East of the M60 celebrates the launch of Stalybridge Real Ale Trail 2016
The last week has seen the relaunch of the Stalybridge Real Ale Trail. With the opening of Bridge Beers early this year, there has been good reason for its return.
Before you shudder and think “here we go, not an extension of the Rail Ale Trail” that has had a mixed reaction, think again. The trail is designed to increase footfall into Stalybridge town centre as well as sensibly enjoying real ales. If you called in all seven pubs and had half a pint in each one, that’s 3.5 pints for the full run.
East of the M60 (because we are good like that) have created an easy-to-follow trail map. The map’s graphic design is inspired by 1980s Greater Manchester Transport bus timetable maps and the green of SHMD Joint Board.
For your very eyes is the map in A4 sheet form. This is saved as a PDF file which is suitable for ‘traditional’ PCs and mobile devices alike.
How you choose to start the trail is down to you. The first and last pubs are close to nearby bus stops, and one of them is in the railway station itself. In the same order as the map, here’s a little shard of information about each public house.
- Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar (platforms 5 & 4, Stalybridge station, Rassbottom Street): the most famous public house in Stalybridge with a world famous reputation. The premises have been licensed since 1885 and remains a veritable mecca for rail and real ale enthusiasts. In the last thirty years, it had been threatened with closure and closed for most of 1996. January 1997 saw the establishment’s reopening and takeover by the late John Hesketh and Sylvia Wood. Following the death of John, it had been sensitively refurbished and taken over by the Beerhouses Group, who also own another four iconic real ale pubs in West Yorkshire, including The Sportsman in Huddersfield, and the West Riding Refreshment Rooms on the southbound platform of Dewsbury railway station. It is also noted for its affordably priced traditional food, including black peas, corned beef hash, and pork pies.
- The Q Bar (Market Street): recently refurbished, it has a reputation for real ale and live music, as well as being the shortest named pub in the world. The original Q-Inn was on Back Grosvenor Street (the block of shops with Finlay’s Newsagent and Savers being the site). Part of today’s Q Bar was Le Bar de Gare with the other part (next to the long-closed Bar Liquid) formerly a shop unit.
- The White House (Shepley Street/Water Street/Market Street): the last five years have seen the Hydes house come up in leaps and bounds. On most weekends, it is a vibrant pub noted for its live music. For a brief period it was known as The Laughing Cavalier. It is handily placed for local buses and taxis, especially with the Cavalier taxi office being opposite. It has a number of guest ales, some outside of Hydes’ seasonal fare, and real cider.
- The Wharf Tavern (Albert Square, Caroline Street): a popular pub for community groups and private functions, it has been run by the same family (the Grainger family) for nearly 70 years. It is a superb multi-roomed pub with an intimate lounge, a public bar, and a function room. Plus you take fish and chips into the pub, so long as they were purchased from The Battered Friar next door (which is owned by the same people as The Wharf Tavern).
- Bridge Beers (Melbourne Street): Stalybridge’s latest addition specialises in the sale of locally brewed cask conditioned and bottle conditioned ales. The micro pub has two floors and a good variety of bottled beers for drinking at home (great if you’ve enjoyed the bottle ale you had in the pub). Its intimacy makes for an atmospheric watering hole worthy of visiting. Prior to opening in late February, it was previously a unisex hair salon.
- The Society Rooms (Grosvenor Street): for many people new to real ale, a trip to any of J.D. Wetherspoon’s houses is a good place to begin. Stalybridge’s corner of Tim Martin’s empire is no exception with the usual meal deals, beer and cider festivals, and the obligatory flight of stairs to the lavatories. The Society Rooms opened in late 2002, in what was Stalybridge’s last town centre branch of the Co-op.
- The Old Hunters’ Tavern (Acres Lane): the last pub on the trail is a recently refurbished Robinson’s pub with a popular local trade. As well as showing live football matches, lunches are also available. Alongside the regular and seasonal Robinson’s ales is a wide range of single malt whiskies.
Will you be doing the trail? Feel free to comment and download the map.
S.V., 02 June 2016.