The Nelson public house sadly didn’t quite reach its 200th anniversary and in 2010 became yet another public house on the long list of casualties in the Ancoats area. The Nelson had been boarded up for many years behind blackened boarding and few would have noticed or cared what architectural history lurked behind it and so it was almost anonymously demolished in 2010.
The Nelson, in its various guises, stood on the corner of Oldham Road and Radium/German Street. It started out as the Nelson of the Nile in 1815, the Death of Nelson (1830/40s), then the Lord Nelson, the Nelson Vaults, and finally the Nelson until its closure in 1985 .
The Nelson was built in 1815, the year which would finally see the last days of Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) and the end to Napoleon Bonapartes tyranny at the hands the Anglo-Allied army led by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. However, the Nelson stood to honour yet another of England’s great heroic soldiers, Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson and his decisive battle to defeat the combined naval forces of the French and Spanish at Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Many pubs after Nelsons victory, in which he himself succumb to horrific injuries, were renamed to honour him. It is not known if an early pub of a different name existed before the Nelson in Ancoats. The Nelson was owned by McKenna’s Brewery in the late 19th century and in 1959 it was called the Nelson Vaults and was a Wilson’s house.
As with most pub still open or demolished, there is often very few records to show the interior and as with everything, interiors of pubs are rarely left historically intact. I’m sure the Nelson would have seen some cosmetic alterations as most public houses in the Ancoats and Manchester in general have little protection to stop them, irrespective of the wider social historical context they exist in.
From The Old Pubs of Ancoats:
The “Death of Nelson” was a popular patriotic ballad and the singing of such a song as the cause of a murder in the Nelson in 1830.
A dresser called Marshall, who worked in a Jersey Street cotton mill, was singing to a full taproom when three customers took offence at the anti-Catholic sentiments. Marshall was knocked down and a man called Trayner jumped on him and killed him .
Having started out as the Nelson, it was to have a name change in the 1950s, to the Nelson Vaults. One wonders if this was a reference to the historical interior that may have greeted those entering it’s doors. We can only wonder, but we get a brief glimpse of the possibility that this may have been the case as post demolition, remains of the glazed interior tiles can still be seen.
. The Old Pubs of Ancoats, Neil Richardson (1987).
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