Stockport & South Manchester

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Weekday Wander - Northern Sixteenth

Tuesday 28 February 2023

Today's Weekday Wander takes in not Manchester's Northern Quarter, but about a quarter of the Northern Quarter — hence the title!


Meet at 11:30am on Stockport rail station platform for 11:33am Norther all stations train to Piccadilly, followed by a 15 minute walk to Blossom Street. The Edinburgh Castle reopened in 2019 after a number of years closure. Tucked away in the heart of industrial Ancoats, the Edinburgh Castle wouldn't be on the trendy person's radar were it not for the recent rejuvenation of the whole district. A few years back Ancoats could have stood in for a Peaky Blinders backdrop (accent excepted!) but the Victorian architecture would now rival many a continental square. The interior, though brought up to date, still retains most of its former glory.

On leaving webmedia.php?irn=68491&reftable=ecatalogue&refirn=27546 we will return to Great Ancoats Street, where we will pass the iconic 30s Grade 2* listed Daily Express building. Until the 1980s you could stand on the pavement and watch copies of the newspaper flying off the presses. Now put to other uses, it still strikes one as a modern, nay futuristic, structure.

Next door but two we come upon the Crown and Kettle, another Grade 2 listed building. The site was originally built in 1734 with the gloriously ornate ceiling being added in the 1800s. webmedia.php?irn=74831&reftable=ecatalogue&refirn=41194 The interior included wooden panelling from the R101 airship. After a little conflict between City and United in 1989 the pub was closed, and during this cessation of business a devastating fire ravaged the interior. Upon reopening in 2005 the building had been partially restored, below around 10foot (3 metres to you modern types) it is mostly modern, but the ceiling and parts of the wall are as left by the fire. Do take a look at the ceiling, but do it carefully to avoid a strained neck.

Next up we proceed along Swan Street to the eclectic Belgium styled Bar Fringe. The decoration couldn't be more different to that in the Crown and Kettle, including, among other things, a motorbike! Another fixture of note are the Ducketts of Burnley urinals, sorry men only. Along with the five handpumps, there is an extensive range of 'proper' Belgium and German beers, should you wish to go continental. There is an exquisite beer garden out back, but probably not for us on the last day of February. Although formerly known as the Old White Bear and Polars, that is so long in the past that this correspondent has only ever known it as Bar Fringe.

Finally we cross the street, passing the iconic Band On The Wall, to visit the Smithfield Market Tavern, formerly the Smithfield Hotel. In this instance your correspondent does remember it operating as a hotel. Blackjack Brewery took it over in 2020, modernised the interior and extended into next door, turning it into a modern styled bar. The beers however are still traditional with six handpulls (featuring Blackjack beers) along with ten keg beers for the modern among you.

webmedia.php?irn=74333&reftable=ecatalogue&refirn=41106 This leaves us with a dilemma, travel home at the height of the rush hour, or visit an extra pub! Conveniently, on the walk back towards Piccadilly station, we pass the front door of the Castle Hotel on Oldham Street. This Robinsons pub is yet another Grade II listed building which goes back 200 years. Though a Robinsons house, it is one of their beer shrine outlets, and features some outside beers. The building, narrow at the front, goes back a long way, encompassing a back bar drinking room with a concert room to the rear. The ornate interior is on the Nationally Historic Pub Interior listing.

As said originally, this sortie covers a mere quarter of the Northern Quarter, so a second (or third) Northern Sixteenth wander is likely.

11:30am11:30amMeet Stockport Rail Station
11:33am11:47pmNorthern all stations train terminating in Manchester Piccadilly
11:47am12:02pmWalk to Blossom Street
12:02pm1:15pmEdinburgh Castle17 Blossom Street, Manchester M4 5ANFood till 8pm
1:20pm2:30pmCrown and Kettle2 Oldham Road, Manchester M4 5FEFood till 8pm
2:40pm3:45pm Bar Fringe8 Swan Street, Manchester M4 5JZ 
3:55pm5:00pmSmithfield Market Tavern37 Swan Street, Manchester M4 5JZ 
Additional extra if desired - Avoids travelling at the height of the rush hour
  Castle Hotel66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE 
  There are numerous travel options back to Stockport from Piccadilly, too many to list.

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