Linda Carver sits opposite me in a small café on Oldham Road. She speaks softly, sometimes pausing, and I can’t help leaning in as she tells me her story. It’s the tale of Ancoats Dispensary, the Grade II listed former hospital on Old Mill Street, and how it’s still standing, despite all the odds.
Linda grew up in Ancoats but moved away as an adult. Work drew her back to Manchester so she applied to the council and was rehoused in Victoria Square, mere streets away from where her father had worked as an apprentice plumber. Linda had always been heavily involved in the community, so joined the Ancoats Residents’ Forum as a way to reconnect with the local area.
One night, in June 2011, there was a meeting hosted by the developer Urban Splash. They presented the Forum with their plans to develop Ancoats.
At the time, Ancoats was certainly not the gentrified, colourful, small-dog owning place that it is today; it was a highly residential area, with lots of red brick and little else. The mock-ups were a predictor of how the area could change: Colourful barges, bistros and bakeries along the canal, and people sitting outside in the sun.
Linda found herself looking for Ancoats Dispensary within the mock-ups but couldn’t see it anywhere. She had seen the building, surrounded by scaffolding, but thought that the developers must have had a plan for it.
Linda asked the question out loud: Where was the Dispensary in the developer’s plans?
“There was a hush in the room,” Linda told me in a soft voice. “Silence. And then somebody muttered under their breath: ‘I think it’s being demolished’.
“And at that moment, you could say, it changed the direction of my life. Because in my heart, I thought, ‘I don’t bloody think so!’”
Linda’s voice becomes so quiet I struggled to hear her, but an underlying note of anger, ten years on, carried the words across the table to me, and I felt her shock as if it were my own.
The Ancoats Dispensary on Old Mill Road was opened in 1874, the third iteration of the building first established in 1828. It was the only voluntary hospital in Manchester, providing lifesaving care to anyone who needed it.
Over the following century and a half, thousands of Manchester’s residents used the hospital, treated for everything from accidents in the cotton mills to broken bones and cancer. In 1974, the building was designated a Grade II listed building, due to its architectural and historical importance. The Dispensary was closed in 1987, when all services were transferred to North Manchester General Hospital.
When Linda heard that Ancoats Dispensary was going to be demolished, she was furious. There had been no public consultation, and very few residents seemed to know about the decision. She called her local councillor, who invited her to a planning meeting the following week.
“I spoke about this Grade II Listed building, the level of medical advancements that had happened there,” Linda said.
“That there’s a great, almost national importance this building created. We should be lording it as a centrepiece for Manchester, for visitors to come and see!”
The building certainly carries a lot of history within its crumbling walls. It was the home to the country’s first fracture clinic, set up by Harry Platt (later knighted for his services to medicine), and Manchester’s first radiology department. Peter McEvedy, one of the most talented surgeons of his day, worked at the Dispensary for almost thirty years. After his death, the hospital decided to commemorate him by commissioning a painting by a then-unknown LS Lowry; ‘Ancoats Hospital Outpatients’ Hall’ is now one of his most famous works of art.
It was this history and more that Linda saw was being threatened by demolishment.
“It would have meant that history had been obliterated,” she said soberly.
“And the council would have done it, because they’ve no imagination, they have no sense of history.”
When a building gets put forward for demolition, there is a multi-stage process to go through before the actual decision to demolish happens. So, Linda kept going to the planning meetings to talk about the history of the building and how important it was to her.
The decision to demolish kept getting deferred, again and again. But by this point, Linda realised that she needed to get other people involved. She roped in her sister, who had been a staff nurse at Ancoats Dispensary, and they decided to hold a public meeting. A notice was placed in the local paper, and the MP at the time, Tony Lloyd, was invited.
Miraculously, 43 people turned up, including the MP.
“Now that might not sound like much, but it’s enormous for Ancoats,” Linda said. “And they all had their own experiences of Ancoats Hospital and were concerned about the decision to demolish it.”
