Historic Pubs

108 years ago on the 16th of August 1902, a brand new pub opened up in Manchester. It was situated opposite Hardcastle's Mill and named in honour of a well know local Lieutenant (Philip Ridley) after he came home safely from the second Boer War in South Africa. The Second Boer War erupted when diamonds and gold were discovered in Boer-controlled regions of the Transvaal.

Two of the more well known aspects of this war, were Robert Baden-Powell, (famous for starting up the scout movement - "Rover Scouting is a preparation for life, and also a pursuit for life." - Baden-Powell, 1928.) who spent 217 days commanding the defence of the town of Mafeking.

Then there is The battle of Spion Kop in 1900. A Kop is the Dutch word for Hill, and most memorably used at "The Kop" at Liverpool Football Club's Anfield ground, but it's also been used at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road, Sheffield United's Bramall Lane, Northampton Town's County Ground Preston North End's Deepdale, Leicester City's Filbert St and later Walker's Stadium, Coventry City's Highfield Road, Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium, Woolwich Arsenal's Manor Ground, Notts County's Meadow Lane and Tranmere Rovers' Prenton Park. After All, football is a kind of battle isn't it.

Yet more connections to this area of Manchester exist. There's another pub, "The Laughing Donkey" which can be found just around the corner from this one on "Omdurman Street" and Omdurman is a city in the east of Africa. In the "Battle of Omdurman" in 1898 (which actually took place in the nearby village of Kerreri), Lord Kitchener decisively defeated the Mahdist forces.  And there's Inkerman Street named after the Battle of Inkerman in the Crimean war on the 5th of November 1854.

But back to the pub...   When it opened, the inaugural pints were pulled by the owner of the mill, Mr Charles Hardcastle ably assisted by Mabel Grimshaw. Mabel had inherited the entire street after Sir Humphrey Swinton passed away. Rumor has it that she was his mistress, hence her surprise acquisition upon the death of the local landowner. The Licensee was Jim Corbishley who previously ran a grocery shop. Jim and his wife Nellie ran the pub for 16 years until 1918 when it was taken on by George and Mary Diggins.

"Where is this going??" I hear you ask. "It's not like Golfy to witter on aimlessly about such twaddle.  Oh, well, actually it, is... but that's not the point"....  All I can say is "Bear with..."


George Diggins was a retired police sergeant and he and Mary ran the pub through the depression and right up until 1937 when they finally retired and moved off to Southport. It was at this point, that the most well known Landlady of all (at least in this establishment) moved in.

In 1937, the recently married Jack and Annie Walker took over. They were very happy here (for the most part) and when Jack sadly passed away in 1970, Annie was still to be found running the old place right up until 1983. Since then there's been a whole host of Landlords and Land ladies... in the following order...

1983 - Fred Gee (Temporary Manager)
1984 - Billy Walker
1985 - Bet & Alec Gilroy
1995 - Jack and Vera Duckworth (with Alec Gilroy)
1998 - Natalie Barnes
2000 - Fred Elliott, Duggie Ferguson and Mike Baldwin

In 2006 the then Barmaid, Liz MacDonald took over with her son, Steve who ran the local Taxi firm and that is how things sit today.

So I'm sure by now, you know I'm blathering on about a fictional pub, The Rovers Return. It features in the long running british soap opera "Coronation Street" so named because the street was built in the year of the coronation of King Edward the VII (1902).  The pub was named after a real pub that existed in Shudehill, Withy Grove, Manchester and was named for the soldiers returning from the Boer War. It was knocked down in 1958.

This week, it's on our TV screens every night in the form of the 50th Birthday celebrations for Coronation Street and what a storyline they've got!

I'm not one for soap operas in general, in fact I'd say they are an interesting form of escapism at best, and a total waste of time at worst. However, "Corrie" is the exception that proves the rule.

Eastenders is just arguing and misery, Brookside is who's in bed with who and the odd murder, Emmerdale is...  well actually I have no idea, but it's a poor cousin...  Corrie, is consistently funny, and that's what keeps me coming back for a bit of a cheer up on a Monday, Wednesday & Friday unless there's football on... or something else... It's worked well for 50 years, so raise a glass of Newton and Ridley's (long gone now that the pub is a Free House) and wish them all the best for another 50 years.

If you missed Monday's all action drama (hardly any comedy for a change), I'd recommend a catch up here: http://www.itv.com/coronationstreet/videos/catchup/mon6dec830pm/


Finally for those of you looking for Corrie resources online:

This post originally appeared here: Posterous