Heaton Norris East

Friday 21 September 2018

The 7:30pm start of tonight's stagger is a little way out on a limb at the Carousel, 156 Reddish Road, about halfway between Lancashire Hill and Holdsworth Square. Food is a major part of the set-up because the Carousel is part of the Flaming Grill chain, but real ale is not neglected. Real ale has been available for a number of years, with usually 3 from the Spirit Group's range on offer.

When we come to leave we are faced with a decision: walk back the half mile or so to the next port of call; or co-ordinate our departure with the bus and ride on the cushions.

Having arrived by whatever method we will then enter the Navigation, Stockport Image Archive - Navigation which is almost built into Nelstrop's Flour Mill at the top of Lancashire Hill. This is Beartown Brewery's only establishment in Stockport, and a good selection of their beers, along with a couple of guests, are always available. In times gone the Navigation was once managed by Manchester United's goalkeeper Alex Stepney. Interestingly, though everyone would now refer to the Navigation being on Lancashire Hill, its address is actually 1 Manchester Road. If you look at the Lancashire Hill/Sandy Lane/Manchester Road junction in the photo left, you will see that the Navigation is on the latter road.

Another question you may ask is "Why is it called the Navigation when it is nowhere near a waterway?"

The Stockport branch of the Ashton Canal used to pass through what is now the underpass outside the front door. The canal remained in use, though with little commercial traffic, until it fell into disrepair in the 1950s. It was officially abandoned to traffic in 1962, after which it was filled in slowly, work being very protracted and not being completed until c.1975. This may not be the end however because a band of Inland Waterway enthusiasts would like to re-open as much as is practical (ie probably as far as Broadstone Road).

Stockport Image Archive - Nelstrop

Finally for some reason, Canal Street in Stockport is actually nowhere near here, being across town in the Hopes Carr area! See map.

Before we leave the Navigation, and left until last so as not to alarm too much, you have been drinking in probably one of the more dangerous pubs in Stockport! "Why?" you cry. The flour next door in Nelstrop's may appear benign when you are taking part in Great British Bake-Off, but if dispersed as a fine powder, ie a dust cloud, and it were to ignite, the resulting explosion would put a severe dent in the flats opposite. In coal mine disasters a small methane gas explosion kicks up all the fine coal dust within the mine. If this ignites it can bring the roof down. Albion mill (Nelstrop's) has been rebuilt once, but this was due to fire rather than explosion - Phew!

This last news Stockport Image Archive - Silver Jubilee may hasten our steps towards tonight's 8:30pm meeting point.

We will make our way through the back streets of Heaton Norris towards the Silver Jubilee. If joining us late, the pub is behind/to the right of ASDA when viewed from Belmont Way. It was allegedly to be called the Odd Spots (it replaced the nearby Odd Fellows) but the occasion of the Queen's Jubilee changed minds; a plaque in the vestibule celebrates this. A typical Robinson's estate pub which caters admirably to the locals' needs, with various activities going on at all times.

We now delve even deeper into the estate to check whether the Grapes is still selling real ale after its recent return to the fold. Latest news is that cask is still missing, but we can but live in hope. Grapes Quantock Close Stockport Image Archive - Grapes Old Road There are many walkway which will allow quick access, but a more circuitous route via roads will also take you to the corner of Quantock Close. The Grapes is decribed as a two-room Victorian-built pub that was once part of the former Boddington's extensive estate. An archive photo exists of a Grapes, but with an address on Old Road. When the modern houses were built did the pub remain, but the road get re-named? Take a look at the two photos and make up your own mind. My money is on them being the same establishment.

Backtracking Stockport Image Archive - Hope Inn 1981 through the estate brings us out onto the A6, where the Hope is but a few yards away towards Manchester. As it had been in the hands of a pub chain, the Hope was devoid of real ale for many years until a previous landlord introduced draught Bass around 2010. Moving forward to 2012 and the pub company threw in the towel and sold the pub on. Enter Martin Wood who became the new landperson (PC brigade: Is that now the correct term?) and not only introduced a range of real and continental ales, but installed a microbrewery in the cellar. A range of five in-house beers and six guests make up the cask ale offering, supplemented by real continental lagers, extensive bottle range and real cider. Hope Inn After re-opening in February 2013, a little like the ugly duckling, this dead duck was transformed into a gem that won the branch Pub of the Year for 2014.

The in-house brewery's name, 'Fool Hardy Ales' is a nod to the past history of the Hope which started life as a Hardy's Crown Ales brewery house. A short History of Hardy's (and Fool Hardy's) brewery can be found on the Hope's website at http://www.thehopestockport.co.uk/fool-hardy-ales.html. Other notable Hardy's pubs are the Hardy's Well (formally Birch Villa), Dickenson Road, Rusholme [note the poem by Lemn Sissay (a local poet) writ large on the gable wall]; the Salutation, Higher Chatham Street, Hulme (behind Manchester Metropolitan University); the Huntsman, Wilmslow Road, Rusholme (no longer open for business).

