Fallowfield and Ladybarn

Friday 22 March 2019

We start tonight in Ladybarn, which on the old map (right) of around 1800 consisted of a straggle of houses (plus I assume a barn) on Ladybarn Lane. The name "Ladybarn" refers to a barn, especially a "tithe barn", associated with Our Lady. It has been suggested that this refers to an abbey of Our Lady holding land in the area. The Abbey of St Mary-in-the-Marsh at Cockersand (Lancashire) is recorded to have held land in the Withington area. The barn may instead be associated with Ladyday - a day traditionally of significance in agricultural communities.

Our first destination is the Ladybarn Social Club or as older readers may remember it, the White Swan, a former Robinsons pub. The Social Club was looking for new premises at the time that Robinsons had decided to dispose of the White Swan. Sorted! Much evidence remains to remind you of its former pub status, comprising etched glass, period ceramic tiling plus note the historic Off-Sales sign etched in the glass outside, whilst for the male visitor, the 1920s urinals are worth a look-see. The Social Club has continued the supply of quality real ale, being the first winner of Stockport & South Manchester's Club of the Year and went on to be runner up in the Greater Manchester competition. The club has extended a warm and friendly welcome to us so that we can sample one of their two varying cask ales.

Having dabbled on and off with real ale over the last few years, the Brewers Arms now has abandoned ship altogether and closed as a pub.

Depending on the route followed tonight, we may catch a glimpse of one of Manchester's lost rivers the Black/Cringle/Red Lion Brook. This rises in Heaton Chapel in the vicinity of the former Ash Hotel/current fire station and is here known as Black Brook. It can be seen clearly for the first time as it flows under Halesden Road. It continues flowing north but is hidden by gardens until a glimpse is seen beside the McDonalds opposite McVities. It at last becomes a "proper" stream as it crosses Cringle Fields before vanishing again. There are a few short above ground lengths, all hidden behind gardens. It next sees daylight after passing under Kingsway (and the railway) where it can be seen running between Beverly Road and Edgeworth Drive. It then vanishes yet again, but this time its re-appearance is speculative. The most likely candidate is the stream flowing across Hough End Playing Fields, and here known as the Red Lion Brook.

Having gone through many name changes, and still doing so, the current name is Nest (formerly Cubo; Koh Tao; Waehlbar; Bar 43; Gin Club; Karma). Real ale has not been seen in this establishment, in this, or an of its previous guises, so ever onwards.

Onwards to our 8:30pm meeting point in what looks like a 19th century mill owners home, the Friendship. This does not appear to be either the original building, nor its original location. The photo left is described as "Friendship Inn, between Portwood Grove & Sherwood Street on the west (opposite) side of road in 1939" in the Manchester image library. If you look carefully, the spire of Holy Innocents church on Wilbraham Road can be seen in the background. The photo right is the more familiar view. Hydes gave it a thorough refurbishment in 2011, and the large horseshoe shaped bar serves all areas of what used to be a multi-roomed house in one go. If joining us at 8:30 be aware that the Friendship has a variety of areas "around the back" plus a swath of outside drinking, so keep looking. Though in the heart of student-land, the majority of the clientele are non-students. On the beer front the Friendship usually offers three beers from the Hydes range, something from Beer Studio (Hydes' micro brewery) and a guest or two, along with various ciders, so something to tempt every palate.

It is pretty obvious why Wetherspoons called their Fallowfield outlet Great Central (if it isn't, see below). Opened around twenty years ago, it is styled as a Lloyds No.1 bar but still attracts a diverse range of customers such that students are often in the minority. A keen manager has shied away from run-of-the-mill beers to concentrate on microbrewers' products from the North West and Yorkshire, such as Red Willow, Millstone, Phoenix, Thornbridge, Moorhouse's, Lancaster, Ilkley, and Lytham. We wait with anticipation to see what will be on offer tonight.

Moving north along Wilmslow Road in the Manchester direction and in passing look across the road at a former venue on this stagger, the business on the right of the vehicle access to Sainsbury's car park. This used to be Remedy Bar and before that it was Fallowfield Rail Station. The station was opened on 1 October 1891 by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway {known at the time as the Money Sunk and Lost Railway because it rarely paid dividends} which, after expansion, became the Great Central Railway {or Gone Completely}. The station is on the Fallowfield loop which stretched from Chorlton to Fairfield/Openshaw and thus allowed trains from Manchester Central to use the Woodhead line to reach Sheffield and thence London. In fact, had the Great Central chairman at the time of the London extension (Sir Edward Watkins) had his way, Fallowfield could have seen the Edwardian equivalent of Eurostar trains thundering through as his ambition was to build a Channel Tunnel! Fallowfield station closed to passenger services on 7 July 1958 but express services out of Manchester Central continued to use the line until that terminus was closed in 1969 following the Beeching cuts. The trackbed has now been converted into the Fallowfield Loop, a walking and cycleway all the way from Hough End (Chorlton) to Abbey Hey/Fairfield.

