The Red Rose – Holts Oldham

Lees New Road, Holts Village, Oldham OL4 5PL

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On the outer edges of Greater Manchester, sits Holts Estate.

Mixing sixties social housing, with hard won and worn moorland, the air feels different up here.

Everything feels different up here.

Remote from time, a pre-industrial landscape merged with the earliest speculative coal mining, mill working and subsistence farming, on a slag and shale scarred, scrub grass croft.

Once there was a pub – The Red Rose.

Now there isn’t – just another convenience store in another town.

With the extra added attraction of a take-away, to take away your will to live.

A typical two storey brick and tile building, with extended lower level additions.

A timber smoking area, backs on to stone cladding – tagged by the HEC.

Sadly for the Holts Estate Crew, there will be no turf war.

Out here you are your own worst enemy.

Nobody knew you were there.

Thompsons Arms – Manchester

23 Sackville Street, Manchester, M1 3LZ

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Deep in the heart of Manchester, at the very edge of the Village.

Tucked neatly beneath a multi-storey car park.

Almost handy for the National Bus Station.

The Thompsons Arms.

A blank box of a boozer, impatiently awaiting your imprint.

Cuddled by concrete.

Enlivened by rainbow flags.

The house doubles as you walk in, alone.

Have a house double.


The White Lion – Irlam

65 Liverpool Road, Irlam, Manchester, M44 6EH.

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So – one more Tesco, one less pub.

Change of use and planning permission circumvented, it’s a seamless process.

Zero pints pulled, loyalty points piled up, the local isn’t local no mo’ – it’s Local.

This most cuboid of boozers, has become an off-white retail box.

Windows blanked, boarded out and blinded – unable to blink.


Tiger Moth – Irlam

Swallow Drive, Irlam, Manchester, M44 6PT

tiger moth

Far from the centre of town, tucked away on the centre of an Irlam estate, sits the Tiger Moth.

A stones throw or two away from the Barton City Airport, possibly giving rise to a seemingly improbable name.

This is an improbable pub, an impossibly dramatic essay in asymmetry, acute and obtuse angles, black and white cladding, trim and brick.

Several contrasting volumes hang together in perfect harmony, side by side on the pedestrian walkway.

Why can’t we?

Architecturally this building is exceptional, quite the most striking example I have visited so far, it’s really out there on its own.

It seems like a survivor – the 2012 gas blast, defining its role as a community centre:

Then redefining itself alongside local authority health campaigns:

It has lost its Holt’s Brewery ties, going it alone in a sea of low incomes, cheap supermarket beer, smoking bans and a subsequent loss of custom – an all too familiar tale.

It’s trying.

Melandra Castle – Gamesley

Winster Mews, Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 0LU

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The second of the Gamesley pubs, again with  Roman pretensions , again closed.

The pub was said to be doing well, until the owners Enterprise Inns ceased trading on the site.

Standing close by the estate’s main row of shops sadly boarded up awaiting a future, any future.

As too were the pub’s retail companions, save a community café – which was doing a brisk trade.

The building is sound, classic Estate Pub design single storey bars, two storey living accommodation – solid brick and tile construction.

It has been up for auction with a guide price of £40,000 – there are no signs of for sale signs, and signs of some positive activity around the property. It seems unlikely to reopen as a boozer, my recent acquaintance in the picture expressed a preference for a nursery.

“Something for the kids, that would be good.”

Only time will tell.

“Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore”.

As they say in Gamesley.

The Centurion – Gamesley

Melandra Castle Road, Gamesley, SK13 6UQ

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High in the hills above Manchester – close to Glossop and Hadfield is the Gamesley Estate.

Created in the late 1960’s by Manchester City Council, to alleviate city centre overcrowding and perceived poor housing and environmental conditions – one of many so-called overspill estates.

It feels remote and uncared for, there is little by way of employment, few if any diversions. The public amenities have a bunker-like quality and local shops run down to almost nothing.

There were two pubs built to accommodate the newcomers – both are now closed.

That includes The Centurion – named for its proximity to the Melandra Roman Fort.

A stern white palace of a boozer, stood slightly aloof from the estate ring road, long low pitched roof facing the prevailing westerly wind.

Fortress like slit windows anticipate wild times.

But they’ve been and gone, an invasion from within, local behaviour has defeated the local.

“A couple of drinks and they wanted to fight the world, you could hear it streets away.”

A group of Rumanian workers, based in West Bromwich, are stripping out the interior the morning I arrive.

It’s going to be a shop.

Nicholson’s Arms – Stockport

Lancashire Hill, Stockport, SK5 7RH.

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Sitting snuggly in a triangle of of tranquility twixt Tiviot Dale and Lancashire Hill.

There sits the former Nicholson’s Arms.


Pints no longer pulled, it awaits a new tenant and purpose in life – I’m tempted.

A precise jumble of geometry with white trim and delicious tiny details – the zig-zag wandering wall, hexagonal flags, cardinal red pebble inlay and triumphal timber, strutted porch canopy.



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The Moor Top – Stockport

172 Heaton Moor Road, Heaton Moor, SK4 4DU

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“I’ve got a personality crisis and it’s killin’ me.”

So sang the New York Dolls – so to The Moor Top.


Seen here in 1975

A brick, tile and render fortress that has attempted to dress up as Tudorbethan barn and failed.

Surrounded by late Victorian and Edwardian mansions, ashamed of its inherent lack of history.

Currently swathed in hanging baskets and the inevitable coaching lamp, it is undergoing yet another period of transition.

Taken over by the adjacent Damson Restaurant, full refurbishment in 2016 promised.

What will emerge from this incipient, disabused chrysalis?

My money is on those twins of contemporary duplicity Farrow and Ball, blowing their elephant’s breath all over the place, like an unwanted after dinner burp!


I prefer Cannon and Ball – rock on Moor Top!

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The Tom Thumb – Stockport

54 King Street West, Stockport, SK3 0DT.

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Close by the Fire Station, in the shadow of the Hollywood park flats, sits the former Tom Thumb pub.

Now the Last Monsoon an Indian restaurant.

I only went in there the once, when new to the town and on a mission to visit every extant pub.

It was never a favourite, a large lounge, anonymous and bland, found no easy favour.

The building remains intact, original imposing doors, jazzy asymmetric bays and wooden cladding.

Would that it was an enticing boozer, so close to home.

It isn’t.