The Clarence situated on the corner of Silver Street in Bury is the last surviving pub of that once proud street. Nowadays it boasts a rather less than stellar collection of part-time bars and wannabe pubs. But back in the day, the pubs were bold statements of intent from ambitious breweries. The Clarence, juxtaposed with the busy thoroughfare of Bolton Street, was an impressive multi-floored public house with guest rooms that gave panoramic views right up to Holcombe Hill. By the time I got to frequent it in the late 1970s, its glory days-like all the old-timers-were over but it still remained impressive. There were less travelling salesmen than there used to be but it still offered cheap B&B and still boasted a modified version of its original multi-roomed layout. This made it popular with under-age drinkers who could purchase their drinks and scuttle into an unobserved corner. I remember being fascinated as it had by then a rarity: an upstairs room with bar. I think this was the original billiards room. My brother in law was a very keen snooker and pool player and when he moved in there, it hosted many a snooker match.
It was also unusual in that it was a Vaux pub. The Sunderland brewer had a small number of pubs in the Bury area but their beers never really suited the local palate and I can’t claim to have been a fan. After the implosion at Vaux, Whitbread bought their estate and Boddingtons arrived at the Clarence. By now it was a single open-plan entity and with each new owner, it deteriorated along with its customer base and real ale. There was a little hiatus with the restoration of the original fireplace and a flirtation with Taylors Landlord, but even calling it the Duke of Clarence couldn’t ultimately stop the rot. Why all this nostalgia? Well because, against all odds, it’s coming back. Bigger and better than ever. Owner Lee Hollinworth is really bringing something special to Bury and last week I got to have a peek inside. Darren Turpin, he of the mighty Greater Manchester Ale News, has written an excellent summary of the visit here. I’d just like to add my thanks to Lee, Craig, Brian and Lisa for the opportunity and to remind people to put the opening night of Friday 3rd October in their diaries. It looks like the Clarence is ready to shine again.