Pubs of Manchester

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

Monday, 1 February 2010

010. Bank, Mosley Street

The Bank, Mosley Street, 2010. (c) Pubs of Manchester.

Originally the Portico Library (still in evidence upstairs) and for a time, the Forgery & Firkin chain pub, the history is as follows:

"The Portico Library in Mosley Street is the only surviving work in Manchester by Thomas Harrison. Promoters of a scheme for a combined newsroom, circulating library and reading room visited the Athenaeum in Liverpool in 1799 or 1800. This may have been how they came into contact with Harrison whose Lyceum was built there 1800-04. The Portico is Manchester's earliest Greek Revival building and in incorporates a partially intact Soane-inspired interior. To Mosley Street four columns, based on Stuart and Revett's drawings of the Little Temple on the Illisus. On the side to Charlotte Street a rank of attached columns and ground floor windows, all done in the finely finished Runcorn stone. The steps up to the Ionic Portico and the recessed entrance emphasise the exclusive nature of the club, but today they lead to a disappointing pub conversion."
This is a bit harsh, as the conversion has tried to remain respectful to the building's past, and has some great pictures and even a potted history on the menu stand outside on the street.

"The ground floor was the newsroom, and there was an open well with a galleried first floor. This was closed in and floored over in the 20th century. The library upstairs is preserved and is now reached from a side entrance. Here the space is dominated by a dome with late coloured Victorian glass, and segmental tunnel vaults. Harrison presumably knew Soane's Bank of England in London, and he may have had contact with Soane through his membership of the Architects' Club. The library and its fittings are intact, and the library continues in use [1]."

The Portico Library, Lower Mosley Street. (c) Looking at Buildings.
Famous members of its subscription-only library included John Edward Taylor, founder of the Manchester Guardian, authors Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Bronte, and scientists John Dalton and James Prescott Joule. The post box on the Portico Library is the oldest in town [2]. Before becoming a pub it was a bank for a time, Lloyds Bank's Overseas Department being resident for a time from the 1920s, and seen here in 1973. Before becoming the Bank pub, it was, for a short time, the Forage & Firkin, one of the chains that were quite successful in the '80s and '90s.
As a pub, it is a large spacious place with lots of places to sit. When we visited there were five real ales on together with all the usual other suspects. They also had a good selection of continental lagers on draught also. Popular during the day with shoppers and office workers, and with a slightly younger crowd at night. The food looked okay, and their speciality is many different kind of sausages although we didn't try any of these. Not a bad pub, a little soulless, however a fantastic building in which it is housed, and the added bonus of 10am opening.
2. Manchester Then & Now, Johnathon Schofield (2009).

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