran Ben Hart, whose fame as a trainer is now spreading far and wide’.[73]

It is not known where the contest was to take place, though, when in, 1844, a race was advertised between ‘Flitcroft and Calderbank’ on Saturday 17 February the ‘stakes having been made into 5-sovereigns’. Flitcroft was in ‘training under the veteran Ben Hart and Calderbank is under the care of Tallick, who beat Byrom. The stakes are trifling but great interest seems to be excited as to the probable result’.[74] The whereabouts of the race between John Shaw of Doncaster and Elijah Phillips was not an issue, however, it being arranged not in a purpose built stadium but on the traditional site ‘near the toll-bar of the Macclesfield-Congleton road, between the hours of twelve and two’. The stakes of ten sovereigns-a-side were to be held by Mr. Holland of the Red Lion in Macclesfield but the final deposit of four sovereigns each had been paid direct to the final stakeholder. It was reported that both men were in,

…prime condition. Shaw has been in training at Bolton, under the experienced eye of old Ben Hart, while Phillips has done the essential at his old training quarters at Macclesfield.[75]

It seems, however, that the race did not take place but was replaced with a contest on Monday 8 May, 1844, between Shaw and Charles Scanlon of Macclesfield, the man who had defeated Hart in his last race in January, 1843. Surprisingly, it seems that Hart had now switched sides and was not training John Shaw but young Scanlon. It proved to be a poor decision as Shaw came home three yards ahead, the match taking place at Chatsworth Park in Derbyshire for forty sovereigns-a-side.[76] Hart was also on the losing side when his trainee, Peter Allen from Harwood Lee near Bolton, failed in his attempt to defeat Samuel Wood of Levenshulme, Manchester, over 100 yards for fifteen sovereigns-a-side, despite being favourite at 30-20 on. The match took place in November, 1844, on ‘the top of the Pike, Bolton’ and ‘no less than 3000 spectators met to witness this affair’.[77] The trust in Hart, though, is apparent when he was stakeholder, later in the month, again for fifteen sovereigns–a-side, in a race between Peter Allen and Richard Barton of Bolton despite being the trainer of Allen. The final stakeholder, however, was to be the ubiquitous James Holden at his White Lion hostelry in Long Mill Gate in Manchester.[78] Holden was also the stakeholder in a match made between Joseph Etchells of Failsworth and Christopher Whyles of Manchester that was to take place at Belle Vue on 23 April, 1845, over 150 yards. Hart was trainer to Whyles.[79] Hart was also one of the trainers in a match to settle who would hold ‘the Championship of All-England’ over a distance slightly over ten miles that took place at Knutsford for 100 sovereigns-a-side in June, 1845. That title was eventually claimed by Hart’s protégé, Thomas Greenhalgh of Walshaw, after defeating John Barlow, alias Tallick, of Cockey- moor, near Bury in Lancashire, when the latter stepped off the track with a full lap to go.[80] The race for this title had obviously created considerable interest and it was reported that,

…there could not be less than eight to ten thousand persons present; to which Oldham, Rochdale, Middleton, Stalybridge, Ashton, Manchester, Stockport, Bolton and Bury, largely contributed.[81]

By now it seems that Hart had developed a training regime that saw athletes in his charge come to the post in prime fitness. Mention is made of the ‘magnificent condition’ of William Howarth in a race in August, 1845 and in November of the same year, in a one mile match at Belle Vue, one of the contestants, ’Todd’, who was ’training under the care of the veteran Ben Hart’, was said ‘to be in prime twig’.[82]

