Friday, 16 December 2016

Stories behind the Pub book ........ an idea, a shedload of research and some pretty fine paintings

An occasional series on how the book Manchester Pubs was written.

Like all good books especially one to do with pubs it began over a pint and during the discussion on the decline in the number of traditional houses we decided to discover just how many there were left in the city centre.

From there it was just a short hop to Peter proposing to paint each one.

And once you have a painting you have got to have a story, after all our collaboration has always been predicated on that simple idea that he paints the pictures and I tell the stories.

And what a lot there were ranging from murky dealings at the dead of night and colourful characters to events that reflected the history of the city.

Some came from talking to the landlords and the regulars which is always the place to start.

From there I wandered off into the historic records, comparing old maps, with street directories and newspaper accounts and in some cases exploring the lives of those that ran and drank in some of the pubs.

Early on we took the decision to group the pubs into fifteen short walks allowing the reader to better understand the context in which the pub existed.

So as you would expect places like the Northern Quarter which was a densely populated area still has more than its fair share of traditional pubs, while the Oxnoble on Liverpool Road got its name from a type of potato landed at Potato Wharf.

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And while I was busy delving deep into the past Peter had the task of visiting each pub taking photographs of the interiors and matching these with old pictures from the City’s digital collection of 80,000 images of Manchester.

Of course in the interests of pure research I did on occasion join him on what became adventures in their own right, like the day in the Northern Quarter when we encountered those huge wall paintings which are everywhere.

That in turn led to a “Peter Painting” of the paintings and of course a story.

Next; Mr Thomas 1820 fine bone china replete with the name of his pub, a night to remember at Band on the Wall and the couple from Glasgow and their two friends from Yorkshire.

Painting; montage, of the paintings at the back of Tib Street, near Brightwell walk © 2016 Peter Topping

*Manchester Pubs - The Stories Behind The Doors – City Centre, Peter Topping and Andrew Simpson,
ISBN 978 0 995705 50 0 Price £18.99

We are taking Pre-orders now and hopefully the book will be ready for sale on 20th December 2016 at

The book can also be obtained from  Chorlton Bookshop,  0161 881 6374 

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