Didsbury South — From old to new

Friday 16th November 2018

Tonight's stagger is a pleasant sojourn around one of the more cosmopolitan areas within our branch. Starting next to Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens and the old centre of Didsbury village and ending in the current bustling heart of the modern Didsbury. It is also noticeable how many of the establishments are also thriving food outlets, so if you miss your dinner there are plenty of opportunities to catch a bite.

Before you start tonights stagger, take note of the adjacent Manchester Photo Archive - Fletcher Moss Gardens Manchester Photo Archive - Fletcher Moss, the man himself Fletcher Moss Park and Parsonage Gardens (I would say take a look around, but in November the sun will have set some hours ago - Still one for another day). The main part of the gardens is a walled rock garden which was laid out by the botanist Robert Wood Williamson on a south-facing slope. Williamson sold the gardens and rockery along with his house, called The Croft, to Alderman Fletcher Moss, in 1912. The gardens have greenhouses where orchids are grown and, on the lawns are a great variety of interesting small trees including a very rare, yet unremarkable, specimen of an early bio-engineered tree that still survives today and goes un-noticed by most passers-by. Fletcher Moss (picture right), born in July 1843, was a philanthropist who led many public works in Manchester; in 1915 he persuaded the American industrialist Andrew Carnegie to fund the construction of a public library in Didsbury.

In 1919 Fletcher gave the gardens to the people of Manchester providing, "he could retain the use of it for his life".
Interestingly Robert Williamson's old house, the Croft, was the location of the first meeting of the organisation later to become known as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. In 1889, Emily Williamson née Bateson (Robert's wife) formed a group called CAMRA photos - Didsbury, Didsbury the 'Plumage League' to protest against the breeding of birds for plumage to be used in women's hats, a highly fashionable practice at the time. The group gained popularity and eventually amalgamated with the 'Fur and Feather League' in Croydon, and formed the RSPB.

After that historic interlude on to our first establishment the Didsbury (formally The Ring O' Bells). Though it is part of Chef and Brewer eatery chain of pubs, it still caters for real ales drinkers, plus people only there to drink are not made to feel like lepers. There is both a spacious, well appointed, interior as well as a pleasant outdoor area to the front, both of which are used for drinking and eating (though probably not in November!) If you are meeting us here keep a weather eye out for us as we may be hard to find in this large establishment.

To enter the Olde Cock (originally called simply The Cock, probably because cock fighting used to take place in the upper rooms) we cross what some people will refer to as a cobbled street, when in fact it is paved with setts. "What is the difference?" you ask. Cobbles are the rounded stones, typically the size of an orange, found in the bed of a river, whereas a sett is a quarried stone which has been squared off, and if well laid the surface will be flat. Manchester Photo Archive - Ye Olde Cock in 1900 CAMRA photos - Ye Olde Cock, Didsbury Now back to the stagger. The Olde Cock has had periods when cask ale was not available but Greene King, the current owners, have restored real ale. I suspect many of its clientele are there for the food which is served daily until 10pm, but a snug at the front affords a more intimate drinking experience. The current range of six ales may be increased, so keep your eyes open for interesting newcomers on the bar. Occasional beer festivals are becoming a feature. Just to show nothing is new under the sun, in times gone by, a Post Office/store was incorporated into the pub, so Pub as the Hub wasn't thought up by Prince Charles.

We now need to pop next door and check whether cask ale has become available in Dimitri's (formerly Fat Loaf). Frustratingly three or four Dunham beers are available in bottles along with four bottled Marble beers. If only these were real ales in a bottle. Dimitri's occupies a Grade ll listed building and is one of the area's great character buildings being amongst the oldest in this, the original centre of Didsbury, which is supported by the kirk behind being the original village church.

There is now a short trek down into the current centre of Didsbury, CAMRA photos - Tinto, Didsbury so the less agile may care to catch a bus, otherwise it is a brisk 10 minute walk.

In unison with the previous establishment, real ale is also not available in the Tinto (previously known as Chalk Bar & Grill). Located in a former restaurant premises, Tinto was created from three smaller units. The central located bar acts as the busy hub of this food operation. Are you noticing anything about the stagger so far? Food, food and more food is available at all the establishments so far!

