Friday, 13 July 2018

Lost Manchester Pubs ........ the Llangollen Castle and the Old Green Man .... "wholly drunken men and semi-drunken women"

Now next time you are sitting beside Eric and he begins his long account of the demise of the British pub, here are two salutatory tales of pubs which deserve to have vanished off the face of the earth.

Davenport Court, 1849
I came across the two in a series of newspaper articles from the Manchester Guardian in 1870 and they were the Llangollen Castle and the Old Green Man.

Neither of which I suspect any of us would care to fall into.

The Llangollen Castle was at the entrance to Davenport Court which was off Deansgate hard by Victoria Street.

Today the stretch includes the Renaissance Hotel, and a car park.  But back in the 1870s it was a notorious spot where all manner of vice and worse bubbled away in what was a closed court which you entered by a narrow passage way from the main road.

And beside the entrance to the court, “keeping guard over it is a public house filled full to overflowing with wholly drunken men and semi-drunken women, and hard working labourers who are spending on prostitutes hard-earned money for want of which their wives and children are starving at home.

The whistle which gives token of the approach of suspicious-looking strangers, and the intense silence which succeeds it, indicate alike the commerce and the conversation carried on there.

The site of Davenport Court to the right, circa 1980s
The intruding and unwelcome visitor is greeted with muttered curses and regarded with furtive looks; he may be a ‘plain-clothes man’ taking stock, and too many know what that means to make his advent welcome.”*

Of course the Llangollen Castle may
not always have been a hub of all that is reprehensible.

In 1841 it was run by Thomas Griffiths who paid an annual rent of £48 to a Mr Carr.  The rent was far in excess of  the neighbouring houses which were paying between £7 and 8 a year.**

And Mr Carr seems to have cleaned up on Davenport Close owning all nine properties and may have seen the Llangollen Castle as the jewel in his portfolio.

How long Thomas Griffiths had served up pints is not yet clear.  In 1841 he was 65 so could have been pleasing the residents of Davenport Court for some time.***

That said I haven’t yet found an earlier date for the pub and will have to go and search the license records.
Nor have I even found a location for the Old Green Man which seems no less desirable.

“On the ground floor passing by the bar a long low room is reached, a mechanical organ is grinding away popular airs; and on long benches in front of the fire is a very mixed company of men and women...... The men are cadgers,- thieves ready to turn their head to anything, so long as it is dishonest; and the woman – their bloated, bruised and woollen faces tell too plainly that they have reached the lowest depths attainable by womanhood.”*

So, there you have it in the great sweep of pubs to visit neither the Llangollen Castle and the Old Green Man would be top of my list.

All of which is a nice lead into the two pubs books which feature 78 city centre pubs and 33 Chorlton pubs and bars.

They were published in December 2016 and May 2017 and are less a gukde and more a history of all that is good, combining orginal paintings by Peter Topping, stories by me and lots of photographs.

You can order the books at email Peter at the old fashioned way on 07521 557888 or from Chorlton Bookshop

Pictures; Davenport Court, 1849, from Manchester & Salford OS, Digital Archives Association, and looking along Deansgate, circa 1980s from the collection of John Casey

*In the Slums, the Manchester Guardian, March 3 1870

**Manchester Rate Books, Davenport Court, 1841

***Davenport Court, 1841 census, Enu 30 3, Market Street, Manchester

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