Pubs of Manchester

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

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

White Bear, Piccadilly

Former location of White Bear, Piccadilly, 1962. (c) johncassidy.

The site of this old inn at the lower end of Piccadilly was once home to famous locals, Sir Ashton Lever and his wife Lady Darcy Lever (as in Lever Street).  Lever was an animal and bird collector and loved animals so much he was responsible for bringing horse racing back to Kersal Moor in 1761.  Their house is depicted here in around 1783, and the White Bear was built right in front of the house, incorporating parts of it into the hotel.  This map from shows its proximity to the Mosley Arms Hotel, as well as the fact it had an entrance on Back Piccadilly.

The White Bear is pictured in the early 1900s - note the Rylands sign, which later became Pauldens and now is Debenhams. This 1903 shows the cast-iron framed building at 1 Piccadilly, built in 1879 [1].  This building now houses one of Manchester's many Starbucks.  This 1904 photo gives a close-up of the White Bear - it was directly below the 'PAUL-' below in front of the old sunken Piccadilly Gardens.

Piccadilly Gardens, 2007. Senzatitolo at imageshack.

The White Bear has now been replaced by the building in the centre-right here, now in front of the modern and ugly Piccadilly Gardens, with its brutal Japanese architecture, part of which is meant to screen the trams and buses from revellers in the Gardens (but instead looks like something you might have found in the '70s on a half-finished housing estate somewhere behind the Iron Curtain):

Reference to the White Bear was made in this clipping describing a huge boxing match which took place in Manchester some time during the last century.  Not being a great boxing fan I can't be sure who Murray and Holland were, but they sounded popular:

1. Manchester's Northern Quarter, English Heritage (2008).


  1. There was also a White Bear on Swan street.

    I remember it - 1970s - run by Martin and Kitty, friends of my father who worked on the nearby Daily Express.

    I even have a pic, somewhere, of them sitting in George Best's bath, at his 'showhouse' in Handforth.

  2. Martin and Kitty are my grand parents! My name is Charlie. Did you know Tricia their daughter? Shes my Mum

  3. Hi both - i presume you mean the Old White Bear which is still open today, and thriving as Bar Fringe? See the entry here:

    Here is the Old White Bear in the 1970s -

    Any info or memories you have of the pub we will be happy to incorporate into its entry.


  4. That;s the one, Old White Bear - that takes me back.

    I was only just old enough to get in , but I subsequently worked in the DX a few years later, myself.

    If 'Charlie' (above), gives the ok here, I'll post you the pic of M & K, mine hosts of the OWB (fully clothed, BTW), in George Best's bath.

    Certainly a piece of Manchester pub history.

    It's a family thing and I wouldn't want to do it without his permission.



  5. Thanks Ed, would be pleased to host your pic of Martin & Kitty if Charlie OK's it. Drop us a line at the above email

  6. I lived in the Old white bear from 1948 to 1952.
    My grandad Fred kellett owned the pub.