Jonathan Schofield and a pub which represents stability amidst turmoil
A good pub in times of turmoil is a point of stability. There’s the familiar layout, the familiar faces. The older the pub and the more it has retained the same easy-going ethos and atmosphere, the more the feeling of time-worn comfort is reinforced.
Of course, this doesn’t mean centuries-old pubs can afford to stand still but eternal verities such as good service, good beer and other drinks together with - and this is crucial - a mixed-age, mixed-gender customer base from across the seven ages of man, make for stand-out qualities.
The latest threat comes from the stale breath of corporate remodelling breathing down the BP's neck
The Britons Protection (BP) pub, on Great Bridgewater Street, is just such an institution. I can't remember it changing much at all on its ground floor over the long decades I've been drinking there. That's just what the hundreds of guests I've taken appreciate.
You can feel the age of the place, the generations that have passed through. It's at least 210-years-old, perhaps 220, with a multi-roomed, tiled and panelled interior from the 1920s with some earlier elements. Just as importantly, it's not only got a good range of mainly northern beers and a gargantuan selection of over 350 whiskies (unique in Manchester city centre) it has NO BLOODY FOOTBALL SCREENS.
I love football but jeez, when pubs fill every room with screens it gets depressing. Especially when they keep those conversation swallowers switched on all day even when there is no match so, presumably, we can enjoy the 2.30pm handicap from Kempton Park or, worse, golf - from anywhere.
What's happening with The Britons Protection?
Now in 2022, the poor old Britons is being assailed from every side, literally at present as we've stated with the proposal for a ludicrously large apartment block on its western side plus more building work on the eastern side.
The latest threat comes from the stale breath of corporate remodelling wheezing down the BP's neck. The building owners want to bring the BP into their chain-gang fold. Star Pubs & Bars, part of the Heineken blandishment of boozers, want to snatch the pub back from present ten-year lease-holder Mark West and landlord Alan Hudd.
If this happens, it seems inevitable the pub will suffer Chef and Brewerisation or be rendered sterile like so many pubs in the rubbish Nicholson's brand, a brand which has made dull so many historic pubs across the country.
These chains are owned by different operators from Heineken but they show how the Briton's Protection may be lobotomised. A big problem for Alan Hudd and Mark Weston is that any new operator under Star & Bars would be required to buy from an approved range of suppliers. Goodbye, as Alan Hudd says, to those 350 plus whiskies and those local ales. For example, Heineken has just over a dozen approved whisky suppliers.
So if you want to fight for the retention of personality and atmosphere in a classic Manchester pub then you can sign this petition to retain Mark West and Alan Hudd as leasee and landlord.
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