Manchester's Best Small Pubs

Everyone loves a boozer...here's the best of Manchester's diminutive establishments, past and present...
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Everyone loves a boozer...here's the best of Manchester's diminutive establishments, past and present...

STILL GOING STRONG

Circus Tavern, Great Portland Street

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It’s not that long ago that “the smallest bar in Europe with the biggest welcome in the world” served only Tetley’s bitter on the 2-foot-wide bar.  Tastes change, so cooking lager and smooth are also squeezed on, but what remains unchanged is the atmosphere in this tiny two-roomed beerhouse.  Greek George may have recently left the Circus Tavern, but the walls in the vault are still adorned with photos of local celebs and regulars.

The Temple, Great Bridgewater Street


Its old name, the Temple of Convenience, hints at its previous function as Victorian public toilets.  A fine juke box, characterful unisex toilets and various Manchester musicians are amongst the Temple’s attractions.

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Microbar, Arndale Food Market, High Street

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While technically not a pub, this little gem in the otherwise horrific Arndale Centre is worth a visit for a fine selection of British and foreign bottles, in addition to the half dozen hand pumps focussed on ales from owners, Boggart Brewery of Newton Heath, plus guests.

Grey Horse, Portland Street


Next door-but-two to the Circus Tavern but a bit bigger than it looks inside, the Grey Horse offers local Hydes ales (their Queens Brewery in Moss Side is closing, but thankfully production will stay in the area).  This little old beerhouse only got its full licence in 1961.

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City Arms, Kennedy Street

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The smallest and easily the best of three pubs in a row, the City Arms is tinier than it looks from the outside.  An impressively stocked bar offers up to 8 real ales and there is more seating in the snug at towards the back of the pub.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Castle and Falcon, Bradshaw Street

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Although it survived the initial Metrolink development, the Castle & Falcon didn’t escape the pub purge when the Shudehill bus station and car park arrived.  Remembered fondly as “Fawlty Towers” this was a much loved little boozer with an intriguing past as a church and lock-up for prisoners complete with rumoured tunnels to the cathedral.

Pepys', Back Pool Fold


In the 1970s Pepys’ was described as Manchester’s most exclusive bar – "Gentlemen Only" it read above the door.  It only opened at dinner time and it was standing room only for city gents sipping their sherry and Whitbread Tankard.  Sam’s Chop House (above) is nearby today.

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Prince of Wales
, Oldfield Road, Salford

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Only a handful of Old Salford’s boozers remain today, and while its big neighbour, the St Philips Hotel (Jollies in later years), has been pulled down, the tiny Prince of Wales remains in use as a chippy having closed in 1983.  It was known locally as “Little’s” (after its landlords rather than its size).


Grove Inn
, Regent Road, Salford

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Standing defiantly on its own until it was demolished in 1982, towards the end the Grove was nothing more than a one-room vault.  The tables had Playboy centrefolds so you ended up putting your pints down on the "beaver shots".  The less said about the "squirting jugs" on the noticeboard the better.  You don't get pubs like this any more.

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