Heaton Norris East

Friday 21 September 2018

The 7:30pm start of tonight's stagger is located at the top of Lancashire Hill where we will then enter the Navigation, Stockport Image Archive - Navigation which is almost built into Nelstrop's Flour Mill. 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 by the Navigation was 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. This canal, or more correctly goyt or head race, was a water feeder from the Tin Brook to the various Hopes Carr Mills.

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 may hasten our steps towards tonight's next establishment.

We now need to move deeper into the estate to check whether Grapes Quantock Close Stockport Image Archive - Grapes Old Road the Grapes has started selling real ale again after dropping it recently. Latest news is that cask is still missing, but we can but live in hope. 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.

Stockport Image Archive - Silver Jubilee There are many walkway which will allow quicker access, but a more circuitous route via the backroads of Heaton Norris will suffice to reach the Silver Jubilee. This former Robinsons house is currently (January 2022) closed and up for sale as a licensed premise — we shall see whether it is snapped up. It was allegedly to have 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.

Continuing 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. When it was 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. Unfortunately this story of success is now (January 2022) coming to an end — the Hope is up for sale and the in-house brewery has already been dismantled. The actual closing date appears to be on a three month rolling deadline, so it may or may not be open when you read this.

The in-house brewery's name, 'Fool Hardy Ales' was 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. Other notable Hardy's pubs are the Plough (Plough on the Moor), 82 Heaton Moor Road; 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).

Whether we have had to hastily down swift halves in the previous three pubs or had a leisurely dry stroll along Belmont Way, we now approach our 8:30pm meeting point. Making 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 soon hoves into view. 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 Stockport Image Archive - Midland as a Whitbread pub in 1973 the hill towards Stockport where we will call in the Midland. 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? The photo right shows the Midland in it's Whitbread days in 1973. For a while around 2000 it was called Dillon's Whistling Jig, so no problem with duplicate names there! 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 back in 2016. The original Town Centre Access Plan Autumn 2014 showed, under the 800 Series - New Link Road scheme, part of the new Travis Brow / A6 Link road going through the pub. The plans showed some 1.5 to 2m would have been be lost off the front of the Midland to accommodate a wide pavement. This would have almost certainly resulted in a complete demolishion of the pub. 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. 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 answer is probably the confusion caused in 1835 by part of Heaton Norris being annexed to the County Borough of Stockport, with Heaton Chapel and Heaton Moor following in 1894. Because Stockport was a county town in Cheshire where does it leave the Heatons, Lancashire or Cheshire?

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. 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 then Branch Pub of the Year 2020 [there was no Regional award 2020 due to Covid]. 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.

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.


Heaton Norris East


Pub Name


Bus & Rail


7.30pm Start point:

1 Manchester Road


2 Quantock Close
No real ale
Silver Jubilee
21 Hamilton Square
Closed - For sale
Jan 2022
Hope Inn
118 Wellington Road North
Closure pending
Jan 2022

8.30pm Mid point:

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 January 2022

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.