Sinclair's Oyster Bar, Cathedral Gates, 2007. (c) ilgiovaneWalter (Sobchak) at flickr.
Despite a superb location, and a potential mecca of a meeting point for drinkers, this pub does somewhat let itself down by not serving real ale. This was disposed of about about 18 months ago and now only serves smoothflow keg beer, which considering its a Sam Smiths house is bordering on criminal. Can't imagine they do oysters in here these days either. Similarly the fascination with only allowing plastic glasses does little to improve the tasteless nature of the beer, and therefore it will be unlikely that this will be frequented much by us in the future. The presence of burly bouncers outside both boozers is rather off-putting as well. As with its neighbour, it's a wasted opportunity yet remarkably rammed at most times of the week.
Dating back to 1550, The Old Wellington pub is a Grade Two listed building which is reputed to be one of Manchester’s oldest buildings. It was originally situated in The Shambles, which was, for centuries, an important market area. The earliest reference to a building on the site appears in 1328 although detailed analysis has put the actual date of construction of the current building circa 1550. Originally built by the Ratcliffe’s of Ordsall, the most famous occupants were the Byrom family, whose fortunes were founded on a highly successful drapery business. John Byrom born in the house was famed as inventing a system of phonetic shorthand, the forerunner of Pitman’s shorthand. Sinclair's Oyster Bar dates from 1720. Sinclair's has stood the test of time, surviving wars, a terrorist bomb and two city centre redevelopments.
Wellington and Sinclair's Oyster Bar, Old Shambles, 1968. (c) thevictorianweb.
The last redevelopment activity saw the Shambles buildings painstakingly dismantled, relocated 100 metres and identically reassembled. Sinclair's and the Wellington reopened in their current location, a gateway to the city’s Medieval Quarter, late in 1999. For those of us who remember both pubs in their previous positions, the new pubs are eerily identical and a job well done (apart from the now lack of beer pumps).
Sinclair's Oyster Bar and Wellington, Shambles Square, 1987. (c) Aidan O'Rourke.