High Bank Inn – Openshaw

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 16.35.16

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.


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.


Photograph Matt Wilkinson Flickr


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.




















The Ace – Fitton Hill Oldham

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 14.27.42

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

P1030970 copy

P1030971 copy

P1030972 copy

P1030973 copy

P1030975 copy

P1030976 copy

P1030977 copy

P1030978 copy

P1030979 copy

P1030980 copy

P1030981 copy

P1030986 copy

P1030988 copy




The Garratt – Longsight Manchester


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.


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.


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.


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.



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





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.











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


The Manchester – Bradford

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 15.46.17

The Manchester, Grey Mare Lane, Bradford, Manchester. M11 3DG

The Crossroads was a typical looking 70’s built estate pub that was just off the busy Ashton New Road. There were two rooms inside a decent sized bar and a smart lounge, the pub was very busy on my visit with a good mix of locals. The pub was a Bass tied house and there were no real ales on here I had a drink of keg Stones Bitter this was far too cold and a very poor drink. This pub is still standing with a part of it trading as a training centre, the side of the pub says The Manchester but I am not sure what this is. 

Alan Winfield Pubs Galore 1993

February 2016 I cycled by – stopped at the crossroads – The Manchester now sits in Eastlands, even though you are in Bradford, you are now in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium, which is owned by Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, commonly known as Sheikh Mansour, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, minister of presidential affairs and member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. The ghost of Alan Turing runs away to your right – heading off at a pace for Phillips Park and Openshaw, simultaneously.

The pub was open yet quiet, as you may expect on a cold, quiet mid week winter’s day, match days would see it spring to life. The building is a delightful mix of flat roofed brick and glass volumes, strong verticals and staggered windows, typical of its type.

Surrounded on one side by a large estate of 70’s social housing and on the other newer developments associated with the arrival of the football stadium, training ground, trams, retail park and roads.

Quite literally, but not nominally a crossroads – a collision of wealth and want.

As JK Galbraith said:

“Private affluence and public squalor”.

“We need, and surely will have, an end to freedom from regulation and at least some of the oratory of the magic of free enterprise”

Have a drink on me.

DSC_0260 copy

DSC_0265 copy

DSC_0266 copy


DSC_0271 copy

DSC_0272 copy

DSC_0273 copy

DSC_0275 copy


DSC_0277 copy

DSC_0278 copy

DSC_0279 copy

DSC_0281 copy

DSC_0282 copy

DSC_0283 copy


The Flying Shuttle – Bury

Once it flew, thanks to John Kay:


Then it rocked, thanks to Soma Dark and Hobo King:



Now it does neither.

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 15.04.36

Overwhelmed by its massive, muscular multiplex neighbours, The Flying Shuttle is another victim of unfettered urban renewal, overwritten by the developers unique and exciting leisure facility template – coming to every town UK any time soon.

“During the week, we try to make the pub as welcoming as possible, if it is chucking it down outside and people come in with not much money and just want to sit with their friends with a can of Coke for a few hours, they know we won’t chuck them out.”

King Cotton threw in the towel years ago, now we import all our fun and manufactured goods.


Close the door on your way out.

Don’t rock The Rock.



















Primrose View – Oldham

Primrose View, 25-27 Ashton Rd, Oldham OL8 1JX

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.49.23

Once there was an OB brewery here, OB – OK?

Fine Lancashire Ales, bought out by Boddington’s.

Closed down by Boddington’s.

Boddington’s was bought out by Interbrew.

Beer can and will eat itself – Boddies the Cream of Manchester, the transubstantiation of Monopoly Capitalism, it rises to the top, as another local brewery and its pubs sink.

Almost without trace.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.51.51

A poor do in the poorest of towns, the view was never primrose.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.53.05

The blanked, bricked and tinned windows, have a more than somewhat restricted view of an uncertain future, demolition or redevelopment, planning applied for 2014.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 12.19.50

Another new flue, that never arrived.

The Railway Hotel – Longsight

Berigan Close, Manchester, M12 4QT.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 18.12.51

Once there was a Railway Hotel here, once there was a railway too.

The nearby Longsight Shed teemed with Carriage and Engine Cleaners, Firemen, Drivers, Guards, Fitters and Shunters and all the requisite ancillary support staff.

Thirsty work.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 18.15.10

Firstly the first Railway Hotel disappeared, then the railway too.

Sidings once full of stock and sheds full of locos, stood emptier.


Less spare capacity rolling stock, less cleaning and maintenance, less of everything.

The area was redeveloped, back to back terraces replaced by brand new homes.

The Railway Hotel reappeared, a brand new Boddington’s house for brand new people in their brand new homes, neat sleek and well, new.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 18.15.47

Through the 70’s, the final death throws of late industrial capitalism required far fewer hired hands, no more thirsty work for tired lads and lasses.

No more Railway Hotels.

Railway Hotel Berigan St

Tinned up and turned into a mini-market.

Through a succession of owners, the building has survived, as a retail outlet and multiple occupancy residential homes.

There are now virtually no pubs left in the area.

Making things poorer and poorer for the pourer.

Thanks to Dan Granata: