The Lower Angel

When Mrs RM and I first started crossing into the The North (at Catchems Corner) 25 years ago, Warrington was a bit of a bellwether town. Multi-room pubs, boarded-up shops, folk dressed up for their curry as if they were going to a wedding.  Don’t see that in Cambridge.

I still stay there occasionally; there’s half a dozen Premier Inns around the town and they’re always cheap at weekends. The central one is excellent, and you get to walk along the river into town.

Since RAMP 1 skate park opened two years ago, my teenage son can locate Warrington on the map. For context, there are people in our Cambs village who think the Lake District is in Sussex.

My targets were a new bar in the smart suburb of Stockton Heath (Warrington’s Didsbury if you like), and yet another Spoons. As always, I got yet another fresh perspective on the town’s impressive but slightly neglected buildings.

Bridge Street is to Warrington what King Street is to Wigan.  Uncompromising club venues, curry houses and cash generators.  As in most UK towns, you have to look up when walking the streets to appreciate them. You would have bumped into folk looking down at their phones anyway.

Just as Gandhi once visited Darwen, it appears that Warrington also had a famous visitor.

Got quotation marks, must be true

Keep me out of the “Craft Beer” debate, but a lot of places now just stick the words on their sign and a bottle of Punk or Brooklyn in the fridge.

Round the corner at the building site at Market Hall there is a decent bit of street art, which I’m pleased to say I don’t understand at all.

QUIZ TIME – What does it mean ?

Buttermarket Street contains the town’s gem.  The Little Angel (top) is lively, gorgeous and serves decent beers. No idea why I didn’t go in; perhaps because it was 9am.

Luckily, Wetherspoon’s Looking Glass was open early for pub tourists, charity runners, Racing Post readers  and grandparents in Everton shirts looking after well-behaved children.  That’s not sarcasm, children can be well behaved if well-supervised. And tables can be cleared by well-managed, motivated staff.

This is a decent Spoons with a decent beer range (Coach House, Weetwood,Wright) in an interesting building with a Lewis Carroll theme.  Their other outlet,the Friar Penketh, was equally impressive last year.

We’ve been quite taken by the gradual development of Warrington over the years.  The Golden Square shopping centre is spacious and has useful shops (compare and contrast with a certain development in Cambridge).

The Old Market Place was small but buzzing with activity at 10am.

The Caffe Nero sponsored tea party
Barley Mow

There’s not much unmissable, but the Barley Mow does stand out against the modernity.

Only three Guide pubs in town, which seems a bit light.  The Real Ale Shack at the market looks a good development though.

Only a mile to Stockton Heath along the Causeway, and a newish Costello’s bar that perhaps had a bit too much choice for a crowd drinking more Peroni (or whatever) and Prosecco.  The Dark was fine (NBSS 3) but like their Altrincham outlet a quick half felt plenty.

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27 thoughts on “WARRINGTON – LOOK UP

  1. If you managed to take in Warrington Wolves RL ground and the Tesco Extra which is itself the size of a small town, you will be on the site of the (Tetley) Walker brewery where I was based from 1988-92. After Greenalls stopped brewing, we brewed three shifts per day in an ale-only brewery.
    Along came the Carlsberg Tetley merger, and within a few years the brewery was gone.
    An evocative photo of the Lower Angel, an ex Peter Walker tenancy. Great to see not just the Walker signage, but the Burton Ale plaque which will have lasted well over 30 years.


  2. Warrington still has a lot of impressive pub architecture, much of it a hangover from Greenalls’ heyday. Rather fewer impressive pubs 😦

    The Red Lion in Stockton Heath is worth a visit for historic character, although it has been knocked about a bit by current owners Thwaites.


