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News from pubs across the branch area.

We reported recently on the departure of landlord Steve Crook from Manchester's City Arms. As we went to press last month, Steve's replacement was still unpacking boxes, but a couple of weeks later, Opening Times called in to meet him.

24 year old Dave Pattison originally hails from Herefordshire where he began his pub career at The Balance Inn in Luston, 25 miles west of Worcester. Dave swapped rural life for city living in 2008 when he arrived in Manchester and began working as a barman at The Briton's Protection. From The Briton's Protection, he moved to the Town Hall Tavern initially learning the trade from experienced manager Nick Nugent and then laterly under the legendary "Greek" George Archonodo. Earlier this year he returned to the Briton's Protection when it came under the same ownership as The City Arms before being appointed manager of the Kennedy Street pub in August.

Providing continuity at the Good Beer Guide listed pub is Jeni McHugh who has been at the pub just short of 9 years - Jeni should be familiar to both regular and occassional visitors over the last 9 months having stepped up to run the pub when Steve Crook was injured earlier this year including being on hand to accept the branch's LocAle Pub Of The Year award for 2013 which was followed two months later by the Trafford & Hulme Pub Of The Year 2014 accolade.

When asked about his plans for the pub, Dave replied simply "If it ain't brokeā€¦.". On the physical side, a bit of tidy up and a lick of paint will be the extent of changes. Behind the bar, ale drinkers will see little change - why would you change a formula that has seen 12 consecutive Good Beer Guide entries. Moorhouses beers remain the pub's top sellers, where they are joined by LocAle's from the likes of Hornbeam, Merlin and RedWillow. Real cider remains on the back bar while a few more whiskeys have been added to the range and there is now a selection of 19 different gins on offer.

We wish David, Jeni and the team all the best for the future and trust this great pub is in safe hands.

Chorlton's Famous Trevor Arms is under new management and is set for a serious makeover following investment from owners Spirit Pubs.

The new manager is Matt Jones who moved from another Spirit Pub, The Vic in Lytham St Annes in the first week in September. He wasted no time making changes at the pub, immediately increasing the range to a permanent three cask ales. A leaky handpump prevented this from being four ales, but this should be fixed before too long.

When T&H CAMRA called last week, the regular Jennings Cumberland was on the bar while Phoenix Arizona had gone off minutes earlier. The third pump was taken by Harviestoun's excellent Bitter & Twisted which was in good form. Matt told us that while it was early days for him at The Trevor, he generally likes to rotate ales every few weeks to keep things fresh.

Late October or early November will see the pub close for a major refurbishment which will see it move into Spirit's new Quality Pubs division which aims to give a less "chain" feel than their other brands such as John Barras and Chef & Brewer. Details of the refurbishment were still being finalised, but plans have been submitted to move the pub's kitchens into the space currently occupied by the gent's with new male & female toilets installed upstairs (along with a new disabled toilet on the ground floor).

The biggest change to the pub will be the removal of the dividing wall between the lounge and bar - a move which will certainly alienate a percentage of their clientele who like the traditional distinct areas. There will be more of an emphasis on food, but concerns in the local community that the pub will go "gastro" appear unfounded. Of course, Opening Times will report back after the refurbishment.

Finally, the Trevor has become the fourth Chorlton pub (joining Lloyds, Mono & The Font) to offer a discount on real ale to CAMRA members. Your CAMRA membership card will entitle you to 10% off your pint.

Jack In The BoxBlackjack Brewery have launched their very own brewery tap bar in Altrincham. Jack In The Box is situated in the revamped Market House on the corner of Swan Street & Market Street, a short walk from Altrincham's transport interchange. This is the first permanent outlet for the rapidly expanding business which as well as the eponymous brewery also includes the Glassworks drinks distribution business which supplies many pubs and bars across the region with beers from some of the most exciting new breweries around.

