Didsbury Village North

Friday 21st October 2016

Description based on original stagger, timetable reflects current route.

Didsbury derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon Dyddi's burg, Early Didsbury map probably referring to a man known as Dyddi whose stronghold or township it was. In the 13th century Didsbury was variously referred to as Dydesbyre, Dydesbiri, Didsbury, or Dodesbury. A charter granted in about 1260 shows that a corn-grinding mill was operating in Didsbury but the earliest reference to Didsbury is in a document dating from 1235, recording a grant of land for the building of a chapel. In 1745 Charles Edward Stuart crossed the Mersey at Didsbury in the Jacobite march south from Manchester to Derby, and again in the subsequent retreat. During the Victorian expansion of Manchester, Didsbury developed as a prosperous settlement; a few mansions from the period still exist on Wilmslow Road between Didsbury Village and Parrs Wood to the east and Withington. The opening of the Midland Railway line in 1880 contributed greatly to the rapid growth in the population of Didsbury, with stations in the centre and at West Didsbury. Parrswood Hotel on 21 October 1944 On 28 April 1910, French pilot Louis Paulhan landed his Farman biplane in Barcicroft Fields, Pytha Fold Farm, on the borders of Withington, Burnage and Didsbury, at the end of the first flight from London to Manchester in under 24 hours, with one short overnight stop at Lichfield. Arriving at 5:30 am, Paulhan beat the British contender, Claude Grahame-White, winning a £10,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail.

Tonight's stagger starts a little way along School Lane at the Botanist Didsbury Clock Tower - tribute to Dr John Milson Rhodes which is adjacent to the Didsbury Village tram stop, so very convenient if traveling by this mode of transport. Originally this was a new build Wetherspoons pub named after Dr. John Milson Rhodes (1847-1909) whose medical practise and social work for the poor was so well appreciated that the square clock tower on Wilmslow Road outside the former railway station, a grade II listed structure, was erected in his honour. Since being sold on by Wetherspoons it has been renamed Botanist, and inside it is everything you would expect from a corporate chain pub. Split over two levels and having a major food element, it fits well with the modern, young, vibrant image expected of a Didsbury outlet.

A little more on the Didsbury philanthropist Dr Rhodes, who was born at Broughton in Salford and after studying at Glasgow Dr John Milson Rhodes completed his studies at Manchester's Owen's College. While living in Didsbury he worked at Chorlton Workhouse (later Withington Hospital) and discovered to his horror, that the workhouse dietary system was in chaos. By 1909, his criticisms of the system meant that dietary regimes were based on a scientific basis, and this became the norm all over Britain. His most far-seeing innovation was the outdoor system as a way of dealing with severely affected individuals. He thus set up the Langho Colony for Epileptics in 1904, and his passion also led to the foundation of the David Lewis Epileptics Colony just outside of Wilmslow - an institution still going strong today. At just before 7.30, on September 25 of 1909 Dr Rhodes felt his limbs twitching uncontrollably. Two hours earlier, he had taken a full dose of strychnine, as he had done many times before, to enable him to cope with his work but on this evening, he sensed that the incurable heart condition with which he had lived for the past three years was going to get the better of him. He fixed himself a simple meal - salad and cheese with bread - and felt a little better. The twitching in his leg subsided, and with some relief, he resumed his work. Then, suddenly, just after 9pm, he was dead. How can we know so accurately about these final hours of his life? Because his nephew published the detail in the British Medical Journal for October 1909.

Needs correcting from here onwards

The intention in fact is to bypass our 8:30pm rendezvous Nelson in 1959 and fit in one visit on Wilmslow Road. Just by the traffic lights (and strictly on Barlow Moor Road) and on the left at the junction is the Nelson, a traditional local's pub which caters for TV and live sport - okay the live sport is only the darts team. As you enter it takes no Sherlock Holmes to work out that it was originally two rooms but is now converted into one continuous drinking area. On selected evenings a DJ playing Folk or Mowtown may be resident to entertain you. Jennings Cumberland Ale, a rare visitor to this part of the world, is accompanied on the bar by a guest, often from Moorhouses. We must move on.

After vacating the Milson Rhodes, we make our way to the traffic lights and progress forward onto Barlow Moor Road to check out Didsbury Lounge which does not sell real ale (to our knowledge). A few yards further along and we will be popping our heads around the door of the Art of Tea, a café bar which does not have real ale but does have bottled conditioned beers from local microbreweries, (TicketyBrew has been mentioned). Station Inn in 1959 Back onto Wilmslow Road and turning north towards Manchester we need to pop our noses into Saints & Scholars to confirm there is no real ale on offer.

Progressing a little further along Wilmslow Road brings us to the Station, funnily enough, opposite the former rail station (and clock tower mentioned under Milson Rhodes). This Marston's pub is the antithesis of most Didsbury centre pubs on a Friday night, no yoofs chucking bottled alcho-pop down their necks like they are going for bust as a neknominate stunt. The Station is a bit like Dr Who's tardis, feet wide at the front but it goes back for what feels like miles! The front room and bar are always busy with local ale drinkers, but keep going back and you can eventually reach a (small) beer garden. A tranquil haven in a sea of shot-fuelled teenagers - don't let them know so we can keep it this way.