Into 1846 and Hart is found training Lyons of Salford for an unsuccessful contest on Newton Common against Chadwick, the ‘Radcliffe Swallow’, and was again on the losing side when one of his trainees, James Powell, lost a contest against Henry Book at Four Ashes Railway station, about five miles from Wolverhampton.[83] His losses were compounded when Billy Howarth of Bolton was contracted to race Brian of Bradford for 100 sovereigns at Belle Vue. Apparently, Howarth ‘did his best, ran as well as he could, and man could do no more’ but lost. Hart must have suffered some disappointment, and probable financial loss, as the contest was the ‘race of the week’ with people attending from ‘London, Sheffield, Leeds, Birmingham, Bradford, Bury, Halifax, Bolton and a score of other towns and places’.[84] Hart still seemed to have been as popular as ever though as a trainer and coach, the Bolton Free Press of November 1846 reporting that,

…our townsman the veteran Ben Hart, has at present two promising youths under his tuition for separate tasks. The first is Robt. Swallow of Holmefirth, Yorkshire…The second is John Applebey (alias Baddle) of Radcliffe.[85]

Hart was not alone, however, in preparing his athletes for competition at this time as Thomas Wolfendale, ‘Funny little Tommy’, was his ‘head trainer’.[86] In 1847, they prepared twenty-two-year-old Levi Lowe from the Potteries in his encounter at The Stubbs, about one mile from Newcastle-under-Lyme, on the Hanley Road. There, Lowe was matched to race Enoch Goodfellow of Burslem, who was trained by James Parker, alias Jerry Jem or Jim, a provision dealer and beer seller from Preston, over 200 yards on a Monday afternoon. This race proved somewhat more positive than of late for Hart as Lowe beat Goodfellow by about a yard and a half to take the fifty sovereigns on offer.[87] In May, 1847, ‘the veteran pedestrian Hart’ and his team are found at Newton Common having,

…pitched a tent for the races next week, on the ground formerly occupied, and so well known as Valentines’ Booth of Bolton. The veteran with the aid of his ‘better-half’, and his man-at-arms, ‘Funny Little Tommy’ means to render every accommodation possible to all who may feel disposed to patronise his establishment, Booth’s No.18, near the Grand Stand.[88]

Hart and his training team’s next big success was in 1851 in the ‘Great Foot Race’ between Tommy Hayes of Halshaw Moor (now Farnworth, Bolton) and John Tetlow of Hollinwood at Aintree, over four miles for 200 pounds. The two had raced previously and Tetlow had been successful, leading Hayes to replace his ‘mentor’ with,

…the veteran Ben Hart having surveillance of his training, assisted by the facetious little Tommy, of Bolton, and Tommy Lee, of Middleton, forming a trio of Tommys at the training quarters at Newton.[89]

This change in training regime proved successful for Hayes as he was declared the winner and entitled to the stakes by the referee, James Holden of the White Lion in Manchester, despite protestations from Tetlow that he had been knocked down during the race. Presumably, Hart would have also benefited financially from Hayes’ victory.[90] From around 1851, Hart seems to have limited his involvement in pedestrian coaching activities, concentrating instead on his public house businesses.[91] The last pub he purchased was the Prince William on Bradshawgate, Bolton, which he relinquished in the early 1860s, and he retired to live on Halliwell Road in Bolton. His wife died in 1874 and he then went to live with one of his daughters. He subsequently took a house in St. John Street, Bolton where he died at half-past eight in the morning of Tuesday 30 August, 1881, aged 75, following a long illness.[92] He is buried in Tonge Cemetery, Bolton.


