Monday 5 May 2014

Touch wood it might be OK

Manchester brewery Joseph Holt were once legendary for their low beer prices and lively, no-frills boozers. However, like most other pub-owners, they have felt the chill winds of change and have increasingly been converting their pubs to a food-led model that leaves little vestige of their former character, or their former value for money.

Now, they have gone one step further and entered into a joint venture with the people who created the Cloverleaf Pub Company – eventually taken over by Greene King – to redevelop some of their existing sites, and some new ones, into “family dining pubs”. This is to be called Touchwood Restaurants. One of the pubs involved is the Cheadle Hulme, next to the station in the suburban village of the same name, which going back a few decades was a notoriously rough pub called the Junction reputed to be favoured by the local BNP. How times change.

Clearly, as I have reported before, this seems to be the way the pub trade is going outside major town and city centres, so Holt’s can’t really be blamed for doing something that makes commercial sense. They have put the unspoilt Royal Oak in Eccles up for sale, and only the other day I was in one of their more traditional pubs, which was once pretty busy throughout most of its opening hours. No major football match on, and the place was virtually deserted.


  1. I see Holts are going upmarket then. Once all the Sam Smiths get turned into family dining places or closed, that will be pretty much it, then.

    Are we seeing the death of Mudgie Land?

  2. Arguably we are seeing the slow but steady death of the pub as it was once understood.

  3. But this blog can change all that. By inspiring a new generation to like dumpy pubs. To eschew cleanliness & comfort & edible food & scatter cushions in favour of dirt cheap brown bitter in dirty rooms sitting on hard benches among odd ball UKIP voting Daily Mail readers ranting that women should not be allowed to wear trousers.

    The tide will one day turn back, in favour of shite holes and it will all be down to Mudge.

  4. Mucky working class pubs ,cheap
    brown ale,Daily Mail readers and
    UKIP types,women in skirts and men with sags on their hands,old men with medals,do we mean the type of tavern which fostered those who gave their all at Waterloo,on the Somme,at Dunkirk
    and the wide beaches of Normandy,
    real men whose legacy is now being pulled down on the altar of
    apathy and cowardice.

    Waiting for the Heroes

  5. A classic comment by Anon there - one of his best.

  6. Anon is not wrong!

    I'm 91 and I fought in the war. I lost many friends to the bosch.

    We did not fight to rid europe of the nazi menace, to secure peace and prosperity, to ensure freedom and democracy to then see flooding caused by Gods wrath because women where trousers and no longer clean behind the fridge AND smoking banned from pubs.

    When I tug on my faithful woodbine outside the legion it is like there was never a point to the sacrifice. Hitler might just as well as won, for all the good it did.

    Save our pubs, Nigel!

    Capt. Hugh Dunkedly-Smithe Retired.

  7. Do I detect a rather weak attempt at parody there?

  8. Do yopu think it's Cookie in disguise?

  9. I've read OT magazine. The piss poor spelling points to Clarkey.

    where/wear ?

  10. Martin, Cambridge11 May 2014 at 00:17

    Don't see Winters turning foodie any time soon.

  11. I can see Winters turning closey, though. It's not hard to imagine the Holts management seeking to dispose of pubs like Winters and the Sun & Castle because they no longer fit their strategy.

  12. Holts head brewer is now the old head brewer of Bass. Draught bass was once a national treasure, but is now a thin disgusting version of that old clasic. He has done the same with holts. They used to age their hops for 6 months resulting it that fantastic exceptionally bitter bitter which people used to travel miles for. Now it is a watery unexceptional beer which very few people even bother to leave their homes for, resulting in the need for Holts to cosey up to awful breweries like Green King. I predict they will become the next Boddingtons. They ruin their beer, then sell their brewery, then their pubs. The rot has already started.
    Their pubs are empty because their beer is now crap!

  13. Holts Bitter had pretty much lost the old enamel-stripping bitterness twenty years ago, though.

    The company does seem to have lost any sense of direction or USP now.

  14. BNP at The Junction? I never knew that. Mind you I only spent about 30 seconds in there, in the early 80s; ordered a pint with all the confidence of a cocky 16 year old and was violently set upon by the landlady, who grabbed me by the ears to check if I was still wet behind them. She decided I was and, still holding my ears, steered me out of the front door with a few unfriendly words of advice. If you're reading this, you old harridan, sorry about the fireworks through the window thing the following week :-)


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