Stockport & South Manchester

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Stagger - Portwood and Stockport North

Friday 16 August 2024 19:30

Portwood and Stockport North

Friday 16 August 2024

Midway We start this evening's stagger at the Midway Tavern, though what it is the midway point of is not obvious! Situated on New Bridge Lane (or maybe Newbridge Lane as reported on their web site) which, according to Virtual Tourist is thought to have been a Roman Road. From the front the Midway appears to be situated on a grassy plateau, but is in fact 'perched' on the side of the Mersey. The drop into the river can be appreciated from the beer garden. Inside there is an emphasis on eating, but drinkers are not herded into a ghetto, and are welcome to sit almost where they desire. Beers on offer are from Moorhouses (Blond Witch), Sharp's and a rare example of a light mild, Timothy Taylor Golden Best. These are supplemented by a changing guest.

Leaving the Midway, you would think you only had to cross the road (from 263 to 264 New Bridge Lane) but due to the vagaries of house numbering the Park Inn is some 250m to our left! No real ale is reported but an inquisitor needs despatching to check its current status. Originally known as the Hare and Hounds, the reason for changing its name to the Park Inn is fairly obvious, with Vernon Park being just across the road. The phrase "street corner local" is often banded about, but that is exactly what the Park is, catering for its locals.

Stockport Image Archive - Tiviot Dale Station A reasonable perambulation now leads us towards the 8:30pm meeting point, passing as we do the now closed Railway on Avenue Street, Portwood. I have tried to establish where this strange name for the thoroughfare came from, but with no success. Maybe this was a Friday afternoon job, and the council worker ran out of ideas! The pub's current name does seem unusual as it is currently around a mile from the railway line. Until 2 January 1967 however Tiviot Dale station sat at the other end of the street. At one time Midland Railway London expresses could be seen pounding through on their journey to Manchester Central (GMEX). Alas all evidence of the station and line was obliterated when the M60 was built.

The Railway (that is the pub) has received a multitude of CAMRA awards, along with a similar number of stays of execution - Alas the axe has finally fallen. This is because the whole area is designated for clearance and re-development - though whether Stockport requires more vacant retail space! There was always six or so beers on, supplemented by a further four at weekends so there was always some reluctance to move on.

Queens, Portwood One hundred metres (that's 110 yards in old money) along the road and we reach our 8:30pm meeting point the Queens. The name of the pub will probably cause some consternation to the grammarian in the group, should it be the Queen's as in Head or or are there a multitude of queens involved: Discuss. For the rest of us, visiting in the evening we will be met by groups of locals, as the daytime shoppers from across the road will have departed. A feature of note, once common in many Robinson's pubs, is the cask beer being served by metered electric pump into oversized glasses.

Stockport Image Archive - Warren Buckley Stockport Image Archive - Dog and Buck As we travel towards our next destination, it is well worth spending a few minutes gazing upon the preserved entrances to two former pubs, the Warren Buckley (photo left) and the Buck and Dog (right hand photo). The former has been preserved, but around the corner on Bridge Street while the latter is round the side of the Barclays Bank on Percy Street. Also the demolition site which was the former the Tiviot pub on, surprise surprise, Tiviot Dale can be perused before confirming that the Full Shilling is still closed.

We now travel along Prince's Street, and the first thing you will notice is that the Council has spent a bob or two on regenerating it. From the fancy "stone" covering applied to the roadway to the trendy new street furniture you wonder who has paid for all this extravagance. Some of the answer becomes obvious as we approach our next venue, the Light Sociable Cinema. This bar, attached to the new Redrock development, is open to all, so you don't have to watch a film, but should you want to, you can take your drinks into the cinema. It is not the sort of place you would expect to find cask ale, and that is currently the case, a once solitary handpump has since vanished. Prising ourselves away from Star Wars, Harry Potter or Casablanca we can either return to Prince's Street or use the upgraded rear entrance to our next venue.

Stockport Image Archive - Swan With Two Necks Whichever approach we employ, our next port of call the Swan With Two Necks on Prince's Street (and not as many call it Princess Street) is reached. The name is supposedly a corruption of swan with two nicks, the marks made on mute swans' beaks to denote ownership. Because the majority of the pubs custom is during the day, the Swan used to shut early evening. The Redrock development has seen greater footfall in the evenings and led to longer opening, so, fingers crossed, we will be able to enter. The outside gives an impression of being a pseudo-historic building, but inside the wood panelling and fittings confirms its ancestry. Make an effort to look into the two rear rooms and observe the fitted bench seating and note especially the leaded roof light. Beers on offer are usually Unicorn, the current seasonal and, for as long as supplies manage to last over summer, Old Tom. Should you wish you can consume your beers outside, Parisian street café style, at the front, or out the back in a snug sun trap of a back yard.

Travelling further along Prince's Street and turning left in to Mersey Square brings us, at the far end, to the Chestergate a rather grand-looking former Wilson's house. When built it was known as the Mersey Hotel, had spells as Mr. Chips, Chestergate Tavern and even the Southgate during football Euro 2020, before settling on Chestergate. Can be lively and often has door supervisors, so best behaviour required. For years it had sold only keg beers but in 2019 it dipped a tentative toe in the water and tried a real ale. Such was the positive reaction to cask, that a second beer was served. Unfortunately covid knocked real ale on the head so, after despatching a scout to verify cask hasn’t crept back in unnoticed, we move on. Stockport Image Archive - Mersey Hotel Stockport Image Archive - Mersey Hotel

Of note is the rising footway and the balustrade in the bottom left of the picture (click on photo to see larger version), this demarks the location of the River Mersey. It is still there in the same position, but was culverted over when Merseyway was built. This isn't the current shopping centre, but an inner relief road! The name Mersey Hotel can just be made out on the photo right (click for larger version). This road ran from Warren Street to Mersey Square, thus avoided traffic having to pass along Bridge Street and Underbank. The road can still be seen, as it is extant in the short access road running behind the Chestergate.

