The George Hotel – Stockport

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15 Wellington Road North Stockport SK4 1AF.

Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.

A delightful interwar pub on the corner of Heaton Lane and Wellington Road North, I moved to Stockport some forty years ago and was mightily impressed by the restrained exterior Deco design, wrought and hewn from soft pale sandstone. Equally impressive was the wood panelled, open, spacious interior space.

The George was always something of an anomaly, being the only Greater Manchester pub owned by Higson’s Brewery, our almost next door Liverpool neighbour.

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Higsons was founded in 1780 – 1974 saw the brewery merge with James Mellor & Sons. In 1978, Higsons acquired the Bent’s Brewery, which was based next to its North Street head office. Boddingtons of Manchester acquired Higsons in 1985 but decided to abandon brewing in 1989 to focus on its pubs.

They have/had fine former offices on Dale Street

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Boddingtons’ brewing arm was sold to Whitbread in 1990 which then subsequently closed the Higsons Stanhope brewery and then reopened by new owners as the Cains Brewery in 1991. Higsons beer was brewed in Sheffield and Durham for a few years after closure before being discontinued. The beer brand was revived in the current century and reborn in 2017, now served in the swish Baltic Triangle based Higson’s Tap & Still with an interior order that leaps backwards head first, into an imagined future of raw brick, reclaimed wood and industrial flourishes.

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The George prospered – a town centre pub surrounded by workers in search of a wet and shoppers shirking their retail duties in favour of draught bitter or Cherry B.

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Its interior however did not fair so well, ripped out in the 80s – remade remodelled, in the deeply unattractive, anti-vernacular, sub-disco style de jour.

Renamed The Manhattan, riding the fun-pub wave, closed reopened as The George – there followed thirty year of uncertainty, struggling to find an identity throughout a time of ever-changing moods.

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It became a daytime haunt of the hardened, shattered glass, blood on the tracks class of drinker, its reputation in tatters along with yesterday’s fish and chip papers.

The last time I came by you were still open for business.

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I bided a wee while, without imbibing, all the better to record your disabused Art Deco details.

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I came by yesterday and you were all tinned-up with nowhere to go.

Premises To Let as of 13th May 2018 – on the 2nd April 2018 the licence has lapsed, so this will be a further barrier to it re-opening.

And so your faux nowheresville interior will pass into yet another of somebody’s history, along with your fine Deco detail and disco destruction.

This a tale of our age – of monopoly capitalism, stay at home Bargain Booze tipplers, demographic shifts, de-populated town centres, fashion fads and cheap cladding.

Time changes everything except something within us which is never surprised by change.

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Sam’s Bar – Wigan

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Sam’s Bar – Orchard St, Wigan WN1 3SW.

Once there was The Ball and Boot – oval or round, no dubbin required.

A Tetley Walker pub on the edge of the then new Scholes Estate – seen here in 1987.

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Photograph Tower Block

This is the one and only photograph of its former black and white self.

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Though an internet search revealed a rich heritage of pool, football, fancy dress and trips to Lloret De Mar, for the lads and lasses of Lower Scholes.

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The pub now named Sam’s Bar, has retained its jolly jumble of modernist volumes and angles – though having lost the harlequin panels and off licence. Mid-morning the lights were on and the pub was surrounded by cars taking advantage of the £1.90 a day parking.

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The online reviews seem to divide opinion as to the quality of the current provision.

This pub is not a nice place to visit. If your not a regular you get leered at all night, the people and staff are absolutly terrible. You will wait at the bar all night waiting to get served, whilst all the regulars get their drinks. Then and only then will you get yours. You will see a fight at least once a night. Karaoke is only for those of us who are blessed with the ability to sing – they wont let you up again if not. This pub needs knocking down it’s a menace to society, out of 10 a big fat 0.

Solid, dependable and well-run. Friendly bar staff and regulars, local and national newspapers, rugby league memorabilia, jukebox, pool table, and very fair prices. Has been my local for years, ever since I got tired of the landlord turnover at the Cherries. I’ve never seen anyone refused a go at karaoke, including me, and I can’t sing, and rarely pick a song anyone likes. So you carry on spouting tripe, and I’ll carry on drinking at Sam’s Bar Scholes.

Beer in the evening.

You’ll have to swing by and judge for y’self – my own karaoke tune of choice as ever:

In The Ghetto.

 

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Trafford Park Hotel

It takes a whole corporation to raise a village:

The first American company to arrive was Westinghouse Electric, in 1899, and purchased 130 acres on two sites. Building work started in 1900, and the factory began production of turbines and electric generators in 1902. By the following year, British Westinghouse was employing about half of the 12,000 workers in Trafford Park. Its main machine shop was 899 feet long and 440 feet wide; for almost 100 years Westinghouse’s Trafford Park works was the most important engineering facility in Britain.

In addition to the factory Westinghouse built a village for his workers on the American style grid system of avenues and streets.  The community had shops, eating rooms, a dance hall, schools, a church, and a cinema.

