Bar Buzz Extra (December 2019)

An extended look at news from pubs, bars and clubs across the Beer Buzz area.

New openings in the city

Manchester’s latest cask ale outlet is one of the more surprising. The Bull and Bear is located within the newly opened Stock Exchange Hotel on Norfolk Street (between Market Street and King Street). The city’s former Stock Exchange has been converted into a hotel by a consortium headed by former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs and hotelier Winston Zahra.

©Len Hogkinson

While it sounds like a pub, The Bull and Bear is primarily a restaurant from celebrity chef Tom Kerridge (pictured with fellow chef and local CAMRA activist Len Hodkinson). The TV chef will be hoping to bring similar adulation as his two pubs in Marlow, Buckinghamshire – The Coach has one Michelin star, while The Hand & Flowers boasts two of the coveted stars. Both are known for menus featuring British ‘comfort food’. Kerridge himself is expected to spend two days a week until the New Year helping establish the menu.

The team behind Alphabet Brewery and PLY have opened The Quick Brown Fox on the corner of Swan Street and Oldham Street. The bar which was first rumoured over two years ago finally opened at the start of October. There is no cask ale available (not surprising given the operators) but 12 of the 24 taps on the back bar will dispense craft beers including three from Alphabet. The remaining taps serve premixed cocktails and natural wines.

©John O’Donnell

Historic Victorian pub, The Edinburgh Castle in Ancoats reopened in mid-November. As reported in the last issue of Beer Buzz, the 200 year old building which sits on the corner of Blossom Street and Henry Street has been relaunched by the team behind Northern Quarter cocktail bar Cottonopolis,  after spending decades abandoned and forgotten.

©Steve Davis

It has been very tastefully renovated with a long impressive marble topped bar opposite the corner door. In the area behind the bar there is more seating with another room on the right with mirrors and dark wood panelling. Two cask ales feature including a house beer from Marston’s Ringwood brewery.

Pilcrow on last orders

The Co-operative backed NOMA scheme have announced plans to convert the grade two-listed Old Bank building on Hanover Street into offices. A new seven story extension is to be built extending the building into Saddlers Yard – and the space where The Pilcrow pub currently stands. The wooden structure is expected to be relocated elsewhere in the NOMA development but rather than remaining a pub, it will be ‘repurposed’ for community use. The team behind the pub (Port Street Beer House owners Common & Co) are reported to be in talks about a new venue within NOMA.

New home for GRUB

After completing their summer season at Mayfield Depot, food fair operator GRUB has moved to The Red Bank Project on the fringes of the ‘Green Quarter’. After alternating between summers at Mayfield and winters at nearby Fairfield Social Club, the move will allow them to stay in the same venue throughout the seasons. 

©John O’Donnell

Visitors can expect the same rotating choice of the very best street food operators with the multi-room indoor are offering a bar with 22 keg and two cask lines, a second bar upstairs and even a playroom for toddlers complete with miniature street food stalls. Opening hours at 50 Red Bank will be Friday 4pm to 10pm, Saturday noon to 10pm and 100% vegan ‘Plant Powered Sundays’ Sunday noon to 6pm. Check for weekly food vendor listings.

Fairfield Social Club on Temperance Street continues to operate as a live music and events venue.

Coming soon in the city

The new site for Manchester’s Brewdog bar has been confirmed to be on Fountain Street off Market Street (just along from The Shakespeare pub and Primark). It was confirmed in August that they would be leaving their current home on Peter Street as the block in which it is located is to be redeveloped into a hotel. The new bar will be located in the former Enzo pizza restaurant. It is expected that the Peter Street bar will close and new bar open in March 2020.

Piccadilly Tap owners Bloomsbury Leisure have applied for a licence to convert a former refuse store on Victoria Station Approach into a new craft beer bar expected to be called Victoria Tap.

