Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Vine on Kennedy Street ............ beer sellers, handloom weavers and Mr John Beswick the leach importer

The Vine always stops the causal tourist in their tracks. 

The Vine in 2014
For many it is the long walk along Fountain Street, leading on to Cooper Street and then almost on the corner of Kennedy Street is the Vine.  All green tiles and gold lettering.

It remains one of those pubs you bring friends to who are sniffy about Manchester and it always makes a huge impression.

Now I am sure someone will point to the long windows at the top and make the connection with handloom weaver’s homes which were designed to admit the maximum amount of daylight.

But if the house had been occupied by a handloom weaver he had gone by the 1850s no doubt squeezed out by the growing mechanization of the textile industry.

Instead at number 46 was Martha Dunbar who was selling pints to the residents and passing trade in 1850 but by the following year had been replaced by Mr Edwin Eastwood from Halifax in Yorkshire.

Kennedy Street and the two beer shops, 1849
He and his wife were just 22 and I guess were an enterprising couple.  They shared the house with Mr and Mrs Leach.*

Next door at what is the City Arms was Mr John Turner at 48 who was also in the business of dispensing beer and happiness and both landlord were in direct competition with Alston William at number 36.

And competition might well have been fierce given that there were 24 households along Kennedy Street whose breadwinners were engaged in a variety of trades from bookbinding, box manufacturer and my own personal favourite ......... Mr John Beswick, leech importer who lived at number 9.

But selling beer was for many just a short term measure which helped overcome a short period of unemployment and had been made possible because by then the 1830 Beer Act allowed an individual to brew and sell beer for the price of a license costing two guineas.

Kennedy Street, the two pubs and 4 & Bros, circa 1900
And that is pretty much what seems to have happened on Kennedy Street, for in a space of a year not only had Mrs Duncan moved on but so had John Beswick at 48 whose place had been taken by a Mr William who seems to have fancied selling beer rather than working as a blacksmith.

That said many beer sellers retained their original occupations seeing beer as just a side line.

All of which brings me back to the Vine which extended into the neighbouring building a few years ago and now features a cellar bar
devoted to a range of interesting brands of whiskies.

I doubt very much if this is the building which Martha or the other publicans back in the 1850s would have known.  It post dates them and may date from late the 1870s when it was the offices of a solicitor an accountant and a cloth agent.**

Inside the Vine, 2016
These venerable and sober businessmen might well have shuddered at one story that Mike and Rachelle the current owners told me about a Mary O’ Sullivan who may have run the Vine at sometime in the past and may have been murdered in the little entry which once gave access from Kennedy Street into a courtyard behind the pubs.

A first sweep of the records has not revealed Mary O’Sullivan but Rachelle was told by someone researching his family tree that his ancestor was connected with the Vine so I shall continue to go looking.

You can order the book from 

Location; Manchester

Painting; The Vine Inn Manchester. Painting © 2014 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures

Picture; detail of Kennedy Street in 1849 from the 1849 OS of Manchester & Salford, 1842-49 and in 1900 from Goad's Fire Insurance Maps, by kind permission of Digital Archives Association,

*Kennedy Street, Enu 1aa 34, Market Street, Manchester, 1851

**Slater's Directories, 1850, 1863, 1876, 1911

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