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The Crown and Kettle

Jonathan Schofield becomes prime minister, turns off the telly and dances on the ceiling

Written by . Published on September 5th 2007.


The Crown and Kettle

When I’m Prime Minister, next year or the year after, I’ll be working hard to put the Great back into Great Britain. Amongst the sweeping changes (largely ridding the UK of recent health and safety legislation as well as the vicious persecution of the new puritans who enacted it) will be at least one measure devoted to pubs.

TVs in pubs will be banned apart from limited football use. This is because outside the communal thrill of the big game, TVs in pubs are utterly depressing. The only people who watch them are mutants, bored couples and off-duty postmen who thought they might write a novel in their spare time but found alcoholism more alluring.

The only people who watch them are mutants, bored couples and off-duty postmen who thought they might write a novel in their spare time but found alcoholism more alluring.

Occasionally the pub TV is for the staff to while away dull moments but this is putting the cart before the horse. Keeping your staff happy is well and good but should be ditched as soon as it gets in the way of the enjoyment of paying customers. If I want to watch TV in a room with other people who aren’t speaking to each other, I’ll visit the nearest retirement home. This way, at least there might be a medical incident to liven things up.

The Crown and Kettle should need TVs like a hole in the head. This is one of the most spectacular city centre pubs with a ceiling far too good for the likes of Lionel Ritchie to dance upon. Anything which detracts from the fine fixtures and the glorious ales should be removed. Or that should be the case because TVs are the beginning of the problems at the Crown and Kettle - more of that later.

The pub dates from the 1840s. It sits at the junction of Great Ancoats Street and Oldham Road, a prominent spot which explains why such a fancy pub with three entrances was built. The ceiling is a Gothic fantasy of almost absurd four foot long timber pendants hanging down from a ceiling alive with four leaf – bit like lucky clover - decoration.

It’s mad, it’s magnificent, built to add a big splash of glamour in an area which was dog poor back then and isn’t much better now despite the gradual suffocation of apartment speculations in the area. Indeed Artisan, one of Manchester’s most creative developers, owns the Crown and Kettle along with the Daily Express Building down the road which forms their offices. Wonder if they have TVs scattered around at eye-level?

You might notice in the Vault the ceiling has been restored to its former green, red and golden glory, and in the main room it looks distressed. This is because the pub was closed for 15 years after an arson attack and that’s how English Heritage wanted it restored. Apparently you can stabilise knocked-about heritage sites but not re-do them in case you damage things further. Stuff and nonsense, let’s restore the whole ceiling back to what it was.

The best thing to do in the Crown and Kettle is drink ale and have a chat -.just as it has been in English pubs for a millennium. On this visit I drank Dobcross Bitter, a golden lovely, with a lingering aftertaste, that put me in mind of the good things in life.

I had lunch too, a toad in the hole variant of mashed potato, gravy, Yorkshire Pudding and a curled sausage for £4.95. The gravy, mash and Yorkshire pudding were ok, the sausage was nauseating. This is a shame, with an owner as loaded as Artisan, in an area that still aspires to be a northern Hoxton, there is potential to do a proper gastro pub, especially with the decline of the Ox in Castlefield

In fact Artisan, so good in so much else they do, are letting the Crown and Kettle slide. The pub’s gone backwards since the company re-opened it in 2005. There’s even a net under the ceiling to stop plaster falling into your pint – you can see debris hanging ominously around up there.

This place is still worth a visit for the beer and the decor but those bloody TVs need to go, along with the signs warning that you might be pickpocketed (yea that gets you in the mood). At the same time the Crown and Kettle needs better food, re-decorating, perhaps even a good scrub. Oh and you might want to wear a hard hat as well. Well done to Artisan for giving it a new burst of life but this pub remains a massive missed opportunity.

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

SallySeptember 5th 2007.

Shame, on the positive side the Marble Arch is doing some good things at the moment for this 'type' of pub!

Jonathan Schofield - EditorSeptember 5th 2007.

Bill, of course I wrote this for effect - it's called being a professional writer, that's what you do - but not the effect you imagine. Did you read the article? The beers are excellent but, as I kept repeating, this glorious pub is now decaying once more (and that sausage really was awful). C&K needs work, it should be a place of beery and pub design pilgrimage instead it's beginning to feel neglected.

