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My grand plan for May was to run the Stagger for that month from the very early issues of Opening Times each week. However that for May 1976 (which you can read here) didn't included a Stagger and nor did that for May 1977. The 'new' Opening Times was launched in June 1984 and, Sod's Law being what it is, the May 1985 issue is one that I'm missing. So here we are with a Stagger from the June 1985 edition.

Back then the feature wasn't called 'Stagger' but rather 'Around in the Town'. This one covers Rusholme, home then as now to the famous 'curry mile'. It was written by Andy Cooper who is still around and now lives in Cheadle Hulme.

Here we go...

(What follows is not intended to be a statement of the quality of the pubs or beer on all occasions, but is our opinion of both on the night of the crawl.)

A fine Spring evening in late April saw five hardy stalwarts of CAMRA gather in the Claremont, on Claremont Road, a large run-down Holts pub, trying to relive its days of former glory. The beer was however well up to the standard we've come to expect from Drabs, with the Mild scoring 4 (60p) and bitter coming in at a respectable average of 2.5.

After the fading splendour of the Claremont, it was quite a contrast to move on to the Beehive, a large, modern and eminently forgettable Hyde's pub, where in contrast to the previous pub, the beer was not enjoyed by anyone, with the Mild (61p) scoring a paltry 1.5, and the Bitter (66p) not quite managing to scale even those heights.

The next stop was certainly the most interesting building of the night; the Robin Hood, a Robinsons house. This was a fascinating hostelry which gave no apparent indication of its former use but it could accurately be described by the phrase 'once visited, never forgotten'. Large signs on the walls announced 'no drugs allowed', but drugs would probably have helped to disguise the awful nature of the beer. Only Best Bitter was available, and the one of our party who was foolish enough to ask for mild was presented with lager...and drank it! The bitter, amongst those who drank it, could not quite muster 1.

We the progressed to the Osborne House, a Hydes pub, where the numbers on the crawl doubled. This former GBG pub produced respectable scores for the Mild (61p) of 3 and Bitter (66p) of 2.5.

Next move was 200 yards up the road to the Gardeners Arms, a recent conversion by Greenalls to draught beer, although only the bitter was available in traditional form at 68p, scoring 2.5.

The next stop was yet another Hydes pub, the Albert, the first of the night selling the Best Mild. This pleasant, moderately large pub had a TV in one room with the sound turned down, and no juke box, and was appreciated by most of the people present. The Best Mild scored an average of 2.75 (66p) and the Bitter (68p) scored a respectable 2.6.

We then headed to the Clarence, which sells Draught Bass, although only apparently in student term time. This is a busy, loud pub, and the Bass (70p) scored 2 overall, with the comments being made that the beer was too cold.

The next call was the Welcome, a very pleasant Greenalls pub, of typical Manchester design, with a number of small rooms, each with a varied clientele spanning the whole age range. The whole of Greenalls traditional beers are available, although no-one was tempted by the mild. The Bitter (69p) scored 2.5, and the Original (72p) came in at 2.4.

Finally a route march was undertaken by the survivors of this epic to the Friendship, a recently renovated Hydes pub (see last month's Opening Times). Opinions were decidedly mixed about the renovations, with some members regarding the mirrors and pink walls as a strain on the eyes. The pub was packed with students, however, and they seemed to appreciate it, though presumably this is only carping on the part of a few CAMRA members. The beer was very pleasant as well, with the Best Mild (61p) scoring 2.75 overall and the Bitter scoring 2.8.

And so another pub crawl drew to an end, after visiting pubs that many of us had not seen before and were not likely to visit again for some time. We were also looking out for price lists, and Hydes seem to be the most consistent on this front.

(Beers scores as follows: 0 = undrinkable, 1 - poor, 2 - average, 3 - good, 4 - excellent.)

What happened next

The first thing I'll mention if the use of beer scores. Many years before CAMRA adopted its National Beer Scoring System, the South Manchester branch (as it then was) had used a beer scoring system to help it select Good Beer Guide entries. After a while Opening Times stopped publishing these - this was after a local newspaper took the scores from a crawl, worked out the averages and then produced a 'league table' of pubs. Cue uproar.

While all about it may have fallen by the wayside, Holt's Claremont is still with us. It's had more than one spruce up over the years and remains a well-used community local. In the past I've even attended CAMRA Meeting there - including one where we had a speaker from Holt's brewery and beer writer Michael Jackson in the audience.

After that it's all downhill really. The Beehive closed its doors in August 2011 and is now the Beehive Nursery. Before we move on the the Robin Hood, let's pause and mention two other Claremont Road pubs. These were presumably omited from the crawl as no cask beer was sold.

One is the Sherwood, at the time a Whitbread house. This did latterly serve cask beer and I recall attending a CAMRA social there when something akin to a riot broke out at the other end of the pub. Completely unthreatened, we were able to continue chatting and drinking our beers while all hell was breaking out a few feet away. It closed in late 2007 and was converted to other use.

The other pub was the Lord Lyon, one of the roughest pubs in the area. It was a Bass pub and notoriously 'lively'. My favourite memory is a report in the Manchester Evening News about someone being shot there and the landlord was quoted as saying that he kept a baseball bat behind the bar for when his customers got out of hand but he definitely drew the line at a shooting....

The pub did go on to sell cask beer from time to time, then closed and reopened with a new name (the Nelson) but that didn't save it. After a period of other use the Lord Lyon was knocked down in 2011.

The Robin Hood next. What a pub. It had two entrances - one rarely used led to a couple of equally under-used rooms. The other led to a huge cavernous room with tables and chairs set out in rows, working-men's club style. Lasting memories are West Indian bus drivers noisily playing dominoes, a great reggae jukebox, truly bad beer and a friend of mine being given the eye by a female customer who resembled a bag lady. It closed in late 1991 and was sold for other use. You can see a picture of it here .

The Osborne House (pictured left, after closure) on Victory Street, a very good pub in its day, closed in late 2008 and has been converted into a mosque. I must say this was one closure that rather surprised me. The closure of the nearby Gardeners Arms in late 2005 wasn't really a surprise at all. It's been converted into flats.

The Albert on Walmer Street is still open as a Hydes House but cask beer was withdrawn early 2017. The pub does seem to have lost something of the buzz it had around 10 years ago unfortunately.

The Clarence closed in late 206 and has been converted into an Indian restaurant. The Clarence was once owned by Hardy's Crown Brewery in Hulme. As was the next pub to be omitted - the Huntsman, seen here in 1959. The last cask beer that place ever sold was probably Hardy's Happy Man Bitter as it was keg-only for many years. Gruesome and rough (well it was on my only visit), the pub closed in July 2011 and still looks disused.

Also omitted was another ex-Hardy's house. Than called the Birch Villa and latterly Hardy's Well, this sold nothing but keg beers in its Bass days. Ln its later years it was a terrific pub and a proper community local with a real mix of customers (and a parrot to boot). Some decent beer was sold, too, including Taylor's Landlord. Despite the best efforts of the locals to save it, the pub closed in July 2016 and had been converetd into flats. The large mural with a poem by Lemn Sissay remains on the gable end.

Moving on to the Welcome, this was close to the studios where very early editions of Top of the Pops were filmed and had many photos from those days on the walls. I always liked this place and was sorry it closed in 2009 for conversion into a doctor's surgery.

Finally, the Friendship has had subsequent makeovers but still thrives as a Hydes house and is popular with a whole cross section of local residents. The beer is usually pretty good too, and it's been in and out of the Good Beer Guide in recent years