While we’re on a nostalgic kick, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the loss of the Dutton Hotel. News that this icon of the Manchester pub scene had closed reached me last month and it was sad, if not wholly unexpected, tidings. Situated on Park St, behind the MEN Arena, this small street-corner boozer was a step back in time and, along with the Jolly Angler, represented a link to Manchester’s industrial past.
But the heyday of places such as the Dutton was a long time ago and each increasing year brought even less trade. I was surprised to find it still open on my last visit there three years ago as I imagined that its small, but loyal, pool of hardcore regulars would have dried up. These were crucial to the survival of the pub as there was virtually no passing trade and little but curiosity to tempt the casual visitor.
I first came across it thanks to the Good Beer Guide which it used to feature in on and off for many years. It was a Hydes pub and was famous for its anvils (the symbol of Hydes) and its blowlamps collection. It was also famous for its lock-ins and sessions would run into the wee small hours. Tales of prison officers from the nearby Strangeways popping in were legion and it even had its 15 minutes of fame during the 1990 riot when the media used it as an unofficial base.
Hydes purchased the pub in 1920, so it’s fallen short of its centenary but it’s had a good innings and goes into the history books with fond memories.