Pubs of Manchester

All pubs within the city centre and beyond.
A history of Manchester's hundreds of lost pubs.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Bulls Head, Bulls Head Yard

Bulls Head, Bulls Head Yard. (c) F. Greenwood, courtesy of David Pryer [1].

Market Place was situated at the bottom of Market Street to the right where the pedestrianised New Cathedral Street is, and it had a number of courts or yards off it. Bulls Head Yard contained the Bulls Head Hotel, depicted here in a lithograph and here in 1905, once a Wilsons house, once a free house, and near to Bowens Spectacles Shop on Market Place (note the giant specs in the these photos!).

George Mold describes the area: "It was a warren of narrow streets in which was an amazing collection of licensed premises. Best known perhaps was the Bull's Head which housed a curious three-cornered chair in which it was said Prince Charles had sat when he made his headquarters there when he reached Manchester during the 1745 rebellion [1]."

This brilliant pre-war photo from 1938 shown below is so evocative of the old Manchester which was damaged by the Luftwaffe in WWII and then mistakenly buried for good beneath the monstrosity that is the Arndale Centre.

Bulls Head, Bulls Head Yard. (c) Kurt Hutton / Picture Post / Getty Images.

Beneath Market Place was an old underground shooting range and skittle alley, later used for cheese storage - it was bricked at either end leading to speculation that it may have been part of a longer tunnel running from the cathedral [2]:

"Inside the (Bulls Head) down the cellar steps... seemed to be like a tunnel. I wandered further on. The walls were brick, the ceiling was semi-arched and I well remember passing some cheeses. I went on and on and became frightened. I turned back but could not find my way out again. I realised that the passages were not straight, but honey-combed, going in all directions like a maze [2]".

The Bulls Head was lost in WWII when Market Place was bombed in 1940. An Evening Chronicle article in 1958 reported on the final demolition of Market Place:

"A mystery, below-surface passageway was uncovered by demolition workers near the corner of Market Street and Market Place - centre of 'old' Manchester. I clambered through in the opening; peering into the half-light, breathing the cold, clammy atmosphere of yesteryear. Most of the brickwork in the 9 feet high, 5 feet wide tunnel was flaking with age. It stretched for about 25 yards, crossing below Market Place. There it had been bricked off. An official of the main firm handling the work said: 'There is no sign of this passage on the plan from which we are working. The tunnel seems to run in the direction of the cathedral [2]'".

1. F. Greenwood in The Story of the Old Wellington Inn, Cornbrook Brewery, 1950.
2. Manchester Memories, George Mold (1972).
3. Underground Manchester, Keith Warrender (2007).


  1. Thanks a lot for this extremely intriguing article!!! I was born in 1958 and could swear that a massive Bull's Head use to stand above the door of a black and white old Worldy pub situated in the position of what is now "Next" on the corner of the Arndale.

  2. I know there was the "New Boars Head" and although I remember it I still maintain there was a huge Bulls Head exactly the same as in this picture above the pub door on the corner of Withy Grove and Corperation Street

  3. Interesting article. I remember walking through Bull's Head Yard [which was not flat, there were steps up and down levels] on the way to the Old Shambles where I went to Heywoods the stamp dealer. Mark H Levy