The rapid closure of Manchesters postwar estate pubs once seen as a vital part of the community is leaving neighbourhoods without a social anchor
English postwar estate bars are often seen as a joke: Never drink in a flat-roofed pub, the saying goes. But these pubs whether theyre 1930s-style redbrick structures with pitched roofs and large beer gardens, or forbidding cubes of wood and brick that squat in the shadow of tower blocks are now at risk. Theyre being closed and converted into shops or apartments, boarded up and left to rot, or completely wiped from the map, leaving a cleared site and an empty car park.
Theres a huge level of threat: these pubs are dropping like flies, says Emily Cole of Historic England.
In Greater Manchester, pub closure has been hastened by the citys regeneration. The breweries have no interest in the pubs, says photographer Stephen Marland, who has been documenting their demise. The community does, but very often the local authority wants the land eventually. So theyll gladly let them die away.
In the past, the pub acted as the community anchor, says Martin Dodge, a senior lecturer in geography at the University of Manchester. Now theres nostalgia for the English pub, but thats not going to pay the rent. If you dont go and buy your beer there, its not going to survive.
Remnants of another Manchester
On a visit to Manchester a few months ago, I passed a boarded-up building not far from Oxford Road. Its first floor was painted grey and its roof pitched steeply into a sharp peak. An old CCTV camera pointed in the direction of the door. This was the Gamecock, an old estate pub which, judging by its overgrown car park, had been closed for some time. Surrounded by sleek university buildings and refurbished flats, it seemed a strange and intriguing remnant of another Manchester.