Many Mancunians have had interactions with the Dispensary over the years; themselves, family, friends have been treated there, or worked in the building. The Facebook group ‘We Grew Up in Manchester’ spills over with memories. There’s someone who did nurse training in the 80s (“everyone knew one another – such a friendly place to work”) and another who remembers that “the staff used to go round the wards at Christmas carols to the patients.” It was a busy working hospital, and one that many people depended on.
The public meeting revealed such a strength of feeling that Linda went back to the planning committee to tell them that they were going to start a group. They were going to fight to save the Dispensary.
But only days after the public meeting, Tony Lloyd rang Linda to say that time had run out. The Dispensary was due to be demolished in just a few weeks.
Linda was practically speechless.
Nevertheless, she jumped straight into action and called an emergency meeting for everyone who had shown up at the public meeting days before.
“All we were concerned about was that it wasn’t going to be demolished,” Linda said. “A piece of working history just wiped out: we weren’t having it.”
The emergency meeting was very stirring, Linda remembered. They named themselves ‘Save Ancoats Dispensary’; someone stood up and gave a Shakespearean speech from Henry II. Most importantly, the group decided to mount a vigil outside the building. The vigil would become a cornerstone of the fight to save the Dispensary: every day, for six years, there were two or three people outside the building, in whatever weather Manchester threw at them.
In the beginning, it was all very primitive, Linda said. But the group were determined.
“We had someone looking through the Manchester Evening News, scouring it for any kind of road closure, to make sure we knew when the bulldozers were coming. We had a telephone tree established, neighbours phoning neighbours so we would all find out if something was happening.”
The vigil itself began soon after the emergency meeting. Jackie Marston, who was at the emergency meeting, became the vigil’s organiser, doing the rotas, providing tea and biscuits for whoever was on a shift outside the building.
They started off by meeting in the middle of the road, between the two lanes on Old Mill Street. Cars driving past would stop and people would ask what was going on; the group had petitions for people to sign and would just chat to passers-by about the Dispensary.
Jackie was heavily involved with the Save Ancoats Dispensary group, “but the best part was actually on the vigil,” she told me. “The camaraderie there was unbelievable. There were people that I would never have met other than through the vigil, and they’re still friends now.”
The set up was very basic: just some chairs, a little stove, a tent for when it rained. As the vigil progressed, the group built what Jackie called ‘our structure’: made out of old boards nailed together, which was mostly waterproof, and that they could open and lock up at the end of each day.
I asked Linda what the vigil came to represent. “It became a symbol of resistance,” she said. “On that contested piece of land. Nobody moved us: the police didn’t move us, the council never moved us, we became known, everybody knew about it. And that’s what we wanted.”
The Dispensary has been a symbol of resistance for years. In 1979, the first threats to close the Dispensary were raised, as the health authorities looked to centralise services into the North Manchester General Hospital three-and-a-half miles away. A local protest was organised by a porter at the Dispensary, and the hospital remained open. But almost ten years later, the decision to close the Dispensary was taken. Furious, a group of Ancoats residents managed to get inside the building on the day it closed, and occupied it. The health authorities eventually opened the Ancoats Community Clinic as a direct response to the protest.
Whilst the vigil continued, Save Ancoats Dispensary were also applying to Manchester City Council, under the Freedom of Information Act, for documents about the Dispensary and records about its condition. They discovered that reports had been made about different parts of the building becoming dangerous.
“We thought, this is what they want now,” Linda said. “They want to demolish it, bit by bit.” It hit home to Linda one afternoon as she arrived at the Dispensary and found that the building’s central tower had been imploded half an hour earlier.
The group were beginning to realise that simply calling for the building not to be demolished wasn’t going to be enough. They had to come up with an alternative proposal in order for the council to really listen to them.
The group went door to door through Ancoats to find the level of support they had in trying to save the building, and what the local community might want it to be if restored.
