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The Sawyers Arms Reborn?

Pizzas mark refurbishment of one of the worst city centre pubs

Written by . Published on October 23rd 2012.

The Sawyers Arms Reborn?

COME on now, who of our readers regularly hangs out in The Sawyers Arms on Deansgate? 

The latest transformation comes from Orchid Pubs which has 290 boozers with food across the UK. This pubco seems to try a little harder than those pub mass-murderers Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns.

Despite that gorgeous exterior swishing round the corner of Deansgate and Bridge Street it’s been a pub of last resort for decades. If cities are about choice then anybody with a discerning bone in their body has run a mile. 

The Sawyers has been pure small town. 

For anthropologists studying the Friday night fighting pub the Sawyers has been the perfect model for decades. This is the sort of place you run away from once you leave Rochdale, Rotherham, Rochester and Wrexham. For decades food has been called ‘fayre’, every football match has been shown, and every forty year old male’s head is shaven. 

Yet the place has pedigree.

In some records it’s Manchester’s oldest pub in terms of a continuously held licence, one that stretches back to the 1730s. Just over a century ago, the more modest Georgian building was turned into a gin palace with its name writ large with an Art Nouveau flourish. It was owned by the local brewers Wilsons. 

No photographs survive of its interior but the external extravagance hints at mosaic, mahogany, tile and etched glass, numerous rooms, games and big Barnsley chops. It must have been quite something. 

Then the rot set in with the sixties and seventies. Breweries got marketing departments and time and motion men who came up with new ideas about packing more people into the pubs and ripping them open, increasing footfall. They forgot what a pub was all about.

Sawyers with corner capSawyers with corner capWilsons Brewery was eaten by Watneys and eventually the pub ended up in the hands of the asset-stripping pubcos.

The Sawyers was disembowelled, once, twice, three times and more. It lost any charm it may have had. It lost its extravagant cap. It became that small town, fighting pub. 

The latest transformation comes from Orchid Pubs which has 290 boozers with food across the UK. This pubco seems to try a little harder than those pub mass-murderers Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns. 

Orchid have now re-invented again. 

This is their blurb about the latest renovation, which starts off with a refreshingly honest sentence. 

‘The Sawyers Arms on Deansgate is being transformed to breathe new life into a tired local icon. Steeped in history, the city centre pub will retain its character and charm but new features including fresh dough pizza will put a modern twist on what today’s great, high quality pub should be about. A new landlady at the helm, Rocky Quinn, brings with her 25 years of experience. 

‘Art works will be highlighted by the tasteful lighting, quirky lamps and feature pendants. Throughout the pub there will be antique tiles, cut glass mirrors, dark ornate Victorian bar counters, velvet curtains with gold tassels and Chesterfield sofas’. 

Rocky Quinn, proper landlady's name that, but pizzas? Andof course football on big screens. 

“The changes we are making, with a fresh new look, fantastic menu and the top sports every week, all add up to plenty of good reasons to visit,” says Rocky Quinn. 

The pizzas - those easy to prepare and cheap to produce pizzas - will be ‘hand-stretched to a thin, crispy base, topped with high quality, fresh ingredients’. The range will include ‘the classic Serrano ham and chorizo with cherry tomato, fresh red chilli and rosemary or the Americana with pepperoni and rocket to the more exotic crispy duck and hoisin with spring onions, cucumber and fresh coriander. 

‘Every day between 12pm and 3pm customers can take advantage of the lunch club and get a main course plus a drink for under £7. Tuesdays and Thursdays are 2 for 1 day, with offers on pizzas and cocktails and 10am early opening for coffee mornings with cake’. 

Confidential will take a look in a week or two at this Orchid renovation of the ancient pub and see if it has blossomed beyond small town. But honestly folks, pizzas. 

The Sawyers Arms  is at 138 Deansgate Manchester, M3 2RP.



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

Mr MancuniarOctober 23rd 2012.

'COME on now, who of our readers regularly hangs out in The Sawyers Arms on Deansgate? '

I do for football games. It's one of the only pub pubs in town. I don't want a poncy NQ bar to watch the football or some chain sports bar, I want a real pub with real people in.

I'm not a 40 year old with a shaved head and I frequent various venues across town but the Sawyers and Lass o' Gowrie are two of the only decent football pubs in town.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
IanOctober 23rd 2012.

Tib Street Tavern is quite good for football. About the only place in Northern Quarter isn't it?

The Ducie was our usual choice but we've been having to go to The Crown and Anchor.

Daniel JamesOctober 23rd 2012.

Yep Tib St Tavern is excellent for football in the Northern Quarter, and is not at all poncy - friendly staff, good pub food and great beer offers too

Gemma PuricelliOctober 23rd 2012.

