The Old Wellington Inn

The Old Wellington Inn is a half-timbered pub in Manchester city centre, England. It is part of Shambles Square, which was created in 1999, and is near Manchester Cathedral. It is a Grade II listed building.[1]

The Old Wellington Inn
A timber-framed building, three floors high with a gabled roof. There are tables and chairs outside.
The Old Wellington Inn, 2003
General information
TypePublic house
Address4 Cathedral Gates, Manchester, M3 1SW
Year(s) built1552
Renovated1971, late 1990s
Technical details
Floor count3
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameThe Old Wellington Inn
Designated25 February 1952
Reference no.1270698
Other information
Public transit accessManchester Victoria
Official website

History edit

The oldest building of its kind in Manchester, The Old Wellington Inn was built in 1552 next to the market square which led off what is now Market Street, in what was known as the Shambles.[2] In 1554, part of it became a draper's shop, owned by the Byrom family,[3] and the writer John Byrom was born there in 1692.[4] The building had a third storey added to it in the 17th century.[5] In 1830, the building became a licensed public house, known as The Vintners Arms, and later The Kenyon Vaults. By 1865, the ground floor of the building was known as The Wellington Inn, while the upper floors were used by makers of mathematical and optical instruments. Later, in 1897, the upper floors were used as a fishing tackle shop, known as "Ye Olde Fyshing Tackle Shoppe".[2]

The building was extended in the 18th century to house John Shaw's Punch House which, as the name suggests, was licensed for the sale of strong alcoholic punch, and became a meeting place for High Tories and possibly Jacobites.[6] The customers usually assembled around 6 o'clock and, according to rule, called for "sixpennyworth of punch". John Shaw was a stickler for discipline, having formerly been a trooper and fought in the wars of Queen Anne's reign, and the rules of the establishment were strictly enforced. Eight o'clock was the hour fixed by law for closing and, as soon as the clock struck eight, Shaw would present himself before his guests and proclaim in a loud voice "Eight o'clock gentlemen, eight o'clock!" accompanying the announcement with the suggestive cracking of a horsewhip. This would normally soon clear the house but, if the cracking of the whip failed, his maid, Molly Owen, was ordered to use the contents of her mop bucket to "expedite the movement of the loiterer".[7] When one Colonel Stanley was elected Member of Parliament for the county he took his friends to Shaw's, and when "Eight o'clock" was announced as usual, said that he hoped Mr Shaw would not press the matter on this special occasion. Shaw replied "Colonel Stanley, you are a lawmaker and should not be a lawbreaker, and if you and your friends do not leave the room in five minutes you will find your shoes full of water!" Within that time Molly came in with her mop bucket and the Colonel and his friends were required to beat a hasty retreat.[8]

Shaw was master of the punch house for 58 years until he died in 1796 at the age of 83. After Shaw's death the punch house was kept by Peter Fearnhead, with the assistance of Molly under the same rules, until it was sold about ten years later to William Goodall, who had been the proprietor of the Fleece Tavern at the opposite end of the Old Shambles.[9] The new landlord demolished part of the building and converted the rest into The King's Head Tavern in 1807.[7] It later became known as Sinclair's, until oysters were introduced to the menu in 1845 and it became Sinclair's Oyster Bar, the name it retains to this day.[10]

Many of the buildings in the market place were demolished in the Victorian era to make way for road improvements and the rest were destroyed in the Manchester Blitz in 1940, leaving the Old Shambles as one of the few pre-19th century buildings, and The Wellington Inn as the only surviving Tudor building in Manchester city centre. The buildings were both designated as Grade II listed buildings in 1952.[11]

On 22 July 1971, the process began of elevating the Old Shambles in order to fit with the development of 'The Market Place Centre'. This separate development was intended to provide a single level walk, from the Arndale Centre;[5] to which it was connected by a glass bridge over Corporation Street, and then on to Deansgate. The Old Wellington was underpinned with a concrete raft, designed by draughtsman Fred Kennedy, then raised half inch by half inch using hydraulic jacks for three months, until 27 October 1971 when it had been sufficiently raised a total of 5 feet (1.5 m).[12]

The Old Wellington Inn was reopened in 1981.[2] Prior to the jacking operation, the entire internal structure of the whole block was removed and replaced by an internal, steel bracing framework. Only the curtain walling remained of the original Tudor building. Moreover, when rebuilt, it was necessary to do so to all the latest building regulations. Originally, due to centuries of settlement, there was not a straight line in the building. The floors, ceilings and windows were all awry, and there were several low beams in the bar area which had to be ducked under by all but the shortest clientele. The main one bore the legend 'Duck or Grouse'.

It was damaged in the 1996 Manchester bombing, and was reopened in February 1997, with costs of £500,000 paid to repair the damage.[13] However, in preparation for the city's development in the bomb's aftermath, it was decided that the building, alongside its neighbour Sinclair's Oyster Bar, should be dismantled and rebuilt 300 m (980 ft) towards the cathedral to form Shambles Square.[14] The move was completed by November 1999, when the pub reopened.[5]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Listed buildings in Manchester by street (S)". Manchester City Council. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "The great survivors". Manchester Online. GMG Regional Digital. 13 April 2004. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  3. ^ Worthington, p.9
  4. ^ Worthington, p.10
  5. ^ a b c "Wellington Inn". Greater Manchester County Record Office. Retrieved 27 March 2010. [dead link]
  6. ^ Worthington (2005), p. 11
  7. ^ a b Dutton, Roy (2014). A Tale of Two Cities. Infodial ltd. p. 123. ISBN 978-0992826505.
  8. ^ Anon (1843). Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester. Chetham Society. p. 49.
  9. ^ Goodall, William (16 September 1806). "Wm. Goodall". Manchester Mercury. British Newspaper Archive. Retrieved 27 January 2018.(subscription required)
  10. ^ Taken from information signage in Sinclair's
  11. ^ "A-Z of Listed Buildings in Manchester: Listed buildings in Manchester by street (S)". Manchester City Council. p. 18. Retrieved 11 March 2008.
  12. ^ "Fascinating photos of Manchester's old Shambles Square being 'lifted' in 1971". 15 November 2022.
  13. ^ Williams, p.218
  14. ^ Williams, p.219
  • Williams, Gwyndaf (2003). The enterprising city centre: Manchester's development challenge. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-25262-8.
  • Worthington, Barry (2002). Discovering Manchester. Sigma Leisure. ISBN 1-85058-774-4.

53°29′05″N 2°14′38″W / 53.4847°N 2.2440°W / 53.4847; -2.2440