All change in Manchester suburbs

Technically in Hulme, The Salutation lies in the midst of Manchester Metropolitan University’s Eastern campus, dwarfed by the adjacent Student Union Building and surrounded on two sides by building work for MMU’s new School Of Digital Arms. The pub is owned by MMU itself and operated under the umbrella of the Students Union but, in an interesting move, when it reopened for the new academic year it revealed a new look and a new partnership with Bollington Brewery.

The brewery already has three successful pubs of its own, The Vale Inn in Bollington itself, The Park Tavern in Macclesfield and The Cask Tavern in Poynton. Its first venture into Manchester sees the pub adopt Bollington branding and four cask pumps dedicated to Bollington’s award winning beer range – Bollington Best, Long Hop and Oatmill Stout are permanent plus a guest from Bollington and space for two other guest beers.

©John O’Donnell

Removal of overhead glass storage shelving and supporting pillars from the bar and a contemporary colour scheme of greys and deep reds has opened up the space while the snug has been redesigned and there is new seating throughout. Big brand lagers have been removed from the bar with a new 10-line font wall at one end of the bar serving a range of beers and ciders from micro-breweries including Moravka lager and Shindigger ales.

Moving further out of the city, The Ducie Arms in Greenheys behind the Manchester University campus is reported to be one of the 137 pubs which Chester based Admiral Taverns has purchased from Marston’s. The pub company which is owned by Bulmers, Tennent’s Lager and Magners owner,  C&C Group has been on the acquisition trail over recent months, including 150 pubs purchased from Heineken’s Star Pubs in October. Following completion of the Marston’s deal they will own around 1075 pubs, the majority ‘wet led’ pubs with limited or no food operations.

Overdraught MCR ©Maxine Silcock

Levenshulme’s ever growing beer scene has another new addition with the October opening of OverDraught MCR, the second venue from Martha Winder owner of Prestwich’s First Draught. A copper clad back bar wall boasts an impressive number of taps. Nine core lines are mostly from the Carlsberg family including Brooklyn lager, Mahou and Sommersby ‘cider’ and the rarer Carlsberg Unfiltered lager, alongside Beavertown’s ‘Bloody ‘Ell’ and Shindigger’s West Coast IPA. The bar is located at 855 Stockport Road close to Levenshulme Rail station – the unit was formerly the TSB Bank.

Just down the road in Burnage, The Sun in September has bucked the recent trend for closures amongst the Sam Smiths brewery estate and reopened after around twelve months boarded up.

Across in Chorlton, Cask and Kiln on Wilbraham Road closed in early November, just over two years after first opening its doors. Despite the best efforts of the owners in selecting a changing range of cask beers and offering a range of events, including comedy nights and open mic nights plus pool tournaments, the venue never really seemed to find its market. 

Manchester Road, Swinton

The Farmers Arms has re-opened after a major refurbishment. After a couple of years which saw it go on a downward spiral, losing its way and its ‘Arms’ before closure, it is now on the up again. New landlords Tracey & Red have an aim to be the social hub of the neighbourhood. There is only one cask ale on sale at the moment, but when Beer Buzz correspondent Phil Stout called, he rated his Timothy Taylor`s Landlord as in excellent well-kept form.

©Ian Massey

Just up the road is the Cricketers Arms. Also recently refurbished, this small red brick Joseph Holt pub prides itself on its entertainment offering including sport from Sky and BT as well as darts, live music, quiz nights and karaoke. Holts Bitter is the regular cask ale and when Beer Buzz called, this was supplemented by the latest offer in Holts’ Generations series celebrating their 150th anniversary.

©Ian Massey

A new kid of the block is the Wobbly Stool just a few doors along from the Cricketers at 233 Manchester Road. This ‘micro-pub’ opened in September 2019 in what was formally a flower shop. There are usually three cask ales available which are constantly changing. When our Swinton correspondent called, there were two cask ales that had travelled some distance – Old Growler from Suffolk’s Nethergate Brewery and Wooha Brewing Company’s Rouge Smash, all the way from Kilnross, near Inverness.

