What Manchester has to Offer

All the following six pubs are designated as Heritage pubs by CAMRA and feature in Real Heritage Pubs of the North West .Edited by Geoff Brandwood and containing wonderful photography by Michael Slaughter.

The following narrative is based on this book. The pubs are well worth considering as a historic pub walk in their own right.

You can also use the CAMRA on line app Whatpub for other details at: https://whatpub.com/

Britons Protection – National Inventory

50 Great Bridgwater Street. M1 5LE. Metro: Deansgate

Grade 11. Real Ale available.

Contact : 0161 236 5895 

Known to locals affectionately as the ‘BP’. The pub opened in 1811 and is said to have been used as a recruiting centre for soldiers to fight Napoleon, hence it seems the name. But our real interest here is a major refit about 1930, when the extensive tiling and quality woodwork in the interior was installed. The public bar is along the front and is wrapped around by  an L-shaped terrazzo – floored corridor, beyond which are a pair of back rooms (smoke room and snug) served by a double doored hatch with screens at the back of the servery. Especially good features are the moulded ceiling and bar furniture in the public bar and corridor; the 1930’s copper fireplace in the smoke room, and the wall-tiling in the passage, which also runs up the staircase. The tiling at the BP is very similar in style and date to the Hare and Hounds, which also  features below. The massive urinals and tiled walls in the gents’ are also worth a look. Also noted for its  vast range of (up to 200) whiskeys for which tasting events are occasionally scheduled.

Castle Hotel – Regional Inventory

66 Oldham Street M4 1LE. 

Transport: Metro: Piccadilly. Walk : Piccadilly via Oldham Street.

Grade 11. Real ale and cider available.

Contact: 0161 237 9485


 The Castle a small but comfortable pub had alterations carried out  around 1900. Originally a Kay’s Atlas Brewery establishment it displays their characteristic  ceramic frontage. The  bar is a notable feature of the interior fittings which features beautiful mustard, brown cream and green tiles, one of only thirteen examples left in the whole of the UK . The interior comprises rooms with a corridor down the right-hand side. The mosaic floor declaring  ‘Castle Hotel’ remains and the ‘The Castle’ remains in the inner door etched panel. Also remaining is a fine Victorian bar-back fitting. The Castle has a well-earned reputation of staging music gigs. Well worth a visit to see the bar front alone. There is also a room located on the first floor with its original small fireplace.

Circus Tavern – National Inventory

86 Portland Street, M1 4GX

Transport: . Metro: Piccadilly. Walk: Piccadilly via Portland Street

Grade 11. Real ale available.

Contact: 07863 349957

A remarkably tiny pub, originally a house, just one bay wide. A corridor on the left leads to two small, simply fitted public rooms, separated by a partition. The miniscule bar, branded as the ’smallest bar in Europe’, is under the stairs, such that only one person can serve. Its glazed superstructure suggest a 1930’s origin. Both rooms have old fixed benches. The fire places are in keeping but replacements. Listed in 1994 following a pilot study of Greater Manchester pubs by CAMRA for English Heritage now Heritage England. Small, tiny even but perfectly formed!

Hare & Hounds- National Inventory

46 Shudehill , M4 4AA, Grade 11 Real Ale available.

Contact: 0161 832 4737

There has been a pub on this site since 1800 but the current building was completely remodelled in 1925 and remains intact still. It has a distinctive glazed ground floor frontage. Internally a typical north of England layout; with a room at the front and back, with a corridor down one side which widens midway to provide a drinking lobby opposite the bar. The bar also provides service to the  front room and back room. Unusually there are also front and rear entrances the vestibules of which have grey and blue tiling. The front room, corridor and lobby are finished in a mottled brown tiling with a lighter cream coloured border, which is very similar to The Britons Protection. This tiling is also a feature of the bar front.Both rooms have fixed bench seating but the rear room was evidently the ‘better’ room since there are bell pushes for table service and this rooms original art deco fireplace remains. The screens to the bar are worthy of special mention displaying as they do many glazed and leaded panels. Definitely worth a visit where you may meet any one of its loyal customers it has a good atmosphere to boot.

Marble Arch Inn – National Inventory

73 Rochdale Road, M4 4HY Grade 11 Real Ale and Cider available

Transport: Rail & Metro: Victoria. Metro & Buses: Shudehill Interchange.

Contact: 0161 832 5914

The flagship of local brewers Marble who have done much to improve the offering of local changing ale but a couple of staples remain in their offering ‘Marble’ and ‘Pint’ . They also  offer real cider. A good place to eat as well. The pub was built in 1888 (on the side gable) by local architects Derbyshire and Smith is remarkable in two respects. The first is the use of Gothic features in the architecture which is an unusual choice for a pub, normally associated with church and educational buildings in the Victorian period. The second is that the interior has a stunning display of ceramic work. The long narrow sloping interior has walls lined with glazed bricks in shades of yellow, green and cream. Above is a wonderful frieze depicting a flourishing combination of alcoholic and cordial delights. The ceiling features more arched glazed bricks supported on iron beams which rest on ceramic brackets. There is also a wonderful mosaic sloping floor from the entrance on Rochdale Road. The detail is composed of cream and mostly blue inset with a floral motifs. Its clear that the original servery butted up to the mosaic floor where the current quarry tiling is laid.