Benjamin Bradley Hart was an extraordinary athlete of the 1820s and 30s whose prowess and drawing power could empty the newly expanding cotton mills and factories of early nineteenth-century Bolton and district, much to the dismay of many local mill owners. Many of his races took place in mid-afternoon on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, in front of crowds of several thousands, making them incompatible with the work discipline needed to maintain factory organization and productivity in a rapidly industrializing economy. Despite this, many of his races were staged on those days on local highways and Moors but, increasingly, as the crowds expanded they moved onto racecourses such as Kersal Moor in Salford or Newton Common and, eventually, into purpose built stadia, particularly in Manchester. Stake and prize money in these matches was considerable and, when he won, this must have made him the envy of the local working-class population. This was particularly true of the local handloom weavers whose incomes and living standards had been undercut because of the introduction of power looms, immigration of poorer labourers from Ireland and the practice of employing cheap child labour. Notwithstanding these privations, gambling on Hart’s races meant thousands in Bolton would eagerly await the result with his high success rate and reputation for honesty, undoubtedly, contributing to his local popularity and celebrity. Hart’s success in his pedestrian career enabled him, and his immediate family, to avoid the evils of Lancashire’s developing factory system of the early nineteenth century, and Bolton’s notoriously poor housing conditions, and buy several public houses from the 1830s onwards, giving him an income in addition to his earnings as a professional pedestrian runner. His position as a well-known publican, enhanced by his reputation for honesty, also surely helped him in his matchmaking activities, underlining the centrality of publicans and the public house to the emerging commercialized sporting culture. His racing career, though, initially took place against a backdrop of developing urbanization and industrialization, as well as confronting the turbulent political conditions of the day in a town that was in turmoil. The passing of the Corn Laws had ’caused great misery amongst the workpeople and there were turnouts and riots’ in Bolton ‘in 1823, 1826 and 1828‘.[93] Bolton also became a stronghold of militant Chartism by the 1830s and yet, against this difficult political and cultural context, Boltonians still found time, in their thousands, to support their local sporting hero when he turned out to race. His celebrity was such that he also became a pivotal figure in football in the town in the 1840s and, coming towards the end of his sporting career, he branched out into staging his own races and, eventually, trained a stable of outstanding athletes. His life and sporting career is an exemplar of the emerging commercialized sporting culture of the North-West of England across the first half of the nineteenth century.



[1] E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, (Penguin, 1968), 446
Leslie Gent, Bolton Past, (Chichester, Phillimore and Co, 1995), 8.[1] E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, (Penguin, 1968), 446

[3] Thompson, The Making, 446.

[4] Deane Parish Registers, January 7, 1784.

[5] Bolton Chronicle, December 3, 1881; Deane Parish Registers, July 12, 1806; Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, November 30, 1839.

[6] Peter Swain, ‘New directions in football’s history: some notes from the north-west of England’, LSA Newsletter, 77 (July 2007): 26-31; Peter Swain, ‘Cultural Continuity and Football in nineteenth-century Lancashire’, Sport in History, 28, no. 4, (December, 2008): 566-582; Peter Swain, Modern Football in Formation, (University of Bolton, unpublished PhD Thesis, 2009); Adrian Harvey, Football: the first hundred years; the untold story (London, 2005); John Goulstone, Football’s secret history (Upminster, 2001); See also John Goulstone, ‘A selection of Victorian football Notices 1838-1845’, Sport Quarterly Magazine, 18 (1981): 4-5; Surrey F.C. – London’s First Football Club.?’, Sport Quarterly Magazine, 20 (1982): 11-12; ‘The working class origins of modern football’, International Journal of the History of Sport , 17 no. 1 (2000): 35-43; Adrian Harvey, ‘Football’s missing link: the real story of the evolution of modern football’ (1999) in J.A. Mangan (ed). Sport in Europe: politics, class, gender (London, 1999); ‘An epoch in the annals of national sport: football in Sheffield and the creation of modern soccer and rugby’, International Journal of the History of Sport 18 no. 4 (2001): 53-87; ‘The curate’s egg put back together: comments on Eric Dunning’s response to an epoch in the annals of national sport’, International Journal of the History of Sport 19 no. 4 (2002): 91-99; ‘Curate’s egg pursued by red herrings: a reply to Eric Dunning and Graham Curry’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 21 no. 1 (2004): 127-131; Peter Swain and Adrian Harvey, ‘On Bosworth Field or the Playing Fields of Eton and Rugby? Who really invented Modern Football? International Journal of the History of Sport, 29 no. 10 (2012): 1425-1445.