Save Ancoats Dispensary started to imagine the building repurposed into a community space, something sorely lacking in Ancoats. “Our vision was for it to be for the community itself,” Linda said. “And for the new residents in Ancoats. It would have been for them.”
The group envisaged a multi-purpose space, perhaps a sustainably run café, offices, a place for artists to showcase their work. “We wanted to live the dream,” Linda said, somewhat ruefully.
Around the same time, by the end of 2012, the group realised that a proper survey of the building needed to be done. The Dispensary was in a very bad state. Tom Bloxham, chairman of Urban Splash, had bought the building in 2001 with plans to restore and regenerate the Dispensary. He had received a significant amount of money from the Northwest Development Agency to conserve it.
However, no safeguarding happened. The roof was taken off, and from then on, the deterioration of the building was rapid. Over the next ten years, the Dispensary became increasingly dangerous, but little was done to protect the Grade II listed building.
So, Save Ancoats Dispensary, at the end of 2012, commissioned a surveyor to give them a full picture of the state of the Dispensary, but in order to do so, they had to raise several hundred pounds.
“We had a collection box at the vigil, and we pleaded with the community to give us the funds to find out if the building really was worth saving,” Linda told me. “And we raised the £600 we needed to pay him, believe it or not, just from donations from local people.”
The surveyor came down from Edinburgh, and when he’d finished, met Linda for a coffee. “He said: I can tell you now that this building hasn’t been dismantled as it should have been, as you do with listed buildings. It’s being demolished.”
As the survey of the Dispensary was being carried out, an architect got in touch with Linda offering his services as conservation architect for free. The group were delighted and welcomed him on board.
In May 2013, the architect brokered a meeting between the stakeholders in the Dispensary: the Save Ancoats Dispensary group, the city council, English Heritage, and Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash.
Urban Splash still owned the building: after several attempts to try and sell it on, Bloxham had said that his only alternative was to move towards demolishing it. But at this meeting, he said he had heard of the new Heritage Lottery Fund Heritage and Enterprise Scheme, which would enable the building to be restored whilst also becoming sustainable for the future. And through this scheme, if the group could come up with the money that would be needed, Bloxham would waive the move towards demolition.
In July 2014, the group’s application to the Heritage Lottery Foundation was provisionally accepted, and Ancoats Dispensary Ltd, the group’s financial vehicle, received £770,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help stabilise the building. In order to proceed however, the group had to match-fund the amount awarded for Stage One, which was £55,000.
The amount of money that the group needed to raise was seemingly impossible for a small, grassroots organisation. Through an intensive fundraising campaign, and large donations from residents and organisations alike, the group managed to raise almost half the funds required.
But as the deadline crept forward into May 2015, the group were still £28,000 short of the target.
One day, an anonymous donor came up with the exact amount they needed. Ancoats Dispensary Trust took over the lease of Ancoats Dispensary from Urban Splash, and the building became safeguarded against further deterioration.
“These were ordinary people who had a dream, a vision,” Linda said. “All we could think about is that this is our heritage, and it’s going to be obliterated if we don’t do something. And we can do something.”
This was an ecstatic moment for the group, who had repurposed themselves into a development collective: Ancoats Dispensary Trust. But the pressure was on immediately to match the funding required for Stage Two: the Trust had eighteen months to come up with £800,000.
“We just couldn’t do it,” Linda said. “We did appoint a couple of fundraisers, but they weren’t given enough time, it was hopeless.”
The Dispensary was handed back to the developer, who in turn moved it back to the city council. But Great Places Housing Association had become interested in the building. They’d donated generously to the crowdfunding for Stage One and were already involved in the development of Ancoats and New Islington, with a particular focus on providing affordable housing in the area.
Great Places took the Dispensary on as a full-blown project around three years ago, according to Great Places’ Director of Development Helen Spencer.
“That was when we really started to get to grips with what it was. Because it’s in such disrepair, it’s been quite hard to really understand the condition of the building, and to understand exactly what’s required.”
