Stockport Pub Guide - Town Centre

The areas covered are as follows:

Portwood | Town Centre - East | Town Centre - Hillgate | Town Centre - West


  1. * indicates a pub recommended by me (but the absence of an asterisk may mean no more than I don't know the pub very well).
  2. Where there is a photograph shown, click on the thumbnail for a larger image


Once a working-class area with densely-packed terraced housing, a power station and a gas works. Now largely redeveloped and dominated by the Peel Centre superstores, the pubs are some of the few remaining features of the old Portwood. A number of pubs have been lost in recent years, such as the Brinnington Inn, Coach & Horses and Stanley Arms, and some others are believed to be under threat from further retail expansion
Old King, Great Portwood Street (Bass)
Pub built from a distinctive dark brick, now standing alone amongst the car park and retail units of the Peel Centre. Interior still has many fake stick-on beams and rough plaster from a 1970s refurbishment, but there is a comfortable front snug. No real ale. Currently (January 2010) closed
Midway, Newbridge Lane (Inntrepreneur, ex-John Smiths)
Once described as "a country pub in the heart of town", recently smartly refurbished, with a large, open lounge running into the restaurant extension. Interesting guest beers have been available at times
* Park, Newbridge Lane (Inntrepreneur)
Busy, lively corner pub at road junction, offering Holts Bitter as a guest beer. For a long time had a happy hour from 8.30 - 10 pm on Fridays, and may still do so
Queens, Great Portwood Street (Robinson's)
Thoroughly "Robinsonised" pub attracting a lively, youngish clientele
* Railway, Avenue Street (Pennine)
Plain but comfortable and welcoming pub offering the full range of Pennine's excellent and distinctive beers at very reasonable prices, together with traditional cider and a wide range of Belgian and German bottled beers. The 5.3% ABV Sunshine is the definitive "dangerously drinkable" strong pale ale. A former local CAMRA Pub of the Year.

Stockport Town Centre - East

Although little of the current town dates back before the Victorian era, Stockport has a long history, as it controlled a key bridge across the Mersey on the main London - Carlisle road. This is the town's historic core, centred around the Parish Church and the Market Place with its Victorian glazed market hall. Stockport Castle originally stood on the elevated site of the westward extension of the Market Place.

The narrow, winding Underbanks still have a medieval feel, and there are a handful of ancient timbered buildings including Underbank Hall, now home to the NatWest Bank, and the Three Shires Wine Bar. Little Underbank is spanned by a Victorian Bridge linking the Market Place to St Petersgate.

* Arden Arms, Millgate (Robinson's)
Classic multi-roomed pub that features on CAMRA's National Inventory of historic pub interiors. Sympathetically refurbished by enthusiastic new licensees in early 2000, and currently serving almost certainly the best pub food in Stockport, while retaining a bustling, pubby atmosphere. Its most distinctive feature is the tiny snug accessible only by walking through the bar servery, a unique survivor of the pub layouts of the first half of the 19th century. As well as Hatters and Best Bitter, it offers Robinson's seasonal beers, plus Old Tom in winter. Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2004, and went on to win the Greater Manchester regional award, and to be runner-up in the national competition. At present (March 2005) probably in all-round terms the best pub in Stockport.
* Baker's Vaults, Market Place (Robinson's)
Free-standing, Italianate pub dating back to the 1840s. High-ceilinged interior with distinct lounge and vault sides around island bar, although the separation has been reduced recently by the removal of the partition behind the bar counter. A popular live music venue, also has a reputation for good food.

