Thursday 28 April 2022


Bury has always been a mixed bag for me pub wise.

My Bury imagination conjures up images of men in flat caps leaving cotton mills to go down the WMC for a pint of Boddies ("when it were good") strained through their wives stockings, and then shovelling a black pudding and brown sauce barm down their pie holes.  The 2022 truth is quite different.  

The influence of 'cool' Manchester (and cities don't get cooler than Manchester, I know that, you know that) casts it's funky net wide across the Metrolink network.  In Greater Manchester, you're probably going to have to go to Leigh, or a pub on a pot-holed bumpy lane near Middleton to escape it (if such a thing exists, I seriously doubt it!) 

My first visit here, New Year's Day 2003 took myself and Daddy BRAPA (who was simply known as 'Bernard' back then) to the wonderful Rose & Crown.  Raglan Sleeve, Nanny Flyer, I remember the quality ales to this day, I remember the carpets and warm pubby feel, we loved it.  We revisited the following October.  The magic had gone, something had changed.  More foody.  Wyldes fared little better, the Dusty Miller was shut for no reason.

Ten years later, July 2013 and I made my Trackside debut.  A classic!  Even better on my re-visit outside in the icy conditions, snow swirling around, Jan 2016, with Daddy BRAPA and Tom.

Trackside Bar 30/1/16

And just as well, earlier that day the Clarence had been one of the worst BRAPA experiences ever.  Top ten if I ever did a top ten.  Moved for diners?  No thanks.  Only Dad's "far arse ponce burger" comment on the way out gave us some degree of satisfaction.  The Automatic had been weird, but kind of jolly. 

I was back three years later, to the Lamb on the outskirts, and the Art Picture House 'Spoons on the inner, both enjoyable in their own ways.  Best quality Bury ale ever?  In the Robert Peel 'Spoons.  Brightside I seem to recall.

Back to the present day, and it was the eve of Manchester Punk Festival.  Chance to squeeze in a bit of late BRAPA before.  I'd developed tonsillitis (which I'd love to blame on shit Gillingham beer) over the last week, my doctor's were useless, so dosed up on Nurofen, Lemsips and Strepsils, I checked into my digs and climbed the 199 Whitby-esque steps at Deansgate Metrolink and with swollen glands and sore neck, trammed it to Bury where THREE ticks had appeared in the past two years.

I had NO mascot and NO GBG.  This was some weird BRAPA!  No room in the travel bag, soz lads.  Instead, I made a list of pubs I 'might' get to this weekend (only managed these 4 as punk took over), and took a green Stabilo simply for satisfactions sake!

How every page of the GBG should really look

Unlike David Furnish, I found it hard to find a route into Elton.  The local bus had been re-routed just my luck, so I had to walk from a giant roundabout on the outskirts of town, past a chippie and into the backstreets.

A friendly group of randy wobbly old ladies sitting in the corner greet me with a 'hello pet' as I push the door at Elton Liberal Club, Elton, Bury (2168 / 3731) and I'm immediately feeling more well than I have done all week.  The kind landlady doesn't ask me to show any GBG or CAMRA credentials or sign a guest book or put a 20p donation in a former Stork butter tub.  This isn't Hertfordshire, the strictest club county in the land.  And soon I'm presented with a quality pint of Brightside Odin.  I sit along a bench, and in time honoured club tradition, observe the mass of snooker players behind glass screens.  I nod at the frail old guy further along the bench, if he dies right here, I suspect it'll be viewed as a good way to go, I could get on board with dying like that.  My morbid thoughts suddenly evaporate when one of the randy wobbly old ladies race to the bar to stand next to a giant young labourer lad who's come in for a few lagers with his mates.  6' 10" he tells her.  "Cor, let me stand right next to ya!" she says leaning on him, her mates loving it, and a more on-form BRAPA would've got a photo but I'm too slow.  "Hey Mary, you've pulled!" says the landlady.  Yes, I'd enjoyed my time here.

It really wasn't a long walk back in to town, not sure why I'd been faffing around thinking about buses.  Must be the drugs.  I actually followed the same fast walking man all the way back from Elton to the corner of the street where our next tick is situated ...... let's go in!

We'd gone from liberal club to social club and am sure the more politically minded of you might be able to insert some cutting edge joke about Jeremy Thorpe or something, but I'm not so I won't. Broad Street Social, Bury (2169 / 3732) didn't exactly convince, but it deserves credit for a variety of reasons, most prominently the staff who were top people.  I order a pint of El Dorado, not just because I'm in a Pale Ale kinda mood, but also because I felt the soap opera got unfairly maligned!  Maybe. But it wasn't exactly Prisoner CBH.   The smiley guv'nor offers me a loyalty card.  I feel honoured.  Is this because I look like the right kind of person?  Probably not.  I squint at it, it only covers Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.  Is there an alternative loyalty card for Monday, Tuesday and Friday?  And what about Saturday?  Someone think of the Saturdays!  (not the girl group, well you can if you want, I am).  A lady who works here sat to my left doing important pub work keeps smiling at me.  Ah, that is nice.  But I have to squint to smile back because the mood lighting in here is really making my eyes fuzzy, though I have just chugged down two more Nurofen.  The beer is actually quite spectacular quality, better than the Liberal Club even.  Top lacings. 

Final Bury tick then, and it is tucked away just behind the Metrolink - I did plan it like this to minimise the walk and therefore minimise my need for a wee before I get off the Metro again.  Always thinking, always drinking.  Could be the new BRAPA slogan. 

Must confess, when I saw place and shopping centrey address, I wasn't expecting much which just shows, I've learned absolutely nothing from my North Kent experiences last Saturday ......

