Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A pub crawl down Memory Lane

On his recent visit to Stockport, Paul Mudge lent me a vintage pub guide he owned entitled The Greater Manchester Good Beer Guide. It isn’t dated but, from some of the long-defunct pubs it features such as the Club House and Grove in Stockport, I’d say it probably dates from around 1976.

I’ve done a few scans of my local areas which I’ve put up on my website for your perusal. Bear in mind that it’s a selective, not a comprehensive, guide, and some very familiar and highly-regarded pubs are conspicuous by their absence, such as Sam Smith’s Boar’s Head in Stockport, which was one of the highlights of our pub-crawl. From the comments on other pubs it may be that Sam’s were just emerging from a flirtation with keg beer. No Armoury, Davenport Arms or Nursery either.

The high proportion of real ale dispensed by electric pump is also very evident.

Manchester City Centre

Manchester Suburbs Part 1

Manchester Suburbs Part 2

Stockport Suburbs

Stockport Town Centre and Tameside Part 1

Tameside Part 2

Tameside Part 3 and Trafford

As with many early pub guides, the descriptions often vary from terse to non-existent, but they include some gems such as:

“Quiet, well-kept pub for animal lovers”

“Imposing pub maintains cool pint in summer – rattles your teeth in winter”

“Haunt of the chunky sweater brigade”

“Good beer in odd atmosphere”

21 comments:

  1. What's the Golden Year, Mudge?

    If we create a Westworld type theme park for dumpy pub lovin' old codgers, what year would we set it? 1976?, 1953?

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  2. I love these old guides - I inherited this one from Rhys and now have the full set of Greater Manchester guides I think. I see there's a lot of Boddingtons in this one - back in the day when it was at its height of course.

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    1. By the time I moved into this area at the end of 1984 it was already felt that Boddingtons was somehow not really what it was.

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  3. It's a window onto an alternative reality, isn't it? Virtually no free houses; as well as lots of Boddingtons, lots of Wilsons; everywhere selling mild and bitter and pretty much nothing else; and of course so many pubs which are long gone.

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    1. Also the comment on the Swan on Shaw Heath (oddly included when the Armoury wasn't) "Try the many other Wilsons down Castle Street". Jolly Crofter - Windsor Castle - Pineapple - Prince Albert - Royal Oak in those days. And was the Bobby Peel maybe a post-1976 pub swap between Wilsons and Greenalls?

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  4. Looking at that guide i have done most in it but do not know of Handforth which had two pubs on Wilmslow road.
    I love old guides and have loads of them.
    They did'nt bother what they said back then,in the 1976 beer guide on the Cheadle entry in Greater Manchester,it says "all pubs in Cheadle worth a visit,but avoid the George and Dragon"i still like looking through that even though i was only 14 when published.

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    1. Handforth is actually in Cheshire and you have to go through part of Stockport MBC to reach it from Manchester, so I'm not sure how it came to be included.

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    2. At that time Handforth (and Wilmslow which also appears) were in Greater Manchester CAMRA Region (if such a thing existed) and may still have been part of the old South Manchester Branch. That may explain (but not justify) their inclusion.

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    3. At one point it was planned to include Handforth and Wilmslow within the Greater Manchester County, but that was scrapped following a public outcry.

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  5. I have a copy of this guide, somewhere at home. I bought it whilst living in the Greater Manchester, as a student at Salford University. I’m fairly certain it dates from around 1976, which was my final year at Salford. I stayed on in the area to do a year’s Post Graduate course at Manchester Polytechnic, and then spent a further six months out in the sticks, renting a flat above a butchers shop in Romiley (plenty of Robinson’s pubs there!).

    Many of the pubs in that guide could be described as basic, which ties in with you previous post, and backs up my comment about liking unspoilt, back street locals back then. Electric pumped Boddingtons, and sometimes Wilson’s too, were the rule in Broughton, where I was living at the time. There was a Sam Smiths pub nearby, but that sold bright beer only. Have to say though, electric pumped, “Bright” Sam’s wasn’t a bad drink. Greenalls were the brewery to avoid!

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  6. "Oddly mixed clientele" at the Union - wonder what they're getting at there... I moved to Manchester in 1982, and people were still doing "if you drink in there you need to keep your back to the wall" 'jokes' about the Union. The one time I went in there an old bloke did try to pick me up, admittedly - but then, I was an exceptionally handsome youth.

    The southern suburbs are a bit 'blink and you'll miss it', aren't they? Not much of a Chorlton Challenge in those days, apart from covering the distance between the Southern, the Royal Oak and Chorlton Green. Gorton was obviously where the serious drinking went on.

    I didn't think I'd have an emotional reaction to anything in that guide, but I had a real pang for the Whitworth. Marston's - when they were Marston's - seemed to have a real knack for homely, pubby pubs, as well as the beer generally being rather good.

    All in all I'd happily set my time machine for the late 70s; getting my beer variety by frequenting the tied pubs of multiple brewers with slightly different takes on mild and bitter - and slightly different specials - sounds fine to me.

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  7. Thanks for posting, always interesting. Is the Guide to Grotley still available anywhere ;-)

    The guides to the curry cafes were good in the later guides.

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    1. Sadly it no longer seems to be available anywhere on t'Interweb :-(

      All I can offer is this.

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    2. Did you live in Snoot Magna or Snobley ?
      I thought I saw it on a Salford CAMRA website at some point. Really should be the first task of a central Mcr branch to republish it rather than wasting effort on saving pubs.

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    3. Thanks - your nomination for a Peerage for services to pub history is on my To Do list.

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  8. I have a copy of the 1984 Grotley guide. published in the Feb 1984 100th edition of What's Doing. My two favourite listed pubs are, 14th Mounted Whore in Condom Close & Skunks Bum in Back Thrutch Lane. Both serving Drabs M.B (H).

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  9. Something to be said for returning to much briefer entries. GBG is too wordy and WhatPub because it's not space limited can tend towards verbal diarrhea

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    1. It has to go beyond "Clean" or "Basic", though ;-)

      Agreed on WhatPub - some entries go on far too long, and others basically seem to be regurgitating the blurb on the pub's own website.

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