St Johns Tavern / Coffin Polish, Hardman Street, 1912. (c) Frank Heaton/Neil Richardson .
Officially St Johns Tavern, this local's pub was known as the Coffin Polish due to the nearby coffin shop. It was situated at the bottom end of Hardman Street and ran by a Mrs MacDonald and is shown in The Manchester Village on the corner of Young Street as a Walker's Warrington Ales house. In keeping with the times, the Coffin Polish had separate rooms for men and women, but did let in the local Irish lodgers from the nearby Biddy's lodging house on Gartside Street, unlike other many pubs in the area. The Irish used to hold beer drinking competitions with the locals, organised by the next-door-but-one bookies. Jack Green remembers: "Men sat at a table and they were brought the pints, which they drank in their own time. If someone jibbed or was sick, he lost. They were allowed to go to the toilet but somebody had to go with them to see they weren't sick. My grandfather was one of the top men - he could drink. My father's brother Joe was also a heavy drinker - he could knock back 20 or 25 pints a night. ". And we're told that binge drinking is a problem these days (more than three pints is considered a "binge" according to made-up government guidelines)!
1. The Manchester Village: Deansgate Remembered, Frank Heaton/Neil Richardson (1995).