Manchester institution Rain Bar reopens with new look following £700,000 revamp

First opened in 1999, The Rain Bar hasn't had a revamp in over a decade.

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 10th March 2023

Once a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory, for the past 23 years 80 Great Bridgewater Street has been home to JW Lees boozer Rain Bar.

For most of that time, the pub has remained untouched. In fact, it hasn’t seen much of an upgrade since its initial refurbishment in 1999 when the Manchester brewery first converted the factory into a boozer.

This week, bosses revealed a brand new look following a £700,000 redevelopment of the longstanding canalside pub.

Owners have brightened up its dark wood with flecks of colour, installed new ambient lighting, and transformed the boozer’s ever-popular beer garden into a foliage-filled hideaway using plenty of heaters, potted plants, and covered seating shrouded in ivy.

Image: The Manc Eats
Image: The Manc Eats

The new refurbishment brings the pub firmly up to date with a smart metropolitan style, adding a stunning new centerpiece bar, comfortable dining and drinking areas and roaring, open fireplaces.


The award-winning canal-side beer garden is a magnet for customers in the summer, and the new bi-fold doors now make it easier to access the terraces when the sun comes out.

The redevelopment gives a nod to its industrial background as well as an LS Lowry-inspired pictorial pub sign that captures a resilient Manchester spirit with an eye-catching series of light projections on the gable ends which will improve the site’s visibility at night.


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The central bar is at the heart of the building with a lineup of JW Lees’ cask ales and lagers, including Manchester Pale Ale, and Manchester Craft lager, as well as a showcase of JW Lees’ innovative small-batch Boilerhouse beers which will rotate throughout the year. 

Image: The Manc Eats
The canal-side beer garden is a huge draw for Rain Bar during summer. / Image: The Manc Eats

The food menu features many pub classics including the Brewery Tower Burger, home-made Steak and JW Lees Ale Pie and a proper Sunday Roast with bottomless Yorkshire puddings and as much gravy as you want.


Speaking on the pub’s refurbishment, William Lees-Jones, Managing Director, JW Lees, said: “We first opened Rain Bar in 1999 when it was welcomed into Manchester’s growing hospitality trade, winning The Publican Award in 2000 for the best new pub/bar in the UK and Manchester’s City Life award for the best beer garden in central Manchester.  23 years and £700k later we are re-opening ready to welcome guests old and new.”

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Alex King, General Manager, Rain Bar, said: “I joined JW Lees five years ago and we’ve been planning the refurbishment and re-opening since then and now that Covid is behind us we can’t wait for the summer.  It’s a stunning site and I can’t wait to welcome everyone back.”

Feature image – The Manc Eats