Sunday 15 March 2015

Last pub standing

The Harewood Arms in the Tameside village of Broadbottom was chosen as CAMRA’s Greater Manchester Pub of the Year for 2014, and went on to be among the four finalists for the national award. Originally known as the Griffin, it was taken over in 2013 by Green Mill Brewery, and has effectively become their brewery tap, with the brewery operating in the cellar. But perhaps what is most notable about it is that it is the sole survivor of what were relatively recently no fewer than nine pubs on the road up from the bridge over the Etherow at the bottom end of Broadbottom to the A57 junction in Mottram-in-Longdendale, a distance of about two miles.

At the bottom end was the Cheshire Cheese, described in CAMRA’s 1995 guide to Tameside pubs, Nine Towns Bitter, as “easily the busiest in the village”. Heading up the hill, the Shoulder of Mutton was one of the earliest to close, but in the past had been highly regarded for its beer. I remember a new bar opening in the old station building, maybe in the late 80s, but by 1995 it seems to have disappeared. Next came the Griffin, now the Harewood Arms, and a bit further up on the same side of the road the Crescent, which the guide describes as “a mecca for the local worshippers of Duke Boddington”.

On the road between Broadbottom and Mottram was the Waggon (pictured), which closed relatively recently, a Robinson’s pub that once had ambitions as a destination food house. The centre of Mottram is a conservation area, with attractive stone-built houses lining a small triangular market square, and the church dominating the scene from its hilltop. Just off to the west was the Pack Horse, a large former Wilsons pub that has been closed for many years. On the square itself is the White Hart, most recently a Lees house, which managed to cling on but which the latest issue of Opening Times reports as imminently closing. Then down on the congested A57 crossroads was Robinsons’ Junction, which the guide describes as having an “emphasis on food in a separate dining room”, and which offered an impressive view of the Peak District hills to the rear.

And it doesn’t stop there. On the main road north from Mottram towards Stalybridge, the Roe Cross, a large roadhouse that was once a popular pub-restaurant, is now a garden centre. Heading west, there used to be an estate pub on the back road to Hattersley called the President, which eventually ended up as the Flat Cap and is now demolished. The guide describes it as having “a run down appearance catering just to a local need.” On the main A560 through Hattersley was Robinsons’ Chapman Arms, a commodious stone-built pub now converted to flats.

The roundabout at the eastern end of the M67 does boast a new family dining pub, the Mottram Wood (originally the Outside Inn), with associated Premier Inn, but you have to wonder how many residents use it as a local boozer. Down the A57 towards Hyde was Robinsons’ New Inn, a substantial rustic-styled 1930s roadhouse. On the main part of the Hattersley overspill estate, the guide lists three pubs – Centuries, the Four in Hand and the Hustage – none of which show up in web searches, and so presumably are all gone now.

In the opposite direction, heading downhill along Mottram Moor, the Gun Inn at the traffic lights where the A628 meets the A57, is still going, as are the New Inn and Organ Inn in Hollingworth village, although the Royal Oak has bitten the dust. The future of the Organ has been called into question, but as far as I know it is still open. Towards Glossop on the A57, the Woolley Bridge Inn is long-closed. Then, crossing the border into Derbyshire, there are four closed pubs, and none still open – the long-gone Spread Eagle and Plough, and the more recent casualties the Spring Tavern and the Junction.

All in all, quite an astonishing record of pub closures. Nine Towns Bitter lists nineteen pubs in the district of “Longdendale”, of which only four are still trading, with one new addition. Excluding the four in Hollingworth, it is just one out of fifteen. While Hattersley is poor and run-down, the older villages of Broadbottom and Mottram with their characterful stone-built terraces give the impression of being fairly prosperous and favoured locations for Manchester commuters.

None of these pubs, except perhaps the Roe Cross, have any shortage of nearby housing, and cannot be considered to have been critically dependent on car-borne customers. On the other hand, the endemic congestion on the unbypassed A57 through Mottram, and the rather savage traffic-calming scheme introduced in Broadbottom about fifteen years ago, can’t have helped. But the whole sad saga underlines the point that, while some city and town centres and prosperous suburbs may be seeing something of a pub and bar revival, in many areas outside that bubble the pub scene continues to be one of drastic retrenchment .


  1. Martin, Cambridge15 March 2015 at 19:52

    Its a depressing picture I sampled the other week, though a few yards to the west the Cheshire Cheese in Gee Cross is a great survivor whose John Smiths was the best I've had for years.

    The A628 is so bad now I stay and enjoy the hospitality of Glossop, whose pubs seem to be hanging on. Don't know about Stalyvegas.

  2. Tell us Mudge, when they knocked down these dumps, what better did they build on the spot?

  3. Charlesworth has the George & Dragon (Robbies') and the Grey Mare (which apparently serves Black Sheep & Doom Bar). Gutted to hear about the Cheshire Cheese - I've passed it many times & always thought it looked like a nice little pub. Unfortunately the only thing that ever takes me to Broadbottom is taking my daughter to see her friend in Charlesworth, which obviously isn't easy to combine with pub visiting.

  4. @Cookie - all either converted to residential use, demolished or still derelict. AFAIK the Roe Cross is the only one to be used for other commercial purposes.

  5. I had a drive around Hattersley estate this morning – somewhere I had never actually been in thirty years of living in the area. Not as run-down as I had expected – mostly two-storey terraced housing in a very low-density layout with large patches of green in between. The Harehill Tavern (which from the address I think was formerly the Hustage) is still clinging on, but not looking very inviting.

    Further round, I would guess this vacant lot was the site of Centuries, and the Four in Hand – a striking piece of 60s pub design attached to a tower block – was boarded up and in a rather sorry state, although still looking open on Google Street View.

    1. Pic of the Centurion here

  6. Hattersley, a classic Manchester city council overspill estate. A lot of work has gone on over the last few years to spruce it up there is a lot of green space - there always was, part of the plan. There is more open space these days since they demolished all but one of the tower blocks. You are right about the locations of the Centurion. The Flat Cap was on the corner of JFK road near where the Tesco store is now. I remember it when it was near to the end, trading as the JFK. Very run down and now the site is housing.

    Looking for some pics of the pubs I found these photos online

  7. Been in 13 of them, all but the Harewood and Gun Inn closed. At the other end of the M67 Denton to Gorton is a strangely pub-free stretch. Was there ever any pubs from the motorway to the Friendship?

  8. @granata - not to my knowledge, although there are the Windmill and the Dane Bank in the estate on the south side.

    I was under the impression the Junction was just flats, but happy to be corrected.

  9. Passed through the other day. The White Hart was still there and looking like a pub - i.e. no 'for sale' or 'to let' signs, no boards on the windows - but it wasn't actually open at 6.00 on a Thursday, which may be a bad sign! The Grey Mare in Charlesworth had a 'To Let' sign up, but I couldn't tell if this referred to the actual pub and not (say) an upstairs flat.

  10. What Pub? states that the White Hart is now permanently closed. This was reported in Opening Times earlier in the year.

  11. The White Hart has been gutted with all fixtures and fittings ripped out.
    The toilets at the back of the building have been demolished.
    The work on the building has stopped in the last week but after asking around the plans are,
    to return the building into 2 terraced houses and a small pub at the end of the terrace but we will wait and see.
    My biggest concern is the price the building sold for, guide price of 75k sold for 95k no wonder these pubs are being snapped up by property developers, in Mottram the average 2 bed terrace is 120k.
    The waggon just down the road has a very large car park so it looks like it will go the way of the Pack Horse and the Junction buy it cheap and get planning permission to build on the car park.


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