Moving on and crossing Wilbraham Road, we go in the front door of the building ahead which brings us to 256 Wilmslow Road. Acquired by Hydes at the same time as Beer Studio next door, and originally offering a similar range of beers, but sadly no longer. Being in Student Land, the emphasis is on activities, with pool and darts in the rear along with a large outside drinking area. The main room shows its original purpose as the next door's church hall. I wonder whether it housed the Sunday School, if so this might explain the caption of the photo viz "Wilmslow Road west side 82, Fallowfield C of E Secondary Technical School for Girls" — I wonder? Take note of the mezzanine drinking space around one side of the hall. When leaving there are two options, traditionalists will leave by the front door and go around the corner to our next destination. However those in the know could use the internal connecting door that leads straight there, useful if it is raining!

In the picture left, the arched door (left) is 256 Wilmslow Road while the the lady and child (centre) stand before the future Studio Bar entrance.

Our next destination, the Haus, is not expected to have any real ale, so this gives me a good opportunity to say a little more about Fallowfield.

Assuming the name Fallowfield is derived from the medieval three field system of crop rotation, this district could have ended up being called Wheatfield or Ryefield or if named after the third crop it could have been Legumefield (Peafield, Lentilfield or even Beanfield). The first mention of Fallowfield is in a deed of 1317 (as "Fallafeld"). During the 14th century at least part of the land in Fallowfield was held by Jordan de Fallafeld. In 1530 it was mentioned as "Falowfelde". There was a period of building houses by members of the prosperous middle class in the 1850s, hence the proliferation of "mansions" which have been converted into new uses. A good example is Ashburne Hall, a house donated by the Behrens family to become an early hall of residence for the Victoria University of Manchester (as it then was). Back in its day Fallowfield was in the forefront of new technology, with a flight into Fallowfield being made in 1912, not 10 years after Orville Wright's pioneered powered flight. The pilot was a Mr Yoxall who flew the Avro 500 biplane from Trafford Park Aerodrome into a temporary air strip (possibly in Platt Fields Park?).

Continuing north along Wilmslow Road would bring us to the now closed Bar Fallowfield. In a previous guise as the Font, it was one of three in the area (here, Chorlton and Manchester near Oxford Road Station). After opening it was a keg-only establishment (don't these students know what good beer is?) then in January 2013 real ale appeared on the bar. Only two handpumps served a variety of guest ales, but with RedWillow, Hawkshead, and Magic Rock being favourites. A little bit like the Tardis, this apparently small pub was much bigger inside!!! Again, despite the proximity of all the student accommodation, the clientele was surprisingly mixed. Not tonight however!

Tonight we will be doubling back to the Studio Bar (formally Beer Studio Bar & Grill). This former church annex is now a three room pub in a comfy style, mixing rustic features with masses of beer ephemera. Take note of the northern gable featuring a lovely original leaded-glass window thanks to the ecclesiastical connection. Again this building appears to have had a mixed history, being described as "Rusholme, Wilmslow Road west side 82, Fallowfield C of E Secondary Technical School for Girls" in the caption to the historic photo attached to 256 Wilmslow Road above. As a pub it was originally the Cheshire Cat, before being acquired by Hydes in April 2011 and re-named the Sir Joseph Whitworth, then a further re-branding took place in early 2015 to give Beer Studio Bar & Grill and currently Studio Bar.

Although a Hydes pub there is a similarly wide range of beers as at the Friendship on offer.

Remember the previous name of Studio Bar, namely the Sir Joseph Whitworth. "Who was he?" I hear you cry.
Sir Joseph Whitworth, 1st Baronet, was an English engineer, entrepreneur, inventor and philanthropist most famous for devising the British Standard Whitworth system for screw threads. Before this every manufacturer made their own screw thread (sometimes unique to a job) so nuts and bolts were not interchangeable. Whitworth is less well known for the Whitworth rifle, often called the "sharpshooter" because of its accuracy and considered one of the earliest examples of a sniper rifle. Because of his renown in precision engineering Whitworth even helped with the manufacture of Charles Babbage's calculating machine, the Difference Engine. Sir Joseph was a local lad made good, being born in Stockport (there is a blue plaque on the rear of the Magistrates Court celebrating his birth place). When he made his fortune he built a home, called the Firs, which is behind the student accommodation and is in fact the name of the Universities sports complex.

