Pubs of Manchester

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

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Clifton Grange Hotel, Wellington Road

Phil Lynott & George Best, Clifton Grange Hotel, Wellington Road, Whalley Range. (c) Manchester Evening News [1].

The Clifton Grange Hotel was something of a Manchester institution, owned as it was, by Philomena Lynott, mother of Phil Lynott, the legendary but tragic singer of rock band Thin Lizzy.  Phil died in 1986, aged just 36, of heart failure and pneumonia linked to the rock 'n' roll lifestyle.  His most famous song, "The Boys Are Back In Town", is reputedly about Manchester's infamous Quality Street Gang being released from prison, and the "Clifton Grange Hotel" is immortalised in his song of the same name.  Despite most Thin Lizzy websites mentioning the hotel and that it was on Upper Chorlton Road in Whalley Range, it was actually on the corner of Alness Road and Wellington Road.

Former Clifton Grange Hotel, Wellington Road. (c) Google 2014. View Larger Map.

The 1851 map shows an original house called Clifton Grange on Wellington Road [2], and the building has been extended from the house, along Alness Road where an entrance is today.  Phyllis took over at the Clifton Grange Hotel in 1966 when it was described as a showbiz refuge which had fallen on hard times.  Despite having no experience of running a hostelry of any type, she ended up buying the hotel and remained there until 1980.  "We ran the hotel to suit showbusiness people, not normal people.  Breakfast wasn't at 8am, it was at noon.  If you missed noon, then you just got in the kitchen and cooked yourself... It wasn't really a hotel, it was a showbiz digs [3]."

The old Clifton Grange, Wellington Road. (c) Old Maps [3].

The Clifton Grange soon became famous in the North West and was known as The Showbiz, The Biz or simply Phyllis's.  Walk through the door and you would be greeted by a grass-skirted Maori dancers, transvestite comedian or a female contortionist.  The bar was full of pop stars, magicians, ventriloquists, casino croupiers and other random entertainers.  A young Phil loved and would heavily be influenced this bizarre and unique atmosphere, travelling to Manchester with family members for long summers at the Clifton Grange [3].

Former Clifton Grange Hotel, Wellington Road. (c) Google 2014. View Larger Map.

After Phil became famous as the front man of Thin Lizzy, whenever he came back to visit his mother and gig in Manchester, the homecomings would be huge parties.  All his friends would head to the Clifton Grange and their 'Aunt Phyllis' - christened the Fairy Godmother of the North West - would turn the hotel into a Thin Lizzy shrine - The Boys Were Back In Town.  Friends included sportsmen like Alex Higgins, George Best, Steve Coppell, and they'd head to The Showbiz after matches to meet up with United fan Phil for all night parties [3].

Former Clifton Grange Hotel, Wellington Road. (c) Google 2014. View Larger Map.

The Clifton Grange Hotel closed many years ago, but it is still in use as private housing, and its memory lives on in the legend of Phil Lynott (often called the first black Irishman), Philomena Lynott (who stayed in Manchester after Phil's death), and the songs.

"Clifton Grange Hotel" [4]

Pack up your bags
Leave family society
Oh come with me
Where they treat you well


At the door
Old Lou the jew
Will welcome you
In the corner lies the hotel
 

At this refuge of mercy
Head of the table
King of laughter
Percy
 

And if you speak too much
In company
You'll soon be heard
By that mynah bird and whiskey
 

At the top
You'll find another brother
Go ask my mother
She knows them all very well... hotel


3. Phil Lynott: The Rocker, Mark Putterford (2010).

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