Bambooza, Market Place (Yates's)
Formerly Yates's Wine Lodge, but now on to its second renaming and retheming. Occupies a former bank building and has an impressive, high-ceilinged interior. No real ale
* Boar's Head, Market Place (Samuel Smith)
Opposite the Baker's Vaults, a busy, comfortable pub popular with older customers. Received an impressive refurbishment in 2002 which actually involved reinstating some walls! The large back room, formerly used for music sessions, has now been converted into an attractive lounge and brought more into the public areas. An outdoor drinking terrace has also been added. Thoroughly recommended - and the beer is extraordinarily cheap, too.
* Bull's Head, Market Place (Robinson's)
Large, imposing pub with a modernised interior including plenty of comfortable bench seating. The upstairs function room is often used for live music
Calvert's Court, St Petersgate (Wetherspoons)
Somewhat antiseptic conversion of a former furniture shop in Wetherspoon's modernist style, comprising one very long, narrow, rectangular bar, with relatively little comfortable seating
Egerton Arms, St Petersgate (Inntrepreneur)
Ordinary, modernised pub that once had a brief incarnation as "Porky Pig's Pie Shop"! No real ale
King's Head, Tiviot Dale (Paramount, ex-Boddingtons)
Small pub converted to one room. After offering no real ale for many years, it returned to the cask beer fold in 2001
Old Rectory, Churchgate (S & N, ex-Boddingtons)
Pub-restaurant occupying the impressive Georgian building that indeed was the former rectory for Stockport's parish church just below on the Market Place. Also offers accommodation
* Pack Horse, Market Place (Punch Taverns, ex-Tetleys)
1930s pub at the top end of the Market Place, modernised internally but still has two comfortable lounge-type areas and standing room around the bar. In recent years has been noted for selling Copper Dragon beers alongside Tetley's
* Queen's Head (Turner's Vaults), Little Underbank (Samuel Smith)
Another pub of tremendous character that appears on CAMRA's National Inventory. For long a free house offering no real ale, but then in the late 80s acquired by Sam Smiths and given a very careful and sympathetic renovation, which resulted in it winning CAMRA's "Joe Goodwin Award" for conservation of traditional pubs. Three rooms on a deep, narrow site - the main bar at the front, a tiny, wood-panelled News Room where daily papers are provided, and a cosy snug at the rear. Amongst its many distinctive features are the original spirit taps on the bar counter, a haunted upstairs room and the "Compacto", the world's smallest gents, unfortunately not in regular use nowadays because tubby modern men won't fit in and tend to flood the floor! Like the nearby Boar's Head, offers extremely cheap beer, in line with Sam's usual idiosyncratic policy.
Royal Oak, High Street (Robinson's)
Formerly a traditional multi-roomer that was allowed to become very run-down, and then "refurbished" in a manner that amounted to complete rebuilding. The result is a pleasant but slightly bland modern pub with a central bar and three distinct drinking areas. The gents' toilets contain a large amount of free space that surely could have been used for expanding the drinking area
Sam's Bar, Market Place (Free House)
Wine-bar type establishment with a first floor bar, mainly aimed at young people. Currently (June 2009) closed
Stockport Arms, St Petersgate (Inn Partnership, ex-Greenalls)
Ordinary two-room pub on a secondary shopping street. No real ale
* Swan With Two Necks, Princes Street (Robinson's)
Small pub with a narrow mock half-timbered frontage on a main pedestrianised shopping street. The interior goes back a long way and includes a superb wood-panelled, top-lit snug in the middle of the pub. In late 1999 taken over by enterprising new licensees (formerly of the Railway, Portwood) and is now very busy and something of a showpiece for Robinson's. Yet another pub featuring on CAMRA's National Inventory of historic pub interiors.

Thatched House, Churchgate (Pubmaster, ex-Vaux)
Primarily a live music venue, majoring on loud rock, only open in the evenings. Does however sell real ale and cider.
Three Shires Wine Bar, Chestergate (Free House)
Long-established wine bar in a historic timbered building, which did for a time offer real ale. Regrettably closed in 2008, but reopened the following year with no real ale
* Tiviot, Tiviot Dale (Robinson's)
Staunchly traditional pub that has been opened up a little in the dim and distant past but retains an atmosphere strongly redolent of the 1950s. Has a loyal band of regular customers. There aren't many pubs like this left nowadays!

White Lion, Great Underbank (Whitbread)
Imposing Edwardian pub at the heart of the town, currently (January 2010) closed.
* Winter's, Little Underbank (Holts)
Former jeweller's shop that became a wine bar before being taken over by Holts and given an impressive refurbishment including the restoration of the magnificent clock with its mechanical animated figures. Downstairs vault and smaller upstairs lounge. Usual low Holts prices

Stockport Town Centre - Hillgate

Before the construction of Wellington Road South, Hillgate was part of the main road between London and Carlisle. The surrounding area is one of the oldest parts of the town and in the past was a warren of densely-packed housing, most of which has now been redeveloped, resulting in a concentration of pubs with relatively few houses. The Stockport air crash of 1967, which resulted in nearly 100 fatalities, happened just off Hillgate.

Hillgate is the scene of the local CAMRA branch's legendary annual pre-Christmas pub crawl, which starts at the Queen's Head on Underbank and staggers uphill through 15 or so pubs to finish on Old Tom at the Blossoms in Heaviley.