After an unsympathetic refurbishment in 1954 the arches walls and mosaic flooring remained covered up until revealed again in 1989 when the present counter, fireplace and seating were installed. The Marble Brewery was established at the rear of the building in 1997 although brewing now takes place off site in Salford. There is a display of the pubs history in the rear extension where the toilets and eating area is situated, well worth consulting, the account makes an interesting read.

Mr Thomas’s Chop House – National Inventory

52 Cross Street Manchester, M2 7AR Grade 11. Real Ale available.

Contact: 0161 236 6364


Transport: Metro St Peter’s Square. Bus: No 1. (Free)

Referred to in the CAMRA inventory as a ‘Jacobean confection from 1901’. The front was originally a shop and offices designed by architects Mills and Murgatroyd and the rear part facing St Anne’s Square was by Woodhouse and Willoughby, also 1901. Externally the façade comprises an attractive flamboyant  terracotta and brick gable fronting on to Cross Street extending part way down St Anne’s Alley. But the star of the show is the internal decoration. The interior consists of four spaces, one behind the other, decorated by light green ceramic arches. A similarly coloured dado runs along much of the walling and the third compartment from the front also has plain cream tiling, extending to the ceiling. The small area at the back has an outstanding ceramic fireplace. Black and white tiled flooring runs throughout the pub. Over half of this fine interior operates as a fine quality restaurant. The painter L.S.Lowry was a regular in days gone by.

Peveril of the Peak –  ‘The Pev’ National Inventory.

127 Great Bridgewater Street, M1 5JQ Listed Grade 11. Real Ale available.

Transport: Metro Deansgate/Castlefield. Rail Oxford Road. Free Bus: No 2 Oxford Street/Walk Great Bridgewater Street.

Contact: 0161 236 6364

Its been suggested that the Pev takes its name from the name of the Manchester to London horse-drawn stagecoach of the same name, which operated in the early nineteenth century, while the more learned propose that the pub is named after the novel of the same name by  by Sir Walter Scott. The Peveril in the title refers to Peveril Castle in Derbyshire. The Peak District of course.

The pub situated on its island site on Great Bridgewater Street and Chepstow Street presents a wonderful sight against the high-rise backdrop. The stunning exterior tiles were added sometime at the beginning of the 20th century by the Manchester Brewery Company, which gave the same treatment to the Sawyers Arms on Deansgate and The Lower Turks Head on Shudehill.

The interior is noteworthy to. Comprised of three rooms a dog-leg corridor serves as a drinking lobby, lined with a dado of green and cream tiles and defined on the west side by a glazed screen forming the back of the servery. The most impressive room is that facing Great Bridgewater Street. It has baffles by the door, fixed seating, bell pushes, a Victorian fireplace and a bar counter with fielded panels and pilasters. The stained-glass screen over the counter only dates from 1982 but was skilfully crafted to match the panels in the lobby. The rear lounge and smoke room have fixed seating and bell pushes, the latter also has an elaborate Victorian marble surround. Above the fire   is a presentation mirror engraved in celebration of Nancy’s (Theresa Swanick’s) 40th year as licensee presented by the Trafford and Hulme Branch of CAMRA. Praise to CAMRA and others who campaigned to save this gem from demolition in the 1980’s for a proposed road scheme. When you visit do look around at the photographs in each room and see which celebrities you might recognise as well as seeing some interesting and informative photographs of the pub in former times, including a framed bill poster about the stagecoach service ‘Peveril of the Peak.

Unicorn – National Inventory

26 Church Street, M4 1PN

Transport: Metro Market Street. Rail/Metro, Victoria. Grade11. Real Ale available.

Contact: 0161 879 9863

On the 28th June 2019, the pub was added to England’s National Heritage List maintained by Historic England, (HE) on behalf of us all. It is now a Grade 11 listed building. This followed steps by CAMRA’s Pub Heritage Group (PHG). The decision taken represents an important step in preserving the distinctive and beautiful interior of this Manchester gem. Like pubs in the City with similar interiors – The Hare & Hounds, Shudehill and The Briton’s Protection, Great Bridgewater Street  – the Unicorn is distinctive because it remains largely unaltered since it was built in 1924, save for minor alterations in 1934. It has featured in the CAMRA Regional Real Heritage Pubs of the North West (Pub Interiors of Special Historic Interest), because of its distinctive interior and is now included in CAMRA’s National Inventory. I urge you to go along and try the cask ale on offer and see for yourself the wonderful interior. It is also the only pub in the centre of Manchester selling Draught Bass.