Across the road is Didsbury station, opened on 1st January 1880 Didsbury Station in 1951 before being demolished as part of the Manchester South District Railway connecting Manchester Central to Stockport Tiviot Dale. A number of schemes had been proposed to create a line from Manchester to Didsbury from as early as 1864. The Manchester South District Railway passed into the hands of the Midland Railway who started to run express trains between Manchester Central and London St Pancras via Stockport Tiviot Dale. In July 1902 the Midland started using a cut-off line between Heaton Mersey and New Mills, and from this date half of the South District train services began to run to a new station at Cheadle Heath (where Morrisons is now located). By 1939 Didsbury station was being served by forty trains in each direction including two weekday morning express services that ran to London in just four hours. By the 1950s the service had gone into decline, being just sixteen trains a day in each direction by 1956. In 1960 British Railways began operating the Blue Pullman service between Manchester and London St Pancras but the service called at Cheadle Heath in preference to Didsbury. Last horse tram seen in Didsbury 1913 The very last train to call at Didsbury was the 18:45 Manchester Central to London St Pancras service and Didsbury station closed on 2nd January 1967. The odd freight train continued to pass through the station, but on 17th August the line was disconnected at Chorlton Junction and lifted in 1970. The station buildings survived until 1981 when they were demolished and replaced by a small shopping precinct. Further deatails on the Disused Stations website.

Thankfully the railway trackbed was retained and now provides a route for the Chorlton to Stockport (with potential extention to Marple) Metrolink line, currently only built as far as East Didsbury. The modern tram cars make quite a contrast to the tram shown right (though electric Corporation trams did fill some of the intervening between this photo of 1913 and the opening of the Metro).

Crossing the road and into the Slug & Lettuce which has returned to the real ale fold in mid-2014. Built on two levels with live jazz in the upstairs room every Tuesday and the bar downstairs. Beers on offer are Greene King IPA and Wells Bombardier. Door supervisors are often on duty on Friday evenings, so no trainers or jeans!

Passing the closed Sanctuary we come to the Stoker's Arms (formally O'Neill's an, I bet you've guessed it, Irish themed bar). Entering you find the previous cavernous room has been broken up by numerous wooden screens, so it is not as barn like as was. The décor is unashamedly Irish but thankfully not too over the top, more Irish-lite, with flags, photos and recipes on the walls. You can dine in here as well as partake of three cask ales - Moorhouse's Pendle Witches, Sharp's Doom Bar and guest beers. Comfortable and welcoming but can become boisterous on Friday nights. Time hastens on so we move five doors down to our final destination.

Before hurrying on to our last hostelry, Library in 1967 let us pause a while and cast our eyes across the road at Didsbury Library. At first glance there is nothing special, but it is what are known as Carnegie Libraries. It was Didsbury's most famous son Alderman Fletcher Moss who persuaded Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to pay for a library. Carnegie was a Scot (born in Dunfermline ) who emigrated to America and made his money in the iron and steel business based around Pittsburgh. The "Made in Allegheny" mark became almost as famous as our own "Made in Sheffield". He then became a great investor of education through Carnegie libraries. A total of 2,509 were built between 1883 and 1929, so Didsbury is not a one-off. The tally was 1,689 built in the United States, 660 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and the balance in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Serbia, the Caribbean, Mauritius, Malaysia and Fiji. Didsbury library is however Grade II listed, and was eventually opened using a golden key on May 15, 1915.

The Dog and Partridge Dog & Partridge in 1972 has been a multi-ale house for many years now. Although now a single room, it was originally several rooms ranged around the central bar. If looking for friends do remember to check out the area "round the back" where groups can lurk in obscurity, and don't forget the beer garden. Decorated in a modern interpretation of "traditional" that is bare floorboards and plenty of exposed brickwork. Three regular cask ales (Adnams Southwold Bitter, Taylor Landlord and Wells Bombardier) are always on, supplemented by up to three guests. Customers vary from a good mixed aged clientele at lunchtime, trending towards a young crowd in the evening.

So ends an interesting stroll around a few of the many bars in this suburb of Manchester. Why don't you try the stagger yourself and form your own opinions.

 

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Didsbury North

Timing

Pub Name

Address

Bus & Metro

Notes

7.30pm
Start point:

Botanist
1d School Lane
M20 6RD
Map
Didsbury Village
 

Then

Slug & Lettuce
651 Wilmslow Road
M20 6QZ
Map
Didsbury Village
No Real Ale
Solita Didsbury
1 Ogden Street
M20 6RD
Map
Didsbury Village
 
Saints & Scholars
694 Wilmslow Road
M20 2DN
Map
Didsbury Village
 
Art of Tea
47 Barlow Moor Road
M20 6TW
Map
Didsbury Village
Bottle-conditioned beers
OKitchen
43 Barlow Moor Road
M20 6TW
Map
Didsbury Village
No Real Ale

8.30pm
Mid point:

Station
682 Wilmslow Road
M20 2DN
Map
Didsbury Village
 

Followed by:

Boardroom
704 Wilmslow Road
M20 2DW
Map
Didsbury Village
No Real Ale
Head of Steam
653 Wilmslow Road
M20 6QZ
Map
Didsbury Village
 
Stoker's Arms (was O'Neills)
655-657 Wilmslow Road
M20 6RA
Map
Didsbury Village
 

Finishing at:

Dog & Partridge
667 Wilmslow Road
M20 6RA
Map
Didsbury Village
 

 

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Updated 9 August 2016