One manifestation of the Bridgewater and Ellesmere influence was Walkden’s comparative lack of public houses. Until the arrival of the Brindley Arms (now closed) in the late 1950’s there were only three, the Bulls Head, the Stocks and the Ellesmere.

    The Ellesmere Hotel
    This was built c.1887 to serve the railway trade sited as it was next to Walkden Low Level Station. It was described in 1903 as a “favoured resort of driving parties and situated in a thickly populated and rising neighbourhood”.
    The building still stands but is now used as offices.

    The Bull's Head
    The Bull's Head dates back to the 1690’s. In the 19th century the Gregory family held the licence for over 60 years. Thomas Gregory for 30 years, then Joseph for 31 years until the expiry of the lease in 1893, when the pub was bought from the Bridgewater trust by Threlfalls for £5360. By now the old buildings could not cope with the demands of the growing town. The entrance was through a porch 3ft 9” wide, the bar was only 5ft 4” wide, five clubs used the premises and the accommodation for both the landlord and commercial travellers was inadequate. The old inn was demolished and the present pub built on the site.

    The former Bull's Head Hotel, c.1890.
    The pub is the building on the right, the pub sign on the wall. Centre is "Joseph Gregory, Vetinary Surgeon" as the sign over the door indicates and on the left a cottage.

    The Stocks Hotel
    The present Stocks Hotel dates from 1898 but a pub has stood on the site from the early 18th century. Originally a farm and beerhouse called the Swan With Two Necks or “Nicks” it took its present name from the village stocks that stood nearby. Thomas Ridyard was landlord until his retirement in 1865 when he handed over to his son-in-law William Isaac Challinor. Challinor, like Gregory of the Bull, was a member of the Duke of Lancaster’s Yeomanry Cavalry; a fisherman he was recorded as having caught a 47inch, 20lb pike in the Boatshed Lodge.
    The annual Whit Thursday “Black-aw Fair” was held in the Stocks Yard and the road in front. One of the attractions was the competition to climb a greasy pole, set up in the field behind the pub, for a prize of a ham or leg of lamb donated by Mr Challinor.

    The old Stocks Hotel, prior to re-building in 1898.

    The old inns had a central place in life of the town, besides the retailing of beer brewed on the premises they provided the venue for meetings, inquests were held there, as were auctions, sales and fairs. It was at the Bull in 1784 that a meeting established Walkden’s first Sunday school, tradition has it that the school was held in a room in the pub for a short time. The Stocks was the venue, in 1730, for meetings which discussed the site for Worsley’s Poorhouse and in 1765 an enquiry was held there concerning the enclosure of Walkden Moor.