Completely agree, Gary. Me and my other half love this pub for the football and when we fancy a 'proper pub' rather than a posh bar. Harsh words in this article!!!

crisbyOctober 23rd 2012.

I'm intersted to hear that 'Serrano ham and chorizo with cherry tomato, fresh red chilli and rosemary' is a 'classic' pizza. None of that filthy foreign prosciutto and pepperoni thank goodness!

David BishopOctober 23rd 2012.

Yeah I've often popped in for the footy too - normally only them or the Lass O Gowrie that show all the matches

AnonymousOctober 23rd 2012.

hell kind of lesbo name is rocky?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
SmittyOctober 26th 2012.

What a charming comment! Mate, you shouldn't hide behind anonymity as your rapier wit deserves a column on this site. Alternatively, you could crawl back under whatever nasty little rock you call home.

SmittyOctober 26th 2012.

Personally I think Rocky Quinn is a fantastic name - one step away from Bond Girl, or at the very least Rovers landlord...

Poster BoyOctober 23rd 2012.

...uncredited provocative writer reveal yourself !

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldOctober 23rd 2012.

Oops. That would be me Poster Boy. It's an expanded news piece but I should have put my name on it. I agree with Chris below, The Rising Sun is a great footy pub.

Poster BoyOctober 23rd 2012.

...never took you as a N4Q metrosexual-type -what with all Saturday morning Timperley League experience. When you move to Sunday's you might find more like minded folk and feel more comfortable in the Sawyers...

AnonymousOctober 23rd 2012.

I don't want to be any type.

Jonathan SchofieldOctober 23rd 2012.

Poster Boy never join a club, never be a type...and really metrosexual, pah. Still I do like articulate folk who've thought about who they vote.

GordoOctober 23rd 2012.

Anon, bet you wouldn't say that to Rocky's face...

ChrisOctober 23rd 2012.

Used to be a good pub pre and post match, that I frequented regularly, but probably only been in there once a year for the past five recently. Didn't they try and turn it into a 'wine bar' and i use that term loosely? Rising Sun a better pub to watch a game at imo.

Poster BoyOctober 23rd 2012.

What the Sawyers really needs is for it to become a cherished part of the Robinsons estate, and reinvent itself as one of their flagship 'beer shrines' as per The Castle and Black Horse...

Michael RocksonOctober 23rd 2012.

I think some of the coments slating the sawyers are quite harsh, what you have to realise is that the pub is moving forward to the times ahead, its still going to be the same local most of you might of attend showing live football, but with a new concept, how about you wait and see what the pub has to bring to the table and the town community before you write negative articles. I will be looking forward to the opening and i will be there from the 1st public opening.

AnonymousOctober 23rd 2012.

'This is the sort of place you run away from once you leave Rochdale, Rotherham, Rochester and Wrexham.'

There speaks a man whose Manchester consists of the city centre and perhaps Chorlton and Didsbury too.

Manchester is full of pubs which make the Sawyers seem genteel and upmarket.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldOctober 23rd 2012.

Anon, I go out in the whole city and Oldham and Rochdale and Urmston and so on. But I want a city to be a city, to be different from the smaller towns so why go to a pub you could visit there. And what is wrong with Chorlton, and have you ever been to the Spread Eagle there? If you want an unreconstructed pub, there's a few around in south Manchester.

David BishopOctober 24th 2012.

Would love to see a feature on Mother Macs, still amazes me to this day it exists. Kind of boozer Jack the Ripper would have used as his local.

AnonymousOctober 24th 2012.

erm I'm a reader that regularly hangs out in this pub, me and my husband love the place. it might have been a bit of a sh*t hole, but the staff and regulars are really lovely people, we've made some very good friends, which is more than can be said for some of the 'trendier' places in town. It will be nice to see it redecorated tho and I can't wait to go in on a Saturday afternoon for a few beers and some pizza

AnonymousOctober 24th 2012.

I know what Anon is saying, what's wrong with a few honest, non-pretentious boozers in the city centre? You need them alongside your bars, clubs, more up market places to make it a varied and interesting place to go

SarahJane73November 15th 2012.

the new pizzas are awesome! I've been in a few times and on a Saturday its still got the old feel of a local pub, rather than a pizza restaurant. I go past every night on the way home, and since it opened its been alot busier most week nights. Definitley an improvement with the decor as well

the_bd_ayeJanuary 8th 2013.

Can't believe they are doing pizzas and not gourmet burgers, truffle coated fries and deep fried BBQ five dollar shakes. Honestly, this city is going to the dogs

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 5th 2013.

and no pulled pork either and no Brooklyn lager bottles and they haven't even got a Twitter account

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