Bishop Blaize, Middle Hillgate (Burtonwood)
Old pub, for long called the Gladstone, but has recently reverted to its original name. Played a central role in notorious sectarian riots in 1851. A largely unspoilt, but somewhat gloomy, three-room 1930s interior. no real ale
* Bradshaw's Head, Grace Street (Timothy Taylor)
Excellent, unspoilt, multi-roomed local with extensive wood panelling, hidden away on a back street off Hillgate. Named after one of Stockport's most famous sons - John Bradshaw - the judge who presided at the trial of King Charle I which led to the king's execution. The sole Stockport outpost of this renowned Yorkshire independent brewery. Note: This is a spoof entry
Crown, Higher Hillgate (Pub Company, ex-Vaux)
Classic street-corner local, but unfortunately offering no real ale
* Red Bull, Middle Hillgate (Robinson's)
Historic pub that was sympathetically extended into the neighbouring house in 2008 and is now something of a showpiece for Robinson's. Retains a comfortable, rambling interior with an assortment of different spaces. Although not the nearest pub to the brewery, this is where the Robinson's directors entertain visitors. Now also features four "boutique hotel" rooms.

Star & Garter, Higher Hillgate (Robinson's)
Imposing three-storey pub standing on a bend in the road and looking down Hillgate. Internally has received a typical "Robinsonisation"
* Sun & Castle, Higher Hillgate (Holts)
1930s pub that until the late 80s had a classic, untouched interior. It was then inappropriately done up in fake Victoriana and went downhill as a bikers' haunt. Holts took over in early 1998 and did a good job of refurbishing it; their competitive prices have caused problems for several of the nearby pubs on Hillgate

* Waterloo, Waterloo Road (Robinson's)
Comfortable, welcoming pub just off Hillgate opposite the former Strawberry Studios. The lounge and vault seem oddly reversed, with a long counter in the lounge and a hatch into the vault. There's also a congenial snug tucked away at the back

Stockport Town Centre - West

This area is centred around Wellington Road South (A6), Stockport's original bypass, dating back to the 1820s. It is dominated by the magnificent Edwardian "wedding cake" Town Hall, home of Stockport's annual Beer & Cider Festival

Brannigans, Grand Central Square (?)
Young people's circuit bar - to be avoided. No real ale
Chestergate, Chestergate (S & N)
Recently refurbished, fairly smart, pub in a prime location, popular with younger drinkers. No real ale
Cobdens, Wellington Road South (Robinson's)
Formerly the Manchester Arms, a favourite haunt of Goths and bikers, that had become very run down, it has now been turned into Robbies' take on a young people's circuit bar. No real ale
Comfortable Gill, King Street West (Inn Partnership, ex-Boddingtons)
Ordinary pub opposite the Stagecoach bus garage, with a cramped layout around a central bar
* Crown, Heaton Lane (Free House)
Attractive, traditional pub almost under Stockport Viaduct, and in the past enjoying an awesome view of the structure from the outside gents' (now no longer with us). Three distinct lounge areas (one non-smoking) and a basic vault around the central bar. Offers Stockport's best choice of guest beers including many from micro breweries. Recently received an attractive refurbishment, but regrettably they retained the sticky leatherette upholstery that is the pub's only real drawback.
George, Wellington Road South (S & N, ex-Boddingtons)
Many years ago a traditional pub of great character owned by late lamented Liverpool brewers Higsons; now an identikit young peoples' meeting place. Now (August 2001) for the first time in its history serving no real ale
Grand Central Square (S & N, ex-Greenalls)
See Brannigan's. No real ale
* Little Jack Horners, Wellington Street (Free House)
Small, cosy pub on three levels, surprisingly spacious at the rear, with plenty of comfortable seating

Nelson, Wellington Road South (S & N)
Four-square corner pub opposite the Town Hall and Stockport College, and thus popular with students. After a short flirtation with keg, has now returned to the real ale fold and is offering guest beers.
* Pineapple, Heaton Lane (Robinson's)
Small, traditional three-room pub well supported by mainly regular clientele.

St Peter's Square Tavern, St Petersgate (Pub Company)
Street-corner pub, formerly the "Blarney Stone". No real ale
Town Hall Tavern, Wellington Road South (Inntrepreneur)
Formerly the "New Inn", a fairly plain one-room corner pub with three floor levels, which cast off its former identity as a gay pub in early 2001. No real ale. Closed and boarded in January 2010.
* Unity, Wellington Road South (Robinson's)
Busy, modernised single-bar pub with a good, lively atmosphere. Popular with postmen from nearby sorting office

Areas A-G | Areas H-L | Areas M-Z | Over the Borders

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