Apollo Inn – Heywood Street

79 Heywood Street Cheetham Hill Manchester M8 0TX

Somewhat akin to a more than somewhat neglected child, there only appears to be one tiny photograph of your younger self.

Not a million miles away from you space age cousin in Miles Platting.

In your first incarnation as an Inn – a Holts tied pub in an up and coming area, the detritus of the earlier Victorian era having been cleared away.

And a brave new world assembled in the 1960s.

I can find no reference online regarding your upbringing, later years or final demise – you passed it seems without trace.

You had a later flowering as an Islamic Centre, as did full many other an estate pub.

Though this too was short-lived as the Al-Falah moved on up the road.

Where sadly a suspected arson attack was made.

So now you stand forlorn, all alone and unloved – surrounded and bound by chipboard and railings, as nature reclaims your site.

Was there ever a former glory, an untold story or two?

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The Apollo Inn

2 Varley Street Miles Platting Manchester M40 8EE

The national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the sun and light, poetry, and more. 

Better known to us through the NASA space programme, from whom I assume the Inn got its name – we were rocket mad in those days.

Many thanks to Mr David Dunnico and his photograph for confirming my suspicions – whatever happened to the sign one wonders?

For after all pubs are by their nature Dionysian relating to the sensual, spontaneous, and emotional aspects of human nature rather than the more rational and ordered Apollonian – enough however of Teutonic dialectics.

The area having been cleared of it victorian terraces.

Then proceeds to reconstitute itself with a surprising space-age alacrity.

Apollo son of Leto and Zeus is born with a big block of flats for company.

A typically functionalist boozer with a two storey pitched roof home at its core with outrigger bars and commodious car park.

Thanks again to Alan Winfield for his neat appraisal:

An  estate pub that had a large block of flats next to it. The pub had two rooms, I had a drink in the bar which had a very rough edge to it. The Apollo was a Boddington’s tied house so I was pleased, there were two real ales on, I had a drink of Boddington’s Mild which was a nice drink, there was also Boddington’s Bitter on.

Sadly now closed down.

A familiar tale of demolition and rebuilding, empty plots of land, shifting demographics and economic downturns, state enforced austerity and stasis.

Welcome to the low paid, low skilled world of the tinned up local.

The unnatural history which fails to learn from itself and endlessly repeats ad nauseam.

The land of buddleia, barbed wire, ragwort, willow herb and grass cracked tarmac.

The final indignity the theft of your apron of paving stones.

A suspected thief was spotted ripping up nearly 200 flagstones and loading them into a shopping trolley.

He took his time tearing up the paving stones from the front of a derelict pub in Miles Platting.

A Police Community Support Officer spotted the suspected thief pushing a trolley loaded with flagstones away from The Apollo pub on Varley Street.

One local resident said: They’ll take anything round here if it’s not nailed down.

Cleaner Claire Bevan, 38, a mother-of-two, said: I’ve heard about a lot of things but never that.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose.

Brown Cow – Ancoats

Corner of Butler Street and Woodward Street Ancoats.

How now Brown Cow?

No Brown Cow now.

Tanning studio, former organic goods store and one stop shop now.

I came in search of unclad flats and left with the inkling that this building must have been a former pub.

A little online research confirmed my suspicions, there had in fact been two Brown Cows.

The former licensed in the 1820s to the John Taylor & Co Pollard Street Brewery until Walker & Homfray took the firm over in 1929, who in turn merged with Wilson’s in 1949.

Serving the emergent industrial city and its citizens in an area dense with 19th Century housing and industry.

The Pubs of Manchester blog details the pub’s somewhat chequered history.

Mick Burke remembers the Brown Cow being frequented by the then notorious Whizz Gang from the Woodward Street area.  These were a gang of local criminals going by names such as Flinka – Alf Flynn – tobacco and cigarettes man and Reynolds – Alfie Lacy a safe-breaker.  One Sunday night in the 1930s the Whizz Gang did over a Post Office on Ordsall Lane and nicked the safe.  Despite a huge police search it was never found, and rumour was that it had been dumped in the canal at Ten Acres Lane in Newton Heath.  The robbery was the downfall of the Whizz Gang as they were caught selling stolen stamps in the Brown Cow.

