The Ultimate Manchester Pub Crawl

Confidential staggers across the city centre and round the 'baker's dozen'

Written by  The Confidentials | Follow @ | Thursday, 22 October 2015 07:36

WE'VE published three different pub crawl routes around the city centre and you've loved every one of them. So here we've compiled the ultimate pub crawl bringing together the best of the three. You'll need stamina, determination and a certain amount of insanity to do them all, but hey, it'll be something to talk about later... down the pub probably.

THE CROWN & KETTLE

Apparently the band Elbow call this pub 'The Downfall', because instead of getting down to work, they get down to drinking

Start at The Crown and Kettle (2 Oldham Road, M4 5FE, 0161 236 2923) which has one of the most astonishing pub interiors around dating from an undetermined time in the 1840s or 50s. Huge Gothic timber pendants hang down from a ceiling alive with crazy quatrefoil (fourleaf) tracery. The pub was closed for 15 years after an arson attack prior to re-opening in October 2005. The interior shows the distressed but cleaned ceiling in the lounge and how it originally might have looked when painted in the vault.

There's four or five cracking ales and a good story about three entrances. In 1950 when an ejected drunken journalist from the Daily Express next door tried to get in the landlord threw him out, he tried in the next entrance and then the next with the same result. At the third he asked the Landlord, “Do you own all the pubs round here?” In September the Crown and Kettle was declared among the Top 16 Pubs in Britain by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). 

Crown and KettleCrown and Kettle

THE SMITHFIELD

Leave the pub, locate Swan Street, at the western end of the junction here and follow it to The Smithfield Hotel (37 Swan Street, M4 5JZ, 0161 839 4424). This is the brewpub of the nearby Manchester micro Blackjack Brewery. This is a proper pub that seems a reversion to some mystical time when pubs were simple and straightforward, an echo perhaps of a pub in Harold Brighouse's Hobson's Choice or Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers. The bar is a feature swamped with beery choice plus a decent range of spirits and wines. The pub is split into three main areas with timber floors, a simple two tone paint job, books and games including darts, chess, shove ha'penny and table skittles.

The SmithfieldThe Smithfield

THE MARBLE ARCH

Turn left on Swan Street and walk to the junction with Rochdale Road and turn right up Rochdale Road to the junction with Gould Street, you’ll find The Marble Arch (73 Rochdale Road M4 4HY, 0161 832 5914). This is a beauty built in 1888 for McKennas Harpurhey Brewery but became known as The Marble, because of its exuberant design. It's now home-base for the wonderful Marble Beers. The original interior details of tile and mosaic are spectacular, note the red roses for Lancashire and the tiled frieze of drinks on offer including 'gin' and 'whisky'. Some of the beers produced by the Marble include Marble Bitter, Manchester Bitter, Ginger Marble, Lagonda IPA plus seasonals. The beers are all vegan and all organic. The food is very good and there's a decent jukebox in this fabulous boozer - as well as a beer garden.

Marble ArchMarble Arch

THE ANGEL

Now backtrack down Rochdale Road a little way until you see The Angel (6 Angel Street, M4 4BR, 0161 833 4786) on your right. This has been progressively renovated over recent years and is now one of Manchester's best pubs. There's food, live music, real fires and although the ghost has been exorcised, it's a very spirited pub and a real Confidential favourite. The pub is on three levels, restaurants above the bar area, and has been a boozer for a couple of hundred years. Like all good pubs it attracts a mixed age clientele.

TheThe Angel

Turn right out of the Angel down the new bypass, Angel Street, and follow it all the way to the junction with Corporation Street. Turn left and follow Corporation Street to the back of the National Football Museum and turn right on Todd Street to Victoria Station. To break this longish walk you could nip into the Beerhouse in Victoria Station which provides a beautiful domed and tiled Edwardian space but is run by insipid catering operation SSP and thus has a less than convincing selection of real ales.

