Gorton - Hyde Road

Friday 19 October 2018

The Hyde Road Stagger, as this used to be called, is now but a shadow of its former self. At one time the journey from the Apollo roundabout to Debdale Park was divided into three to avoid the danger of alcohol poisoning. Now the first public house is not reached until Wellington Street and our starting point, the Plough. To further illustrate the decline there are now a mere four pubs where there were originally enough for three staggers. Why such a reduction in outlets? We can blame the wholesale housing clearance carried out from the 70s onwards. Where now stands a mega supermarket and its associated car parking, the area was previously packed with housing - so with no customers pubs closed.

Our first muster point at 7:30pm tonight is the Plough on the corner of Wellington Street and Hyde Road (get off buses 7, 201, 203, 204, 205 and 206 at the bus stop by Tesco's petrol station, or if on the 53, 150, 171 or 172 alight by the Gorton Library which is behind Tesco then cross the car park).

Here stands Robinsons' Plough Hotel, a historic building stretching back to the Victorian era and including some even older parts. Plough Hotel, Hyde Road, Gorton It is a Grade II listed, and reading English Heritage's website they note the site has a beer house licenced in 1823 recorded. A year or two ago it was re-decorated and some of the recent (60s?) fittings have been removed which has taken it back towards its original décor. When the clutter on the bar back (mock Jacobean according to English Heritage) was remove the original "till" was revealed, a series of hollows scooped out of the work-surface and a slot for notes. Other historic features of note are the glazed tiles in the lobby area and the fitted wooden seating plus parquet floor in the vault. A nice modern touch are the lamp shades over the bar made out of cut down wine bottles (yes it sounds tacky, but I think they are stylish). Beers on offer can vary but usually Unicorn and Trouper with occasionally others.

We now face a longish walk, initially turn south along Hyde Road then left along Wellington Street and up Cross Lane and popping in to establish whether the Cotton Tree has started selling any real ale.

It is then across the road for our 8:30pm meeting point at the Royal Oak, run by Les Park and Lynn Crossthwaite, who used to Royal Oak, Cross Lane, Gorton run the Lord Nelson (see later) and have now returned to Gorton after a sojourn in the Audenshaw area. Originally the building was divided in two, but back in the 70s next door was acquired and the current two roomed layout established. Numerous photos cover the walls charting the history and significant moments of the two Manchester football clubs. The beer on offer are Sharps Doombar with occasional "guest" beers, but Les is keen to build up trade in this keg led pub. Many nights see some attraction, such as darts teams (both ladies and gents), karaoke, open-mike sessions and artists. An over 21s policy is operated - which suits the locals just fine. The best way to sum the Royal Oak up is to quote that much overused phrase "It's a typical friendly back street boozer" - enough said.

Using High Bank and Tan Yard Brow we make our way back towards Hyde Road, emerging adjacent to the a new bridge which forms a part of the Fallowfield Loop, an 8 mile cycle and pathway stretching from Chorlton right through to Fairfield station in Openshaw. This modern structure (right) replaces the original rail bridge, which was lifted out over the weekend of 7 & 8 March 2020 (watch video of lift out) with the current bridge being lifted in on 27 May 2020 (watch video of lift in). Further drama ensued on Friday 15 January 2021 when a spectacular flood occurred after a major watermain burst, closing the road for another few days (watch video).

Turning left we gaze at the closed Bandstand in the new hotel and leisure complex built adjacent to Debdale Park. We then cross Hyde Road to checkout the rumour that the Friendship infrequently sees appearances of real ale, so we will be popping in to ascertain the accuracy of this datum.

Traveling north Waggon & Horses, Hyde Road, Gorton Waggon and Hoses in 1959 back towards Manchester, and circling around our final goal, we come to the Waggon and Horses, a fine Holts pub built astride the junction of the old road and the Gorton bypass. Confused - let me explain. Far Lane, which is the road running behind the pub is one of the old "country lanes" which used to snake around Gorton. This was replaced by a turnpike road in the 1800s, and this is what became the present Hyde Road. Turnpikes cut across country in straight lines and you can see how much of a bee-line the road makes for Manchester by noting how it aligns directly on the Beetham Tower. Enough of history and back to the Waggon and Horses. Internally there are a number of rooms, from the vault to the left, through the lounge to the right with a games room plus a cosy snug to the rear. A number of large television screens are dotted around, and these are extensively used for important sporting events. Holts bitter is always on and has been accompanied by occasional "other" from the Holts stable.

Upon leaving the Waggon and Horses, we will travel a little further along Hyde Road to check whether there is still real ale available in the Lord Nelson. When run by Les Park and Lynn Crossthwaite of Royal Oak fame, the Nelson was a pub of the month, but on their departure it has reverted to being a food and sport establishment. There have been periods of closure recently but new licensee moved in, flirted with real ale for a while, but is again unavailable. How the mighty have fallen.

Coming out of the Nelson we head back down Hyde Road and reach the Gorton Butterfly Garden, Vale Cottage, Kirk Street, Gorton a rather grand name for a small conservation area which contain both wild flowers and a small community orchard. Sadly greatly reduced in size because of the aforementioned road widening scheme. Continuing through the garden we head down the snicket and over the Gore Brook to the Vale Cottage. There is a slightly more direct route from the Lord Nelson, but it is unlit, so this makes a safer alternative. In the summer months, because all the trees are in full leaf, the Vale Cottage is hidden in its own private world, where as in winter an inviting light shining over the front door of the pub beckons you forth. This, along with being the result of combining several cottages, with different levels and geometries, gives the establishment the feeling of a country pub - in fact this is their moniker. There is always a cosy feel to the pub as you walk in, helped at dinnertime and early evening by the home cooked meals on offer. Three ales are on the bar, Taylors Landlord is permanent, The second pump caries an ale from Moorhouses on a semi-permanent basis, changing after two or three months while a third handpumpwhich usually changes weekly. Various clubs and groups meet here and the quiz nights (Tuesday - general knowledge, Thursday - Music) are a challenge. To further enhance the country pub feel, the beer garden to the rear has been given a makeover and is already inviting and given a year or twos growth of the planting and it could become a wildlife haven.

Why not join us on this interesting stager encompassing Grade II listed buildings, back street boozers and country pubs, all within Gorton. Bus 203, half hourly in the evening will transport you to/from Stockport. This co-ordinates with the 201, 204 and 205 to give ample options from Manchester. Gorton is a bit of a transport hub, with 171 (day) and 172 routes providing a service from Didsbury (village and West) in one direction and Newton Heath in the other. Route 150 connects with Longsight, Levenshulme, Chorlton, Stretford and as far as the Trafford Centre. If the world famous 53 route (reference) is used, the scope stretches from Pendleton, via Media City and Rusholme in one direction through to Harperhey and Cheetham Hill in the other.

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.


Gorton — Hyde Road


Pub Name


Bus & Rail


Start point

927 Hyde Road
M18 7FB
Ryder Brow


Cotton Tree
79 Cross Lane
M18 8NY
No Real Ale

Mid point

Royal Oak
114 Cross Lane
M18 8NZ


1077 Hyde Road
M18 7LJ
Ryder Brow
786-788 Hyde Road
M18 7JD
Ryder Brow
No Real Ale
Waggon & Horses
736 Hyde Road
M18 7EF
Ryder Brow
Lord Nelson
3 Fox Fold
M18 7FA
Ryder Brow
No Real Ale

Finishing at

Vale Cottage
Kirk Street
M18 8UE
Ryder Brow


View Gorton Stagger in a larger map

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Updated January 2022