Pubs of Manchester

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

Monday, 31 May 2010

Relish, Great Northern Warehouse

Relish, Great Northern Warehouse. (c) restaurantvouchers.

This was one I was dragged to once a few years ago; bar and restaurant by day, club by night. It had little to recommend it then, except for a continental-style al fresco drinking area, being ale-free, overpriced and poncey. It has since shut, remaining an empty plot in the bland Great Northern Warehouse complex while its sister bar, Beluga, appears to be still thriving. Before Relish it was Persia, a far-eastern flavoured eatery.

Relish, Great Northern Warehouse. (c) markydeedrop at skyscrapercity.

Abbaye, Canal Street

This was a Belgian bar on Canal Street which apparently specialised in mussels, chips and mayonnaise. Despite having some sister venues in London, Abbaye closed its doors in Manchester and became Villagio Italian restaurant in 2005.

Villagio, Canal Street, formerly Abbaye. (c) villagio.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bulls Head, Deansgate

The Bulls Head on the corner of Deansgate and Wood Street (so near to the modern day Hog's Head) was described by Manchester police as the "worst pub in town" in the 1840s. The licensee's convictions equalled those of most his customers - "thieves and prostitutes of the very worst description" - and the Bulls Head would open all night to satisfy them. Somehow it kept its licence and in later years was seen to advertise "gentlemen-only" concerts and its own shooting gallery [1]. Other dodgy boozers of that period listed include the Dog & Rat, the Red White & Blue, the Old Ship, the Pat M'Carthy the Green Man (but with no further information they'll be added to the unknown pubs list).

1. Crime City: Manchester's Victorian Underworld, Joseph O'Neill (2008).

Ship Inn, Deansgate

Ship Inn, Deansgate, 1920s. (c) Frank Heaton/Neil Richardson [1].

The Ship Inn on Deansgate was infamous in Victorian times, ran by a succession of shady characters. Harry Snowden was a notorious fencer of stolen goods and John Northern was a thief and a fraud who specialised in card sharping [1]. According to the 1825 census the Ship Inn was at No.14 Deansgate, so towards the top end of the road on the River Irwell side.

1. The Manchester Village: Deansgate Remembered, Frank Heaton/Neil Richardson (1995).
2. Crime City: Manchester's Victorian Underworld, Joseph O'Neill (2008).

089. Atlas, Deansgate

Atlas, Deansgate. (c) Laura VW at flickr.

Atlas sits at the bottom end of Deansgate, and like its neighbour over the road, Knott Bar, is built into the railway arches. Unfortunately it's only a stones throw from the rancid Deansgate Locks, which when viewed from Atlas, literally resembles a cattle market. While Knott Bar is a real ale drinkers' heaven, Atlas is an overpriced, ale-free, typical weekenders' bar, albeit with some pleasing eye candy as the odd group of scantily-dressed girls find their way here from the Locks. Surprisingly the music isn't too loud during the evening so conversation is possible unlike in most late bars in town. The freestyle sax player alongside the DJ above the bar works well and it's amusing to see staff clamber up a ladder in the centre of the bar to the stage to keep them in drink. The impressive terrace out the back doesn't seem to open in the evenings and by all accounts caution should be employed on match days when Duvel-quaffing reds can take over.

Atlas interior. (c) citylife.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Lazy Pig, Oldham Street

Situated below Idol's, the Lazy Pig was a rough old basement bar full of plastered youngsters in the '90s. Adjacent to Sacha's Britannia Hotel and its shocking Friday's Bar, this place had a stint as Shelter Basement Bar and is now Moho Live, having been bought up by John Locke who also converted the dodgy King into Northern, further up Oldham Street. Sensibly, Moho Live prefer to use the slightly more prestigious, if hidden, Tib Street address and entrance around the back.

Former Lazy Pig (basement level), Oldham Street. (c) googlemaps.

Idol's, Oldham Street

Idol's, Oldham Street. (c) carling/Local Data Company.

