Pubs of Manchester

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

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Hat & Feathers, Mason Street

Hat & Feathers, Mason Street, New Cross. (c) Mace at flickr.

Further down Mason Street from the Red Bull was a great boozer, the Hat & Feathers.  The pub was run by Bernard and Mary Armstrong in the 1970s and '80s, and the Hat & Feathers was a popular blue pub, with some memorable trips to Wembley starting out here.  Barney went on to manage the Railway on Railway Road in Hollinwood, Failsworth, where he was Vice Chairman of the Failsworth Blues Supporters Club for a time.  Barney's daughter Julie and her husband Malc still run the pub today.

Railway, Railway Road, Hollinwood. (c) Gene Hunt at flickr.

In recent years the Hat & Feathers had became known as the pub that "welcomed home a gangster".  Eric Mason, one of London's most notorious gangsters from the Krays era, had made Manchester his base, and, the Hat & Feathers, his second home.  After a stretch inside he had a celebratory home-coming in 2004.

Hat & Feathers, Mason Street, inside. (c) History Me.

"It had been three long years since one of Manchester’s most popular figures had sat at the bar in the Hat & Feathers. Three long years since the famous cockney accent had been heard, and three long years since a glass of gin and tonic had sat in the hand that could tell a million and one stories... As we gathered around the small doorway, it felt like waiting at a surprise party for the guest to arrive, and moments later, he did. A broad grin spread across Eric’s face as he strode through the door, which was quickly replaced by a look of surprise as he realised how many people were there. Hands were stretched out to warmly shake his, and he did so gladly... The shutters on the cameras whirled as Eric took his place in the small snug to talk to the assembled media. [1]".

Hat & Feathers, Mason Street, inside. (c) History Me.

The pub closed around 2005 and is one of the most recent casualities of Manchester City Council's zealous demolish-history-and-build-new-flats policy, seen here being pulled in 2009:

'Death of a pub', Hat & Feathers, Mason Street, 2009. (c) BinaryApe at flickr.

The Hat & Feathers is seen in better days as a Threlfalls house in 1971. I nipped in here for a pint in about 2003, maybe 2004, just before it shut.  Holts was the order of the day, as ever at a reasonable price, then £1.40 a pint.

Hat & Feathers, Mason Street. (c) Adam B. at flickr.

Now surrounded by some of the best pubs Manchester has to offer - The Marble, Angel, Crown & Kettle, Smithfield, Fringe... - the Hat & Feathers sadly missed its chance to become part of the Northern Quarter ale trail.

Hat & Feathers, Mason Street. (c) Ancoats Forever Facebook.

The Society of Preservation of Beers from the Wood (forerunners of CAMRA) published a piece on the Hat & Feathers in their May 2005 edition of Pint In Hand.  At the risk of this being lost in the internet ether, here it is:

Manchester still retains a good number of traditional back street pubs, unlike such places as Leeds, which has lost virtually all of them.  One such hostelry stands on Mason Street, a short cut for folk travelling between the pubs on Rochdale Road and those on Swan Street. I draw your attention to the Hat & Feathers, one of the city's authentic inns. From what I could see from the tap, this is a triple roomed pub that still retains some original internal wall tiling, as well as proper leaded lights. Our resident expert declared these to be pre-1920s examples and therefore Art Nouveau as opposed to Art Deco. There is a brass foot rail for  those energetic souls like myself who prefer to stand at the bar and please note the genuine snecklifter latch on the main door; unfortunately I didn't have time to do a more thorough survey of the pub.  A touch from the days of my youth was the advert for the one-time almost obligatory Saturday rock & roll disco.  I'd say the Hat is plainly popular with the locals to judge by the huge spread that had been laid on in a back room for a presentation to the pool team.  The beer, Holt's bitter, was very good and it was a shame that there wasn‟t any mild on as well.  Now for the gloom input: I am informed that the area around the Hat is to be redeveloped and we all know what that means – adios pub.


  1. I remember picking my dad up from here some years back,then in later years as I came back to live in m/c,,i used the pub myself,,they was in my quiz league,,i was stood at the bar one sunday after noon n guy said,,"u not from round here,,were u from?"i told him as far as things go ,,I would bet him I was born nearer to the "hat"than anyone else in there that day,,think it was a charity afternoon,cos the up n coming ,,ricky hatton was in,so was jimmy,"the weed "Donnelly,the best memory of all was I had my wedding reception in there in 1999,,cracking night,,my name is,,Thelma mcgrail,,was Edwards,,

  2. I stumbled across a video on YouTube today of Eric Mason being released from prison and driven to the Hat and Feathers for his 'release party'. The video features a lively pub atmosphere, the type of pub I love but seem to becoming a rarity in and around Manchester. Imagine my shock and horror to find on Google Street View, the pub is now a car park. A pub as old as this one, with original fittings, destroyed, and for what? Saddens me when I see and read about pubs like this disappearing. I've from Longsight and used to drink in Levenshulme. The amount of pubs along the A6, legendary pubs some dating back hundreds of years, GONE. Turned into immigration centres, a takeaway, a shop. I can't imagine what Manchester will be like in fifty years time. All its history wiped out to takeaways, car parks and expensive shoebox flats.