THE EAGLE

Carry on past Victoria Station and then up Hunts Bank towards the Cathedral but following the road (not the pedestrianised Victoria Street) over the River Irwell on to Chapel Street in Salford. Turn right up pedestrianised Greengate and continue all the way to Collier Street through the redevelopment zone of burgeoning apartments. Collier Street hosts the splendid Eagle (18 Collier Street, M3 7DW, 01618195002). Not far away is Blueprint Studios, a recording studio. Apparently members of the band Elbow call The Eagle pub 'The Downfall', because instead of getting down to work, they get down to drinking and chatting. And fall over. This is another one of those pubs that wraps itself around you and refuses to let you go - hours evaporate, excuses have to made when you finally make it home. There’s a lovely bar, three small rooms and a fine performance space hosting a regular programme of live music. The present building dates from 1903 and was rebuilt by Joseph Holt, Manchester brewer. 

The EagleThe Eagle

THE NEW OXFORD

Turn left out of The Eagle and follow Collier Street to Queen Street and turn right. Follow Queen Street to the junction with Blackfriars Road and turn right and then left on Trinity Way to Chapel Street. Turn right up Chapel Street, crossing at the lights and then walking up the street a short distance until you reach Bexley Square. This has the former Salford Town Hall with its columns and pediment at one end. On the left of the square is the fine boozer The New Oxford (11 Bexley Square, M3 6DB, 0161 832 7082). This has a reputation for providing one of the finest ranges of beer in the North West but also has a comfortable interior split into two rooms as well as pleasant outdoor terrace in the square.

.The New Oxford

THE KING'S ARMS

Retrace your steps down Chapel Street, over at the lights and then left up Trinity Way to the junction with Bloom Street. Turn right down to The King's Arms (1 Bloom St, M3 6AN, 0161 839 8726). This grand building hosts the UK’s oldest angling club and was the backdrop for Channel 4 student sitcom Fresh Meat. It has a theatre space and live music. It also has great beers, reasonable food, an oval lounge and the weirdest squashed up royal coat of arms on the facade. That lion looks in pain. The King's Arms in other words is a Manchester and Salford classic. It’s even got a show business connection with Paul Heaton, formerly of the House Martins and the Beautiful South, in part ownership.

The Kings ArmsThe Kings Arms

THE RISING SUN

Turn right out of the Kings Arms and keep straight on under the railway at Salford Central and over the river along Bloom Street, New Bailey Street and Bridge Street all the way to Deansgate. Turn right to the lights at John Rylands Library and cross over Deansgate. Turn right and then left on Queen Street to The Rising Sun (Queen Street, M2 5HX, 0161 834 1193). This has a huge range of beers and dates from sometime very early in the 19th century and is a 'cut-through' pub. In other words it connects two streets in the centre of a city block. Stories abound for the reasons behind this, for instance if the police came in on one side you could run out the other, or if your lady was hunting you down you could escape double quick. Now they’re useful for quick get-aways if a hen or stag party staggers in.

The Rising SunThe Rising Sun

BRITON'S PROTECTION

Retrace your steps to Deansgate and then turn left all the way to Great Bridgewater Street under Beetham Tower. Turn left along Great Bridgewater Street under the former railway bridges to the junction with Lower Mosley Street and over the road to the Briton's Protection (50 Great Bridgewater Street, 0161 236 5895). This is a multi-roomed gem full of elegant wood, tile and plaster detailing 200 years of pub history – it dates from June 1811, although several accounts put that back five or ten years. The straight-from-the-street bar area is particularly handsome - note the ceiling. But also try the cosy snug behind and, if sunny and warm, venture into one of the most unsophisticated but oasis-like pub gardens in the city. Aside from the pints of Jennings, Robinsons, a couple of guests, you should take a sip or two from the over 230 whiskies (mostly single malt) and bourbons. The first floor function room is a rare survivor but lacks the period detailing of the other areas – the room plays host to a variety of gigs, clubs and associations. Lunchtime food is good value. The name comes from the pub being a recruiting office in the past.

