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Castle Hotel, Oldham Street to re-open

Jennifer Thomson discovers how an actor and the Big Hands manager, Rupert Hill and Jonny Booth, are to re-open a Northern Quarter classic

Published on February 22nd 2009.

Castle Hotel, Oldham Street to re-open

The Northern Quarter institution of the Castle Hotel will be resurrected, thanks to former Corrie actor Rupert Hill.

Hill, who played factory creep Danny Baldwin’s son, Jamie, will re-open the pub next month, with business partner Jonny Booth.

The legendary Oldham Street boozer - the only premises of Stockport brewer Robinsons - closed in July 2008. At the time it was a seen as a casualty of the smoking ban.

Hill, 30 said: “I used to love going in the Castle, it’s a great little pub, full of character. We really want it to do well.”

New tenants have promised to uphold its reputation as a traditional boozer-come-artistic den.

“We’re really keen to promote the whole creative aspect of the pub,” said Hill, also lead singer in the band Yellow Dog.

“The back room will be closed at first, but once it’s renovated we’re planning to put on live music, vinyl fairs, art and comedy shows.”

Temporary toilets will replace the pub’s infamous loos while the restoration is completed in the Grade II listed building. The importance of the building means that approval has to be sought from government agency English Heritage on the refurbishment.

Jonny Booth, 29, manager of Temple and Big Hands, also Rupert’s bandmate in Yellow Dog said: “English Heritage have the same vision as ourselves, everything is going to be like for like, from the timber beams and the tiles down to the wallpaper – they’ll not be a magnolia wall in sight.”

The famed mosaic of beloved former landlady Kath Smethurst, which contains Kath’s ashes in the grout, won’t be making a re-appearance.

The man who created the latter is the well-known mosaicist, film-maker and Castle Hotel Guinness drinker, Mark Kennedy. He joked: “To quote Kath herself: You can’t do that in ‘ere love. I might consider something similar, but the one of Kath was a piece of history – you can’t reproduce that.”

The re-opening of the city centre pub is seen as a boost for this part of Oldham Street.

A down-at-heel but much loved drinking den on the Northern Quarter circuit, the new owners and the brewery, will have much to live up to in recreating the old charm and individuality. But a clever and tasteful refurbishment is very necessary given the abject condition of the pub prior to closing. At present Hill and Booth's plans seem just the ticket.


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

Mike WaterfootFebruary 22nd 2009.

What great news. Just what I needed when everything else is doom, gloom and dispair.I with she new owner all the very best and I look forward to seeing them and hopefully all the new and the old customers

beeFebruary 22nd 2009.

it'll never beat Fridays...

MarkFebruary 22nd 2009.

ManCon, any chance you could pass on my email addy to Johnny/Rupert? As a happy regular during the gutting end of the last phase, I'd be really interested in keeping abreast of this and offering help on the atsy side if at all possible.

S HollingsFebruary 22nd 2009.

Good luck to The Castle, great news if done right

rev porlFebruary 22nd 2009.

They should keep Marks mosaic of Kath in there for the sake of continuity and as a nod to the illustrious past. Plus, it's a wonderful piece and she was a wonderful lady.

rosieFebruary 22nd 2009.

@Evo.are you a poor man's Avo?

WTF!February 22nd 2009.

ManCon Seriously gets worst by the day!

RobFebruary 22nd 2009.

Hard one for Hill and Booth, because the temptation might be to go down the Bay Horse route and crank up the volumes after nine, get in Stella and turn it into a youth club.

JennFebruary 22nd 2009.

See the facebook fan page for updates (cant do links sorry-you'll have to cut and paste!) www.facebook.com/…/71688336476?ref=share…

atrotterFebruary 22nd 2009.

good news at last, especially in the current financial climate and with pubs closing every week.I used to survey this pub for the CAMRA GOOD BEER GUIDE, Had to sample all the real-ales, and i still here to tell the tale...seen rupert in there a few times when been in with MANDY LOU + DEN. don't make it too arty-farty though we like our pubs trad + a bit basic..

EvoFebruary 22nd 2009.

Fair enough, and apologies for over-estimating your influence on the awards. The rant still stands though, regardless of where responsibility lies

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2009.

Jo. Slightly unfair comments there. You can't say Damien had no interest, he just didn't have the experience required in such a tough market with no backing from the brewery. He was also mourning the loss of his mother and then step dad. Give the lad a break. Great news about the Castle re-opening though. Hope it doesn't go all trendy with extortionate beer prices though.