[7] Swain, ‘New Directions’, 26-31; ‘Cultural Continuity’, 566-582; PhD Thesis.

[8] An exception to this is Adrian Harvey, Beginnings of a Commercial Sporting Culture in Britain, (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2004).

[9] Bolton Evening News, August 30, 1881.

[10] Bolton Chronicle, September 3, 1881.

[11] Bell’s Life in London, September 9, 1841.

[12] Bolton Chronicle, September 3, 1881.

[13] Bolton Chronicle, September 3, 1881; Bolton Evening News, August 30, 1881.

[14] Ibid

[15] Manchester and Salford Advertiser, July 25, 1846.

[16] Duncan Bythell, The Handloom Weavers: A Study in the English Cotton Industry during the Industrial Revolution, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969). Geoffrey Timmins, The Last Shift: The Decline of Handloom Weaving in Nineteenth Century Lancashire, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993); See also, E. Thompson, The Making, Chapter 9.

[17] Peter Taylor, ‘Handloom weavers and popular politics in Bolton, c. 1825-1850’, Manchester Region History Review 9, (1995): 36.

[18] Bolton Evening News, August 30, 1881.

[19] England, Marriages, 1538–1973, FamilySearch ( /MM9.1.1/NK6M-RPB: accessed January 31, 2013), Benjamin Hart and Diana Lever; citing Saint Peter, Bolton Le Moors, Lancashire, England, reference; FHL microfilm 559181, 559182. England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,’ index, FamilySearch ( accessed January 31, 2013), Robert Hart, November 23 1834; citing Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, England, reference; FHL microfilm 1966401.

[20] Bell’s Life, October 5, 1834.

[21] Quoted by D.A. Reid ‘The Decline of Saint Monday’, Past and Present (1976): 79.

[22] E.P. Thompson, ‘Time, Work Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism’, Past and Present, no. 38, December (1967): 74.

[23] Robert Poole, ‘Popular leisure and the Music Hall in nineteenth century Bolton’, Occasional Paper 12 (1982), Centre for North-west Regional Studies, University of Lancaster, 7, 12.

[24] Bolton Chronicle, September 3, 1881.

[25] Bolton Evening News, August 30. 1881.

[26] using average earnings as an indicator, accessed 2 January, 2012.

[27] Bolton Chronicle, October 4, 1834.

[28] Ibid. The Bolton Chronicle had obviously claimed Thomas Lang. ‘The Mountain Stag’ as a Boltonian, despite his birthplace being Preston. He worked as a ‘dresser’ in a mill in Belmont, one of the surrounding villages near Bolton, and even the Preston Chronicle of October 11, 1834, described him as ‘from Belmont’. The bowlers were, undoubtedly, from the Howcroft Inn in Bolton who annually challenged all-England to a match of crown green bowling on two greens – see Peter Swain, ‘Bolton against all-England for a Cool Hundred: Crown Green Bowling in South Lancashire, 1787-1914, Sport in History, 30 no. 2 (2013), 146-168.

[29] Bolton Chronicle, September 3, 1881.

[30] Bolton Chronicle, November 5, 1831.

[31] Hart’s race with Ash is reported in Bell’s Life, November 15, 1835 and the Manchester Guardian, November 16, 1835. For the other contests, see Bolton Evening News, August 30, 1881; Bolton Chronicle, September 3, 1881. For the birth of his son, ‘England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,’ index, FamilySearch ( accessed January 28, 2013).

[32] Blackburn Standard, January 23, 1839.

[33] Bell’s Life, April 9, 1837.

[34] Bell’s Life, June 4, 1837.

[35] Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, November 30, 1839.

[36] Bell’s Life, December 1, 1839.

[37] Bolton Chronicle, September 3, 1881.

[38] Era, March 14, 1841.

[39] Liverpool Mercury, December 18, 1840.

[40] Bolton Evening News, August 30, 1881.

