The population of Manchester grew tenfold during the Industrial Revolution; pubs sprouted up in the 18th and 19th centuries to feed and water the growing number of workers with increasing disposable incomes. Today, those historic inns retain plenty of original features, but often with updated décor and forward-thinking menus. Culture Trip checks out the best and most historically significant pubs in Manchester city centre to visit today.
With a packed music schedule and glossy brown tiles, The Castle Hotel on busy Oldham Street stands out among Northern Quarter watering holes. It’s been open since 1776 and the restored interior is a fine example of Victorian-pub décor – all patterned ceilings, stained-glass doors and old fixed seats as well as an ornate ceramic bar (one of only a handful in the UK). It’s a three-minute stroll around the corner from the Band on the Wall venue for comedy and gigs. Since 2010, the adults-only pub has an on-site music hall, becoming a creative hub for budding Mancunian talent and bands from further afield.
In the 18th century, a molly house was a pub or coffee shop where gay men could meet. The Molly House pub in Manchester is a welcoming flower-decked, red-brick bar, embracing all drinkers. It stands on a narrow lane, parallel with Canal Street, in Manchester’s Gay Village. There’s a low-lit “tea room” with barrels for tables, a lace-curtained “bordello” and an outdoor veranda, all decorated with vintage shabby-chic details. The tapas menu – good for sharing with a few drinks – lists pomegranate tabbouleh, sweet-potato falafel and marinated octopus. Ales on tap rotate local guests, such as creamy pints from the Beartown Brewery in Cheshire, plus bottled beers from around the world, including strong, flavour-layered triples.