Next to the dismal Friday's Bar which sits below, and is part of, the grubby Sacha's Britannia Hotel (hence we don't have to do it!), Idol's was Manchester's 1990s cheesy night out. Flimsily-dressed (topless at times) barmaids and cheap beer and shots abounded, and it was the same story downstairs in the Lazy Pig. This was the pre-club venue for many of the Piccadilly 21s-bound crowds (and shamefully, I was one for a time). Moho Live, the music venue, appear to have taken over the basement premises although they use a Tib Street entrance to the rear.

Fridays (Idol's formerly to the right; Lazy Pig downstairs). (c) googlemaps.

Soundgarden / Havana, Blackfriars Street

Soundgarden, Blackfriars Street. (c) googlemap.

This place had a stint as the dreadful chain, Henry J Beans (now blights the Printworks), before Havana and Soundgarden. A basement bar which was never anything to write home about. East Z East Riverside curry house sits near to this site (may actually be the same building?).

Foo Foo's Palace, Dale Street

Foo Foo's Palace, Dale Street. (c) carling/Local Data Company.

Owned by the famous Ancoats drag artist, Frank Pearson, better known as Foo Foo Lamarr, this place lasted from 1975 to 2002, after which Pearson soon passed away. Pearson previously owned the Picador in Shudehill and when he took the Dale Street club on it was called 'Celebrity' but it was soon renamed [1]. In its heyday in the '70s and '80s Foo Foo's cabaret club was a popular haunt of Man Utd players and bon viveur Alex Ferguson was a good friend of the drag queen. The venue looks to be getting a lease of life with 2010 plans to turn the vacant premises into bar, restaurant, gym and office space [2].

Former Foo Foo's Palace, Dale Street. (c) mancunianmatters.

Boardwalk, Little Peter Street

Boardwalk, Little Peter Street. (c) bbc.

Probably most famous for being the venue where Oasis rehearsed and performed in the early '90s, the Boardwalk had been an important live music venue since the early days of Madchester, with the likes of the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and 808 State playing. Local-ish band James had played the opening night in 1986 and renowned DJ Dave Haslam hosted the Yellow night here until the Boardwalk closed its doors in 1999 [1]. According to developers, the Boardwalk underwent a "comprehensive but sympathetic refurbishment, now providing a stunning space including exposed brickwork and steel beams" [2].

Boardwalk offices, Little Peter Street. (c) manchester-offices.

Beer Keller, Wood Street

Beer Keller, Wood Street. (c) Memories of pubs from Manchester & Salford Facebook [1].

This Beer Keller pre-dates the Piccadilly version having been established in the 1960s in Wood Street off Deansgate, in between the stunning John Rylands library and the frankly awful Hog's Head

Former location of Beer Keller, Wood Street. (c) Google 2011, View Larger Map.

It may also have been Der Braumeister as well as the Beer Keller, according to the reminiscing gents on the Manchester Beat site [2].

Beer Keller, Wood Street. (c) Memories of pubs from Manchester & Salford Facebook [1].

Bier (Beer) Keller, Piccadilly

Beer Keller, Piccadilly. (c) deltrems at flickr.

Despite several attempts to drag me in this dingy basement bar/club over the years I resisted, although one can see the appeal that necking two-pint steins of lager whilst stood on tables would have had back in the day (I'd have passed at gurning to the German oom-pah music though). It dutifully kept going for years despite many more sophisticated venues opening as Manchester reinvented itself in the redevelopment of the '90s and '00s with the Northern Quarter, Castlefield, Gay Village and Printworks coming to the fore. Over the years it put on bands and towards the end it was a really popular music venue with up-and-coming bands such as The Cribs, Editors, The Holloways and Cherry Ghost performing. The Bier Keller (or Beer Keller as the sign read) only closed its doors for good a couple of years ago after more than 30 years in Manchester.

Bier Keller, Piccadilly. (c) carling/Local Data Company.

Bar Risa / Jongleurs, Chorlton Street

Bar Risa at Jongleurs, Chorlton Street. (c) manchester2002.

Bar Risa on the site of the old and noteworthy Mash & Air bar was a bland, modern bar with the usual low sofas, loud crap music, and of course, lager, wine and cocktails only.  Jongleurs comedy club was upstairs.

