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BEST OF MCR: Central And Over The River Pub Crawl

Jonathan Schofield goes drinking

Written by . Published on December 19th 2014.


BEST OF MCR: Central And Over The River Pub Crawl
 

This is part of a series of three pub tours taking in 42 pubs around the Northern QuarterCentral And Over The River and South Central parts of Manchester and Salford city centres. 

The pub tour below takes in several pubs so if you drink in them all you're going to get very dizzy. Perhaps split the tour. All the places mentioned serve a range of cask ale in ever-changing combinations.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

Wise owlWise owlSTART at the adorable Mr Thomas’s Chop House (52 Cross St, M2 7AR, 0161 832 2245). The present building dates 1901 and has one of the best period interiors with immaculate green tiled walls and a series of four brown tiled arches marching back through the building. There’s superb food, a cracking wine list and a lovely rear terrace next to St Ann’s Church. There’s also a lovely set of terracotta reliefs on the exterior of the building, such as the wise owl over the back door, because after all in vino veritas. The pub was first opened in 1867 by Desmond Lynam – take a look at that signboard and tell me that isn’t Des?

Mr Thomas's

Mr Thomas's

Turn right out of Mr Thomas’s Chop House and continue into Albert Square, past the new pub called Duttons (2-10 Albert Square, M2 6LW, 0161 241 6839). This is a JW Lees’, one of Manchester’s four major family breweries, and provides house beers, pub food and comfortable surroundings plus a good terrace with which to gaze at Manchester Town Hall.  

Duttons

Duttons

In the corner of Albert Square and Lloyd Street, there’s the Albert’s Chop House (Memorial Hall, 14 Albert Square, M2 5PF, 0161 834 1866) in a jewel-like building from 1866 by Manchester architect Thomas Worthington - who also designed the Albert Memorial and the fountain in Albert Square. The building style is Venetian Gothic and is a delight. Inside there’s a handsome suite of function rooms on the first floor, a pub on the ground floor and fine restaurant in the basement. Albert is the brother of Thomas, the pub with which we started the tour.

Albert's Chop House

Albert's Chop House

Retrace your steps from Albert’s and turn left down pedestrianised Brazennose Street into Lincoln Square. To the left you’ll see The Rising Sun (Queen Street, M2 5HX, 0161 834 1193). This has a huge range of beers and dates from sometime very early in the 19th century and is a 'cut-through' pub. In other words it connects two streets in the centre of a city block. Stories abound for the reasons behind this, for instance if the police came in on one side you could run out the other, or if your lady was hunting you down you could escape double quick. Now they’re useful for quick get-aways if a hen or stag party staggers in.

The Rising Sun

The Rising Sun

Turn left out of the Rising Sun, cross Deansgate, and take the pedestrianised street called The Avenue on the left of the Armani store down to The Oast House (The Avenue Courtyard, M3 3AY, 0161 829 3830). This is a clever Disneyfication of pubs, modern with good beers, quirky food, live music and a huge outdoor drinking area. An oast house is a southern English building used for drying hops, the ingredient which flavours beer, and is utterly inappropriate for the north of England but somehow works. When renowned Manchester food and drink company Living Ventures took over this three years ago they’d never sold ale. They tried it here and it immediately outsold lager.

The Oast House

The Oast House

Turn right out of the Oast House and then right again to Bridge Street and turn left over the bridge into Salford. On the left by the riverside here is the Mark Addy pub (Stanley Street, M3 5EJ, 0161 832 4080) in a brick and iron arcade down by the river. There’s a fine drinking terrace by the river. The name commemorates Mark Addy who was born in a rickety riverside house. Whilst helping out at his father’s boat-hiring business, Addy rescued more than 50 people from the toxic soup that masqueraded as a river. After his last rescue of a child in 1889, he said, “to see the joy of his brother and sister when I brought them out, to feel their grip round my legs, and hear them thank me a hundred times, was more to me than all besides”. Earlier he had been awarded the Albert Medal by Queen Victoria and had been given 200 guineas by the people of Salford. His death is said to have been hastened by swallowing so much filthy water.

Mark Addy

 

Mark Addy

Return to the main road, New Bailey Street here, and turn left under the railway arches at Salford Central. Immediately to the left here is Gore Street and The Egerton Arms (2 Gore Street, M3 5FP,  0161 834 7072). The pub has been here since the 1830s but was rebuilt in the Edwardian period by local brewer Joseph Holts. It’s popular with a local ungentrified crowd. Blues beware, it is United pub through and through. 

The Egerton Arms

 

The Egerton Arms

Salford ArmsSalford ArmsReturn to New Bailey Street and cross over Chapel Street. The pub on the right is the Salford Arms (46 Chapel Street, M3 6AF, 0161 288 8883), one of Salford’s oldest pub sites, with a great range of beers and a very appealing bric-a-brac led interior.

One local newspaper, the Salford Weekly News, complained that in 1880, Salford ‘town councillors used to meet to rehearse, debate, and fight their municipal battles over sundry ‘goes’ of gin and other inspiring liquors’.   

Salford Arms

Salford Arms

It was around this area where The Moonraker pub was located in Harold Brighouse’s play and novel Hobson’s Choice, later turned into a David Lean movie starring Charles Laughton. Hobson is a truculent and mean bootmaker whose strong-willed daughter Maggie takes matters into her own hands when he declares ‘no marriages’ to avoid expense. The Moonraker is the pub Hobson sought solace within. Hobson’s Choice became an expression, still occasionally used, to describe a choice that is no choice at all.

