Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Of the world's 7,750,000,000 people around 2,200,000 of them bear the name 'Tong'. Of these, about 1,800,000 are either a 童, a 同 or a 佟 and live in China. In 2014 there were 3,102 Tongs living in the UK. That's a massive 0.0046% of the population. So not that common, then!
It's pretty unlikely that the three tribes of transliterated Tongs from China share the same origin for their name as those from these shores. The origin of the name in the British Isles is a geographical one, attached to folks who came from a locality called Tong, or its derivative Tonge. There are half a dozen of these, one each in Shropshire, Kent, Leicestershire and Yorkshire, as well as a couple in Lancashire.
What's all this got to do with bygone boozers? Or even bikes or beer? Well, it was the name of the brewer on this old pub photo which initially caught my eye.
William Tong started brewing at the Diamond Brewery in Bolton around 1820. Tong and Sons was acquired by Walter Cain Ltd. in 1923 who themselves have eventually been subsumed into Carlsberg-Tetley.
That's what happened to the brewery, but what about the pub? The photo was taken at a time when Breightmet was just a village on the road to Bury rather than being a suburb of Bolton, as it essentially is today. Here is the inn shown on the OS map published in 1910.
The Hare and Hounds probably dates back to at least the mid-eighteenth century. It was certainly in existence in 1787 if this quote taken from the Phethean family tree website is to be believed, and I have no reason to doubt it.
We His Majesty”s Justices of the Peace for the said county acting in and for the said Division (whereof one is of the Quorum) do at this General Meeting, under our Hands and Seals, allow and licence Josiah Phethean at the Hare and Hounds, Brightmet, in the said Division or Hundred, and County, to keep a common Ale-house, In, or Victualling-house, in the same House, and not elsewhere, for one year only, to commence on the 29th Day of this Instant September, and to utter and sell Bread and other Victuals, Beer, Ale, and other excisable Liquors, by Retail; except Brandy, Rum, Arrack, Usquebaugh, Geneva, Aqua-Vitae, and all other Distill”d Spirituous Liquors, and Strong Waters, unmixed or mixed with themselves or any other Ingredients, and by whatsoever name or names they are or may be called), so as the true Assize of his Bread, Beer, Ale, and other exciseable Liquors as aforesaid, be duly kept; and no unlawful Games, Drunkenness, or any other Disorder be suffered in the said House, Out-House, Yard, Garden, or Backside, but that good Order and Rule be maintained and kept within the same, according to the Laws of this Realm; for the due observance whereof, by the Person hereby licensed, a Recognizance hath been now entered into, pursuant to the Statute; and a Certificate of the good Fame, and sober Life and Conversation, hath been provided to us, as the Act of Parliament directs.
J. Bradshaw, J. Yates. 17th January, 1787
Upon Josiah's death in 1791 his widow Alice ran the place. When she eventually joined her husband in 1806, their son, Joseph, took over the tenancy.
At some point in time the Hare and Hounds acquired the adjective 'old' only to lose it again as it continued to serve a changing list of brews through to 2008. After that it sat empty until, in around 2011, plans to demolish the place were submitted.
However, it didn't succumb to the wrecking ball. In 2014 Jayden House took in its first new occupants, with £400,000 having been spent converting this bygone boozer into fourteen one-bedroom flats for social housing tenants.
Surprisingly, it's not a listed building. It's no longer a boozer. It's no longer the Hare and Hounds, but at least the building is standing, even if it does need a lick of paint. After all, what's in a name?
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