Manchester and the outlying suburbs contain a myriad of interesting pubs. Pubs for all ages and tastes. The only problem is getting to them all. If only there was a bus that took you from door to door of these fine imbibing establishments. Well last year North Manchester CAMRA had the bright idea of organising just such a community service. This year, with the involvement of other CAMRA branches, the event was bigger and better but with still the same basic idea. An hourly bus service would run throughout the day connecting all the stops. Just hop on the double decker, buy your day ticket from the driver and wait for the beer to start flowing.
Obviously you could spend as long as you wanted in each pub. But, with 20 potential pubs to choose from, the best idea seemed to be sample as many as possible. We started by banging on the door of the Jolly Angler on Ducie Street near Piccadilly Station. This small, street-corner Hydes pub was built in 1814 and has been a stalwart of the Manchester drinking scene for many a year. Today it’s still knocking out a good pint of Hydes for £2.60. From here it was straight onto the bus and onwards to Gorton.
The Vale Cottage is tucked away in the Gore Brook conservation area. It describes itself as “the country pub in the city” and with low-beamed ceilings and a cosy interior, it certainly is a pleasant stop. Several choices of beer here but I think I went for Copper Dragon at £3.10 a pint. Not far away is the Robinsons owned Plough. This is a Grade 11 listed building that is in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The landlord was kind enough to give us a bit of a guided tour and it really is rather splendid. There is a large vault, a lobby and three traditional rooms to choose from. Some of the building dates from 1702 although most of the interior is in its 1893 form. Hoptimum Prime (£2.60) was the preference here.
Chorlton-the next stop-has many fine drinking options, but as the selection in the Bar was so good, we stayed there for the duration. The next place was a new on me. The Steamhouse in Urmston is based in the former railway station building and boasts a choice of eight beers. One to revisit, I think. From the relatively new to the positively old. The Lamb in Eccles is a multi-roomed marvel. Dating from 1906, it is another deserved Grade 11 listed entry in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The now rare Holts Mild was on good form at only £2.16 a pint.
There was more Holts to be had in the Union Tavern in the shape of Holts Bitter at £2.30. This Victorian street-corner boozer is the sort that has sadly all but disappeared from Salford. With a landlord who has been in situ since 1976, this is a pub that reminds you of what locals used to be like. And talking of locals; the next stop, the Star Inn is owned by its regulars. It became the first urban community owned pub in 2009 after Robinsons put it up for sale. There was a bit of a beer festival going on during our visit which may explain us missing the bus. Or it may simply be that with drinking now in double figures, timekeeping was getting a little laissez-faire.
A grand day out. Here’s to next year.