.... and I say that because Thirsty Fish, Bury (2170 / 3733) was a bona fide gem.  My favourite tick in the town since Trackside all those years ago.  The atmosphere was the making of it, and not at all the type of crowd I'd been expecting, more like my 'imagined' Bury I mention in the top paragraph.  Gnarly nosed, wonkey teethed, folk who look you in the eye, they say ow do or ey up, a real proper drinkers sort of place.  Packed too, the ultimate sign of quality.  A surprisingly photogenic place also for one so small.  So much to look at once I'd chosen a Monkeytown Mild off the board (my need for pale ales hadn't lasted long!)  The handmade pies looked delicious, you could donate cash to help a cat get surgery (though I couldn't see a way into the box!), a modest GBG selection, piped Dire Straits (always the sign of a classic, I've often said!).  A ceiling circular pump clip collection allowed me to do my 'double chin reducing' exercises without being noticed!  And I perched on a small table with some old guys who spent most of their time outside smoking anyway, one dressed like a Guantanamo escapee drinking coke but you could never feel intimidated in here.  And Bury being Bury, I'm sure I'll be back in the town for another pub before 2027.  Oh, and more top lacings!

There was a pub I still needed on the Metro back towards Manchester, which was good, because you know, bladder n all that!  

I'd visited Prestwich once before, three years ago to do a very odd pub called the Church Inn. Nice location, characterful and sloping inside, but the folk had a funny attitude, had to take my ale back, and someone at the bar suggested the barmaid was hiding in the cellar!  So I wasn't altogether surprised to see it binned off for a more GBG on-brand sounding entry closer to the Metro station.

Looked a bit like a cross between an NHS walk in centre and an estate agents but let's not judge .....

"There was a crooked man, who walked a crooked mile, who blah blah blah, across a crooked blah"  I couldn't get the rhyme out of my head the entire time I was in the Crooked Man, Prestwich (2171 / 3174).  Again, the swell of after work folk took my by surprise, and getting served took a while.  The folk in are definitely more of the young, professional and well-to-do type, and surely this isn't reason alone, but this pub lacked anything like the pizazz that the Thirsty Fish had.  Shame really, characterful building shape, gorgeous staircase leading up to other areas n loos, but the place lacked a heartbeat.  Having said that, the staff were ace.  Barmaid is moaning she struggles to get to work on time because she lives on an awkward hourly bus route.  I'd love to ask where to see if it has any BRAPA significance but she's got people to serve.  My ale isn't clearing and tastes a bit like dishwater.  'Chuck American Bitter' it is called.  Yeah, straight into the nearest plant pot ya motherfuckers!  (Sorry, that was needlessly aggressive).  Untappd can be useful at times, like once in a blue moon, and I find a photo of said beer looking clear as a bell.  This gives me the confidence I need to return it.  Have staff EVER dealt with returned beer better than in here?  I'm so impressed.  Pump clip removed around within seconds.  Beer held up to the light.  Photo taken.  Texted to some pub owner / manager / cellarperson / local MP.  Profuse apologies.  This is HOW pubs should deal with a customer returning a beer, not make them seem like the problem.  Well done Crooked Man.  Replacement Squawk ale, exemplary.  Though I don't like the peacock feather sticking out of vase on my table, feels like I'm being watched!  Odd pub this, but credit where it's due.


Back to my digs at Deansgate Locks, time for a quick nightcap in the hotel bar?   Everything is pre-emptive after all, eh?  Well, everything is BRAPA bloggable anyway!

Thyme, Premier Inn, Deansgate Locks, Manchester is the name, and it is immediately apparent that that they are going for upmarket Wetherspoons chic as a sort of drunken linear carpet design greets me.  Comfortable, but lacking character.  It is particularly quiet in this half of the bar, but in the back bar behind the toilet, a large group a laughing raucously.  Sounds like they are planning on getting an overnight ferry to Plymouth via Holyhead, Belfast and Portland Bill, but their salty sea dog accents may've all been in my head, as I'd recently popped a couple more Nurofen, as sleeping on my neck is painful.  A startled rabbit of a barman greets me as I scan the fridges for signs of ale, I go for a Brewdog Lost and settle down where Masterchef is showing on the giant Plasma.  There's a bit of low level vegetable related bantz flying about and I'm glad Colin stayed at home.  Is this how people spend there Thursday evenings?  I inexplicably hang around for a pint of Guinness for a final night cap.  As English Guinnesses go, with very low expectations, I'm enjoying it.  Someone on my Twitter asks me what he's missing when it comes to Guinness enjoyment.  I find that hard to answer, so instead I drunkenly devise a very BRAPA-esque plan to watch bands at Manchester Punk Festival beginning with the letters A-Z which doesn't go at all well, my sister's boyfriend doesn't approve of, and as usual, Instagram bores me within minutes of using it. 

Anyway,  I've got a bag of food on my hotel bed waiting to be eating so time to call it a night!

So there ya have it!  On a bit of a BRAPA bank holiday jaunt Fri, Sat and maybe even Sun.  Was supposed to be Bristol but I pulled out on the basis it is one long trip too many this month after MPF and Berkshire, so I'll keep it a bit more local to save money. 

See you on here next week for the month end review and tales of a fun day in Hertfordshire with a funny chap called John.  

Take care, Si 


  1. Well, I hate to say it Si, but you should know, ROB never lets you down on beer (and pub) quality.
    Glad it all turned out so well.

    1. Cheers Tand, edging my way slowly closer to your patch. Might even need two trips, a Rochdale-ish one and an Oldham-ish one but I'll try n give you plenty warning!