Our next port of call and the 8:30pm mid-stagger meeting point is "The Famous" Crown Manchester Photo Archive - Crown, Didsbury in 1959 CAMRA photos - Crown, Didsbury a busy house which has sold real ale for many a year now. Internally it has several nooks and crannies which give the impression of there being several separate bars. Friday night tend to be very crowded and raucous but still enjoyable. And not one mention of food.

Next door now to the recently opened Expo Lounge, a café style bar with tables spilling out onto the pavement. Real ale used to be available, but is reported as being absent now, so in we will go to check this out.

Moving towards the traffic lights and just around the corner on Barlow Moor Road Nelson in 1959 and 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. The beer available can vary, but whaterver it will be good value for money here in Didsbur, on one occasion having been £1 cheaper, for the same ale, than in another local outlet. We must move on.

Crossing the CAMRA photo - Royal Oak, Didsbury road and backtracking slightly, we can enter the Royal Oak. A Marston' house which takes advantage of the guest ales available within the group, four guest beers per month are served, as well as selling an excellent pint from the Banks/Marston range. Built around 1850, this multi-roomed pub has a large central horseshoe-shaped bar which displays an impressive collection of old porcelain spirit vats that thankfully were saved from a serious fire in the pub in the 1990s. WARNING - FOOD ALERT. The pub is famous for its award-winning cheese and pate lunches (served Mon-Fri) which many have tried to copy but none have been able to surpass for choice or value. Homemade pies and other dishes are also served at lunchtimes, whilst roasts make an appearance on Sundays.

For the first CAMRA photos - Fletcher Moss, Didsbury time we deviate more than 10 yards/metres from Wilmslow Road (the Nelson is about 10 yds/m along Barlow Moor Road) and go down Albert Hill Street to reach William Street and the Fletcher Moss. Currently named after the Alderman who donated the nearby botanical gardens to the city 9see paragraph two above). Previously it was known as the Albert, Manchester Photo Archive - Fletcher Moss, Didsbury was this after Queen Victoria's husband or Albert Hill who the street is named after. Discuss. Inside it is a pub of two halves, with the front encompassing two traditional style snugs, full of Hydes memorabilia, before opening up into a large bright conservatory area at the rear. A convivial atmosphere is maintained throughout by drinkers as mixed in age as they are in their drinking tastes, with real ale, red wine and champagne drinkers alike engaged in lively discourse without having to compete with piped music. As you walk round you may notice an assortment of porcelain tea-pots, this is part of the landlady's 100 piece collection.

This should be the last pub of the evening, but if a smart pace has been set there are several other establishments in easy reach for that last pint before making your way home.

 

Below, clicking on Map will call up a Google travel map with that location automatically set as the destination. Insert your current location (post code?) as the start and choose a travel mode (public, car, cycle or foot) and discover your travel options.

Following THIS LINK will take you to the Transport for Greater Manchester website for current travel information.
 

Didsbury Village South

Timing

Pub Name

Address

Bus
Metro
Rail

Notes

7.30pm
Start point:

Didsbury
852 Wilmslow Road
M20 2SG
Map
Didsbury Village/ East Didsbury (Metro)
East Didsbury (rail)
 

Followed by:

Dimitri's
846 Wilmslow Road
M20 2RN
Map
Didsbury Village/ East Didsbury (Metro)
East Didsbury (rail)
No Real Ale
Olde Cock
848 Wilmslow Road
M20 2RN
Map
Didsbury Village/ East Didsbury (Metro)
East Didsbury (rail)
 
Tinto
784-788 Wilmslow Road
M20 2DR
Map
Didsbury Village (Metro)
No Real Ale

8.30pm
Mid point:

Crown
770 Wilmslow Road
M20 2DR
Map
Didsbury Village (Metro)
 

Then

Expo Lounge
766 Wilmslow Road
M20 2RN
Map
Didsbury Village (Metro)
No real ale
Nelson
3 Barlow Moor Road
M20 6TN
Map
Didsbury Village (Metro)
 
Royal Oak
729 Wilmslow Road
M20 6WF
Map
Didsbury Village (Metro)
 

Finishing at:

Fletcher Moss
1 William Street
M20 6RQ
Map
Didsbury Village (Metro)
 

 

View the Didsbury South stagger in a larger map.

Updated 10 May 2018