Altrincham's historic market has undergone a transformation since control was passed from the council to Market Operations Ltd, a company headed up by Nick Johnson, former marketing manager of the Urban Splash property development company and original operator of Manchester's Atlas Bar & Deli, just over year ago. The outdoor market continues to trade in traditional form on Tuesdays and Saturdays but now also operates as a specialist market on Sundays, with each Sunday given over to a different type of speciality - Farmers; Vintage Food & Fashion; Handmade & Producers; Home House & Garden.

Jack In The Box - CellarThe biggest transformation however has been the reinvention of the indoor Market House into a food court housing a number of food & drink specialists including Blackjack whose bar occupies one corner of the hall alongside a new outlet for West Didsbury's Reserve Wines. There are four handpumps on the bar, alongside eight fonts dispensing 'craft' keg beers. At time of writing the four pumps were offering Blackjack's own Play Your Cards Rye't alongside beers from Marble, Siren and Burning Sky breweries. The casks (and kegs) are housed in a glass fronted chilled cellar located behind the bar.  There is also an extensive selection of bottled beers from names such as Weird Beard, Celt, Raw, Anarchy and more.

The market house began operation with two "soft" test weekends in early September. Jack In the Box manager Jon Hartley told us that both weekends had been very successful, with customers flocking to the bar. The test weekends are now behind them and the bar will be open daily (except Mondays) from Tuesday 16th September from 12 noon until 10pm (6pm on Sundays).

Jack In The Box - Handpumps


Altrincham Market House

Readers may have seen reports in the Manchester Evening News and other press which stated that the historic Sir Ralph Abercromby pub on Bootle Street, Manchester was vacant and being demolished as part of proposed development in the area.

Trafford & Hulme CAMRA is pleased to report that this is not the case and the pub remains open offering its usual excellent range of real ales and quality home cooked food. The pubs' permanent real ales are Copper Dragon Golden Pippin, Moorhouses Blond Witch, Sharps' Doom Bar and Timothy Taylors Landlord.

August was a good month for the furniture salesmen of Chorlton with no fewer than three bars in the area undergoing makeovers. The first was Oddest on Wilbraham Road which has had new fixed seating installed outside, the floor stripped, a lick of fresh paint and some reworking of the internal oddities. Old favourites like the Turkish lamp collection and cassette tape wall remain, but there are new touches including new lighting including bare lampshade frames above the bar. New furniture inside has given a bit more space.

Next to see the decorators was the Marble Beer House which has been repainted throughout, had the bar reworked to include installation of a second display fridge allowing them to increase their range of bottled beers, much needed refurbishment of the bathrooms and new furniture installed. Perhaps the biggest change is the large table which used to dominate the front section of the pub has gone to be replaced by a number of smaller tables & chairs which give a lot more flexibility for smaller groups.

The final entry in the triumvirate was Electrik which has replaced all of it's internal furniture. A series of fixed booths with seating for four have been installed down the left hand side and rear of the bar with the "school canteen" tables and chairs which made up the rest of the seating having been replaced with rectangular high tables and stools. Unfortunately, the refurbishment did not extend to the toilets which continue to let this otherwise well kept bar down.

Pub Of The Year 2014The branch was extremely sorry to hear that landlord Steve Crook has left The City Arms in Kennedy Street.

Earlier in the year, Steve suffered a serious back injury which has seen him unable to work in the cellar since. Unfortunately, his recovery from this injury has taken a lot longer than doctors originally predicted which has ultimately led to his departure from the pub where he has been for eight years, the latter four as manager.

Perhaps it is fitting that one of the final accolades of his tenure was the pub being named Trafford & Hulme Branch Pub of The Year for 2014. In an unfortunate turn of events, shortly after Steve left the pub, Max Sheen who has been covering some of the cellar duties during Steve's incapacitation also departed.   Thankfully continuity is assured as Jenny McHugh remains at the pub.  Jenny has been the linchpin holding the pub together since January.  The new manager of the City Arms is David Pattinson who has previous experience at the Britons Protection and Town Hall Tavern. David has vowed to continue business as usual.

We wish Steve all the best for the future and Dave good luck with his new charge.