Previously we would have called in the George which stands on the corner of Wellington Road North (yes, the name changes when the Mersey is crossed) and Heaton Lane in Mersey Square. Built in inter-war art nouveau or ocean liner style its other point of interest when I first encountered the George was that the beer was supplied by Higsons Brewery of Liverpool. It has passed through many other owners since then, including periods of closure, and most recently offered an interesting line-up of beers from Timothy Taylors of Keighley. Alas that sentance was penned before it closed in late 2017 and has since been boarded up. A recent planning application (DC/090940) has been submitted to build an, up to 17 floor, commercial and residential block. Of note is in this submission is an attempt to match the style/appearance of the George itself – though the additional 15 floors does distract a little!

Stockport Image Archive - Heaton Lane with the Pineapple the white building on the left The Pineapple today Around the corner now and on to Heaton Lane where in days gone by the Pineapple (white building in photo left) was overlooked by the tram, and later bus, depot [and most recently the temporary bus station] located on what is now the Heaton Lane car park.

Robinsons currently have the builders in, so the following describes how the Pineapple used to be – who knows what it will be like when reopened. Were you able to you enter the Pineapple two distinct drinking areas are obvious to the left and right, with the bar being on the right-hand side. A games room/snug/tap room can also be accessed to the left of, and behind, the bar. For a public house so close to the heart of the town, it still had a "local" crowd rather than the marauding hoards sometimes associated with town centre drinking. All in all a good honest local pub which, were it not overshadowed by the plethora of local multi ale houses, would gain more support from local CAMRA members. Trawling the internet does, however, reveal a multitude of non-Stopfordians singing the praise of the Pineapple. Robinsons have assured us its status is "mothballed" and not flagged for permanent closure, so there is hope for the future.

MAS-17193-141237-runaway-brewery-tap-stockport.jpg Now for the new kids on the block (or old mill to be more correct). Round the corner to the left, the Runaway Brewery Tap can be found just a few meters along Astley Street. Runaway relocated from their Manchester base in December 2022, with the Tap only opening selected weekends. Finally in April 2024 it opened fully, well as fully as 1pm to 10pm Thursday to Saturday is. Being an old mill expect lots of bare boards and industrial accoutrements, with school refectory style tables and seating. Cask ale from two handpumps is available along with a wall of taps, some of which may be dispensing real ale from membrane kegs (Key-Kegs). A most welcome addition to the drinking scene, and bound to get busier when all the new apartments in the surrounding area are occupied.

Moving on, previously our penultimate destination after passing under the Stockport-dominating railway viaduct [Humm! Not so sure that is a good description with all the tower blocks which are springing up around it!] was to turn left on to King Street West and the Comfortable Gill, opposite the rear of the bus garage. What is the Comfortable Gill named after? Could it be that ancient measure of alcohol, first introduced in the 14th century, equal to a quarter of a pint? For some reason, in Britain outside of Scotland, spirits were served in a sixth of a gill, whereas north of the border they get a fifth. Was this bound up with the fact Scotland was a different country before the Union, or did they just like whisky more than the rest of us? Then again the Comfortable Gill may just refer to a previous contented and relaxed landlady called Gillian? Whatever the explanation, we won’t be calling as it closed in February 2023, with demolition imminent but not yet scheduled.

Stockport Image Archive - Crown Inn in the 1970s Contemporary Crown Inn The question of whether our ultimate destination sells real ale is a resounding "Yes!"
Back on Heaton Lane, in the shadow of the viaduct, the Crown Inn has around a dozen handpumps dedicated to real ale. It is nice to see a multi-ale house using its range of pumps to offer a wide selection of beer styles. Revived, redecorated and reopened at the end of 2021 after a period of closure it is still finding its feet, but in its previous incantation, which is being emulated, so expect a mix of styles such as mild, stout/porter along with a few of golden ales. Externally the Crown Inn has hardly changed in years (except for the occasional repaints), can you say which photo above is from the 1970s and which is contemporary? The same could be said internally with many embellishments being original, or if not they are very convincing reproductions. It has been said many times, but the Crown epitomises the image of "ye olde worlde pub". Enjoy.

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Portwood and Stockport North Stagger

Timing Pub Name Address Bus &Rail Notes
7:30pm Start point: Midway 263 Newbridge LaneSK1 2NX Map  
Followed by Park Inn 264 Newbridge LaneSK1 2PG Map No Real Ale
8:00pm Mid point: Queens 11 Great Portwood StreetSK1 2DW Map  
Then: Berretto Lounge Redrock, Bridgefield StreetSK1 1SA Map No Real Ale
Light Sociable Cinema Redrock, Bridgefield StreetSK1 1SA Map No Real Ale
Swan with Two Necks 36 Princes StreetSK1 1RY Map  
Chestergate 66 ChestergateSK1 1NP Map
Pineapple 159 Heaton LaneSK4 1AQ Map
Temporarily closed
Runaway Brewery Tap 9-11 Astley StreetSK4 1AW Map
Temporarily closed
Comfortable Gill 34 King Street WestSK3 0DY Map
No Real Ale
Finishing at: Crown Inn 154 Heaton LaneSK4 1AR Map

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The answer to the Crown question is: Lefthand photo from the 1960s - Righthand photo 2019

Images on this page are thumbnails from various sources and no right is claimed. If you own copyright and wish either removal or acknowledgement please advise me and I'll promptly follow your wishes.

Updated May 2024

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