BobSeptember 5th 2007.

Time for establishments to decide on what they are. Why bother serving the food if it just ticks the box on a product list? There is nothing wrong with being a pub famous for good beer - lots of drinkers want to enjoy the beer without being immersed in the smell of cooking food. It would be nice, in some instances to make a clear definition between pubs and restaurants. C&K is very good at delivering a great range of beers, in top notch condition and serving them well - I have always found the staff to be very friendly. Compare this to the (old) Bridge. Great food, terrible (if available) beer. Simple solution - if you can't do both - don't!!!

EloiseSeptember 5th 2007.

Aye, and I think you will also find they have better taste and are in the Marble Arch anyway. Poor journalism!

DaBurgSeptember 5th 2007.

I went in the original C&K (pre fire) it was grand. I’ve recently been in the C&K several times and it always feels like it was hurriedly put together that morning and just leaves me cold. I’ll stick with The Fringe, I love it, the bonkers landlady, the irksome drunks but especially the beer. Ok and Centro’s good and if I’m dressed up Bluu and if I can afford it, the Sierra Nevada in Trof.

GoodshawSeptember 5th 2007.

Folks I think those things about the postmen and the old people were jokes. Crown and Kettle does need some tlc tough.

A postmanSeptember 5th 2007.

I once bit a dog...now that's a story. I am an alcoholic though

JackyboySeptember 5th 2007.

The best pub in manchester for me is sinclair's oyster bar. The best location you could hope for, a beautiful building with a great view of 21st century Manchester. On a nice day there is plenty of outdoor seating (although its always busy) and most of all you can get a pint for under 2quid that doesn't taste like drainwater. What more can you ask for? On the subject of TVs in pubs, I find that there are very little places in Manchester that you can go and watch the football considering how many bars and pubs we have.

Bill L.September 5th 2007.

Free advert eh Damien?

J. BakewellSeptember 5th 2007.

Interesting (and probably typical) that people leap to the defence of postmen, but nobody seems bothered by the attempt to draw humour from 'medical incidents' amongst the elderly. Be nice to your elders - they're good people to have around.

A dogSeptember 5th 2007.

Having bitten many postmen - I am a gentleman dog and never bite postwomen, so sorry Eloise if you're one of the above - I find them usually unromantic souls. So to even suggest that some might want to write novels I find reassuring and heart-warming not poor journalism at all.

Bill L.September 5th 2007.

What lazy journalism just designed to get a reaction.The Crown and kettle is my first stop on any night out, as they serve the best pint in Manchester (yes even including The Marble), I always find the staff know the ales they serve and can always reccomend one to suit your taste. The green paint job is a mistake and mistake and an intelligently chose jukebox could render the tv's dormant till kick off, but these are issues to be dealt with by the Artisan management and should not be used to put the pub manager and his team down as they do great work

JedsterSeptember 5th 2007.

Way to insult all of Manchester's hard-working postmen! Does anyone ever edit this stuff?!

ktfairySeptember 5th 2007.

This is a truly strange and beautiful pub - but I too got distracted by the TVs and the strange room layout. I live nearby and have been in the Marble Arch too many times to remember - however have only been to the C&K once. Shame - come on Artisan!

natasha thomasSeptember 5th 2007.

The comment about the Postman was hilarious, I didn't read anymore, that just made the article.

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2007.

There is a dearth of decent pubs in Manchester. The only 3 I can think of that I want to visit time and again are Sinclairs, The Britons Protection, and The Knott. There are too many 'trendy bars' where posing comes above the drinks. Only trof in the Northern Quarter has managed to cross that pub/bar line and manage to be both stylish and have a good range of beers, while keeping prices reasonable

SpawnMeister666September 5th 2007.

The Crown + Kettle was actually closed for 15 years after they foolishly offered a cheap doubles bar on Derby day, and as a result had City and United fans trash the place.I believe there was subsequently a fire, but most of the damage had been done by the hooligans, and the pub was already closed when the fire happened.A perfect example of a 'proper' pub in the area is the Castle just down the road....Over 200 years old, not been decorated since, falling into disrepair due to brewery disinterest in the leaky roof, and yet serves a staggering NINE real ales, and has live music for free most nights these days, anything from acoustic to hard core thrash punk!And the prices are reasonable too!Spawny

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