Pubs of Manchester

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

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Liston's Bar, Swan Court

Liston's Bar, Swan Court. (c) Manchester Local Image Collection. Click here to view full image.

Liston's Bar was named after the Stockport comedian, ventriloquist and impersonator Harry Liston, it had a dance floor, and was upstairs after you'd gone through the door. These three 1971 pictures from the archive show Swan Court off Market Street, now covered by the Arndale Centre - one of countless streets and their pubs, forever lost. In Underground Manchester, William Connell, that murky character and alleged expert, claims that Liston's was one of the gateways to Manchester's secret tunnel network [1]. The shabby 'Music Hall' sign and frontage betray the fact it was a buzzing venue in the '60s and '70s by all accounts. This picture from the Image Collection shows the entrance to Swan Court from Market Street (on the right as you walk down Market Street, before you reach Corporation Street) and you can make out a couple of signs for Liston's Bar.

Liston's has evoked some great memories from folks who frequented the place in the '50s, '60s and '70s.  Susie remembers courting in Liston's after the pictures (cinema) in the '50s, while in the '60s there was Eric the camp waiter who would speed your drinks to your table which was bolted down with your chair to minimise injuries when it kicked off as it regularly did.  By the '70s, Ed recalls that barrow boys from the nearby markets would keep their merchandise and barrows in the club and also tout match tickets for the football.

1. Underground Manchester, Keith Warrender (2007).

14 comments:

  1. At the end - 1971-72? -it was used by some of the area's 'barrow boys' who stored some of their merchandise and barrows in/around the place.

    I knew it from being sent by my boss, at the time, to see these guys for tickets for football matches, which they always had - at a price.

    Thanks for the memory jog - great site, BTW.

    ed

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  2. great stuff Ed, we'll update the entry to include your memories. Cheers

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  3. Great memories of Listons which was always a port of call on our crawls in the early sixties.
    The tables and chairs were all bolted to the floor so's they couldn't be used as weapons if a fight broke out as was a fairly regular occurrence.
    Then there was Eric the camp waiter who was a pioneer of blond streaks and was super - fast delivering your drinks to the table. Happy days and BTW - great site - keeps me entertained for hours.

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  4. Yet more great memories thanks, sounds like a rum old place. Any other lost pubs of the 60s we've not included yet?

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  5. When i was courting (now theres an old fashioned word) in 1956/57 i used to visit Listons Bar quite often with the man i was going out with who came from Collyhurst Flats. He used to take me to the pictures in Town and then onto Listons where he knew lots of people there. I remember it being a bit on the scruffy side and i think there were wooden floors. I seem to remember climbing some sort of steps to get inside?

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  6. Thanks Susie, we have now incorporated yours and the others' reminisces into the entry above. cheers!

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  7. W. G. Sebald writes about "Liston's music hall" in his novel Die Ausgewanderten.

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  8. Remember going in Listons as a kid on a saturday night selling the Sunday Empire News i didn't sell many everyone was drunk i remember the small gay guy that worked there. it was a bit scary for a 13 year old.

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  9. I remember Listons when I was a student and during my first years of teaching. I note that Eric (Leroy ) is mentioned - he sang whilst wearing female garb. One of my colleagues wouldn't believe me on her first visit that the "glamorous female" vocalist was really a man. The other half of the show involved Jackie Carlton; his catch phrase whenever a good look female passed him on the way to the Ladies was "Wish I was normal 1"

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  10. In 1901 a hostelry at 6 Swan Court was managed by Robert Arnold Crawshaw, beer and wine seller. Aged 43, he had been born in Bury. He “lived over the shop” – or to put it another way he “worked at home” as the census records; he was an employer, not an employee. There were probably at least nine staff – those boarders in the building include: a hotel manageress, a forewoman barmaid, three barmen, a cellar boy, a domestic cook, a general domestic servant and a housemaid. It sounds as if it may have offered accommodation as well as a bar.
    In 1911 Robert was still there – but had been demoted from being the boss – that was now his 70-year-old widowed mother. She, who went by the delightful name of Silence Crawshaw, held the licence. She had learnt the trade from her husband, also Richard, who in 1901 was a wine and spirit merchant; they lived in Pendleton, Salford. Although she was nominally in charge, Robert completed the 1911 census return, signing it on her behalf. He gave his occupation as Public House Manager, employee. At that time the staff living in included Robert’s widowed sister (the hotel’s book-keeper), two barmaids and a kitchen maid. Neighbouring properties were lock-up shops, warehouses or pubs including ‘The Fatted Calf’ and ‘The Old Bull Inn’.

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  11. I remember being taken by Jackie Carlton, along with 3/4 other RAF, airmen to a nearby club (the Three Brooms?) where a stripper ( Susie) performed. Anyone with recollections of this? Circa 1960

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  12. Well it's now 2016 and my otherhalf can recall the club very well as, he was the manager/owner and the last one to half the club before, it closed down.

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  13. In 1969, on a Saturday afternoon my soon to be wife had heard about the place and insisted I took her in. I remember the barman never spoke but just hummed some tune and his wife had short hair and dressed in cord trousers and a check shirt and normally told him to watch the bar whilst she sorted out any trouble that broke out. I ordered a half of beer for myself and a drink for her
    . When see asked why I was only having a half I replied "if I drink a pint I'll need the loo and I'm not leave you in here by yourself whilst I go".

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  14. My man used to help run this bar we lived upstairs the electric organ was on the back wall yes furniture was bolted down to the plank floors it was safer that way it was an un-official gay bar with entertainment consisting of a swearing parrot on the bar and female impersonators food was also served in the back room at a discount to veterans and homeless of all colour and creeds Christmas was a big deal baubles hung by customers with names attached carols sung on the rooftop looking down Market Street at all the rooftops lit up and charity given on Christmas day with meals to the homeless funded by raffle tickets through the year. Listings was a very popular pĺace in the mid 60's to 71 When we lived there.

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