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Manchester brewery Joseph Holt were once legendary for their low beer prices and lively, no-frills boozers. However, like most other pub-owners, they have felt the chill winds of change and have increasingly been converting their pubs to a food-led model that leaves little vestige of their former character, or their former value for money.
Now, they have gone one step further and entered into a joint venture with the people who created the Cloverleaf Pub Company – eventually taken over by Greene King – to redevelop some of their existing sites, and some new ones, into “family dining pubs”. This is to be called Touchwood Restaurants. One of the pubs involved is the Cheadle Hulme, next to the station in the suburban village of the same name, which going back a few decades was a notoriously rough pub called the Junction reputed to be favoured by the local BNP. How times change.
Clearly, as I have reported before, this seems to be the way the pub trade is going outside major town and city centres, so Holt’s can’t really be blamed for doing something that makes commercial sense. They have put the unspoilt Royal Oak in Eccles up for sale, and only the other day I was in one of their more traditional pubs, which was once pretty busy throughout most of its opening hours. No major football match on, and the place was virtually deserted.