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Britons Protection: 200 year party

Jonathan Schofield sings a song for a classic pub

Written by . Published on May 16th 2011.

Britons Protection: 200 year party

CHECK OUT the definitive architectural guide to Manchester by Clare Hartwell and the Britons Protection gets this. 

‘The Britons Protection pub is early C19 revamped in the 1930s, with much interior decoration of that date.’

That’s it. And that’s the problem with architectural guides, a problem in their nature.

As a genre they omit the life and exclude the charm of buildings. They go for cold fact rather than the romance of the story. 

There’ll be a sweet deal too. The first 200 people at the bar each day will be able to buy a pint of beer for 10p.

The Britons is ripe with the romance of tens of thousands of human stories. Pubs such as this are England's best link with long gone generations with the echoes they bring to us. In the electricity of the air as we chat in snug or lounge there's something crackling away; a memory of all the comedy and tragedy, farce and fiasco that's been enacted there.   

BP 013.JPGThe Britons Protection sums this up perfectly. It's got real pedigree, so much so that next month it achieves its bi-centenary.

On 10 and 11 June, 2011, the pub on Great Bridgewater Street will celebrate two hundred years as a licensed boozer.

To mark the occasion landlord Peter Barnett and business partner Markus Stephens, together with manageress Gwen Partridge and staff, will hold a grand fund-raising weekend.

There’ll be a sweet deal too. The first 200 people at the bar each day will be able to buy a pint of beer for 10p. A cabaret will feature in the upstairs room and there’ll be a Hog Roast in the beer garden. Proceeds will boost the coffers of Christies and the FLVA (Federation of Licensed Victuallers Association).

It should be a fine way to celebrate the role the pub has played in the city and its regulars over the ages.  

These include politico personalities such as Friedrich Engels (allegedly) and great actors (allegedly) such as Henry Irving, through a litany of Manchester music folk, the New Order boys, Anthony H, Elbow, I am Kloot and every hooting tooting alco in the Halle Orchestra.

But these are just the famous names.

The Britons, in its function room, has also lubricated the words and deeds of countless forgotten or nameless entertainers, dandies, ragamuffins, charlatans, magicians, tour guides, harlots and rogues.

It's all part of that electricity.

“So you’re celebrating your two hundredth birthday?” I said to Peter Barnett, the boss, while taking the pictures on this page.

“You cheeky bugger,” he said, “it’s two hundred years for the pub, just thirty for me as landlord here.”

“Thirty, that’s still 15% of the place’s history, isn't it? So did you intend to stay for three decades?” I asked.

“No, it just happened,” said Barnett pausing and giving it some thought. “Look at the place though, it’s hard to leave isn’t it?”

BP 025.JPGRecollections of long evenings spent in the Britons rose up and a mild wooziness set in.

I think Barnett was talking about the lovely configuration of the rooms with their wood and glass decorations, the plasterwork and the gleaming tile, but whichever way he intended it, he was right. The Britons is hard to leave.

There is no more relaxing place in which to tip down drinks in Manchester.

A party for a bi-centenary?  It’s been a two hundred year party at the Britons. One with an open invite and no need for an RSVP.

Follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter on @JonathSchofield

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A Dandy HarlotMay 16th 2011.

What a lovely pub.

A Charlatan entertainerMay 17th 2011.

Best pub in the city. It gets very busy too, which is what pubs need.

Maggie MilnerMay 22nd 2011.

May well have to be led astray into yet another city centre pub Jonathan, hard on the heels of the Lass O' Gowrie!!!

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 31st 2011.

Maggie, just read this. We've put up an article today on a crawl around city pubs.

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