Unfortunately we must drag ourselves away away and make the journey down the hill towards Stockport Railway Hotel Stockport Image Archive - Group taken outside the Railway Hotel, Wellington Road North, 1922-23. and the Railway. According to a Cheshire Trade Guide of sometime around 1910 which I located on the internet, the landlord here was one Josephus Gillard. Again the Railway is another ex-pub Co. house which is now a haven for locals, a noted music venue and a purveyor of fine real ales. Holts is the regular offering which is joined by up to four guests from far and near. Being a "proper local" it was awarded the Pub Of The Year accolade in 2010.

I have no idea why the group photo was taken outside the Railway in 1922. Were they the forerunners of the Sea Angling Club or the dart team of the day, either way it shows how popular the Railway was. Look carefully at the window to the right and notice the lettering _a_kers  Ki_marn_ck  Whi_ky. It was in 1908, when there was a re-branding, and Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky became known as Johnnie Walker. The other iconic design, the square bottle, was introduced much earlier in 1860. This meant more bottles fitting the same space and resulted in fewer broken bottles. That's a canny Scotsman for you! Even more trivia is the fact that the labels are applied at an angle of exactly 24 degrees - Let's see if that comes up in any pub quizzes.

Our penultimate destination takes us even further down the hill towards Stockport where we will call in the Midland. Stockport Image Archive - Midland as a Whitbread pub in 1973 According to the Cheshire Trade Guide there was a Railway Inn at 19 Wellington Road North, Heaton Norris, Stockport with a Thomas Bracewell as the landlord. So when was the name changed from Railway to Midland? Yes this was the name of the railway line which virtually goes through its cellar, but it had been since the line was built in 1865. Was it to avoid having two pubs called the Railways in such close proximity? For a while around 2000 it was called Dillon's Whistling Jig, so no problem with duplicate names there! The photo right shows the Midland in it's Whitbread days in 1973. Thankfully it has returned from this Irish excursion and is again known as the Midland, with the current licensee having worked hard to return it to its former glory. This comfortable pub had the distinction of being the first to reintroduce real ale onto this part of the A6 corridor back in 2010. Three real ales are available (sometimes supplemented at weekends), all from the Enterprise range.

There was however a cloud looming on the horizon a year back. The Town Centre Access Plan Autumn 2014 shows, under the 800 Series - New Link Road scheme, part of the Travis Brow / A6 Link road going through the pub. If drawing 801 is consulted it will be seen some 1.5 to 2m would have been be lost off the front of the Railway to accommodate a wide pavement. A spirited objection was mounted by locals, CAMRA and other interested parties resulting in a public hearing. When the planners admitted they had not even carried out a pedestrian traffic survey, their justification for requiring such a wide pavement was yanked from their grasp and light was glimpsed at the end of the tunnel. After further questioning by councillors, the planners were advised to go away and re-consider their plans. Suffice to say alterations were made and the Midland was saved.

Finally we back track fifty yards or so up the hill to end the night at the Magnet, where Stockport Image Archive - Magnet as a Wilsons house in 1960 according to the 1910 trade guide Percy Edward Earle was the landlord of the Magnet in ~1910. An interesting question is, why were premises in Heaton Norris included in a Cheshire guide when it is obviously north of the Mersey and thus in Lancashire? The Magnet was a Wilson's pub for many years (see left) until the take-over frenzy of the 80s resulted in it ending up with who-knows which pub owning company. Empty and unloved for a while until September 2009, this former coaching inn was rescued and opened at 13:13pm on Friday the 13th, now that is tempting fate. Magnet Within 22 months of being rescued from failure, the rejuvenated Magnet won acclaim as both CAMRA Regional and Branch Pub of the Year 2011 and 2015. Having no less than fourteen handpumps and a fridge full of continental bottles this is a fitting finale where everyone is made to feel welcome by a great team headed by Lesley Watts.

Of extreme interest (at least to your correspondent) are the two street names affixed to the south east corner of the Magnet. On the front is a sign saying Mount Crescent, while the side street is called Duke Street. The Manchester to Buxton Turnpike trust were responsible for creating Stockport's first by-pass, in order to avoid the congested town centre, when they built Wellington Roads North and South in 1826. If you look at a map these two roads are almost arrow straight except for the slight kink around the top of Georges Road. Is this because Mount Crescent was utilised as the approach to what is now Mersey Square? This may explain the sign on the front wall, but why and when was Duke Street re-named to Andrew Street? A mystery to take away and contemplate.

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Heaton Norris East


Pub Name


Bus & Rail


7.30pm Start point:

156 Reddish Road


1 Manchester Road
2 Quantock Close
No real ale

8.30pm Mid point:

Silver Jubilee
21 Hamilton Square


Hope Inn
118 Wellington Road North
74-76 Wellington Road North,
19 Wellington Road North,

Finishing point:

51 Wellington Road North,


View the Heaton Norris East stagger in a larger map.

Updated 5 May 2018