After a period of relative calm, there have been a few ripples of late in the murky waters of Bury’s pub scene. A number look to be going, are definitely going and indeed, in some cases, have already gone. Some are being mourned; others are disappearing with barely a whimper.
The long empty and much neglected, ex Burtonwood, Grapes on Bell Lane looks headed for the nadir of its fortunes. The dreaded skip has arrived and there looks to be no future for this once bustling local. In fact, Bell Lane and its adjacent areas have become something of a pub graveyard in recent times.
Along the same stretch, but on Rochdale Old Road lies the Brown Cow. Or rather did. It’s still standing but has had a slight change of use. It was never that busy and was often described as “dead”, so perhaps there is some symmetry in it becoming the “Fairfield House Funeral Home”.
Also still standing, for the moment, anyway, is the Pack Horse on Manchester Road. This had a surprise reprieve from plans to convert it into shops and flats when local residents rallied round and successfully objected to the changes. One does have to ask, though, where these same residents where when the pub was struggling for custom.
Mind you, despite, or perhaps because of, its prime spot on the main road between Manchester-Bury, it’s never been the most inviting of boozers. It tended to attract a rather “mixed” clientele as some ne’re-do-wells found out one evening. Unfortunately for them, the pool team were having a late one and our would-be robbers were forced to flee in fear of their lives.
Another less than glamorous recent casualty is the Crown on Rochdale Road. However, in its heyday, the Crown was once the brewery tap for, and is one of the last links left to, Bury’s Crown Brewery. This was sold to Duttons in 1959 along with its 127 pubs and marked the end of large scale brewing in Bury. Because of this and being the only “Crown” in Bury, the pub sign has had a few prospective, er, owners eyeing it up.
One pub that has already gone to the great pub crawl in the sky is the Oddfellows on Tottington Road. Despite sticking with its (sadly, often dodgy) offering of Holts Bitter through thick and thin, this has been a one man and his dog place for some time. Still, there’s no chance now for an upswing in its fortunes as it was recently flattened.
One common thread amongst these closures is that all the pubs were performing at the bottom end of the spectrum. So perhaps more evidence for the belief that pub consolidation is taking out the lowest common denominators?