A wander around the streets of Hyde, at public houses past and present
On this blog and many others of a beer related nature, we see many a tale of pubs closing and being asset stripped by Pubcos/Hospitality Based Estate Agents. Ashton-under-Lyne is one place that features in the same paragraphs.
It is worth noting that Hyde has taken a similar hit. Its casualties being some good pubs like The Unity and The George. In spite of this, the town centre has three ‘must-see’ pubs for any real ale enthusiast. Four if you count The Cotton Bale. From Kingston Bridge to Godley Arches, our round-up has a bias towards the town centre. There is some random diversions to others past and present, which are a short bus ride or walk away.
To supplement our previous round-ups of Ashton and Stalybridge pubs, one on Hyde is long overdue. In spite of the title, we may throw in a few clubs.
Manchester Road (A57)
The White Gates Inn: Samuel Smith public house close to Denton and Hyde boundary at Kingston Bridge. Though with no real ale it sells the full complement of keg and bottled ales by the Tadcaster independent brewery.
From 1977 to 1982, it was a CAMRA Investments free house that sold a variety of cask conditioned ales such as Hartley’s XB (before Robbies’ takeover in ’82) and Theakston Bitter. All run-of-the-mill for 2015 standards, but a big deal in 1977.
The Wellington: recently demolished. At one time, a public house owned by the Failsworth Brewing Company in the mid-1980s.
The Cheshire Ring: after being a neglected former Whitbread house, it was taken over by Beartown Brewery in 2002. Today, it a must for any real ale fanatic with a variety of foreign bottled beers as well as Beartown’s ales. It is noted for its live music.
The Red Lion: depubbed and now the base of Plastic Fantastic. In its twilight years, it was a Robinson’s house and one of a number of recent disposals in Hyde from the Stockport brewery. The Red Lion was taken over by Robinson’s in the mid-1990s after being a Bass house.
Clark Way (A57)
Lowry’s/Jekyll’s of Hyde/Bangla City: in its present guise, the Bangla City Indian Restaurant has been noted for its tribute acts as well as its curries. Before being Bangla City it was derelict for almost ten years, after being Jekyll’s of Hyde. Which, prior to then was Lowry’s.
Market Street (A627)
Fusion: exclusive nightspot in the early noughties. Closed 2003.
The Clarendon/Last Orders: presently plying its trade under the Last Orders franchise, it was hitherto known as The Clarendon. Former Whitbread house.
The Cheshire Cheese: former Boddingtons house, later owned by Pubmaster. Depubbed in 2010 and became the Cheshire Grill. Struggled in last guise as Sheikh Rice Bar. Upstairs now a gymnasium.
Route 66: depubbed in September 2009 following loss of licence through antisocial behaviour. Its last year of trading saw the police called out to the pub 43 times, almost a police visit every 10 days. Still vacant.
The Crown: ex-Robinson’s house closed in early 2009. Sold to Waltons Property Agents for conversion into shop units. Awaiting tenants.
Shepherd’s Call: former Greenalls house still trading. Reintroduced cask conditioned ales of late.
Church Street/Great Norbury Street
The George: now converted into apartments. Prior to 2008, it was a commodious Robinson’s pub ideal for post-nuptial buffets or wakes. It was a multi-roomed public house with a lounge, public bar, smoke room and an upstairs bar, used for live performances. (Yours truly had the joy of seeing Biggles Wartime Band there, and the Unicorn – in jugs due to the packed house – was in excellent form).
Though a short stagger from the town centre, it was akin to a country house. Unsuspecting drinkers, with the neighbouring church, could have forgiven themselves for being in a suburban setting.
The Unity: whilst the Theatre Royal was in its pomp – and even with the Festival Theatre being nearby – The Unity was a popular watering hole for luvvies. Another former Robbies’ house, it closed in 2011. Depubbed, this time split into terraced houses.
Hyde Conservative Club: now the only licensed premise on Reynold Street (two if you count Iceland’s wines and spirits section).
The Bricklayers: once a popular Wilsons pub noted for its unusual gable above the corner entrance. Depubbed shortly after introduction of 2007 Smoking Ban. Converted into flats.
Bike ‘n’ Hound: for the last 10 to 15 years, its niche as a biker friendly pub has seen the public house outlive several others throughout Hyde. If you’re in the centre, this is one place you cannot miss, owing to its live music and convenient location for the bus station and taxi rank. With the addition of cask conditioned ales (mainly the eminently drinkable Trooper by Robinson’s Brewery), its appeal has increased.
