The Pilcrow is Manchester’s latest addition to a seemingly never-ending list of craft beer openings. But there’s a back story to this one that marks it out as something that little bit different. If you don’t know (and why don’t you-it’s been on TV) it’s been something of a joint enterprise project. When the latest city centre `redevelopment` was announced several years ago; there were cries of anguish when it was realised that the historic Crown and Cushion pub would be a casualty. Indeed has there ever been a `redevelopment` when a historic pub wasn’t sacrificed? Manchester City Council seem almost perversely proud of their reputation as cultural vandals who wouldn’t know history if you underlined it in a dictionary.
Anyway, don’t get me started on those arse-wipes. Back to the Pilcrow. One bright spot of the new plans was the announcement of the building of a new pub. This was to be slap bang in the middle of NOMA: the new 20 acre neighbourhood development project that promises to fuse city living with city working. Or something like that. It’s in Sadler’s Yard which was the site of Manchester’s first steam mill and is now Manchester’s newest public square. Named after James Sadler, who became the first Englishman to fly in 1784 and staged two successful ascents from what is now Balloon Street. You could easily pass it by but it’s in a nook between New Century Tower, the CIS Tower and Hanover Street.
At the moment, although there has been some use of the square for outdoor events, it’s mainly home to non-descript offices. However, it is planned to be the leisure and cultural epicentre of the area and that’s where the Pilcrow comes in. And its USP? Well the interior has been put together by craftsmen and enthusiastic volunteers who have attended workshops to best utilise their skills. From the handpumps to the (sturdy) toilet doors, it’s been a labour of love. The phrase “a pub built by the people for the people” has been used. You can read more about its journey from concept to realisation on its website.
Of course you need someone to actually run the place. Step forward All Our Yesterdays, a new collaboration between Jonathan Heyes, owner of the ever-so-well-known Common and Port Street Beer House, and Paul Jones, co-founder of Cloudwater Brew Co. They’ve worked closely on the project from the outset to achieve the pub you see before you now.
So what is the pub like? Basically it’s a narrow L-shaped room with the bar in the left corner with tables and chairs arranged in rows down the right next to the large glass windows. The soft toned colour scheme and plenty of natural light give it a fresh and airy feel. It’s not quite finished yet but I like it. And that’s not just because we had it to ourselves. It’s my kind of joint. It’s got a good vibe. The seating is comfortable and practical, the toilets look good and there is plenty of space outside to enjoy the legendary Manchester summers.
Beer, beer, beer, I hear you cry. Yes, yes, yes, I cry. Other bloggers may enthuse about the flooring, atmosphere etc. in a pub but, as my mother always used to say, it’s all about the beer. There are no less than seventeen, including three cask beers, to tickle and tantalise your taste buds. With the operator’s pedigree, it comes as no surprise that along with Cloudwater, expect to see a smattering of other Manchester breweries mixed in with some more exotic fare. And it’s great to see a banker like Jever appear in its too rarely seen draught form.
Ideally placed close to Victoria station, this could be the missing link between the outer rim of the Northern Quarter and the city centre. Certainly it won’t be long before it becomes a destination pub in its own right.
The Pilcrow is at Sadler’s Yard, Manchester, M4 4AH. Open Mon-Thur 12-10:30pm, Fri/Sat 12-11:30pm, Sun Closed.