Friday, 10 June 2011

What did I tell you?

Back in 1999, I inveighed against Hydes converting the Unicorn, a traditional but rather faded 1930s pub in prosperous Halebarns, into a trendy abomination called Corbans Old Winery and Bar. “The trade might be up in the short term, but how long will it last before another cash injection is needed?” I asked. Indeed, it was later remodelled into the equally dubious “Corbans Gallery”, and the latest edition of Opening Times reports that it is to close and be turned into a “locksmiths, office and apartments”. Clearly, losing yet another pub is not something to be celebrated, but I can’t help feeling somewhat vindicated in forecasting that such a misguided venture would not have a rosy future. Schadenfreude is one of the few pleasures they haven’t yet tried to ban.

However much you tart it up with chrome and glass, somewhere like the Unicorn still resembles a middle-aged matron squeezed into a leather mini-skirt, and its target market of high-spending twentysomethings could obviously see through that. Although there is no shortage of either potential customers or money in Halebarns, that leaves just a single pub in the village, Robinson’s Bull’s Head, and it must be said that on my last visit that was looking a touch down-at-heel and lacking in customers.

The same issue of Opening Times also reports on the closure of the monumental Southern Hotel in Chorlton-cum-Hardy – once a Swales house dispensing the notorious “Swales’s swill” – and the Bowling Green in Chorlton-on-Medlock, a busy part of Manchester close to the University and the Manchester Royal Infirmary. There’s no lack of potential customers in either of those locations.


  1. The Bowling Green is just (geographically) on the wrong side of town and has suffered from poor business for a long time. Even when I was a student, it was less frequented than other nearby pubs.

    I’m tempted to say that making a prediction, and for it to come true some 11 years later isn’t really much of a prediction, but I won’t be picky:) I actually agree with you. In the 90s I had a girlfriend who lived in Halebarns and so used to drink regularly round there. The Unicorn was much loved by the locals and Hydes lost a lot of goodwill with its ill thought-out makeover. Certainly it was never the place it was.

    Sad to hear about the Bull’s Head as well. That was a very smart pub when I visited, if (or so it appeared to me) extraordinarily expensive for Robinsons beers.

  2. I'm not saying the Bull's Head is on its way out, but on a couple of visits in the past few months it gave the impression of having taken their eye off the ball and was also much quieter than I might have expected. Going back ten years, it was, as you say, notably spick-and-span, very busy and distinctly pricey. The prices now are on a par with typical Robinson's "Cheshire" prices.


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