Great Places plan to turn the Dispensary into 39 affordable homes, whilst restoring and regenerating as much of the building as they can. The front of the building and the wall on Lampwick Lane will be restored, and the central tower will be rebuilt.
“It’s been a really interesting journey,” Helen told me.
“We’ve had technical and design challenges, the heritage challenges and the stakeholder challenges. It’s been a test of steel at times to really pull everything together, but everyone was just so focused on how we can do the best by this building and save what we can.”
Ancoats Dispensary Trust have remained involved and kept updated on the plans put forward by Great Places. As the Trust’s vision for the Dispensary was much more communitarian, the group were wary at first of Great Places’ plans. Ultimately though, the two organisations are working towards the same fundamental goal: to save and preserve the building.
“I think we’re going to see the benefit of that building full of life again,” said Helen.
Ancoats Dispensary has so much history, at personal and community levels.
“It was the beating heart of Ancoats,” Jackie told me. It became the group’s core message, reflecting the importance it has to so many people.
That the Dispensary is still standing is a testament to years’ worth of fighting by Ancoats residents.
“I feel the campaign has been a monument to community action, of what community actually can do,” Linda said.
“Truth speaking to power. And not giving up.”
Photos: Anna Willis, Brian Stark, Pete Birkinshaw
The best places to watch the World Cup in Manchester
Kick-off in Qatar 2022 is almost upon us and with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions looking to bring home a trophy, Mancs are right to be wondering where to watch the World Cup in Manchester.
International tournaments are always a special occasion we eagerly await to come around and while we’re sure you could walk into any old pub and enjoy yourself, there are some seriously good venues showing Qatar 2022 this winter.
So, with that in mind, we thought we’d put together a list of the best places to watch the World Cup in Manchester. You’re welcome.
Where to watch the 2022 World Cup in Manchester
Road to Victory/Festival of Football, Depot Mayfield
Probably one of the most unique venues you could ever hope to watch live football beyond inside the ground itself, Road to Victory is not only Europe’s largest fan zone, boasting a capacity of more than 10,000 people across three rooms and a truly immersive experience.
Set up by AIX Live in Depot Mayfield, this special World Cup event is the first of its kind, promising dynamic audio-visual presentation in big match moments, interactive games and quizzes, as well as all the food and drink you could hope for. Trust us, it’s quite something.
Victoria Warehouse’s Red Square has played host to hordes of United fans for years and now the massive indoor supporter space is turning into one of Manchester’s biggest fan parks for Qatar 2022 as well. You love to see it.
With room for more than 1,000 people and tickets for just £2 a pop, not to mention being more than used to catering for hundreds of rowdy football fans on a regular basis, this place is sure to be bouncing.
The Love Factory, Green Quarter
One of the most exciting new additions to Manchester has landed just in time for the World Cup. The Love Factory has been built inside a huge warehouse on the industrial outskirts of the city, featuring World Cup games on a huge indoor central screen and projectors throughout the venue.
As well as street food from local traders like Ate Days A Week, who’ll create a rotation of pie fillings inspired by each nation competing in the tournament, there’ll also be a huge exhibition of World Cup kits from Classic Football Shirts. You can find out more about Love Factory here.
New Century Hall, NOMA
As one of the newest venues in Manchester city centre, New Century Hall is turning its late-night entertainment venue and 70s aesthetic into one of the coolest places to watch England go for gold.
New Century stretches across three beautiful floors, with a wonderful selection of booze and food traders on the ground floor as well as the large live music and events spaces upstairs. Better still, you’ll have Sadler’s Yard on your doorstep for when the street celebrations start. Find out more here.
Pong & Puck, Great Northern
Looking for somewhere a little more central? Pong & Puck at Great Northern Warehouse might be growing a reputation as one of the best games and activities bars in town but its big projector also makes it a great spot to watch the footy.
The table tennis and beer pong tables will also provide you with a healthy distraction at half-time, not to mention the perfect place to kick the drinking games into gear when we inevitably fly our way through the group stage. You even get a free welcome drink. Say no more, book in now.
