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Brannigans closes: a city mourns

Sleuth reports on a tragedy in the going out scene in Manchester

Published on January 12th 2011.

Brannigans closes: a city mourns

Sleuth has fond memories of Brannigans.

Whenever he felt too full of joy, too optimistic, too rigid with excitement about life’s ripe potential he’d go in there, get a dose of reality and stumble out humbled and contrite.

First the Dutch gent had bagged off with a forty year old Gorton divorcee which was legal if unexpected, then he’d been caught by security in the toilet corridor having an intimate snog. Finally he’d jumped on a table and begun shouting, “This is life, this is sex!” Remember he was sixty five. At the very least.

But now Brannigans has closed, the parent company placed in receivership, the body being shredded by insolvency bods Begbies Traynor. It’ll have to be Fridays on Oldham Street now for Sleuth’s dose of hyper-reality.

Brannigans has ascended to the great beyond of Manchester barland, wherein some sodden Nirvana dwell the likes of Ronnies, Henrys, Life Cafe, Square and Teasers; where it’s a Slow Comfortable Screw against the Wall for eternity.

Maybe that's a shame. Sleuth can play several Brannigans' scenes in his head.

One involves a Bavarian Trade Union group in the year 2000. This was composed of fifty year old male officials and twenty something female secretaries. To an amazed, and frankly bladdered audience, the older German men and their younger ladies paired off ballroom dancing style and waltzed around the dancefloor.

They waltzed to ‘Hungry like the Wolf’ by Duran Duran which was being covered live by a band who resembled the bad guy extras from Miami Vice. Within four bars of the song the locals had retreated to the edge of the dancefloor and were twisted double with laughter. The band meanwhile were looking around wondering about the exact quality of the ‘night-enhancers’ they’d taken before coming on stage.

On another occasion there was a group of Dutch visitors who were staying at the Midland Hotel and had ‘heard’ Brannigans was a ‘good night’. It was for one of them.

A sixty five year old Dutch social housing consultant had to be physically carried back to his hotel after various incidents. First he’d bagged off with a forty year old Gorton divorcee which was legal if unexpected, then he’d been caught by security in the toilet corridor having an intimate snog. Finally he’d jumped on a table shouting, “This is life, this is sex!” Remember he was sixty five. At the very least.

It was perhaps the Low Countries’ lowest moment in terms of reputation in their entire history.

Then there was that charlatan Derek Acora making up a ghost story in the former Albert Hall for the Most Haunted TV show. If there is a ghost in the 1910 building then that’s because the place was solidly temperance when it was built. The money came from the Manchester and Salford Wesleyan Mission, an organisation that thought alcohol was perfectly beastly. They would not have approved of the ‘Drinking, Dancing and Cavorting’ tag upon which Brannigans built its seedy reputation.

But that’s all in the past.

As Cougar Leisure Ltd go into administration, the lights dim and Peter Street turns another page, one perhaps less stained with vomit.... and less saturated with MEN journalists trying to do shock stories about Britain’s drinking culture. Given that only the rubbish Bar 38 and Walkabout remain on the ‘strip’ means that maybe the place is due a reinvention. What about a group of massive teashops? Let's start 2011 in a genteel manner.

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22 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

B LeechJanuary 11th 2011.

Where o where will the literati of Manhester meet now?

NeilJanuary 11th 2011.

Love it or hate it - this means that people have lost jobs and suppliers will have lost money. It's a shame that so many bars along this stretch have closed and look nowhere near likely to reopen. This is a magnificent building and I hope that it doesn't go to ruin if no-one takes it on.

Plus - where else are you going to get a guaranteed cop-off with a fat girl wearing clothes two or three sizes too small for her?

ConManJanuary 11th 2011.

In my mind I cannot separate Brannigans and that bar in the final part of the film 'From Dusk till Dawn'.

rosieJanuary 11th 2011.

except that in 'From dusk till dawn' all the chicks are fit at the start of the night and monsters at the end, like a sort of reverse beer goggles

NortherngeezerJanuary 11th 2011.

