The Manc - The story behind Manchester's original drunken pub brawler 'Spanking Roger'"

The story behind Manchester’s original drunken pub brawler ‘Spanking Roger’


“Aytoun” will ring a bell for many Mancunians.

A city centre street, a former student campus, and a weird spelling arrangement guaranteeing at least three different types of pronunciation, “Aytoun” is a prevalent and peculiar name with an even bigger, weirder history.

Indeed, the real Mr Aytoun himself barely ever went by his surname. He was actually better known as “Spanking Roger”.


A Scottish war hero who fought in the Great Siege of Gibraltar in the 1700s, Roger Aytoun moved to the North-West after marrying a widow thirty years his senior.

At 6ft 4”, Aytoun cut a imposing figure, and when wealthy Manchester widow, Barbara Minshull, laid eyes on him at Kersal Races, she was besotted.

The pair eloped amid uproar from the local community - which was only exacerbated by Aytoun’s embarrassing behaviour.

He might have looked suave in his soldier’s uniform (and he knew it, too), but Aytoun was a troubled, prickly character to say the least.

The Major General actually got so drunk on his wedding day that guests had to prop him up during the ceremony, and after tying the knot he spent his subsequent years squandering the inherited fortune on gambling.

But despite his love for games of chance and alcohol, there was nothing Aytoun adored more than fighting.

He’d get into a scrap at almost every opportunity - even using it as a method of recruitment for his regiment. If Aytoun successfully beat his opponent, they’d have to join him at war. Simple.

It was this unrelenting appetite for a big old brawl that earned Aytoun the nickname “Spanking Roger”.

Capital & Centric

Both Aytoun and his wife Minshull are remembered in Manchester with road signs, and the land they once owned is still there now. Today, it’s the site of KAMPUS - a revolutionary joint venture from Capital & Centric and HBD Developers.

Reluctant to erase famously entertaining figures from Manchester history, KAMPUS have chosen to retain key architectural elements from past centuries in their surroundings - ensuring residents and visitors remain in tune with the city’s remarkable past.

KAMPUS don’t want to lose these great stories - but they do want to create new ones.

Their development is opening amid great excitement this year, marking a new chapter for city centre living with some rare green space, independent retail stores, and more than a hint of history intact within its walls.

Read more about the community they are creating by visiting their website.

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