Pubs of Manchester

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

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Neil Richardson

Old Pubs of Ancoats & Manchester's Little Italy. (c) M&LFHS.

Seeing as details of many old pubs recorded here have come from his books, it's about time Neil Richardson was further acknowledged for being the oracle of Manchester pubs. Sadly, Neil passed away in 2006 but his work lives on and is available from specialist bookshops in Manchester, such as Ian Allen's on Piccadilly Approach, as well as on-line, e.g. from the M&LFHS and Ranelagh Books. This list seems to be a comprehensive account of Neil's publications and includes books on the pubs of Ancoats, Ashton, Crompton & Shaw, Denton & Haughton, Failsworth, Hulme & Chorlton-on-Medlock, Rochdale Road, Salford and more. Others such as Ancoats Lad, Manchester's Little Italy and The Manchester Village: Deansgate Remembered, have also been invaluable. It looks like the only one Neil didn't get round to doing is Pubs of Manchester...

Ancoats Lad & Old Pubs of Hulme & Chorlton-on-Medlock. (c) M&LFHS.

Here is his 2006 obituary from The Guardian:

The history of the north-west has lost a central figure with the death from cancer of the printer and publisher Neil Richardson, aged 58. Born in Bury, he completed a BSc in physics at Salford University in 1971. He abandoned work on his PhD to become a printer; his earliest publications included the Salford student newspaper and What's Doing, the newsletter of the North Manchester branch of Camra, the real ale lobby group.

Neil's first booklet on local history, about Salford pubs, appeared in 1978. Books on local breweries and gazetteers of public houses were followed by more general histories, all rooted in the experiences of people whose voices were, at best, marginal in the conventional historical record.

Assisted by his wife Sue, he edited, designed and printed his distinctive publications with speed and sensitivity, and they were soon occupying increasing shelf space in bookshops - at prices affordable to people who would not normally have bought a history book. Increasingly aware of the difficulties of obtaining particular types of documents, Neil made available nearly 300 out-of-print guide books, directories, maps and other publications, and changed the world of local history publishing. He helped to establish a more democratically produced history, based on the lives of ordinary people.

Much of this passed unnoticed in the academic world, though historians who discovered Neil's publications found them an invaluable source in their own teaching and researches. Indeed, some found in Neil a more appropriate outlet and congenial publisher for their own work.

He was a shy, modest man with a dry sense of humour, who peppered What's Doing with spoofs and satires of landlords and breweries. This resulted on three occasions in solicitors' letters on behalf of upset licensees. His commitment ensured that the newsletter appeared every month for 30 years - and 368 issues - until surgery in June prevented its publication. Neil announced that this was "owing to essential maintenance on the printer". Sue survives him.

The Manchester Village & Salford Pubs Part One. (c) M&LFHS.

1 comment:

  1. A nice touch. Neil was a Bury lad of course and was a massive presence in the field of local history as pertains to pubs etc. We'll not see someone with his commitment again.