Kevin PFebruary 22nd 2009.

Fabulous news. I quite liked the squalor, put me in mind of Dickens for some reason. Done well though this will be a winner.

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2009.

When is this re opening?

GordoFebruary 22nd 2009.

Care to elaborate WTF! ?

JoFebruary 22nd 2009.

Let's just be clear-it was not a "victim of the smoking ban." Damien had no interest in the place and ended up doing a runner.

Editorial CommentFebruary 22nd 2009.

Dear Evo, can we reiterate once and for all that the Manchester Food and Drink Festival is not Manchester Confidential's event and that we only have one judge on the panel amongst many others. Nor given the amount of money that City Life have spent sponsoring the event do we think that they'll be best pleased that you think it was us. Although thanks for assuming we are the obvious choice for sponsorship of a food and drink festival. We agree. Hey Gordo, should we take over?

Trevor NolanFebruary 22nd 2009.

Or for that matter Damien the ex-landlord is he still motorcycling around the world like Ahasuerus

Castle RegularFebruary 22nd 2009.

Can people please stop having a go at Damien! He tried bloody hard after he took over from Cath. There was more live music under his short term as landlord than at any other time. True he may not have had the experience to carry this out but as a tenant he had not the finances to make the improvements. Don't forget Robinson's put no money into this place for nearly 20 years. A loosing battle. I wish Damien all the best and shame on all of you that snipe so pathetically. I hope Rupert and Johnny make a great go of it with it seems, some financing from English heritage. Well done chaps.

EditorialFebruary 22nd 2009.

Damien, good luck to you. We've changed the name to Kath....should have known that, apologies.

NetFebruary 22nd 2009.

We love Rupert Hill!Nice one - I love it when people see sense!

MarkFebruary 22nd 2009.

Or even the artsy side. Gah.

outragedofm1February 22nd 2009.

Whilst I applaud the noises made by Rupert to get this pub back on the rails, it's probably worth mentioning that the Castle still managed to make the reliably bizzare Short List for the Pub of the Year Food and Drink Festival awards despite the rough interiors, absence of food and (corroborated by CAMRA) vinegary beer. Oh and being out of business before the awards were announced. I wonder which oddities we can look forward to being included this year, eh Jonathan?

crazyjohnFebruary 22nd 2009.

Are there any bar jobs going? x

stretchFebruary 22nd 2009.


EvoFebruary 22nd 2009.

Absolutely baffling how this placed managed to be in last years pub of the year shortlist, damien clearly had ambitions elsewhere and the pub was showing blatant signs of neglect from it's not so recent heyday. the 'couldn't be bothered' attitude was seeping into all aspects of the place and the only saving grace was the continued eclectic array of new music on offer, most of which was seemingly organised and set-up by students with no other affiliation.Like I say, it seemed like a 'lazy' choice from Manc Conf for the shortlist and stunk of someone rarely frequenting the place throughout the last year but putting it forward on the back of previous performance and because they think a characterful building is all you need to create a successful manc boozer.Anyone who went in there during it's peak surely can't deny the place was a shadow of it's former self. I expect better from Manc Conf.

Trevor NolanFebruary 22nd 2009.

What's going to happen to the big Czech Republic flag?

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2009.

The Castle was a magical place! it will be hard to recreate that atmosphere there used to be whether it was the quality staff and regulars or the load bearing posters keeping the back room from falling down we had many a fun night in this blinder of a boozer

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2009.

As a former employee at the Castle Hotel I once tried to clean in there and gave up as things started falling apart without the grot! It was part of the place, as were many things such as the water that used to run down the walls when it rained, the tar stained walls and ceeling and the memory of my first ever trip of climbing behind the band in the back room to experience the toilets....I know that Damien felt a lot of pressure to fill Caths shoes that he was so abruptly shifted into and also that Robinsons were not very helpful concerning fixtures and fittings that needed urgent repair (mainly the roof) although I'm not condoning what he did and I agree that Damiens heart just wasn't in it and making it the great place that it once was.

Chantelle SmethurstJuly 1st 2014.

Iam 1 of kath's children and have feared returning to the castle and it not feeling the same, how I couldn't of been more wrong I plucked the courage on Saturday 28/6/2014 and was amazed at what's been achieved, tho the mosiac looked much better than the clock hanging in it's place, the same piano in the middle room and the back room I was awestruck at what was hiding under the false ceiling I remember, well done to all involved and thank u for not changing it into a soppy wine bar Rip mum

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