SINCE you have to cover your ears in certain areas of British cities to drown out the noise of pubs being demolished, it's good to have one re-open.
And one with a bit of pedigree.
"We're very proud of the way the design works. Pubs can open as well as close, you see."
Phil Ainsworth, landlord and one of the partner's behind Shudehill's new/ancient arrival says: "We've done a bit of research and found the Lower Turks Head dates back to 1745 which makes it one of the oldest pubs in the city."
That's certainly the case if the date is correct. Perhaps the Sawyers on Deansgate in its various manifestations, or Sinclair's Oyster Bar, outstrip the pedigree of The Lower Turk's Head. But that's about all.
Lower Turks Head
"Because it is such a part of the Manchester story we've made the pub very Mancunian," continues Ainsworth. "This will be a place that celebrates the city right down to the beer we serve, including the local family brewers such as Lees and Holt but also with a couple of changing guest ales every week."
The design of the surprisingly large and deep building comes from the pen of Mike Madox and gives good pub. If you dream of trad boozers as room after room of intimate spaces, preferably low-lit to encourage wit, flirtatiousness, rhetoric, ease of mind, then this is the place for you.
The use of timber and the variety of fixtures and fittings provides that lived-in busy feel that the best pubs all share. Minimalism never does a traditional pub any favours. The tattoo room is a curious one yet not unentertaining - one of the partners is a tattooist.
"We have seven bedrooms," says Ainsworth. "They aren't ready just yet but I want them decorated in the boutique style. There are very few small hotels and bed and breakfast places in central Manchester. We'll charge around £60 a night for a double with breakfast taken in the pub dining room. In two or three weeks the kitchen will open and we'll do a full a la carte menu based on pub classics but also with sharing food and lighter options."
The former bookshop next door to the Lower Turks has also been bought and converted into the Scuttler's Wine Bar. This links with the main pub at the rear and helps provide more space on the floor above.
Scuttlers were gangs of Manchester youths in the nineteenth century. They've recently achieved notoriety as proto-modern gangs complete with dress codes, secret signs, turf wars and violence. They probably never touched wine in their lives.
Scuttlers were rascals at best so I'm not sure that we should allow the romance of time to turn these lads into little Robin Hoods. But maybe I'm being prim, pubs can be a bit rum. It's part of their history.
Phil Ainsworth and team should be congratulated for resurrecting the Lower Turks Head and its 1920s' tiled frontage. It gives the Northern Quarter more food and drink range. It gives it more depth.
"We're very proud of the way the design works," says Ainsworth. "This is a soft opening of course and we're still finding our feet. In another two or three weeks we'll be able to welcome guests with the full range of what we can offer. At least we've shown that pubs can open as well as close."
The name, Lower Turks Head is a traditional pub name that must have been copied from elsewhere. The oldest Turks Head pubs in the country refer to conflicts, Crusader and otherwise, with Turks and Saracens. This pub is 'Lower' because there was another Turks Head higher on Shudehill.
1745 was the year of the last major armed conflict on British soil when Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) began an armed insurrection to overthrow the reigning Hanoverian king, George II. He failed but several Mancunians joined his cause. Ten were hung, drawn and quartered for their trouble.
So we're back to heads again and Phil Ainsworth, one of the partners. I don't know whether he's a relation but it was William Harrison Ainsworth, a prolific nineteenth century novelist, who gave the 1745 event a certain glamour in his book 'The Manchester Rebels', published in 1874.
The Lower Turks Head is run by Manchester Brewery Ltd and is at 36 Shudehill, City Centre, M4 1EZ. 07814 184384.