So what is this famous British Standard Whitworth thread?
<Geeky bit coming up>
The form of a Whitworth thread is based on a fundamental triangle with an angle of 55° at each peak and valley. The sides are at a flank angle of T = 27.5° to the perpendicular to the axis. Thus, if the thread pitch is p, the height of the fundamental triangle is H = p/(2 tan θ) = 0.96049106p. However, the top and bottom 1/6 of each of these triangles is cut off, so the actual depth of thread (the difference between major and minor diameters) is 2/3 of that value, or h = p/(3 tan θ) = 0.64032738p. The peaks are further reduced by rounding them with a 2x(90° - θ) = 180° - 55° = 125° circular arc. This arc has a height of e = H sin θ/6 = 0.073917569p (leaving a straight flank depth of h - 2e = 0.49249224p) and a radius of r = e/(1 - sinθ) = 0.13732908p
<end of geeky bit>
For even more information visit the Whitworth Society.

Here endeth tonights stagger, but there follows a rose tinted recollection of the stagger in its original form, when we continued even further north towards Manchester.

In days gone by, we would have continued along Wilmslow Road in the Rusholme direction, where, dominating the traffic lights at the end of Dickenson Road stood Hardys Well (formally the Birch Villa). Having had the protection of an Asset of Community Value it was being run by an army of volunteers, but sadly is currently closed. However it would be a shame to speed past on a bus, as this would not give you a chance to view two notable decorations on the exterior. Firstly, note the Hardy's Crown Brewery mosaic on the front of the building. This is the same Hardy's brewery which influenced the naming of the brewery established in the Hope, Heaton Norris as the pub was also owned by Hardy. Secondly (and this can hardly be missed from a north-bound bus) is the poem painted on the south wall. Penned by local(ish — he was born and brought up in Wigan) Lemm Sissay are the words:


Previously the stagger continued further along Wilmslow Road into Rusholme. Unlike other place names in Manchester with the suffix holme Rusholme is not a true water meadow. Its name derives from ryscum the dative plural of the Old English rysc, a "rush" meaning at the rushes. The name was recorded as Russum in 1235, Ryssham in 1316 and Rysholme in 1551. The economy of the area was dependent on agriculture until the 18th century. As Manchester expanded south, Rusholme saw much low-cost terraced housing built between 1880 and 1930.

Rusholme is nowadays famous for its Curry Mile, a stretch of Wilmslow Road noted for its concentration of ethnic eating houses. Interestingly Cury, Currey, and Curry are English words which were later used to describe Indian dishes. Some food historians assert that Curry is derived from Tamil word Kari (a spice tree). However King Richard II summoned 200 cooks and several philosophers to produce the first English cookery book titled 'The Forme of Cury' in 1390. 'Cury' was an Old English word meaning cuisine and was based on French 'cuire' meaning: to cook, boil, or grill. Over time Cury became associated with stew, so if you are served with Lancashire Hotpot or Scouse next time you visit Rusholme don't be surprised, just be impressed that local delicacies are at last on the menu (where are the cow heel, tripe or black pea vendors I wonder?).

As a small aside; what did Indian cookery use before chillies became available? Chillies only became accessible to the Old World after Columbus's voyages in 1492. Chilli peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BCE. The most recent research shows that chilli peppers were domesticated more than 6000 years ago in Mexico, and were one of the first self-pollinating crops cultivated in Mexico, Central and parts of South America. The spread of chilli peppers to Asia was most likely a natural consequence of its introduction by Portuguese traders who were established in India well before the British got there. [The Spanish expostulate that chillies reached SE Asia via the Philippines, a Spanish territory at the time.]

If you want to delve further into chilli visit the International Chili Society (it's got to be American!)

Back to the original stagger, and what used to be our final establishment. Long before Irish Pubs were thought up by advertising men the Albert was an Irish pub. At one time there was a thriving Irish population in the surrounding area and most drank in the Albert. This two roomed pub has a lived in feel, but is by no means shabby, with every wall in the place shouting of the Emerald Isle. Although owned by Hydes, the Albert does not sell any real ale, so you might like to indulge in the black stuff. As an irrelevant footnote your author remembers drinking in here while watching live the Regiment storm the Iranian embassy in May 1980.

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.


Ladybarn and Fallowfield


Pub Name


Bus & Rail


7.30pm Start point:

Ladybarn Social Club
13 Green Street
M14 6TL
Mauldeth Rd

Then at

Brewers Arms
149-151 Ladybarn Lane
M14 6RQ
Mauldeth Rd
No Real Ale - Closed
310 Wilmslow Road
M14 6XQ
No Real Ale

8.30pm Mid point:

353 Wilmslow Road
M14 6XS

Followed by

Great Central
306 Wilmslow Road
M14 6NL
Bar Fallowfield
236 Wilmslow Road
M14 6LE
2a Landcross Road
M14 6NA
No Real Ale
256 Wilmslow Road
256 Wilmslow Road
M14 6LB
No Real Ale

Finishing at:

Beer Studio Bar & Grill
256 Wilmslow Road
M14 6LB


View the Fallowfield and Ladybarn Stagger in a larger map

Images on this page are thumbnails from various sources and no right is claimed. If you own copyright and wish either removal or acknowledgement please advise me and I'll promptly follow your wishes.

Updated January 2022