Pubs of Manchester

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

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Big Western, Great Western Street

Big Western, Great Western Street, Moss Side. (c) Alan Winfield with permission

The Big Western is an imposing old Victorian boozer hidden in the heart of Moss Side and has apparently recently closed its doors, seemingly for good.  This reflects the changing face of the area, since football moved away and different mixes of immigrants moved in.

Big Western, Great Western Street. (c) Alan Winfield with permission

Alan Winfield visited the Big Western in the mid-'90s.  It looked closed so a back entrance was found, and inside was a shabby, multi-roomed boozer populated by a few local black men, with signs on the walls stating no crash helmets or balaclavas.

Big Western, Great Western Street. (c) Google 2013. View Larger Map.

The Big Western is a fine building which would undoubtedly be listed if it was in a more salubrious area.  As it is, the pub sits in the middle of a notorious and still troubled council estate - a shooting occurred in the pub last year.  Until recently it held music nights for the local immigrant communities.

Big Western, Great Western Street. (c) KASB104 at YouTube.

Shown in 1971 with terraced housing still apparent, the pub used to be simply the Western Hotel, but acquired the "Big" tag to avoid confusion with the Great Western on Sloane Street.  These two photos from 1974 show the destruction wreaked on the area in the name of redevelopment.

Big Western , Great Western Street. (c) Google 2013. View Larger Map.

The Big Western is an old Greenall Whitley house, but even a couple of decades ago it was ale-free, offering only kegged Greenalls bitter. Despite being quite close to the ground, I'm not aware of it being a particularly popular pre-match boozer compared to the many other (lost) Maine Road pubs.

Big Western , Great Western Street. (c) Google 2013. View Larger Map.

Stables adjoin the pub which give clues to its age - the archway reads A.D. 1879.  A decrepit old sign round the side half-reads the name of the pub and "Whitley" can just be made out.  Let's hope this historic old survivor remains standing at least.

Big Western, Great Western Street. (c) Google 2013. View Larger Map.


  1. this was a fantastic pub and a great part of my youth, my band, The Swinging Lampshades, rehearsed and played there. Sunday night would be steel band, Carribean Sunset or Tropical Heatwave the dancefloor heaving till the early hours, all ages all races what a great place

  2. Thank You for sharing your memories! The Western is still going and can still boast that all ages and races can party and enjoy themselves!
    If your band is still going it would be great for you to come and Jam or play a few songs!

  3. Does anyone have any knowledge of this building in it's early days? Are there any old photos in the pub?

  4. In the 80s it was a notorious spot for heroin dealing. Sold openly on the street and car park at the rear it was absolute no go area for police

  5. I used too live on Jasper walk when I was a child but I can’t find it on any maps does anyone know why?