When The Manchester Observerfinally ceased publication in 1821, the ruling elite must have breathed a sigh of relief.
The local northern newspaper had been a thorn in the side of the authorities sinceits formation three years prior – its pages littered with incendiary pieces aimed at rousing the public into forcing political change.
But governing figures began to change their minds about the Observer in 1819. Initially, they’d considered the paper a nuisance. By summer, they’d revised that view: regarding it actively dangerous.
In August, Observer editor James Wroe invited the loquacious Henry Hunt to Manchester to speak at a mass rally at St Peter’s Fields – where a crowd had gathered to ask for political representation at a time when only wealthy landowners could vote.
The animated but peaceful protest was invaded by troops who took a shockingly violent approach to the occasion – killing 18 people and injuring hundreds more.
The Observer exposed the murderous behaviour of the cavalry in grisly detail anddubbed the event ThePeterloo Massacre – a name which has stuck to this day.
In the aftermath, anyone associated with the Observer was targeted, prosecuted or even imprisoned by officials, and the paper was eventually closed.
But the lingering sense of public anger (and fear) meant there was still demand for press that dared to rail against the establishment; and more progressive newspapers were born throughout the course of the century – beginning with The Manchester Guardian (which remains in print 200 years later, now based in London).
TheObserver is often hailed as Manchester’s first radical newspaper – the publication that paved the way for more robust local press.
But around thirty years prior to Peterloo there was The Manchester Herald: A publication considered so inflammatory that it was shut down and smashed up within a year of its first issue – with its publishers fleeing into voluntary exile.
By the end of the 18th century, there was growing demand for parliamentary reform in England, with calls emerging for changes at national and local level.
Two of the most passionate reformers in Manchester were barrister Thomas Cooper and local cotton merchant Thomas Walker.
The pair launched the Manchester Constitutional Society in 1790 and asked the city’s local newspapers – The Manchester Mercury and The Manchester Chronicle – to print the group’s notices about meetings and petitions.
Over time, however, both papers became increasingly reluctant to publish material discussing the controversial topic of parliamentary reform, so Cooper and Walker decided to set up their own newspaper instead.
They called it The Manchester Herald – and convinced local stationer Matthew Falkner (and his business partner William Birch) to print it.
The publication was the self-proclaimed ‘paper of the people’ and released its first edition on 31 March 1792.
Around 50 issues of the Herald were created overall – the last of which was published on 23 March 1793.
Despite its fleeting existence, the Herald was described as operating with “a degree of spirit and reputation that will not soon be forgotten in [the] neighbourhood”; packed with radical writing including abolitionist articles and “positive” pieces about the French Revolution.
The paper’s progressive stance made it some powerful enemies in the process.
In December 1792, an angry pack of Loyalists – described by writer John Bugg as a “drunken church-and-king mob” – raided the Herald’s offices on Market Place, before attempting to attack the paper’s founder Walker at his home.
The editor scared them away by firing his gun above their heads.
The Herald was repeatedly targeted in the subsequent months, and by spring the government initiated legal action to ensure the newspaper was shut down.
The publication’s critics revelled inits demise and quickly danced on its grave – smashing up the Herald premises and hurling printing equipment into the street.
The Herald’s printer’s – Falkner and Birch – fled to America, “preferring a voluntary exile to imprisonment”.
Falkner returned home several years later but never retrieved his stationery business, printing house or property, and passed away in Burnley in 1824.
One of Falkner’s friends bemoaned the unfairness of the situation, claiming Falkner had been “seduced into political opposition” and was “deserted” by his former allies in the adversity surrounding the Herald‘s closure.
Falkner’s obituary read: “One of the kindest-hearted of mankind was driven from his country, and his fortunes, till then prosperous, entirely ruined.”
Herald co-founder Walker was placed on trial for treason in 1794 – accused of attempting to mobilise his own army (the incident in which he fired a gun at invaders was raised in court).
But the prosecution leaned heavily on a testimony from an informer who proved to be drunk and unreliable, and eventually Walker was acquitted.
He dabbled on and off in local politics in his later years, and died in 1817.
Fellow Herald founder Cooper, meanwhile, moved to the States in 1794, developing a reputation as an academic leader who was, according to President Thomas Jefferson, “one of the ablest men in America”.
He passed away in Columbia in 1839.
Yara, the family-run Syrian and Lebanese restaurant serving Manchester for fifteen years
Take a trip down to the Stockport village of Cheadle and you’ll find a surprising glut of great Middle Eastern eateries nestled on the Cheshire border.
Amongst them sits Yara, a family-run Syrian and Lebanese restaurant that’s been serving Manchester for fifteen years.
