The humble pub has played a huge part in English history and many are keen to maintain this link with the past by retaining historic pubs. As Historic England has recently announced the listing of more than 20 inter-war pubs, here’s a look at some of Manchester’s many pubs that have already secured the protection that listing offers.
The Briton’s Protection
A favourite of whiskey connoisseurs (it has more than 300 on offer), the Briton’s Protection has been a Manchester mainstay for more than 200 years. Don’t be put off if it looks busy when you walk past – the former Tetley’s pub has six different rooms, including two with fires in the winter months. There’s also a large mural commemorating the Peterloo Massacre, a beer garden and a function room upstairs. It secured grade II listing in 1990.
This NQ pub traces its history back more than 200 years and has changed its name many times over the years. It’s well-known for its association with the city’s music scene with events taking place most evenings, and has been sympathetically restored in recent years. It received grade II listed status in 1988.
The Circus Tavern
This Portland Street boozer bills itself as the ‘smallest bar in Europe’. Nestled between two takeaways, this historic building is absolutely tiny with only two small rooms and an extremely small bar – so if you think it looks small from the outside, wait until you see inside. It was listed in 1994.
The City Arms
If you want to be feel like you’ve been transported back in time, head to the City Arms. It has retained its historic charm complete with its cosy back room filled with dark wooden panels and heavy furniture. It was listed in 1974.
The Crown and Kettle
On the outskirts of the Northern Quarter, this charming pub is more than worth the walk. Its main talking point is its stunning ornate ceiling – it’s something that has to be seen to be believed. A cosy snug complete with fireplace and the smaller vault off the main bar make up the rest of this 19th century pub. It’s been grade II listed since 1974.
The Grey Horse
A few doors down from the Circus Tavern (and listed at the same time), this is another small, traditional pub still surviving in the heart of the city centre.
Located off Oxford Road, the Lass is thought to have been in existence since the 1840s and its name is said to come from its homesick Scottish landlord paying homage to his favourite poem. The outside of the pub retains a blue plaque proudly claiming it was the site of Manchester’s last pissotière. It was designated as grade II listed in 1994.
The Marble Arch
Arguably one of Manchester’s most beautiful pubs, the Marble Arch has olde-world charm aplenty combined with excellent beers made at the pub’s own brewery (formerly located in the back room but now just down the road in a railway arch) and a menu of hearty, modern pub grub. From its stunning glazed bricks and decorative tiles, to its lovely fireplace and renowned sloping floor, it can’t fail to impress and has been grade II listed since 1988.
Mr Thomas’s Chop House
On a site originally occupied by a Georgian town house, Mr Thomas’s Chop House first opened as a pub and restaurant in 1870. It was extended in 1901, and still retains its Victorian interior including the arches and well-maintained tiles. And if you’re wondering what a chop house is – it’s a historic eatery where businessmen (women were originally not permitted) met to do deals, eat traditional cooked meats and wash it all down with beer and wine. It was listed in 1974.
The Peveril of the Peak
The Pev as it’s affectionately known is definitely a survivor. Set on its own island in the middle of two roads, the distinctive green and yellow brick exterior is unmissable and almost like stepping back in time. Inside, check out the stained glass windows. It’s been grade II listed since 1988.
The Sawyers Arms
Located on Deansgate, the Sawyers Arms claims to be one of the city’s oldest pubs as it first gained its license in 1730. Is it the oldest? It’s hard to prove but it was listed in 1974 as a result of its historic importance. It’s owned by Nicholson’s Pubs, part of pubco Mitchell & Butlers.
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar and The Old Wellington Inn
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar and the Old Wellington are some of the city’s most distinctive watering holes and have a rich history. The Old Wellington is the older of the two, said to date back to the Tudor period, while Sinclair’s was probably built in the 18th century. When the Arndale Centre was built in the 1960s, the two pubs were saved from the bulldozers and moved down the road to form Shambles Square. Despite their proximity to the location of the IRA bomb explosion in 1996, both pubs escaped relatively unscathed. They were both originally listed in 1952.
The Star and Garter
A Manchester live music institution, the Star and Garter only opens its doors for gigs and club nights, including its long-running Morrissey Smiths Disco. Built in 1803, the pub is said to have been moved 100 yards down the road brick by brick in 1849 to allow what is now Piccadilly Station to expand. It was listed in 1988.
The Vine Inn
The City Arms’ neighbour secured listed status at the same time as its counterpart and stands out among the local buildings with its green tiled exterior. Although it may not have as much of an olde world feel as the City Arms, its basement bar is worth checking out.
See Time Out's guide to Manchester's best pubs.