Grand Central, Oxford Street (c) Stew Dean at flickr.
Grand Central was previously known as the Beef & Barley, seen here in 1970 as a Steak House and a year later in 1971 as a Schooner Inn. It was also known as the Cork & Screw and the Shady Lady in the 1970s as the thankfully preserved sign shows .
Going back further, the pub was run by Daffyd and Annie Lewis in the early 19th century, and before that the place may have been more of a restaurant, run by "eating house keeper" and "shopkeeper at refreshment rooms", John and Hannah Bostock (from the 1871 and 1881 censuses) . Unfortunately Mr Bostock was among several licensees who were summonsed for unknowingly selling adulterated beer in (at the time) notorious "The Beer Scare". This resulted in outbreaks of peripheral neuritis caused by arsenic poisoning that was traced to brewing sugars [1,2]. The Manchester Beer Scare affected 6,000 people and 70 people died as a result of drinking contaminated beer, which was traced back to Liverpool and a sugar refiners called Bostock & Co. (not thought to be a relation to the licensee!).
Nowadays Grand Central is primarily a rockers' bar, the place appears quite run down and in need of a spruce up, despite apparently having been refurbished in 2004. It may however be how the general clientele like it, and who are we to argue. Close to Jilly's Rockworld, this has always been a rock and goth place, mixed with a liberal sprinkling of students. It has a pool table and a there is also a downstairs club, Subway, rarely opened these days I believe, though I can't say I've ever been.
Subway, beneath Grand Central. (c) Facebook.
Ale wise, sadly no real ales, which gives it a black mark immediately, and the Guinness was quite possibly the coldest "cold" Guinness I've ever tasted. The barmaid did however very kindly replace mine when she served it with a fly in it taking a first dip of the summer! A slight saving grace is that at least the keg ale was Boddies. There is a place for bars like this in town, but it's not one I would frequent as a general rule, particularly with much better ale on sale next door in the Thirsty Scholar and the Salisbury.
2. Manchester Times, Friday 21 December 1900.