Portwood and Stockport North

Friday 18th May 2018

We start Midway this evening's stagger at the Midway Tavern, though what it is the midway point of is not obvious! Situated on New Bridge Lane (or maybe Newbridge Lane as reported on their web site) which, according to Virtual Tourist is thought to have been a Roman Road. From the front the Midway appears to be situated on a grassy plateau, but is in fact 'perched' on the side of the Mersey. The drop into the river can be appreciated from the beer garden. Inside there is an emphasis on eating, but drinkers are not herded into a ghetto, and are welcome to sit almost where they desire. Beers on offer are from Moorhouses (Blond Witch), Sharp's and a rare example of a light mild, Timothy Taylor Golden Best. These are supplemented by a changing guest.

Leaving the Midway, you would think you only had to cross the road (from 263 to 264 New Bridge Lane) but due to the vagaries of house numbering the Park Inn is some 250m to our left! As of June 2015, the Park was up for sale, so we will have to saunter along to check its current status. Originally known as the Hare and Hounds, the reason for changing its name to the Park Inn is fairly obvious, with Vernon Park being just across the road. The phrase "street corner local" is often banded about, but that is exactly what the Park is, catering for its locals with good ale and food across mealtimes.

A reasonable perambulation Stockport Image Archive - Tiviot Dale Station now leads us to the 8:30pm meeting point, the Railway on Avenue Street, Portwood. I have tried to establish where this strange name for the thoroughfare came from, but with no success. Maybe this was a Friday afternoon job, and the council worker ran out of ideas! The pub's current name does seem unusual as it is currently around a mile from the railway line. Until 2 January 1967 however Tiviot Dale station sat at the other end of the street. At one time Midland Railway London expresses could be seen pounding through on their journey to Manchester Central (GMEX). Alas all evidence of the station and line was obliterated when the M60 was built.

The Railway (that is the pub) has received a multitude of CAMRA awards, along with a similar number of stays of execution. This is because the whole area is designated for clearance and re-development (currently favourite is as a replacement Sainsburys so I understand). There are always six or so beers on, supplemented by a further four at weekends so there may be some reluctance to move on.

One hundred metres Queens, Portwood (that's 110 yards in old money) along the road brings us to our first Robinson's pub of the evening, the Queens. The name of the pub will probably cause some consternation to the grammarian in the group, should it be the Queen's as in Head or or are there a multitude of queens involved: Discuss. For the rest of us, visiting in the evening we will be met by groups of locals, as the daytime shoppers from across the road will have departed. A feature of note, once common in many Robinson's pubs, is the cask beer being served by metered electric pump into oversized glasses.

 

As we travel towards our next destination, Stockport Image Archive - Warren Buckley Stockport Image Archive - Dog and Buck it is well worth spending a few minutes gazing upon the preserved entrances to two former pubs, the Warren Buckley (photo left) and the Buck and Dog (right hand photo). The former forms a side door from Bridge Street into Laura Ashley while the latter is round the side of the Barclays Bank on Percy Street. Also the demolition site which was the former the Tiviot pub on, surprise surprise, Tiviot Dale can be perused before confirming that the Full Shilling is still closed.

 

We now travel along Prince's Street, New outlet in Redrock and the first thing you will notice is that the Council has spent a bob or two on regenerating it. From the fancy "stone" covering applied to the roadway to the trendy new street furniture you wonder who has paid for all this extravagance. Some of the answer becomes obvious as we approach our next venue, the Light Sociable Cinema. This bar, attached to the new Redrock development, is open to all, so you don't have to watch a film, but should you want to, you can take your drinks into the cinema. It is not the sort of place you would expect to find cask ale, but there is a solitary handpump [it seems to move around the bar and was tucked away at the end of the bar when last checked]. Prising ourselves away from Star Wars, Harry Potter or Casablanca we can either return to Prince's Street or use the upgraded rear entrance to our next venue.

 

Whichever approach we employ, Swan With Two Necks our next port of call the Swan With Two Necks on Prince's Street (and not as many call it Princess Street) is reached. The name is supposedly a corruption of swan with two nicks, the marks made on mute swans' beaks to denote ownership. Because the majority of the pubs custom is during the day, the Swan used to shut early evening. The Redrock development has seen greater footfall in the evenings and led to longer opening, so, fingers crossed, we will be able to enter. The outside gives an impression of being a pseudo-historic building, but inside the wood panelling and fittings confirms its ancestry. Make an effort to look into the two rear rooms and observe the fitted bench seating and note especially the leaded roof light. Beers on offer are usually Unicorn, the current seasonal and, for as long as supplies manage to last over summer, Old Tom. Should you wish you can consume your beers outside, Parisian street café style, at the front, or out the back in a snug sun trap of a back yard.

