The White House Public House – 122 Great Ancoats St – Ancoats – M4 6DE

14 Aug

The White House Public House, Great Ancoats Street west side. Corner of Laystall Street (late Lees Street), 1970. Courtesy M. Singleton. 

The White House stood on the corner of Laystall Street, opposite what is now Ancoats Retail Park. It had its origins in the early years of the 1800s (1805-1812), not long after Nelson’s decisive victory over the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar effectively breaking the French naval power and establishing Britain has the master of the seas.

The White House was originally known as the Prince Regents Arms until 1838, when it became the White House in 1840, firstly becoming a Walker & Homfray brewery house, then a Wilsons brewery house, before finally becoming a free house in 1985 after a two-year closure. Salford brewery Walker & Homfrays by the turn of the 20th century were owned by John Henry Davies, who also in 1902 took over Manchester United, who were still called Newton Heath at this time. 

The White House was a rare example of Georgian architecture and quietly unassuming on Great Ancoat’s Street, having survived decades of mass demolition of the surrounding Victorian architecture in the area since the 1950s. It was partly due to its seemingly inconspicuous location that led to its end, as it was removed from the more prominent areas of city centre. 

It was at the White House where one of the first meetings of Manchester radicals took place in 1812 after the meeting was changed at the last-minute from the Elephant which was on nearby Tib Street, after a tip-off that the Deputy Constable at the time, Joseph Nadin, would be coming to break up the meeting.

The last-minute change didn’t throw Deputy Constable Nadin off the scent and with the aid of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry who were armed with guns and bayonets, stormed the meeting and subsequently arrested 38 weavers in the pub whilst holding the meeting and most likely dragged them away from their ale and marched them to the nearby cells. Yet, it was to be only 7 years later that meetings like this and the injustices felt by the people of Manchester and further afield would finally culminate in the Peterloo Massacre at St. Peter’s Fields.

It was in 2005, two centuries after the White House first put itself on the social and political map, that it finally succumb, this time to commercial development. The consequences of which were that Ancoats and Manchester lost a rare example from the Georgian period and one of the last of the few Georgian public houses that remain in Manchester.

The White House was a working free house – well-loved for it’s “well-kept Holts” – and was well used by the community and locals alike, but it was the development of flats that would finally see this fine building raised to the ground. Replaced by flats which because they were built-in a saturated market finally became a hotel and the site where the White House once stood since the Battle of Trafalgar became what it is still today, a place for an advertising hoarding for commercial adverts. What a fitting epitaph to British history and culture!

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References

Pubs of Manchester. 2012. Pubs of Manchester. [ONLINE] Available at:http://pubs-of-manchester.blogspot.co.uk/. [Accessed 10 April 2011]

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