  3. I shall attempt the quiz. The words I can made out are: Lancastrian, Typical and Friendly. There are probably others, it is difficult to tell. Those three at least are repeated several times in the piece. Given there is a remnant of plastic on a screw, I suspect the missing piece is missing through adventure rather than deliberate design, thus could hold the key clue. However, from whatever I can see, I am going to say that it means that typical Lancastrian people are friendly, which is very much true. What is interesting is that it has been placed in Cheshire (I think even officialdom still recognises Warrington as being in Cheshire), I wonder whether it is some form of protest against the stereotypical posh Cheshire person, especially considering the rivalry between the town and its nearby Lancashire neighbours, typified by many of the local rugby league fixtures with their 12 spectators.


      1. The correct response is probably ‘cobblers’. Unless it is actually the right answer, something I suspect we will never know. Aside from a rant in an A-Level General Studies exam, this is probably my first written art review since the lower part of secondary school.


    1. This is a brilliant piece of deduction, I hope Tom wins a prize. As you both know, I too have to go by Good Beer Guide counties. Mid Wales only covers the area of Powys yet it still calls itself Mid Wles in the GBG.

      I still have a Costellos loyalty card and they were really nice to me in Altrincham (roadworks outside had just started an accidentally buried the hipsters under the concrete). Warrington and surrounding area is one I’m looking forward to muchly.

      And if Mother Teresa really said that (in the year of her death no less) I would be quite surprised.


      1. Si, in case that is a reminder to take your prizes to Billinge, they are already securely packed in my travel bag. I hope they are anyway, as otherwise I’ve lost them.

        City will lose away at Warrington in about 6 years. It will be 2-0 on a Tuesday night in November. Josh Tymon will be sent off in the 37th minute for serious foul play. It will be foggy.

        I think Mother Theresa did speak the quote on the poster. As I understand it she had quite a dry sense of humour, she will have said it for some humorous reason and the night club will have taken it out of context.


      2. Martin, you have prompted me to do some research as until today I had always thought of Mother Teresa as being from Calcutta. It turns out she was an Albanian lady who was born in the Macedonian city of Skopje, rather than Romania, however because she was ancient at the time of her birth Macedonia didn’t actually exist and Skopja was in the Ottoman Empire. Thus my key learning point for today is that Mother Teresa was an Ottoman. Thank you for leading me down this path of education.


  4. Tom, at the risk of being sucked into your personal maelstrom, Warrington is a unitary authority. So, I believe, is Halton ( otherwise known as Runcorn and Widnes ).
    Dave, I was marketing director of Tetley Walker and a director of its “subsidiary” Peter Walker for four years before Allied Breweries separated their pub and brewing businesses.


    1. I’ve always seen unitary authorities as glorified town councils, with the towns being in the proper county. But then I don’t deal in modern counties. I suppose they are a little like the county corporates of old.

      I did not know of the unitary authority of Halton – I find it an interesting one because it covers parts of both Cheshire and Lancashire. Thank you very much for that little titbit, much appreciated.


      1. Martin, the counties in the GBG are too modern for me. Stockport is in Cheshire, not Greater Manchester. Sutton is in Surrey, not Greater London.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It always grates with me when I hear radio traffic reports referring to the “M62 in Cheshire”. It doesn’t even touch bleeding Cheshire!


  5. Unrecognisable. I know I’m biased but, particularly in Leeds, people would walk past the pub if there was no Tetley sign. Free trade accounts lived in fear of the sales director telling them their standards were unacceptable.
    I can name pubs which sold 100 barrels ( that’s UK brewers barrels ) per WEEK. The clue is in the word “bitter”.


    1. That’s a lot of barrels per week. I was guessing that was the answer from what I have previously read. Quite sad. I never had a chance to try the beer in its original form.


    2. Can’t quite remember where, but I have seen the original Leeds Tetley’s described as “shockingly bitter”. My dad once told me of stopping off at a Tetley’s pub in the 1950s on the way to a rugby league match and finding it too bitter for him.


      1. I’ve got a feeling that description was from Roger Protz. The Leeds product was certainly more bitter than Warrington’s in its heyday.


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