King's Arms barKing's Arms barTurn right out of the Salford Arms and walk up Bloom Street and to The King's Arms (1 Bloom St, M3 6AN, 0161 839 8726). This grand building hosts the UK’s oldest angling club, was the backdrop for Channel 4 student sitcom Fresh Meat, and has a theatre space and live music. It also has great beers, reasonable food, an oval lounge and the weirdest squashed up royal coat of arms on the facade. That lion looks in pain. The King's Arms in other words is a Manchester and Salford classic. It’s even got a show business connection with Paul Heaton, formerly of the House Martins and the Beautiful South, in part ownership.

King's Arms

King's Arms

Pub crawlers – or ramblers, as drinkers who went from pub to pub were called in 18th century Manchester and Salford – now have a choice. You can either walk further out of the city centre or stay within the Trinity Way ring road of Salford.

The New OxfordThe New OxfordIf you choose the first way, turn left out of the Kings and then right at Trinity Way, crossing at the lights, left, into Chapel Street. Walk up the street a short distance until you reach Bexley Square on the right. This has the former Salford Town Hall with its columns and pediment at one end. On the right of the square is the fine boozer The New Oxford (11 Bexley Square, M3 6DB, 0161 832 7082). This has a reputation for providing one of the finest ranges of beer in the North West but also has a comfortable interior split into two rooms as well as pleasant outdoor terrace in the square.

Return to Chapel Street and turn right and yomp up the hill past Salford Cathedral, past the former hospital now apartments. Cross over Chapel Street and continue on the same street past the heroic war memorial of the soldier raising his hat at the junction with Oldfield Road.

Within three minutes you’ll find The Crescent pub (The Crescent, M5 4PF, 0161 736 5600) on your left. This Georgian set of buildings, formerly The Red Lion, is a fine conversation breeder with a somewhat ramshackle interior including that 1970s' feature of fake half-timbering. Salford University academics love the place as do people who want a beer (there’s excellent spirits as well) from the broad range available.

The Crescent

The Crescent

There’s a cracking myth about the The Crescent described on their own website. It says: 'A Grade II-listed building where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels once drank and discussed revolution and the theory of Communism'. Nobody knows where this rumour comes from. Engels mentioned drinking in the Thatched House Tavern close to the Royal Exchange but only repeated myth puts either of them in this pub. Nothing wrong with that, pubs encourage mythology. 

Back to the Kings Arms and the other choice of route. Turn left out of the King's Arms and turn right on Trinity Way, following it, but not crossing it, for five minutes until you reach Blackfriars Street. Turn right here and immediately left into Queen Street. Follow this round the corner and then turn left on Collier Street and you'll see The Eagle (18 Collier Street, M3 7DW, 01618195002) pub down the street. The building at the junction here is Blueprint Studios, a recording studios. Apparently members of the band Elbow call The Eagle pub 'The Downfall', because instead of getting down to work, they get down to drinking and chatting. And fall over.

It's one of those pubs that wraps itself around you and refuses to let you go - hours evaporate, excuses have to made when you finally make it home. There’s a lovely bar, three small rooms and a fine performance space hosting a regular programme of live music. The present building dates from 1903 and was rebuilt by Joseph Holt, Manchester brewer, in fact it bears a family resemblance to The Egerton Arms, above, also rebuilt by Holt, in the same years. 

The Eagle

 

The Eagle

Turn left out of Eagle and then left on Queen Street. The car park on the right here sits on the site of the Bible Christian Church, scrape the gravel and you might find tombstones. It was here in 1809 that preacher Rev William Cowherd persuaded his congregation to give up alcohol and meat. The latter would, eventually, lead to the creation of the Vegetarian Society which is still based in Greater Manchester. Excellent name for a vegetarian - Cowherd.

At Gravel Lane turn right under the railway arches to Blackfriars. You can see the final pub on this tour on the left here, The Black Lion (65 Chapel Street, M3 5BZ) wrapping itself around the corner with Chapel Street. 

An odd pub this, narrow yet large, constantly changing ownership but with a good mix of clientele and an interesting history. One curious story from 1875 relates how a magistrate described how 'John Prince had an altercation with the landlord who he hit with a stick, yet there must have been something of the gentleman in him because he only assaulted the landlady with his hat.'

The Black LionThe Black Lion

There you have it, fourteen pubs taking in a touch of central Manchester, hopping over the river and into Salford. As aforementioned, you're best to split this tour up, otherwise you might end up fighting with a hat.

Jonathan Schofield regularly leads pub tours around the city - Book here.

For more BEST OF MCRs visit here.

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AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Salford!

Richard KiddDecember 30th 2014.

Good pub crawl, nice to see a spotlight on Salford. Seen a lot of pubs round here disappear over the years but the ones remaining - and on this tour - are generally pretty good and run by people who make an effort. Let's hope they're still here in another ten years even as gentrification spreads ever further from the city centre.

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Latest Rants

Anonymous

Agreed, a right dump

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Anonymous

Who remembers The King? Now that was a pub, before the NQ was the NQ. No hipsters in there.

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Anonymous

Yet people pay 20 pounds plus for terrible American burgers at other places in the northern quarter…

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Anonymous

Particularly Canal street, I believe that someone saw a gay man and a lesbian down there last week.…

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