The Pot of Beer or the Harp and Shamrock has it was originally known up until 1996, is a very rare corner Victorian public house in Ancoats. In fact it is one of the very last remaining such pubs in the area.
Whilst there are still many architectural gems in this area of Ancoats close to Angel Meadows, there has been a tremendous amount that has sadly been lost to demolition and new builds, affecting the architectural continuity and identity that buildings such as the Pot of Beer help create.
Whilst another Victorian gem and much-loved Marble Arch is just around the corner and famed for it’s beautiful tiled interior, the very close proximity of the buildings as a whole tell the story of how densely packed areas such as Ancoats and the nearby Angel Meadow were and in the mid-19th Century how the city swelled with the burning fires of industrialization, rapid immigration and unprecedented development.
The Pot of Beer is a tangible link to our past, giving us a invaluable insight into how our ancestors lived, worked, socialised and indeed endured the Dickensian living conditions which was synonymous with Ancoats and Angel Meadow at the time.
The Pot of Beer would have been one of the many pubs that would be key social centres for the community, in particular the Irish migrants who flooded into the area.
Just as good modern public houses do today, the Pot of Beer offered refreshment, free heating, company amongst friends and family, accommodation and possible employment. It would have most certainly offered those walking through its doors respite from the daily toil and the horrendous living conditions, which German philosopher Friedrich Engels called ‘Hell upon Earth’ and would have gave at least the illusion and seemingly temporary escape from the perpetual spectre of cholera that hung over the area.
Whilst in it original guise, the Pot of Beer may not be viable in the current environment, due to many reasons, it’s architecture and history are very much so and has seen in many areas around Manchester can be catalyst for positive change, such has seen in Castlefield and more recently the triumphant resurrection of the grand Gorton Monastery (The Church and Friary of St Francis) in Gorton.
The Pot of Beer is testament that heritage buildings are a real and tangible asset to communities rather than being a drain on there limited resources. Supporting English Heritage research, by the retention of the Pot of Beer, the community has benefited directly in a number of ways. 1) Heritage buildings such as the Pot of Beer attract investment. In this case the charity, Moodswings Network, who following a successful planning application submitted in September 2011, reinvented the Pot of Beer as place to help people with mood disorders such as bi-polar, manic depression and depression. 2) In addition and again supporting English Heritage research, the retention of the Pot of Beer has also helped secure a sense of place for the people coming into the area and those already living in the area, arguably creating greater community cohesion. 3) The reuse of heritage buildings such as the Pot of Beer has also meant that there has been minimal exploitation of resources and reduced costs. 4) Heritage buildings create a sense of place and community cohesion (more people are living in the area), 5) Heritage buildings enhance the quality of life and by retaining the Pot of Beer a more complete story of the development and changing nature of Ancoats through the ages.
However, whilst the future of the Pot of Beer seems secured, its could have been quite different following the closure of the pub in May 2006. In particular, as the then manager was turned down when offering to buy the pub from the owners, Maple Leaf Developers, which would have meant it being retained it in its traditional guise for the community. Subsequently, an outline application was submitted by Maple Leaf Developers for a six story building comprising fourteen flats. The application was refused and so the future of the Pot of Beer was
n May 2006, the Pot of Beer closed for the last time and its fate seemed sealed when around May of that year, when Cheshire based Maple Leaf Developers developers refused the manager permission to buy the pub and retain for the community in its traditional use.
t can be done, however the fate of the Pot Of Beer was sealed by developers who closed the pub sometime before May 2006 and refusing to let the then landlord buy the place and retain it has a working public house.
The developers instead to wait for the housing market to pick up so they can act on their plans to demolish this important piece of Ancoats history, after being granted permission by Manchester City Council to do so. Plans which originally aim to put up residential flat combined with ground floor commercial units.
Whilst there may be the need for more commercial units in this part of town such as a corner shop, food store or post office, the area is already densely packed with high rise flats, all of which are served by very few resources such as shops.
If you would like to add any further information, memories, pictures or stories regarding the post, HistoryME would love to hear from you.
Please contact us by using the form below: