The Woolpack – Salford

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Belvedere Road, Pendelton.



Once one of five pubs to serve the area, an area of newly built and bustling estates, The Woolpack has finally called and served its time. Despite local residents’ moves to revive this once busy pub, it now stands lost and alone .


Gene Houghton of Sycamore Court, Pendleton, said:

It was and will always remain the best pub in Salford.

When these doors closed last year a community closed with it. People come from near and far, everyone knew each other and it was a pleasure to go to.

The entertainment was second to none, especially on a Sunday afternoon. It was a fantastic place.

Bez Salford Garden photo by Steven Speed (2)

Even the well intentioned intervention of Happy Monday’s Bez and co has seemingly failed to halt the forces of free market economics and industrial decline

So in area now awash with the great unwashed and ever expanding student population, whose social needs are quite possibly met elsewhere, it remains decidedly:



















The Flemish Weaver – Salford

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The transition of Manchester into a town was realised as the rest of Britain experienced an increase in population, due to trade and commerce, in the early thirteenth century. During this time Manchester was also granted an annual market, making it one of the most important towns in Lancashire. This, along with the arrival of Flemish weavers and cloth makers in the 14th century, marked the beginnings of Manchester as a major player in the textile industry.

Brown, Ford Madox, 1821-1893; The Establishment of the Flemish Weavers in Manchester, 1363

Following a wild flurry of activity in the ensuing centuries, wool and silk are replaced by cotton, in a whirl of spinning jennies, mules, flying shuttles and water frames – cottage industries are replaced overnight by the satanic mills of the Industrial Revolution. Subsequently international capital decides that its time to do one – so off they flounce in search of cheap labour and post-imperial commodity supply chains and markets.

The Cotton Club closes its doors forever.

The Flemish Weaver pub suffers a similar fate, built in the 70s to serve the Pendleton Estate – the tab end of post-war prosperity supplies enough tab ends and pulled pints to support several boozers.

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The slow burn of the free market has however, transformed the passing pub trade into a threatened species of ashen faced publicans and absent friends, disappearing in desperately diminishing circles, as time is finally called.


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The Flemish Weaver finally closed in 2014.
















The Swinging Sporran – Manchester

78 Sackville St, Manchester M1 3NJ

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South of the border down Manchester way, on the wrong side of the Tweed:

– sat The Swinging Sporran, closer to the culverted Medlock than thee.

What’s in a name?

The decontextualised allusion to outlandish Bamforth innuendo and Caledonian capers.

The Swinging Sporran now, no longer swings.

It began as an abrupt end to a multi-storey car park that wanted to go on forever.

A sociable adjunct to the Umist campus and a suitably Modernist companion in both style and demeanour, bunker like brick blocks just about topped by a residential core.

It became home to live music and DJs of every stripe, enough to induce spots before your very, very wavy eyes.

With thanks to

The Swinging Sporran becomes The Retro Bar, having acquired a kiosk and coffee bar along the way, and an over elaboration of signage and detail that incautiously disguises its original spare aesthetic.

You can if you wish, escape through a door, climb the stairway to the stars, and gaze at the campus below, hurry though.

Nothing lasts forever.

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Harehill Tavern – Hattersley

35 Hattersley Road West, Hattersley SK14 3HE

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Last pub standing, serving the windswept streets of Hattersley.

Busy on a Monday afternoon, following a festive family Bank Holiday Sunday Fun Day.

“You should have come yesterday.”

The Landlord’s Mum suspicious at first, then warmed to the idea of my interest in their boozer.

She busily tidied the front yard, following the previous day’s session of intense al fresco smoking, berating the local chuffers, and satisfied I wasn’t from the Council.

– I never am, I’m from everywhere.

They’re doing alright.

Four in Hand – Hattersley

Hattersley Road East, Hattersley SK14 3EQ

four in

Hattersley – above Hyde beyond Manchester.

Created as an *overspill estate* to ease inner-city housing congestion, hopefully affording a more amenable, rural life.

Seven of its 1960’s tower blocks were demolished in 2000, Tameside Towers is next.

Hattersley – once home to Ricky Hatton.

I chatted to former resident Keith – he’d been happy in his home in the sky, buying binoculars to watch the passing airplanes and birds.

Since rehoused in a nearby maisonette, there is much less to see.

Or do.

The estate once had five pubs, now only one remains – not the Four in Hand.

A boarded up bricked bunker of a boozer,  elevated and nestled against the flats.

The wind now whistles, little else.

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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.