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And where there is people there is almost inevitably pubs, as sure as night shifts follow day shifts.

Trafford Park Hotel

Built in 1902 to keep the Trafford Park industrial dust down, quenching the thirst of the workers employed in the world’s first and largest industrial estate – get in and get outside a pint or two.

Speed headlong through the years and by 1984, a mix of industrial and economic decline and the general move away from the urban mix of housing and factories, the end is in sight for most of the Village’s homes.

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Photograph Nigel Richards

Move a little further along the line and by 2009 and the pub is closed, temporarily home first to a marijuana farm, and subsequently squatters.

Paul, 46, originally from Chew Moor, Bolton, was left homeless in May when his house was repossessed after he lost his job as a mechanical engineer. He found The Freedom Project through its Facebook group and was invited to move in to the Trafford Park Hotel. He said: “The group is apolitical – it’s about freedom of expression, activity and thought.” Enterprise Inns have taken members of The Freedom Project to Salford County Court where a judge gave the brewery an order for possession of the building. 

Enterprise Inns declined to comment.

It takes a whole judicial system and corporate clout to deny a man home.

In February 2017 pub was sold for £900,000, though on the day of my August visit there were few signs of the planned conversion to flats or hotel.

One day time will be called on time itself, in the meantime take a walk down the Avenue and feast your eyes on a Grade II  listed terracotta and brick behemoth.

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Hyde Road Pubs – Gorton Manchester

For almost fifty years I’ve cycled, walked and taken the bus up and down Hyde Road.

To work or to take snaps.

Or take a drink.

The first proper pub crawl I ever went on was up and down here, and these photographs which were taken from the Local Image Archive, represent a world now largely long gone. Of those places pictured only the Travellers, Wagon and Horses, Plough, Nelson and Friendship survive. What was a busy thoroughfare alive with masses of working people and lively boozers is now a shadow of its former self. Many of the breweries are also no more – Wilsons and Boddington’s, once employing hundreds of people and supplying hundreds of pubs, have all but vanished, you may catch a glimpse of a stray sign or two dotted around town.

If there are any pubs missing apologies, but following the expert advice of Kenneth Allen I think I have all of the Gorton boozers.

Take one last walk, raise a glass – cheers!

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Stoke on Trent – The Glebe

Hard by Stoke Minster stands the only pub in the area I care to visit, tucked in a cosy corner by the Civic Centre, five minutes from the station, barely time to work up a thirst.

Carefully and skilfully refurbished, exquisite original semi circles of stained and painted glass depicting the months of the year – though there is no February, the lower panes a recent addition.

A tiled floor and broad stripped floorboards beneath your feet.

Sympathetically furnished, plainly, simply appropriate to a pub with pride.

In being a pub.

We and the afternoon sun, spill lazily in, in time for a pint.

It’s delicious so we have another

And another.

http://www.joulesbrewery.co.uk/pubs/pub_details.php?id=9

Leeds – The Garden Gate

Friday afternoon, clouds gather along a long walk from the Leeds city centre, following an unforgivingly long dual carriageway, not without its hard won charm, we reached the Garden Gate.

A Tetley Heritage pub the most beautiful in Yorkshire, clad in warm glazed ceramics of the highest decorative order, a terrazzo porch and open door welcomes the weary walker.

Ready for a pint?

Leeds Pale Ale £2.60 a pop and a fine drop it is too, why not stay and have another!

The interior arrangement of rooms cluster around a fine tiled bar, linked by corridors, clad in curved wood and large etched windows, lit with the original fittings – all in an intoxicating Nouveau style.

The cellar is lined in heavy glazed white brick and retains its rugby league history with extant showers and physio room, former home of the Garden Gate ARLFC – it says so on the first aid kit.

A thinned bar of green soap rests on the side of the long-dry bath.

The staff and customers were warm, chatty and informative – my thanks for their generous hospitality.

Its worth the walk.

My thanks to Ms. Natalie Ainscough for her cheery company, innate sense of direction and can do attitude.

http://www.gardengateleeds.co.uk

Huddersfield – The Sportsman

Turn left out of the station, round past the George, big and closed. Head under the railway viaduct – there it is right in front of you, on the corner of John Street.

The Sportsman.

You will not find a finer pub, but you don’t have too, you’re there.

Striding across the decorative deco porch, pushing aside the weighty timber and glass doors. Inside a dull warm afternoon light, falls lazily through the windows. White globes glow low from the ceiling, gently washing the well worn parquet floor. Put your bags down on the upholstered seating, walk up to the bar get a pint pulled, then another – take your time it’s fluid.

The main room is wide and welcoming, side rooms smaller and intimate.

Decorated in a post war muted style, all wood and restrained colour, certainly not over fussy or over decorative. It has a style that doesn’t impose itself upon you – simply whispers in your ear

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Look out for the tiles, a series of sporting scenes in the gents, mysterious.

Do yourself a favour, have a drink there soon.

http://www.undertheviaduct.com/about/

http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/toilet-tiles-mystery-huddersfields-sportsman-4966441

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