Pubs have been through hell in the last 18 months, and I’m delighted (though surprised) that so many of them seem to have survived into the Autumn of 2021. Of my GBG targets so far, only one (Urmston) hasn’t yet re-opened, and that’s more due to growth than decline. So I remain positive about pubs,… Continue reading FACEBOOK FARCE IN MESNES
Part II of the Great Wigan Wobble, which somehow squeezes 3 posts out of a lone half pint. In 1937 George Arthur Blair wrote a piece that so infuriated Wigan folk that he had to change his name before releasing that dreadful Eurythmics record nearly 5 decades later. And George didn’t have micropub opening times… Continue reading DALSTON IN WIGAN
With Mrs RM wardrobe restored, I could refocus on my day job of finishing GBG counties, starting with Greater Manchester’s hipster central. Yes, it’s Wigan, innit. I SHOULD have popped in the newly-reopened Swan & Railway, shouldn’t I ? But despite it being gorgeous, and selling pies (what else in Wigan) and possibly even Bass,… Continue reading A WIGAN WANDER
Yes, it’s a barm ! Today we move to the pie capital of England (I’ve since learnt that Scottish non-league football is the best place for pies). No idea why I’ve kept this programme for 40+ years, something to do with the fascination of clubs joining and leaving the League. Wigan lost at tiny Birmingham… Continue reading WIGAN – MORE THAN PIES
I feel I’ve neglected Mark Crilley of late by forgetting to add videos of classic 1983 UK pop hits. Here’s one I’d long forgotten from our Antipodean convicts cousins. I had 12 minutes to wait for the 19:08 from Wigan North Western to Bolton, scene of my final tick. Time for a quick half in… Continue reading WAITING FOR A TRAIN
After the high of Roger Protz introducing Bad Kitty at Manchester Beer Festival, there’s nowhere else to go. Except Wigan. 30 minutes from Manchester Deansgate, and a few years ago it would have been 30 years back in time. But not these days. “Wigan is Really Great” as they probably say. Now Duncan had set… Continue reading A WOBBLE IN WIGAN
This blogging lark is a doddle. Visit a pub, take photos surreptitiously, keep a running gag about pashminas going, and hope against hope for a witty pun or an “Out of Order” condom machine. Ashton-in-Makerfield was always going to let me down on the pashminas, even in the Wetherspoons. Though the potholes give some opportunities… Continue reading PROPHYLACTIC PROBLEMS IN ASHTON-IN-MAKERFIELD
This week at the Manchester Beer Fest I met the amiable Nick, a pub fanatic from the States via Erlangen. He’d been to many of Greater Manchester’s famous pub towns, and was later found (obviously) enjoying Stockport. I recommended Wigan for his next trip, and think he’s just found it great as I did recently.
I love Wigan; you probably could have guessed that. Last Summer I ended my first 25 mile walk there, walking most of the suburbs in a way that you wouldn’t contemplate in the featureless East, and collapsing in the impressive new Premier Inn.
The parks, from Haigh to the Flashes to central Mesnes, are consistently beautiful, and then there’s Worthington reservoir (strictly Standish). People talk to you, beer costs less than £2.50 a pint and you can get a pie on a barm, as well as good Thai and Italian food.
The town has come a long way in the 20 years since it I first visited Springfield Park, and the town had a somewhat faded allure. In those days the Beer Guide was full of Burtonwood (Pear Tree), Tetley (Springfield) and probably Greenalls, and very good it was too after a soaking on the terraces.
The last 15 years have seen the modernisation of the football, the pub scene, the Wiend and the shopping centre. Their Grand Arcade is better than it’s overrated namesake in Cambridge, but they’ve managed to keep their Victorian arcades. Wigan is a Victorian gem.
After a period when their pub scene seemed to be dominated by vibrant nightlife venues (Berkeley, Boulevard, Tudor House), Wigan has got the micro bug of late, and it does micro-pubs very well.
I missed the highly-rated Tap’n’Barrel on my recent visit, but Doc’s Symposium and Wigan Central were high quality. Prospect to my mind are one of our most underrated breweries, and their seating in Central as characterful as anywhere outside a Sam Smiths pub.
Elsewhere, I much enjoyed the décor at the Raven and John Bull’s Chophouse, the latter being the best advert for Thwaites I could recommend you.
And no mention yet of the Anvil, one of the UK’s best drinkers pubs. All Wigan needs now is a bit more variety in the suburbs, and the revitalisation of the Orwell.
I miss the proper boozers of Standishgate – the Royal Oak, Millstone & Bowling Green were minor classics, all now replaced in the Beer Guide by more modern bars and micro-pubs, but Wigan still has a rich and varied central pub stock that would be the envy of most towns