Mash & Air, Chorlton Street. (c) quaffale.

The building has now been converted to office space (and maybe apartments) on the Chorlton Street side, to the right in the below photo.

40 Chorlton Street. (c) knightfrank.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Gaia, Sackville Street

Gaia, Sackville Street, 2006. (c) Manchesterbars.

This gay bar closed a few years ago and became a deli and restaurant, Gastro's. According to the CAMRA buff on Beer In The Evening, Gaia was a "fizz-only bar" so good riddance. Did posh nosh and turned into a club in the evenings apparently. Now Tropiero Brasilian restaurant.

Gastro's, formerly Gaia, Sackville Street. (c) Restaurants of Manchester.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

088. Commercial Hotel, Liverpool Road

Commercial Hotel, Liverpool Road.

On the very outskirts of our boundary, is this welcoming pub faces the old Liverpool Road Station, the first passenger train station in the world. The pub itself is something of a time warp, looking like a vision from straight out of the '60s with its different rooms and cushions on seats. The walls are a mish-mash of old prints of Manchester, boxers, random sportsmen, and Monét prints. See what I mean re: mish-mash? Back in the day the Commercial would have had three rooms; tap room to the right as you enter, vault with open fire to the left, and the larger public bar ahead. Whilst these separate rooms have been opened up slightly it still feels like they are distinct areas. The Wilsons signage remains, and it's been a Wilsons house for some time, as these two 1970s and 1994 photos show.

As for the beer, the Commercial is a freehouse, although sensibly has take on Holts as its resident beer, which coincidentally, being our own personal favourite as best beer in town, always bodes well. The usual suspects of Guinness, Strongbow, cooking lager etc. can all be found. There is no pool table (could be a dartboard but didn't see it), but they have a couple of old '80s arcade games (Space Invaders, anyone?) and they show live football apparently by a number of screens if that is your want. It's a shame it's a bit out of the way really, as it's off the beaten track unless you fancy a mini Liverpool Road crawl (Deansgate - Cask - White Lion - Ox - Castlefield Hotel (we decided this was more hotel than pub) - Commercial). However, certainly worth trying this classic little boozer if you're down this end of town, if only for a couple.

Brewery Tap / Brewers Arms, Great Ducie Street

Brewery Tap, Great Ducie Street. (c) and manchester2002-uk.
This was the brewery tap for the famous old Boddington's Brewery which was sadly closed in 2004 and was demolished a couple of years ago, the Brewery Tap going with it.

Brewery Tap, Great Ducie Street, 2006. (c) Charliebubbles1 at flickr.

The excuse made by the callous owners of Boddingtons, InBev, was that the tastes of the drinking public had changed and their non-cask product - i.e. their Widget-containing cans and the bland Boddies Smoothflow - accounted for 90% of business and it couldn't justifiably be brewed in Manchester and then packaged elsewhere. Cask Boddies is still brewed in Manchester in smaller volumes by Hyde's of Moss Side, but it's rare you see it available around town these days.

Brewery Tap (left) and Brewery. (c)
As well as standard pub grub and a decent pint, the Brewery Tap - or the Brewers Arms as it was known in the '80s - was also the Boddington's merchandise retail center where they flogged a huge range of memorabilia.  This was on the back of their brilliant 1990s "Cream of Manchester" advertising campaigns, the best of which featured local lass Melanie Sykes sailing down the Rochdale Canal on a lagonda with a foaming pint in hand.

Brewery Arms, Great Ducie Street. (c) deltrems at flickr..

Brewery Tap, Great Ducie Street, 2007. (c) Gene Hunt at flickr.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Three Horse Shoes, Old Shambles

J. P. Joule. (c) breweryhistory.

The Three Horse Shoes in the Old Shambles was supplied with ale in 1840 by Benjamin Joule who owned the brewery that stood on New Bailey Street in the shadow of New Bailey Prison over the River Irwell in Salford. He was father of the celebrated physicist, James Prescott Joule, who also gives his name to the Sale branch of Wetherspoons where we often start and finish our days of painstaking research. The landlord of the Three Horse Shoes in the 1840s and '50s was William Brierley, a tenant of Sir Oswald Mosley (of Mosley Street fame) [1].