First opened in Altrincham in 2008, today it has five sites across Greater Manchester – all serving up traditional Middle Eastern favourites like succulent kebabs, crispy donut-shaped falafels, and fluffy pittas with flavourful homemade dips.
With further restaurants in Whitefield, Chorlton, Cheadle and Alderley Edge, it’s clear that people just can’t get enough – so we made the trip down to see what all the fuss is about.
Suffice it to say, after tasting their sharp and citrussy babaganoush, stuffed vine leaves, and tabbouleh – a super fresh herb and bulgur salad dominated by parsley – we fell head over heels just like the rest.
Yara is a haven for those on the hunt for some finger-licking Middle Eastern goodness, with vegetarian starters like charcoal-grilled halloumi and creamy pots of homemade hummus pooled with rich olive oil sitting alongside crunchy pastry treats.
These include chicken or cheese and spinach bourak (often referred to as Assyrian or Middle Eastern egg rolls), lahembajeen – filo pastry topped with minced lamb, pomegranate sauce, pine kernels and onions – and mossahab, a chicken-stuffed puff pastry with added onion and herbs.
As for the main attraction: the meaty charcoal grill. This, more than anything else, is what we really came down for. At Yara, tender cuts of lamb and chicken come rich with Mediterranean spices and herbs, whilst lamb kebabs come in the shish, shawarma and kafta varieties.
Oh, and to save on your next Deliveroo order from Yara make sure to use our code 5OFFATYARA when you check out.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Where to find a great pint of Guinness in Manchester city centre
When it comes to finding good pints of Guinness, it’s fair to say that not all Manchester boozers are created equal.
Some pints are thin and watery, some have a very bitter taste, and some are missing that all-important signature creamy head. All things you want to avoid. In fact, if you go into a pub and see any of this our advice is to run.
Any bartender worth their salt will tell you that there’s a certifiable art to pouring out a proper pint of the black stuff, starting with a two-part pour – a practice considered sacrosanct for literally hundreds of years.
Your pint should be properly poured with 3/4 of it filled with old stout, rested, then topped up with new, and when the glass is emptied a white, creamy residue should remain.
These, as we know them, are the basics but serious Guinness drinkers can likely reel off a whole list of other criteria that we haven’t even touched on. For now, though, that’ll do.
Keep reading to find the best places to drink Guinness in Manchester.
Mulligans of Deansgate
Widely renowned for having the best pint of Guinness in Manchester hands down, if it’s authenticity you’re looking for then Mulligan’s is a must.
An authentic Irish bar with live music and plenty of cosy snugs to tuck yourself away in, it’s typically packed to the rafters and bartenders pride themselves on never, ever leaving a bubble in your pint.
The Bay Horse Tavern
This Northern Quarter boozer on Thomas Street is another favourite for those looking for a great pint of Guinness.
This St Patrick’s Day, lovers of the black stuff can get a pint for just £4 between 4-7pm. as well as £5 double Jameson and gnger and £2.50 Jameson all day long.
The Peveril of the Peak
A historic city centre boozer, The Peveril of the Peak is not just one of Manchester’s most beautiful but also one of its most unique public houses.
Run by one of Britain’s oldest and longest-serving landlords, come for its bold green tile-clad exterior and stained glass windows and stay for a creamy pint of Guinness.
Another great Northern Quarter boozer, this time on Oldham Street, The Castle Hotel is another spot you can completely rely on for quality Guinness. Its pours have even been accredited.
The real ale pub boasts several cosy snugs, a small beer garden out back and a gig room where you can watch local bands whilst sipping on proper pints.
The Crown & Kettle
This gorgeous Grade II-listed freehouse sits the border of Ancoats and Northern Quarter and dates all the way back to 1774.
Reopened in 2005 in cooperation with English Heritage, it has an incredibly fine and unusual ceiling and one of the best pints of Guinness in the neighbourhood.
Whilst we’re talking about Ancoats, Edinburgh Castle also deserves an honourable mention for its Guinness pour.
This lovingly refurbished Victorian boozer not only boasts Manchester’s most elite chip butty and a stunning upstairs restaurant, but is also widely considered one of the best places for a pint of Guinness in town.
O’Shea’s Irish Bar
Obviously, we have to talk about O’Shea’s. This Irish bar is widely considered a go-to fo a good pint of Guinness, with some even reporting they prefer their pints to Mulligans.
During Covid, the bar made a splash in Manchester by opening a giant outdoor Guinness garden. This year on St Patrick’s Day, it is opening from 10am for breakfast pints.
Another historic boozer reborn after two years of sitting boarded up on the busy Manchester stretch from which it takes its name.
The Deansgate is now under the ownership of Greene King and serves a cracking pint of Guinness from its ground-floor and first-floor bars alongside a menu of hearty pub grub.