It is most likely that Bernard McKenna had experience of the licensed trade before moving to Oldham Road to become landlord in his autumn years. Almost certainly he is the beer retailer Bernard McCanna listed at 23 Gravel Lane in the directory for Salford for 1828/29.6 Variations in the spelling of names are common in the records for these times. Certainly there is a connection with Salford as the births of his two sons are registered there. The address in Gravel Lane is that of the Jolly Carter pub and it is likely that McKenna, or McCanna, operated a small-scale brewery in Salford at this time, probably within the Jolly Carter7. A few years earlier this Gravel Lane address was a shoe warehouse8 and before that, in 1797, the home and workplace of a flour dealer.9
Early evidence of the McKenna entrepreneurialism is that Bernard was quick to take advantage of the new Beerhouse Act in 1830, as shown by this extract from a history of Salford pubs:10
‘The Jolly Carter was on the corner of Cable Street, near the ropeworks. In 1829 this was the home of a brewer called Bernard McKenna. At that time small-scale brewers could obtain retail licences to sell to the public, but not on the premises. Jugs of beer were sold either over the doorstep or through a window. When the Beerhouse Act became law in October 1830, retail brewers were among the first to obtain indoor beerhouse licences and Mr McKenna was one of the first in Salford.’
Bernard had married Ellen, from Kirk Ireton, Derbyshire, and sons Bernard and John were born in 1825 and 1826 respectively – probably in the living accommodation at The Jolly Carter. There is an Irish connection with the name of Ellen’s home village: it is believed to have evolved from ‘Church of Irish Enclosure’ following an ancient settlement by Celtic missionaries.