087. Rembrandt, Sackville Street

Rembrandt, Sackville Street. (c) Gene Hunt at flickr.
For the Rembrandt on the corner of Sackville Street and Canal Street, read Paddy's Goose, but gayer. Even stranger sights, even more blokes dressed as women with facial hair. Bouncers don't like you wandering outside with glasses either, which we kept doing to annoy them (a few halves had been taken by this point). As you'd expect, no real ale despite being an old J W Lees house (see here and here) - previously known as the Ogdens Arms in the 1800s [1] - and number four out of the way. The Village is as popular as ever although it seems like out-of-towners, old queens, and chavs are the order of the day, as the clued-up members of the community that the area once catered for have surely moved on from this theme park.


1. Manchester (London Road) 1849, Alan Godfrey Maps (2009).

086. Paddy's Goose, Bloom Street

Paddy's Goose, Bloom Street. (c) beerintheevening.

Paddy's Goose is number three of the pink pubs and by this stage of the evening things were getting hazy - good job, as we were too addled to notice any dodgy rent boys or dirty auld men, as reports elsewhere have complained of.  As suspected it was full of blokes with impressive bangers or blokes dressed as women and many other strange and varied sights.

Paddy's Goose regular lads. (c) RachelCqt at flickr.

Quick pint and it was on to the next one, but it's off the list now, cant see us returning in a hurry.  Unfortunately no real ale, as despite being told there would be, it was nowhere to be seen.  Previously known as the Fleece Inn, Rams Head and Kingston, and seen in the 1970s as a Wilsons house.

Kingston Hotel, Bloom Street, 1960s. (c)

Also seen in the mid 1970s as a Watneys house as the modest ''Watneys Prize Ales' sign attests:

Paddy's Goose, Bloom Street, 1970s. (c) Manchester Pub Surveys [1].

1. The Manchester Pub Guide, Manchester & Salford City Centres, Manchester Pub Surveys (1975).

085. Mother Mac's, Back Piccadilly

Mother Mac's, Back Piccadilly. (c) spinneyhead at flickr.

Old-fashioned little pub around the back of Piccadilly Gardens with a fiercely loyal set of customers, Mother Mac's is another pub that most people don't even know exists. It's probably named after the old landlady, Mrs Mac, and may have had a time as the Back Piccadilly. It was originally the Wellington, a Chesters as these 1967 and 1970s pictures show. The Wellington was owned and ran by James Grindrod in the mid-eighteenth century. Grindrod and his wife Elizabeth had a son Edmund who went on to manage two well known Mancunian boozers, the Bowling Green on Grafton Street in Rusholme and further afield, the Griffin in Cheadle. Another of their sons, James Newton, ran the Palace Inn in Market Street [1].

Mother Mac's, Back Piccadilly, 1990. (c) deltrems at flickr.

Mother Mac's is mainly frequented by oldies and characters, and is still a sound place for a quick pint, and the pub's specialities, mince and spuds or chip barms if you're lucky. The decor is as old fashioned as the pub and the walls are stained yellow from the previous days of smokers, which in itself adds to the character of the place. Some terrific old pictures of town are hung, plus there's rumours of a macabre event several decades ago where the landlord of Mother Macs murdered his wife and child by hiding their bodies in the dumb waiter and torching the place! Real ale is provided by way of Hydes bitter, which was a decent enough pint. Worth a look in for the novelty value alone of this throwback of a boozer.

1. J P Grindrod at manchester-forum.

084. Crown, Fountain Street

Crown, Fountain Street. (c) beerintheevening.

Having just re-opened again following an ownership change, this pub changes little, irrelevant of who is in charge (as seen in this 1970s photo from the Archive). Just one large room with a central bar area, there is plenty of seating and standing only space for your evening reveller. Attracting mainly office types during the week, and your "slighly posher than the Printworks" crowd at weekends, there is a place for a pub like this if only for one on a crawl. Unfortunately for the Crown, the far superior City Arms and the Vine are within spitting distance, so you're unlikely to end up in here by choice unless very drunk or the others are closed (the Crown does open till 2am on the weekend). Oh, and despite having proper pumps, there was no real ale available. The Crown was a gentleman's club in back in the day, and allegedly was so sophisticated it only served ale in half pints [1]. These three 1962 photos show the original and rather regal Crown, and a year later, here it is demolished before the ugly, present day Crown was built.

