Every week we love to shine the spotlight on some of the best local venues that the borough has to offer, in our Pub of the Week feature.

This week, we spoke to Diane Dobson – who has been the owner of the Duke William for 12 years.

(Image: Duke William)

Give us some history about the pub

“The old part of the current pub building was built in 1737 on the site of a previous establishment.

“It was originally on the main Liverpool to Leeds coaching route and it was obviously a stop-off for the stables at the back, to break off and feed and water your horses, I’m assuming.

“It’s been there and it’s been a pub for going on 285 years, 286 years.”

What’s it like running a pub with such a history?

“It’s lovely. A lot of the customers do remember previous landlords, obviously, and it’s nice to hear tales about them.

“Fortunately they don’t, but it would be nice if the walls could talk to you and tell you some of the things that went on there.

“In the 1840s it was used as a base for the coroner’s court, and in the past I’ve found a few snippets in the old Bury Times, detailing about hearings that were held there. It’s quite interesting.”

Diane added: “Hopefully if we still have it, it’ll live to see its 300th and we’ll have a big party then – but that’s another 15 years yet.”

(Image: Duke William)

Is food served?

“Yes, we do a lot of food – right from your traditional pub favourites, like fish and chips, cheese and onion pie, steak and ale pie, through burgers, lamb shanks, right through to things like specials – we had swordfish on this week, we do a curry night on a Thursday.

“We have the rice and three sharing platter, you get all three curries with all the sides – that’s very popular – and, of course, Sunday lunches.”

Any vegetarian or vegan options?

“The current one is a sweet potato and coconut dahl, that’s on all the time – it’s certainly veggie. We have the Zen burger which is a vegan burger. There’s always cheese and onion, some veggie starters.

“The soup is usually vegan, and there’s always a veggie option on the curry night.

“Sunday lunches we did have Mushroom Wellingtons on last week – I’m not certain on the plan this week, but we can usually do a vegetarian option on that.

“We probably can’t do much of a vegan option on that one because when it comes to mash and carrot and swede mash, the chefs like a bit of butter in it, or an awful lot of butter in it according to my cash and carry invoices!”

(Image: Duke William)

Is there a beer garden?

“We’ve got an area outside, there’s an area outside at the front which is all planted around with flowers in it, and at the back there’s a grassed area where we’ve got benches and kids can have a bit of a run around.

“To be honest, it’s a really lovely, sunny spot if we get any sun. If we get nice weather it’s always popular outside, it gets packed outside.

“That’s why this year we’ve put on a special outside menu – we always used to try to do the ordinary menu outside, but if it gets busy we can’t cope with that many of the main dishes going out, so we’ve introduced – just as a trial this year – doing smaller burgers, scampi and chicken strips, fries, and things like that for outside.”

Follow The Bolton News on Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter), and TikTok.

What is the most popular drink served?

“On the ales it’s Moorhouses’ White Witch, definitely. Others it’s probably Moretti lager and Guinness – we’ve got quite a few Guinness drinkers. Those are the three big ones.”

What is the most memorable moment at the pub?

“Bad ones was when we closed down first of all for Covid – that was strange, shutting it and not knowing when we were ever going to open, if we were ever going to open – that was the day I sat there and cried, I must admit, not knowing what was coming.

“Other things, it might be two years ago now one of the locals made a film, a short film which included lots of locals and staff.

“We put a marquee up around the back and he had his world film premiere – everyone dressed up in their posh frocks and bowties, and we showed it in the marquees, that was quite fun."


Do you have an entertainment line-up?

“We don’t purely and simply because we’re so small, we can only really seat 30 people sat down for meals, and then there’s a bar area which isn’t huge, so we’re not that big.

“To try and fit somebody in, it takes up too much of the space so we tend not to bother.”

Diane added: “We do a quiz every month. One of the regulars does a quiz on the last Thursday of every month, which coincides with curry night – so it’s busy that night. If you want a table for your curry and the quiz, you need to book the month before. That does get busy.”

What are the biggest challenges within the industry and how can you overcome them?

“Right now is the economic situation. People have got less money to spend on going out and for food and drink.

“The problem is prices for us. Wages and raw materials, drinks, they’ve just all gone up and awful lot, as has gas and electric, with lights on and heating on, and ovens on for 12 hours a day, that energy’s a big cost and that’s all gone up.

“It’s managing to keep covering all that without pricing yourself out of people’s pockets, but I don’t know what we can do about that.

“Our food is that good and is getting such a reputation locally with people who’ve been in telling their friends and things like that that people do seem to still be coming to us, but we do just have to always be conscious of the bottom line at the end of it.”

What is the best thing about running a pub and why?

“The customers, we’ve got quite a lot of regulars that you can have a laugh with and they pull your leg and you pull theirs, that interaction with the customers is the best thing.”

What is the worst thing about running a pub and why?

“It’s the finances – keeping a close watch on that, we have to watch what we can spend, because you can’t keep just putting prices up. You’ll price yourself out of business eventually.”

If you have a story, I cover the whole borough of Bolton. Please get in touch at jack.fifield@newsquest.co.uk.