White Lion ©Ian Massey

In contrast to the newly opened bar, at the end of Manchester Road is Robinson`s White Lion – a pub which is over 200 years old and is the spiritual home of Swinton Rugby League Football Club. The cask ale available here was Robinson`s Dizzy Blonde.

Assembly change

Urmstons’ The Assembly has changed its opening hours and is no longer open on Mondays & Tuesdays

Stretford gains an Assett

The Robin Hood pub in Stretford has finally been listed as an Assett of Community Value by Trafford council. The listing comes some six months after a local group made the application even though councils should only take eight weeks to reach a decision on ACV applications.

The pub was sold to developers by Greene King late last year with plans to build multiple homes on the pub’s car park and convert the pub building to apartments put out for consulation.

However this development has not progressed and the site was being marketed for sale.

Under the terms of the Localism Act 2011, local community groups interested in bidding for the site should contact Trafford Council within six weeks of an ACV being put up for sale to trigger a six month moratorium on the sale.

Sale Sports

The redevelopment of Sale Sports club has progressed with the new clubhouse up and running and the old club house now being demolished. The site will be redeveloped for housing.

The new club house has the same two cask ales on sale as before – Wainwright and Jennings Cumberland Ale – both from the Marston’s stable.

Trouble in Timperley?

As Beer Buzz went to press, locals in Timperley were in a state of confusion about the future of The Stonemasons Arms. After restaurateur Steve Pilling’s venture to take the pub upmarket failed after just seven months, the pub was taken on by Simon and Rachael Delaney, who also run the Firbank Pub & Kitchen in Wythenshawe, in October 2018. The couple have returned the pub to be a community focussed local hub and it seemed to be on the up.

©Jon Gobbett

Regulars were therefore surprised when on 22nd October, Simon Delaney (pictured below) released a statement on social media saying, “It is with great regret that I have to make this announcement, unfortunately because of personal reasons out of my control my time at The Stonemasons Arms is coming to an end. My intention is to carry on as usual until the end of the year. The new business owner will take over the business as a going concern.”

A week later, he posted a heartfelt video statement on Facebook where he said that since the announcement, they had received messages of encouragement from the people of Timperley, the local council and police telling them that they were doing a great job. However, he then explained that the rent and rates that he had to pay were based on the pub being a lot busier than it currently is and pleaded with the local community to bear them in mind for their leisure activities and choose them over other options as the only independent pub in Timperley.

For an insight into the passion of a publican facing commercial realities of operating a pub company owned pub with high business rates, it is well worth seeking out the video on their Facebook page .

In West Timperley, The Pelican Inn is reported to have been sold for redevelopment. It was reported in July that owner Greene King was marketing the pub and the adjacent vacant Altrincham Lodge hotel site. The current building dates back to 1931 but there has been a pub on the site from at least the early 19th Century. Locals have been advised that the site has been sold but that pub will continue to operate until at least March 2020. No planning application has been submitted to date, but with the combined site being large, there are fears that developers will seek to demolish the pub.

All change in Altrincham

In Altrincham, the management at The Old Market Tavern are working hard to get the pubs kitchen back up and running in time for the New Year.

The redevelopment of the upper floors into letting rooms is now complete and the 12 bedrooms are trading as The Old Market Coaching Inn.

Two years after developers purchased the Grade II listed building from Punch Taverns, it is now back on the market with an asking price of £2.29 million. It is being listed as a 12-bedroom house.

The pub, which is a free house, is unaffected by the sale and will remain open,  The pub is listed as an Asset of Community Value by Trafford Council.

Batch Bottlestore in Kings Court has removed its handpump, citing being uphappy with the quality of product they were serving.

Former Stamford Arms set for demolition

The former Stamford Arms (more latterly known as Home) in Little Bollington is set to be demolished. The pub has been closed and abandoned for several years.

The site was purchased at auction by developer Novo Property Group and has now submitted plans to build 12 homes and a community hub on the site.


In our last issue, we mistakenly listed Sale’s The Bulls Head as being on Church Road – it is of course at No. 2 Cross Street