BBriton's Protection 

PEVERIL OF THE PEAK

Turn right out of the Briton’s to Peveril of the Peak (127 Great Bridgewater Street 0161 236 6364), another gem, this time a festival of ceramics. This late Georgian end terrace has lost its fellow houses but gained (in the 1890s) an emerald external tiling scheme with Art Nouveau lettering. Internally the design is period but maverick, the weirdness climaxing in the triangular, squashed bar area with the legendary period table football – apparently the oldest pub table in continuous use in the UK, dating from 1955. Check out the beautiful Art Nouveau bar as well. Ales and pies, plus a small selection of wines feature here. There’s pool, darts and occasional music nights. The pub name comes from the original owner’s stagecoach which made him enough money so he could open the pub in the 1820s.

Peveril of the PeakPeveril of the Peak

CIRCUS TAVERN

Follow Great Bridgewater Street to its junction with Oxford Street. Turn left on Oxford Street and then right on Portland Street. Cross over Princess Street past the dowdy and hard drinking Joseph Holt’s pub the Old Monkey. A few doors down you’ll find the Circus Tavern (86 Portland Street 0161 236 5818) dating from before 1800. This provides proper minimalism… in size rather than aesthetic. How this little beauty survived is a wonder, perhaps it’s down to having very few landlords in its 200 year history. The most peculiar feature is a bar so small (perhaps the smallest in the UK) that it fits the bar person and no-one else. There’s an interesting pub history panel near the entrance and a playing-it-safe back room dedicated to United and City. Crisps and snacks are left on the few tables for guests to snack on, and bar staff come to the table to take orders. If you love pubs you have to visit this place, it’s a charmer, although it does get packed. The name comes from an equestrian circus that was founded nearby by Mr Handy. In 1797 his circus went on tour to Liverpool and then Dublin. The boat sank and performers and horses died. Mr Handy survived because he was catching a later boat. The pub kept the name.

The CircusThe Circus

CITY ARMS

Turn left out of the Circus and then left down Nicholas Street past the Chinese Arch. Continue down Nicholas Street to the junction with Mosley Street, cross the tramlines and turn left on Cooper Street to Kennedy Street and The City Arms (48 Kennedy Street, 0161 236 4610). This is a busy little conversation breeder with one of the best ranges of beer in the Half Square Mile - as Manchester's business district is called in this area. Predictably popular with office workers and with Town Hall staff – the Council Leader is often in here - the City Arms, cuddles and coddles every type of citizen. Cask ales include Tetley bitter and mild, plus several guests. There’s lunchtime food available, a bizarre outdoor smoking ‘well’, a peculiar selection of books, darts, and some period details, especially in the glass. 

The City ArmsThe City Arms

MR THOMAS'S CHOP HOUSE

Turn left out of The City Arms and follow Kennedy Street to Clarence Street and turn right. Cross over Booth Street at Avalanche restaurant and along the short pedestrianised stretch of Pall Mall to King Street. Turn left down King Street and then right along Cross Street to the adorable Mr Thomas’s Chop House (52 Cross St, M2 7AR, 0161 832 2245). The present building dates 1901 and has one of the best period interiors with immaculate green tiled walls and a series of four brown tiled arches marching back through the building. There’s superb food, a cracking wine list and a lovely rear terrace next to St Ann’s Church. There’s also a lovely set of terracotta reliefs on the exterior of the building, such as the wise owl over the back door, because after all in vino veritas. The pub was first opened in 1867 by Desmond Lynam – take a look at that signboard and tell us that isn’t Des?

MrMr Thomas's

If you have managed to do all these pubs on one crawl and can prove it, we'll... er...ring for an ambulance. And then call the police. 

THIRSTY FOR MORE? REALLY? HERE'S THE ORIGINAL THREE...

CASTLEFIELD & CENTRAL PUB CRAWL

NORTHERN QUARTER PUB CRAWL

CENTRAL & OVER THE RIVER