As well as heavy rock music (real live music without a backing track in sight!), Thursday night is ‘Topless Barmaid Night’. In spite of this daillance of non-PC gimmicks (if offended, please refrain from calling in on Thursday nights), it remains a ‘must-visit’ public house for anyone visiting Hyde.
The White Lion: one of a few Robinson’s houses to have escaped the Stopfordian brewery’s retreat from Hyde, and an iconic one at that. As well as serving food at affordable prices and retaining a traditional air, it has two footnotes in history.
One is the foundation of Hyde FC, Hyde United FC’s predecessors. Whom in modern times (with the old name revived) were known for their poor league record as well as the infamous 26-0 defeat against Preston North End.
Its second footnote in history was a meeting among Manchester journalists that led to the formation of CAMRA [the Campaign for Real Ale]. Who knew what we would have been drinking in 2015 without their meeting in 1971? (I would have stuck to the Yorkshire Tea).
The Albion: popular wet trade led pub noted for televised football coverage.
The Cotton Bale: Tameside’s second ‘Spoons which opened in 1999. The J.D. Wetherspoon house probably takes its name from Hyde’s core industry – with the Ashton Brothers main players in the Cheshire town at one time. Before opening, it was a gift shop.
The Jolly Carter: former Bass house handy for the 201 or 341 buses. Noted for live televised football and, of late, introduced food.
The Queen’s: former Bass house taken over by Joseph Holt’s Brewery in 2005. Interior tastefully refurbished with multi room layout retained and decent outdoor cover for smokers. Excellent range of Joey Holt’s finest in bottled and cask forms with occasional guest ales.
The Moulders’ Arms/Flannigans/The Old Townhouse: after a spell of ersatz Irish pubness, The Old Townhouse has regained a sense of real pubness. Also sells cask conditioned ales, and a popular public house among Hyde United fans.
The Sportsman: a stagger around Hydonian public houses isn’t complete without this gem. Formerly owned by Whitbread it became part of the Rossendale Brewery in 2002. Beer prices are lower than average for Hyde and there’s ample variety of real ales from the brewery’s alone (before guest ales).
Its first floor is also home to El Cuba Libre, a Cuban influenced restaurant which is just as unmissable as the rest of the pub itself. At ground level, you are spoilt for choice seating wise as well as beer wise, with a commodious lounge and well appointed public bar. One to duck out of the big shop in Morrisons for as well!
The Bankfield: now converted into flats, another former Robbies pub. As with The White Lion, another footnote in Hyde United’s history, being their original headquarters and the nearest pub to Ewen Fields.
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A short walk away from the town centre is a number of pubs, past and present that are worthy of a mention.
The Junction: one of three pubs – long closed – that quenched the thirsts of nearby workers at Hyde Mill. Former Robinson’s house, closed shortly after the closure of Senior Service’s works.
The Cheshire Cheese: one of a few Robbies houses still alive and well in Hyde, with its position at a crossroads advantageous for footfall.
The Cotton Tree: ex-Wilsons house, long closed. Was associated with the Chartist Movement and the Plug Riots. Again, footfall suffered due to Senior Service’s departure.
Hallbottomgate Inn: former Bass house, closed and demolished in 2010. Site still vacant as waste ground.
King William IV: once one of three pubs close to the former Vymura works. Of late, selling real ale again.
The Clarence: former Boddingtons pub still going strong.
Bay Horse: another victim of Robinson’s exodus from parts of Hyde. Was one of a number of public houses acquired by Robinson’s on taking over Bell’s brewery in the late 1920s.
Closed 2013, vacant with demolition imminent. Plans in the pipeline for demolition with housing and four shop units in its wake.
The White Hart: demolished and replaced by apartments in 2008. A dual aspect stone building, the Hyde and District Sunday Football League was founded there in 1963. Former Robinson’s house.
The Flowery Field Pub: a real survivor bucking the trend of pubs in a similar setting throughout Hyde. Forms part of the old Flowery Field terraced housing. Unpretentious pub serving local wet led trade.
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“…But Wait, There’s More…!”
Indeed there is, past and present of course given this list is far from complete. We would appreciate any information on the pubs demolished to make way for the M67 motorway. As always, any anecdotes about Hyde’s public houses and clubs – past and present – are welcome.
S.V., 02 September 2015.