John Logan has a very different tale to tell:

I got back to Manchester and in the meantime my family had moved. Two and a half years out there and they’d moved. They sent me a message saying our new address is The Brown Cow Hotel, Butler Street, Ancoats.

They’d moved into a pub.

So I go out looking for it, hammock on one arm and kitbag on the other, and I see this copper stopped at the traffic lights. I ask if he can tell me where the Brown Cow is. Goodness gracious he says, I was going there later. This is half ten at night, you see, when it would’ve been closed.

So he takes me to it and he says: this is what you do after time, he knocks on the window. The door opens a bit, I’ve got someone to see you Kitty he says. The door opens fully and there they are, my family.

You usually get a fortnight of leave but I had two months. You can imagine what a time I had.

The area was part of the Manchester post-war slum clearance scheme during the 1960s and rebuilt as a mix of low and high rise homes.

But beginning with a brand new pub – Wilson’s Brown Cow.

Archive photographs Local Image Collection.

Alan Winfield recalls:

A very grim looking estate pub in an equally grim area of Ancoats, the pub had the usual two room layout with a basic bar and a lounge, I had a drink in the bar which had a boisterous atmosphere. This was a Wilsons tied house with one real ale on, this was Wilsons Bitter which was a decent drink.

As I wandered around Woodward Street snapping, I was stopped by a local resident, fifty years or so living next door to the pub.

It was a mint boozer.

As a lad I would fall asleep listening to the sound of the turns in the pub.

The Brown Cow is now no more.

Much of the 60’s redevelopment has been swept away, Ancoats the hippest place on the planet is on the move close by. Estate pubs, it seems have yet to designated as hip, so the Brown Cow along with countless others moos no more.

Little details have been retained – the delightful balcony rail, concrete window frames and angular porch.

On a quiet night you may pause to hear a feint echo of the Whizz Gang at work opening up their ill-gotten Ordsall safe, good luck with that Flinka and crew.

The Mermaid – Handforth

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Delamere Road Handforth Cheshire SK9 3RB.

When is a pub not a pub?

Not at the moment in this instance, it would appear.

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A residents group in Handforth is being blocked from converting a derelict pub into a community centre because of a 50-year-old rule.

The Spath Lane Residents Association wants to convert The Mermaid, in Delamere Road, into a facility for the community, but the group has been told the site must remain a pub.

As Mancunians were relocated from their homes in Ancoats and Hulme to Handforth in the 1960s and 1970s, it was agreed by Manchester City Council that the Mermaid would be built as a pub for the village’s new residents – and that it would stay that way.

Knutsford Guardian

 

So caught in a double bind – a pub that nobody wants remains un-let, the community resource required remains unrealised.

Meanwhile The Mermaid quietly falls apart, tinned up and seemingly unloved, from as far back as 2005:

A feisty group of Handforth pensioners, whose lives have been blighted by booze fuelled nuisance from their local pub, successfully blocked its application to open late. The group of five pensioners live near The Mermaid Pub on Delamere Road.

They said they have to live with fighting, loud music and antisocial behaviour spilling out of the pub onto their streets.

One man said: “The music from the pub is very, very loud and at times I have to compete with my TV against the volume of it.”

Macclesfield Express

The Mermaid remains all washed up with nowhere to go.

Let’s take look at the forlorn walls, jagged eaves and faded signage.

High Bank Inn – Openshaw

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High Bank Inn 138 Ogden Lane, Openshaw, Manchester, M11 2LZ.

Years ago, I came by here on the bus, the 169 or 170 on my way from Ashton to Belle Vue – seeking the thrills and spills of the Speedway or the wayward, way-out musical fare at The Stoneground on Birch Street Gorton, former Corona Cinema, turned loopy left-field hang out.

The area was always a busy mix of industry, housing, shops, markets – and pubs.

Forty five on Ashton Old Road alone.

