The Queens Arms – Audenshaw

Guide Lane, Audenshaw, Manchester M34 5FF

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A survivor – The Queens.

Despite the addition of several porches, pergolas, hanging baskets and assorted picnic tables, its solid brick two storey soul, and lower level bar areas, remain intact – unrendered and unwhitewashed.

The northern elevation clearly retains some sense of its original self.

Branded now as “Manchester’s Finest Carvery” – it was busy on my early afternoon visit, gaggles of grey-pound clutching customers spilling out of serviceable saloons, coupés and shooting-brakes, into the waiting warmth, of this timeless temple to heated meats.

“Never fails in giving excellent food at reasonable prices. The vegatables for the carvery are kept in hot water so the do not go hard and dry from standing under hot lamps. The roast potatoes are devine. Give this restaurant a try.”

I went in once – once upon a time.

The Peaks Hotel – Ashton Under Lyne

Gorsey Lane, Hazlehurst, Ashton u Lyne OL6 9AU

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The land beyond beyond – where Greater Manchester almost, but not quite, gives up.

But not quite.

Quiet.

On the edge of the Pennines, high atop an almost hill – stands the appropriately named Peaks Hotel.

A boozer I knew as a lad, an ever open off licence serving cider to miscreants, who thought nothing of jumping their fence, to steal empty bottles, exchanged for pence, from the very place whence they came.

A boozer I knew when older for an evening pint with my Mam and Dad, waiter service from the ever efficient tall and slim, white coated Les – complete with free and easy organ accompaniment.

Drinking undrinkably fizzy glasses of Toby light and Brew X.

Now white faced, blank eyed and alone it stands with its back to Hartshead Pike.

A proud brooding building.

Useless.

Oliver’s Bar – Ashton under Lyne

39 Bow Street, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 6BU.

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Forever in my mind The Cavern.

So called because of its almost unique underground setting.

Qualified on the exterior street level by the fabulous concentric angular relief, drawing you into a vortex of limitless subterranean fun.

At once forbidding and inviting, go down if you dare.

Now renamed Oliver’s Bar, an array of carefully handwritten signage listing the treasures within.

How can you resist, as one curt but frank, Beer in the Evening review says:

“Full of low life scumbags.”

The Beau Geste – Ashton under Lyne

160 Katherine Street, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 7AE.

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Built and opened in 1967 as part of the redevelopment of the town centre and the opening of the brand new shopping precinct, the Beau has survived more or less intact.

A single storey bar with two storey living quarters, flat roofed and clad in broad brick columns, interspersed by rendered recesses, pierced by windows, which have happily not been blessed with new uPVC frames.

Always a busy boozer, approximate to the bus station, with a loyal but increasingly ageing clientele, the late Summer sun had drawn several customers into the garden/car park area, where we chatted amiably about Ashton’s rich pub past.

There were no signs of any legionnaires, diseased or otherwise.

Peg’s Lantern – Ashton under Lyne

148 St Alban’s Avenue, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 8TU.

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Opening in 1968 as Peg’s Lantern, to serve the new St Alban’s Estate, on an area of almost green between Ashton and Oldham, subsequently becoming known as Peg’s Tavern and latterly The Waterhouse.

Pub names are not protected, shifted according to whim and fancy – rarely for the better.

Just so pub architecture, what was a well considered period exterior of brick, tile and cladding, has become a confused amalgam of faddish Farrow and Ballisation and a bare wood and rope scheme, that speaks loudly of marine aspirations on this seriously land-locked site.

The integrity of the asymmetric, zig-zag volumes remains intact.

Coffee is 49p a cup.