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Manchester's Dilapidated Estate Pubs


Manchester's Best
Small Pubs

by Pubs MCR
23 August 2013 18 Comments

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


Circus Tavern, Great Portland Street


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.

Microbar, Arndale Food Market, High Street





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

Grey Horse
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.

City Arms, Kennedy Street

City Arms

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.



Castle and Falcon, Bradshaw Street


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.

Prince of Wales
, Oldfield Road, Salford

Prince of Wales Oldfield

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

Grove Inn Regent

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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If you liked this, then get further distracted by these:

Manchester’s Dilapidated Estate Pubs

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JD 9:45 am, 8-Feb-2012

Temple is great. It's not so much the way the toilets are decorated with pages from vintage porn mags, but the assiduous way someone has been round them all with a marker pen and added a Hitler 'tache to each and every lady.

AJ 10:29 am, 8-Feb-2012

No Marble Arch?

Keith Wildman 4:26 pm, 8-Feb-2012

For some reason I've never been in the Temple, despite always parking in the NCP you see in the background when I'm at that end of town and having to walk past it. Love the City Arms, brilliant pub. I like the Smithfield, an air of the type of pub that looks like you wouldn;t want to go in, but once inside its great. And whilst it's not small, I do like The Rising Sun.

Dave 5:04 pm, 8-Feb-2012

Went in the City Arms a few times when I was working up there round about 2003. Saturday nights were last orders 10.50, time called 10.55, chucking out commenced at 11.10. To say i was surprised was putting it mildly.

TAMBO 6:03 pm, 8-Feb-2012

Just one problem with all of these bars...they are in Manchester.

lordhillwood 6:11 pm, 8-Feb-2012

Loved the City Arms in the late 80's worked around the corner in spring gardens spent many a lunchtime having one of Jed's famed "Heart attack specials" brekkers or the yorkshire pudding with beef stew in it, fantastic pint of Tetleys as well. As a Londoner I loved it what pubs should be about, once heard some southerner wander in and ask a Mrs Biffa the Bacon's mum type barmaid for half a lage, her reply "There's only women who drink lager in this pub and thats in pints, you'll have a pint of bitter" Happy days

jimmytheweed33 8:07 pm, 8-Feb-2012

You sure about the Prince of Wales building still being up? The Railway opposite is now a printers but I'm pretty sure the shell of the Prince is long gone. It had a couple of room for B&B as I recall and had the best piece of advertising ever, a hand drawn wooden sign with the legend "Fire Certificate now granted" on it. A sure fire way to pull in the crowds. Any out of towners who want to see a proper old Salford boozer before it goes the way of the rest of 'em should check out The Eagle in Greengate (known locally as the Lampoil) genuine rough arsed Holts pub. Details and map here:

Will Orchard 8:42 pm, 8-Feb-2012

The Smithfield Hotel and The Castle are two stand-outs in the city centre - great size, fantastic atmosphere and a reliable selection of ales.

Ian McShane 9:17 pm, 8-Feb-2012

What, no Corbiere's?

JR 8:24 pm, 9-Feb-2012

Hare and Hounds on shudehill is an ace pub. I walked past the Old Turks Head building last night, opposite shudehill car park, its for sale for £850k. mental.

Slip Digby 3:03 pm, 10-Feb-2012

Steve at the City is doing a really good job, got some really good ale in of late. The Prince of Wales is looking very tired recently, although Chung's Chippy next door is still trading. Shame it isn't still a pub as it would be very handy for Islington Mill (especially tonight pre 6 hour Lil Louis set)

granata 3:35 pm, 10-Feb-2012

Jimmytheweed - there were 2 Prince of Wales on Oldfield Road. The big one you refer to has gone and is now flats opposite the Railway; the little one (Chungs Chippy) still stands I think:

Matt 5:25 pm, 28-Mar-2013

Tambo has never been to Manchester. Not sure I agree with this list, and I live in the city. It just seems outdated. I guess you will never meet everyone's taste though. My personal favourite is Cask on Liverpool Street.

paulr856 5:53 pm, 28-Mar-2013

oyster anyone

andrew 7:18 pm, 28-Mar-2013

Yes the Lampoil is worth a visit. Quite near the MEN arena if you find yourself at an enormo gig. Hare and Hounds still got a good feel, the piano and old songs were going last time I was in there. Mother Macs round the back of Oldham St is still open and on Oldham St itsf I recommend Gullivers and the Castle. Both put gigs on. Step upstairs at the former and step back in time. Vic Godard, Davy Henderson and Martin Bramah have all graced the stage recently. JW Lees beer.

Danny Morgan 7:32 am, 23-Aug-2013

No 'Peveril of the Peak' ?

Danny Morgan 7:37 am, 23-Aug-2013

A couple of nights ago trying to wend my way to Piccadilly railway station i was amazed to see that the 'jolly angler' was still open for business. Manchesters hidden gem.

Sep 2:44 pm, 23-Aug-2013

Gutted I'll never go to the Grove Inn, demolished in my birth year, maybe it had to go for me to live. Some of the above mentioned pubs from readers comments aren't really that small but I'm surprised there's no Nook in Chorlton?

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