Brannigans was full of ten past two burds.............but at eight thurty, hehehe.

JJanuary 12th 2011.

End of an era !!

There is no recession...January 12th 2011.

...just a reaffirmation of what is good taste!

DrakeJanuary 12th 2011.

How far the mighty Peter Street scene has fallen. From being the number one trouble spot in the city to being empty and windswept--is this an improvement?
@conman--I think the bar was the same throughout Dusk till Dawn, but indeed...

DibigoJanuary 12th 2011.

What a dump. This article made me laugh and brought back memories of my late teens. we'd refer to walking along Peter St as 'running the gauntlet'. Various obstacle could befal a young reveller on his way to Subway, the main one being some loon coming out of Life, Brannigans or Square bar, and punching you. Great times.

WhitesidesOnsideJanuary 13th 2011.

Laugh all like but the good thing about Peter St was that it kept the less scrupulous sorts all together in one part of town. Now that Peter St is no more, it's only a matter of time before these sorts start to migrate towards the NQ as they have nowhere else to go - just as they did with Deansgate Locks 10 years ago.

Tyson ThebeerhoundJanuary 13th 2011.

My favourite review of it:
"Like the smell of urine? Enjoy the company of early morning drinkers? Like the sweet sting of a slapped arse or broken nose? Brannigan's is the place for you."

SpookyJanuary 13th 2011.

We did a haunted night stay at this venue, one of the lucky few, the idea of having some models stay with us tipped it for the manager, however, we did a quick check of the place upstairs during the day, and the stuff on camera we picked up during the day when we watched in back is enough to freak you, let alone the stuff that happened at night there...

Would love the chance to do it again... trust me, as a christian and none believer, that place is one haunted place...

Double ChinnigansJanuary 13th 2011.

There seems to be a lot of focus on how the women looked in this place. The men looked like the guy that plays dualing banjos in Deliverance. This side of town is under significant change with Epernay and Taps very close and 235 a stone throw. It is the start of a new era for this side of town.

Emily ThomasJanuary 13th 2011.

I remember going there one night when I was a student - must have been in 2000 or 2001. It was a 'cheese' night and they were handing out cheese on toast to people on the dance floor. Genius.

RJCJanuary 13th 2011.

Shame the Library Theatre isn't moving into the 'Coliseum Nightclub' building now. Peter Street could have made a good theatre stretch running from the Opera House to the Palace Theatre (and round to the Green Room). Alongside the Midland and the Radisson it would have given quite a positive impression of our city to visitors. The Branigans building is great, lets hope something decent goes in there...

culture vultureJanuary 13th 2011.

Thank f*** for that. I never dared or wished to go in there as I know the day it opened what it would be like. Glaring through the windows through the tacky posters was enough! It was a shame that the CityCouncil never saw fit to put some culture in there, but then this CC doesn't value it's architectural heritage does it?

Should put the libary theatre and/or cornerhouse in there instead of spending 20m building them a new build - or let the CC buy it and gift it to to the community for a peppercorn rent, which is something they are good at!!!

Very pleased hotel guestJanuary 13th 2011.

Thank god for that,I'm staying at the Radisson on Saturday,At least ill be able to get back to the hotel safe and sound

voiceoftheironingbroadJanuary 13th 2011.

But have you ever been upstairs and seen the listed Methodist worship hall. Its amazing untouched, intact, and draped in cobwebs but absolutely the most wonderful space. I would recommend a lot of people viewing ....after all you might want to buy it. You cant change it though.

Matt TuckeyJanuary 14th 2011.

Gutted. Loved working here under Phil Child and co. Great venue. Even once cleaned out the supposedly "haunted" attic / church. Quite a sight, although not remotely scary.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2011.

Hi Matt just to let you know Phill sadly has passed away in August.

Ang KJanuary 2nd 2019.

I used to work here too Phil was such a legend, what happened to him??

Piers MorganJanuary 16th 2011.

Where can I go now?

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