083. Mr Thomas's Chop House, Cross Street

Mr Thomas's Chop House, Cross Street. (c) Alastair Bathgate.

Another great old pub dates back to 1867 and has completely reinvented itself into two different parts, in so much as a gastro pub inside and a good old fashioned sit-in-the-sun-and-drink pub outside. The fine looking building is known as James Binney House.

Mr Thomas's Chop House, Cross Street, 2010. (c) Pubs of Manchester.

With real ale a-plenty, and pleasant if a little crowded bar area, this is a good old pub and one that should be on anybody's crawl. The old fashioned green tiling inside is spectacular, and the toilets have more pictures of old Manchester than most pubs have on their main walls. I'm told the food here is also excellent and a good quality wine list is available.

Mr Thomas's Chop House, inside. (c) sugarvine.

As we are really more concerned with the beer though, we'll leave that to another person to write about. Nearby sister Chop House, Sam's, is equally as impressive on the ale and fodder front.

Mr Thomas's Chop House, St. Ann's Church to rear, 2010. (c) Pubs of Manchester.

082. Corbieres - Half Moon Street

Corbieres Wine Bar, Half Moon Street. (c) deltrems at flickr.

Hidden away behind Cross Street and St Ann's Square is the cellar bar Corbieres. This really has stood the test of time when many similar type bars have failed. And the secret? Good beer, good wine, good ambiance and a fantastic juke box. The cave-like interior appears chiselled out of rock, with some odd decor and a great pinball machine rounding off the characterful place.
Corbieres interior. (c) beerintheevening.
Real ale was on, albeit just the one, though this was well kept and tasty, despite advertising four ales on the sandwich board up on street level. Whilst it was quiet when we were in on Saturday afternoon, this is still a ridiculously popular bar and one of the best overall pubs in Manchester, made even better for its hidden location and "best-kept secret" status. Corbieres is certainly worth searching out if you haven't been before, and if you have then you'll already know how good it is. To top this place off is the fact that it was opened by City legend and professional Blue, Mike Doyle, as Corbieres Wine Cabinet in 1978 (Corbieres being a rather unknown wine region of France).

Corbieres Wine Cavern, Half Moon Street, 1990. (c) deltrems at flickr.

081. Town Hall Tavern, Tib Lane

Town Hall Tavern, Tib Lane. (c) chas.eastwood at flickr.

The Town Hall Tavern has tried just about everything in its time, including stints at Copperbutts, Flairs and Tavern In The Town following its time as the Town Hall Hotel, as seen in 1959. From young persons pub, to office type, to comedy club, to its current format of just welcoming everybody, which it seems to have settled on and to reasonable success. Now in the same ownership as the Waldorf we have at least seen real ale return here to a premises that used to be only good for its Guinness. Whilst only Deuchars was on the other day (and this took a bit of encouraging of the bar manager to put a new barrel on) there are rumours that Marble beers will soon be stocked on a regular basis as well. Let's be thankful for this, as in the past it was a keg Bass and M&B house only, as shown in these 1970s and 1987 photos from the Archive. By the 1990s it had become a Good Beer Guide featured pub with Deuchars and Timothy Taylors Landlord on regularly.

Town Hall Tavern, Tib Lane, 1990. (c) deltrems at flickr.

The pub itself is set on three levels, with the main pub at the front, a sunken back room and a function room upstairs capable of holding 80 people (I'll believe that when I see it). We shall be trying out the function room for one of the forthcoming World Cup matches so will comment again about this and the Marble beers at that time. It's an little odd pub and one that you will find yourself calling in at whilst on a pub crawl of Manchester, but would you want to spend more than a couple of hours here? I don't think so. But we may be able to be convinced.

Town Hall Tavern, rear lower ground floor entrance. (c) markydeedrop at skyscrapercity.