[41] Era, January 24, 1841; Bolton Evening News, August 30, 1881.

[42] Bolton Free Press, November 14, 1846.

[43] Bolton Evening News, August 30, 1881.

[44] Era, January 29, 1843.

[45] Bell’s Life, March 1, 1846.

[46] Harvey, Football’ First; Goulstone, Football’s Secret.

[47] Goulstone, Football’s Secret, 32.

[48] Bolton Evening News, August 30, 1881.

[49] Peter Bailey, Leisure and Class in Victorian England, (London: Routledge, 1978), 9.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Bolton Chronicle, May 22, 1841.

[52] Bell’s Life, March 18, 1837.

[53] Bell’s Life, August 5, 1838, for Murphy; Bell’s Life, August 12, 1838, for Parrott.

[54] Bell’s Life, January 20, 1839.

[55] Bell’s Life, March 3, 1839.

[56] Bell’s Life, January 26, 1840.

[57] Bell’s Life, May 31, 1840.

[58] Bell’s Life, October 18, 1840.

[59] Bell’s Life, January 3, 1841.

[60] Bell’s Life, April 18, 1841.

[61] Bell’s Life, April 25, 1841.

[62] Bolton Free Press, August 7, 1841.

[63] Bell’s Life, September 5, 1841.

[64] Bell’s Life, April 17, 1842 for ‘Whig;; June 5, 1842 for Barratt.

[65] Bell’s Life, June 11, 1843.

[66] Era, June 4, 1843; Peter Swain, ‘Pedestrianism, the Public House and Gambling in Nineteenth-century South-east Lancashire, Sport in History, 32, no. 3, (2012): 396.

[67] Era, December 10, 1843; Bell’s Life, December 10, 1843.

[68] Era, January 7, 1844

[69] Bell’s Life, June 18, 1843.

[70] Samantha-Jayne Oldfield and Dave Day, ‘The Coaching Business: Nineteenth Century Manchester Sporting Entrepreneurs’. Paper given to the British Society of Sports History Annual Conference, London, September 1, 2010, 9.

[71] See Swain, ‘Pedestrianism’, 382-404.

[72] Bell’s Life, October 15, 1843.

[73] Bell’s Life, October 22, 1843.

[74] Era, February 4, 1844. The result of the race is unknown.

[75] Era, April 28, 1844.

[76] Era, May 14, 1844.

[77] Era, November 10, 1844.

[78] Era, November 24, 1844.

[79] Era, April 6, 1845.

[80] Era, June 29, 1845.

[81] Manchester Times and Gazette, June 28, 1845.

[82] Era, November 2, 1845.

[83] Era, January 25, 1846; February 15, 1846.

[84] Era, March 29, 1846; Bell’s Life, March 29, 1846.

[85] Bolton Free Press, November 14, 1846.

[86] Bell’s Life, January 10, 1847; The 1851 Census lists Thomas Wolfendale, aged 45, as a ‘General servant’ living with Hart at his Grey Mare Pub in Cheapside Bolton. Interestingly, William Harrison, aged 41, is also listed as ‘General servant’. 1851 Census: Class: HO107; Piece: 2211; Folio: 431; Page: 4; GSU roll: 87221.

[87] Era, May 2, 1846; Bell’s Life, May 2, 1846.

[88] Bell’s Life, May 23, 1847.

[89] Era, October 5, 1851: Bell’s Life, October 5, 1851.

[90] Ibid.

[91] 1851 Census: Reference H.O. 107-2211. Gordon Readyhough, Pubs of Bolton Town Centre, (Swinton: Neil Richardson), 3.

[92] 1861 Census: Reference RG. 9/2825; Bolton Chronicle, August 30, 1881.

[93] C.H. Saxelby, (Ed), Bolton Survey, (Bolton: The Bolton Branches of The Geographical and Historical Associations and Bolton Field Naturalists Society, 1953), 69.