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There are now only a handful – the High Bank sadly, is no longer amongst them.

Upheavals in the fortunes of East Manchester mean that the familiar hustle and bustle of densely populated streets and industrious industry, are now the stuff of memory.

It closed in 2015, had been sold on and seems unlikely to reemerge as a pub. Once a well used Boddington’s house, the cream of Manchester has well and truly soured.

On my recent visit mother nature had already begun to take over, and the tinkers had taken the waney lap fence.

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Photograph Matt Wilkinson Flickr

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So if you’re passing, tip your cap, raise an imaginary glass and a smile – here’s to high times at the High Bank Inn.

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The Ace – Fitton Hill Oldham

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Fircroft Road, Oldham OL8 2QD

Playing for the high one, dancing with the devil,
Going with the flow, it’s all a game to me,
Seven or Eleven, snake eyes watching you,
Double up or quit, double stake or split,
The Ace Of Spades

Subsequently curtly shortened to – The Ace.

Lying two miles south of Oldham town centre, the Fitton Hill Estate was built during the Fifties and Sixties on previously undeveloped moorland with scattered hamlets and farmsteads.

The layout of the estate obliterated all traces of the old landscape.

Wind whips the streets above the Lancashire Plain – swirling down and around the high hills above the city below. It was once an area rich on the pickings of cotton and coal, regular work and pockets almost full of cash, slipping carelessly into the landlords’ tills

Oldham has suffered the fate of many of Manchester’s satellite towns, their energies and opportunities absorbed by the centre of the voracious city centre, as attempts to invest and regenerate flounder on the swelling tide of decline.

The Ace all high angles and Anglo Saxons continues to fight on, serving larger than life sports TV, lager and lounge music to the locals.

There are two handpumps on the bar, but according to the landlord, they tried selling real ale for a while, but it didn’t sell and they had to throw it away.

Pushing up the ante, I know you wanna see me
Read ’em and weep, the dead man’s hand again
I see it in your eyes, take one look and die
The only thing you see, you know it’s gonna be
The Ace Of Spades, The Ace Of Spades

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The Garratt – Longsight Manchester

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In 1892, during excavation work in connection with the building of the Manchester-Sheffield-Lincoln railway line, a stone axe was found in the Gore Brook area. It probably dates from the Neolithic or New Stone Age (3500-2000 BC) and is an indication of how long this area has been settled by man.

Continued occupation of the area is evident as the line of Hyde Road is believed to be a Roman Road. It would have been constructed during the occupation from 79 AD until around 390 AD, after which it fell into disrepair until coming back into use in the 19th century.

It says so here.

Alas, I came too late – the Neolithic and Roman citizens having absented themselves sometime earlier, I assume. Gore Brook we are told was christened by the subsequent Danish inhabitants – filth they found to be the most apposite name for a brook.

1904

Had I arrived in 1905 I would have found an area strewn with mature trees, picture book cottages and sylvan glades. Along with the emergent network of railways and attendant industries, hot on their heels.

1895

The population increased from 3,000 in 1845 to 13,500 in 1890, and again to 27,000 in 1900. The Gorton Works of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln railway opened in 1848.

1948

So the heady, carefree days of postwar expansionism, filled the area with industry, homes and people – a largely white working class population, with an Irish heritage.

1965

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I came in search of a pub The Garratt – alas again too late was the cry, this former Holt’s pub, with extensive decorative tile work and etched glass windows, depicting its railway connections was long gone – along with Beyer and Peacock and their enormous locomotive – now immobilised in the Museum of Science and Industry

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So here we have Manchester’s History in microcosm, boom and almost bust, a short lived period of wealth that was never evenly distributed and eventually disappeared in a puff of locomotive steam. Hard working workers no longer slaking their thirsts, following a hard day’s work.

Lively atmosphere, and somehow it struggles on.

Ignore the Mild pump as they do not sell it.

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The building is currently in use as a mosque

The Gorton Works of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln Railway closed in 1963, Gorton Foundary closed in 1966.

Archive material Manchester Local Image Collection