Pubs of Manchester

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

Sunday, 28 February 2010

030. Lass O' Gowrie, Charles Street

Lass O' Gowrie, Charles Street, 2010. (c) Pubs of Manchester.

A gem of a pub situated right on the boundary of our proposed pub crawl. The pub can be found on Charles st, which is the road next to the (soon to be defunct) BBC building on Oxford Road. The pub itself always has a good selection of real ales on, in fact there were seven on our visit yesterday including the excellent Betty's Brew and Fog on The Tyne - all are well kept and fairly reasonably priced at £2.25-£2.50 a pint, given its location. It was £2.70 for the fine Wren's Nest session ale on another visit. The pub at one time used to also brew its own beer on site, and whilst this has now ceased, the machinery is still preserved below in the cellar and used to be viewable through windows in the floor, but sadly these have been now boarded over. It was a Threlfalls house in the past as the distinctive tiling suggests, as seen in 1957, 1959 and in the '70s. As you can see not much has changed to the Lass over the last half century except for the ever-changing sign on the corner, which has stated "Fine ales traditionally brewed on the premises" and "World famous Lass O' Gowrie Manchester's original brew house" in the last few decades:

Lass O' Gowrie, Charles Street, 1990 & '00s. (c) deltrems at flickr & Scottyweb.

In the late 1800s, this part of Manchester was known as Little Ireland, due in the main to the large numbers of Irish immigrant workers living there. The area was home to extreme poverty and terrible hardship and quickly came to be synonymous with all the evils of squalor and unregulated industrialisation for which Manchester had by then become notorious for. It was in this charnel house of blood, sweat, tears and tragedy that the pub we know as the Lass O' Gowrie today was born. Legend has it that the original landlord of the pub was not an Irishman, but a proud, homesick Scotsman who named the pub in honour of his favourite poem - The Lass O' Gowrie by the celebrated Scottish poet Lady Carolina Nairne [1].

Lass O' Gowrie, Charles Street, 2009. (c) Sibi at flickr.

An odd sign on the River Medlock side of the pub states that "Here was the site of Manchester's pissotiére, retained for posterity, last used AD 1896." A pissotiére is, as you can guess, an outdoor urinal! Also note the Hogshead sign which has recently been painted over - most likely a reference to the hogshead unit of ale, which is 54 gallons (other units feature in Manchester pubs past & present - firkin, tun), rather than the name of this or another pub.

Lass O' Gowrie, Charles Street, 2007. (c) markydeedrop at skyscrapercity.

All live matches are also shown here, and literally all sports. There is also a nice little beer garden converted on the side of the building, but this gets a bit whiffy in summer as it sits over the heavily polluted River Medlock. Also a quirk, there are half a dozen table-top arcade games for back in the day gamers such as Scramble, Donkey Kong etc. and these are also all free. This place is now run by a former regular who snapped it up a few years ago after the pub lost popularity. Well he's certainly turned it around, and is one of the finest and therefore busiest alehouses in town - worth searching out the Lass if you haven't been before.

Lass O' Gowrie, Charles Street, 2009. (c) deltrems at flickr.

The Lass deservedly won Best Pub Award at the Manchester Food & Drink Awards 2009 as you can read about below:

Lass O'Gowrie story. (c) SSM CAMRA Opening Times Dec 2009.

Lass O'Gowrie advert. (c). SSM CAMRA Opening Times Dec 2009.


  1. Was a fantastic pub on reopening in 1983 (?) under the management of Joe amiable scouser who was a real old school landlord. Kept a great pint (as said, brewed on the premises) and a spotless pub.
    It lost a lot when he left in early to mid 90's and for us never been as good since.....pretty scruffy nowadays and beer is hit and miss.....

  2. Been totally cleaned up and reopened under Greene King Brewery's wing this year .... and back to it's best since Joe Flynn's days (as posted above) Hope they can keep up the standards, and survive the loss of the BBC next door ...

  3. As the 'Singing Postmen' in the 80's we were going to the BBC Radio round the corner on Oxford Road to be interviewed for the Norman Prince show and sing a song, so we said it's bound to be recorded we'll go into the Lass O'Gowrie for a pint which turned into a few pints, went round to the BBC with ukelele, guitar, and snare drum and the producer came out and said yes Norman will have a chat and then you play Live ! Sang 'The Auctioneer' best we ever played it !!

    ..... Cheers !!!