Previously we would have called in the George which stands on the corner of Wellington Road (not sure whether it is North or South here!) and Heaton Lane in Mersey Square. Built in inter-war art nouveau or ocean liner style its other point of interest when I first encountered the George was that the beer was supplied by Higsons Brewery of Liverpool. It has passed through many other owners since then, including periods of closure, and most recently offered an interesting line-up of beers from Timothy Taylors of Keighley. Alas that sentance was penned before it closed in late 2017 and has since been boarded up. So it looks like it's joining that long list of lost locals (but in light of the interesting developments in Stockport Marketplace, don't write the Gearge off just yet.) Of the pubs on this stagger, this was the only one which used to have door supervisors (bouncers to you and me).

Around Stockport Image Archive - Heaton Lane with the Pineapple the white building on the left The Pineapple today the corner now and on to Heaton Lane where in days gone by the Pineapple (white building in photo left) was overlooked by the tram, and later bus, depot located on what is now the Heaton Lane car park.

As you enter the Pineapple two distinct drinking areas are obvious to the left and right, with the bar being on the right-hand side. A games room/snug/tap room can also be accessed to the left of, and behind, the bar. For a public house so close to the heart of the town, it still attracts a "local" crowd rather than the marauding hoards sometimes associated with town centre drinking. Being as how the Pineapple is a Robinsons house, the beers on offer are Unicorn and Cumbria Way, supplemented by one (or sometimes two others) from Robinsons. All in all a good honest local pub which, were it not overshadowed by the plethora of local multi ale houses, would gain more support from local CAMRA members. Trawling the internet does, however, reveal a multitude of non-Stopfordians singing the praise of the Pineapple. Accompany us on this stagger and make up your own mind.

Moving on to our penultimate destination we need to pass under the Stockport-dominating railway viaduct and turn left on to King Street West and the Comfortable Gill, opposite the rear of the bus garage. What is the Comfortable Gill named after? Could it be that ancient measure of alcohol, first introduced in the 14th century, equal to a quarter of a pint? For some reason, in Britain outside of Scotland, spirits were served in a sixth of a gill, whereas north of the border they get a fifth. Was this bound up with the fact Scotland was a different country before the Union, or did they just like whisky more than the rest of us? Then again the Comfortable Gill may just refer to a previous contented and relaxed landlady called Gillian? Whatever the explanation, we will check out whether real ale has returned or not.

The question of Stockport Image Archive - Crown Inn in the 1970s Contemporary Crown Inn whether our ultimate destination sells real ale is a resounding "Yes!"
Back on Heaton Lane, in the shadow of the viaduct, the Crown Inn has around fifteen handpumps dedicated to real ale. It is nice to see a multi-ale house using its range of pumps to offer a wide selection of beer styles. A mild, a stout and a porter are always on the bar along with a couple of golden ales. The remaining beer styles will be covered, but with no one handpump dedicated to a fixed style. Externally the Crown Inn has hardly changed in years, can you say which photo above is from the 1970s and which is contemporary? The same could be said internally with many embellishments being original, or if not they are very convincing reproductions. It has been said many times, but the Crown epitomises the image of "ye olde worlde pub". Enjoy.

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Portwood and Stockport North Stagger

Timing

Pub Name

Address

Bus & Rail

Notes

7.30pm Start point:

Midway
263 Newbridge Lane
SK1 2NX
Map
 

Followed by

Park Inn
264 Newbridge Lane
SK1 2PG
Map
No Real Ale

8.30pm Mid point:

Railway
1 Avenue Street
SK1 2BZ
Map
 

Then:

Queens
11 Great Portwood Street
SK1 2DW
Map
 
Full Shilling
11 Tiviot Dale
SK1 1TA
Map
Closed
Berretto Lounge
Redrock, Bridgefield Street
SK1 1SA
Map
No Real Ale
Light Sociable Cinema
Redrock, Bridgefield Street
SK1 1SA
Map
 
Swan with Two Necks
36 Princes Street
SK1 1RY
Map
 
George
15 Wellington Road North
SK4 1AF
Map
Stockport
Closed
Pineapple
159 Heaton Lane
SK4 1AQ
Map
Stockport
 
Comfortable Gill
34 King Street West
SK3 0DY
Map
Stockport
No Real Ale

Finishing at:

Crown Inn
154 Heaton Lane
SK4 1AR
Map
Stockport
 

 

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The answer to the Crown question is: Lefthand photo from the 1960s; Righthand photo today

Updated 17 September 2015