With Lonely Planet naming the half-timbered pub ‘a Manchester institution’, the Old Wellington Inn, as Manchester’s oldest holding, represents the heart of the city. The building plays a significant role in the development of Manchester as its past inhabitants have been known to have founded its first bank, developed its cotton industry and built its first quay.
The atmosphere is a representation of this since the ground floor remains a small, homely pub with hanging wooden beams, flagstone flooring and a writing board with a great, changing selection of real ales. The second and third floors house a restaurant with hanging tapestries, candles and undeniably delicious pub food. The eclectic mix of people visiting, from locals, students, tourists and businessmen establish that the building still remains a notable hub in the city centre, particularly in the summer season with outdoor seating in the beer garden.
Originally built in 1552 beside Market Square, and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the upper floors are known to have been a fishing tackle shop conveniently named ‘Ye Olde Fyshing Tackle Shoppe’ as well as an area where mathematical and optical instruments were made. Having been a draper’s shop in 1554 and finally a licensed public house in 1830, the building has housed a historic mixture of characters. John Byrom, inventor of the Phonetic Shorthand was born in the building, and Sir Winston Churchill became a visitor of the public house in 1941 after the Christmas Blitz of Manchester the previous year.
The building’s survival pays a true testament to the long standing history of the city, having been relocated twice, once to make way for the Arndale in the 1970s and later in 1996 to its
current location near Manchester Cathedral after an IRA bombing. My friend and I couldn’t help but notice amongst the framed photos and plaques describing and illustrating the pub’s history, the lineup of familiar guilty pleasures playing through the speakers. One local man was intently drinking, listening and exclaiming how much he loved The Temptations. In the same vein, and with its distinct history, The Old Wellington gives the impression of a place where anyone can piece the past back together over a homely pint.