On a relatively mild Saturday in January 2013, the Trafford and Hulme branch had a long overdue trip to the far reaches of Flixton and back to Urmston, including a chance to visit some new clubs (to some) now sending out the real ale message. A Saturday afternoon social does not suit all but was hoped a more relaxed timescale offers a better appreciation of the rarely visited stretches of the branch and we were not disappointed with what we found.
The Church on the Flixton Road is the last pub before you head out to Carrington. Once a regular in the Good Beer Guide there have been changes of management in the recent past and some modernisation to the bar area, the standard however was good with a three beers on hand pump, this particular day we found Everards Tiger, Charles Wells Bombardier and a very reasonably priced seasonal guest Marston’s EPA on fine form. Food is an important part of the Church’s business, served most days with well over half the area of the bar dedicated but not exclusive to diners.
Onward now to the first of our club visits, only a ten minute walk from the Church back towards Urmston standing alone in its own spacious grounds is the Flixton Ex-Serviceman’s Club, a large social club of the old school with a good sized concert room downstairs and the bar and games rooms upstairs which has the main bar where we found the real ale and our welcoming hosts, Harry and Pauline and some members of the committee. Up now to the first floor, an unusual feature here a chair type stair lift for less able members, you then come upon a good sized lounge with snooker tables to the right and four hand pumps on the bar. The ales on offer today were Tetley Bitter and Dark Mild, the regular Robinsons Unicorn and a seasonal Tunnel Vision from the Box Steam Brewery, which quickly ran out and was immediately replaced by Hook Norton’s, Old Hooky.
What with the low annual subs fee, the massive beer garden and the floodlit bowling green all in all a great club to belong to.
The majority of our hostelries today were on the route of the 255 bus and two of us timed our exit to perfection and caught the next one to the Flixton Conservative Club but in truth it was only another ten minute walk. This club responded to our mail-out with a welcoming invite to sample their wares, not many of us had been here before with one notable exception - one of our number actually lived here, his dad was the steward!
We were greeted with a very cosy club, small intimate spaces and an ideal one for possible future meetings, the beer range consisted of four hand pumps, two from Theakstons (Lightfoot and Best) and two guests, Lancaster Red and Caledonian 80 Shilling. There is a large function room on the first floor and four full size snooker tables to the rear of the ground floor behind the bar.
Another short walk or hop on the bus took us to the outskirts of Urmston town centre and the local wetherspoons, the Tim Bobbin named after a poet born locally whose real name was John Collier. This is an impressive example of the chain, plenty of well kept ales from all over the country, the speciality of the brand, it consists of a large open space and overhead the ventilation system is exposed which gives it a somewhat futuristic utilitarian look, before the smoking ban it would have come into its own. I personally had the Thwaites Nutty Black and Blakemere Two Tone Special, a theme there.
Next a slight deviation from the publicised route - across the road and only a few yards on is Chadwicks which has a deceptively narrow front but carries on some distance inside, the bar on the right is about twenty yards long so on a busy night would have plenty room for serving what would no doubt be a lively crowd, importantly for us it had a couple of real ales I had the Westgate (aka Greene King) Fireside, not too exciting but bearing the flag none the less.
Our final halt was The Steamhouse, set in an old railway property on the still operating Manchester to Liverpool railway line, definitely flying the real ale flag and how, plenty of hand pumps in this long narrow building divided into multiple rooms.
One of the keg cider taps has an unusual feature to me anyway, with the flick of a switch the said liquid can be dispensed with or without ice.
Flixton and Urmston cover a large area and this social was only able to cover a fraction of the pubs. By the time you read this, the branch will have completed another trip to the northern part of the area.
For information on other Trafford & Hulme branch socials see www.thcamra.org.uk/diary