Going to an Aussie pub and restaurant to cheer on the boys in an international tournament might sound a bit odd, but Walkabout just happens to be one of the best places in the city centre to watch live sport with pints and plenty of people.
Located in Printworks, the bar is a regular haunt for football fans come the Premier League games at the weekend, so it’s only natural it finds its way onto this list of sports bars showing the World Cup in Manchester. They’ll be showing every game as well, not just England. Pencil yourself in while you can.
You only have to go a few feet (quite literally) to get all the fun of an American-themed sports bar too, only Shooters Bar will be packed full of Brits and not their transatlantic cousins when England face the USA on Friday, 25 November.
Based inside Printwork’s world-famous Bierkeller, Shooters is offering seating from £25 and £35 for VIP, both of which will guarantee you two drinks on arrival and the latter food from the Wings and Wurste menu. This popular sports bar is always packed out, you don’t need us to tell you why.
The Oast House, Spinningfields
One of the jewels in Spinningfields crown, The Oast House is a popular watering hole year-round but even more so during the colder months as the Christmas teepee is erected and you can see the smoke pumping out of the cosy interior’s chimney.
Oast also has the added bonus of a spacious courtyard with a large screen located on the stage, not to mention plenty of coverage and outdoor heaters to keep you warm for this rare winter World Cup. With a festive menu and plenty to drink, what more you could ask for? Walk-ins welcome but booking advised.
Speaking of food and drink, one of the best parts about international football season is doing away with all concepts of dieting and sobriety, so it’s a good job that vendor hall Society is showing every England game this November and December.
Tucked just beneath Bridgewater Hall with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, Society has plenty of variety when it comes to traders and we also can’t wait to see the scenes around that fountain once we romp into the final — and we will. You only need to email to book your table.
Blues Kitchen, Peter Street
While Blues Kitchen might not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about where to watch the World Cup, the multi-floor bar, restaurant, club and live music venue puts on all kinds of events throughout the year, so why wouldn’t they cover the biggest event of the year?
This beautiful building spans multiple floors, with the gig venue able to hold 500 alone, and they’ll be packing the place out with as many tables as they can. Tickets are sold as tables at a rate of £5 per person, making it one of the cheapest places to book in for the tournament.
Probably one of the most frequented places for watching live sport in the city centre, Director’s Box is yet another superb sports bar in a prime central location and nestled around a number of classic Manchester pubs like The Vine Inn and The City Arms.
From their huge value-for-money sharing platters to a solid lineup of beers and screens on nearly every wall, you won’t go for wrong watch the games in the place. However, we will warn you that this place gets packed out quickly, so be sure to secure a spot early come 21 November.
The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes, Albert Square
We can’t talk about sports bars without mentioning the one and only Brotherhood. Undoubtedly one of the busiest post-work pubs as well as on matchdays, this city centre spot has food, games, beer and more than enough screens to cater to the punters.
Located just next to the Central Library between Albert and St Peter’s Square, this place has a few simple rules: behave yourself and get there early, especially if you want to be part of their World Cup party which is sure to be a belter. You can enquire about a table but it’s first come first serve. Good luck.
This Castlefield cornerstone is another solid choice for football fans, with plenty of screens throughout its various rooms and an outdoor terrace with a projector screen; there are a few private hire spaces for groups of different sizes too.
With bars located inside and outside and plenty of room for walk-ins too if you’ve left it too late to snag a ticket elsewhere, you know where to head come kick-off. It’ll be some part along next that canal. Check out what they have to offer here.
The Waldorf, Piccadilly
As any Manc football fan (especially a Blue) will know, The Waldorf is a gem of a pub for watching the games all year round, and it’s full steam ahead for the World Cup. Just a few yards down from Manchester Piccadilly, even if you’re coming from elsewhere in Greater Manchester, you won’t have far to walk.
It’s not just the England games being screened here either, the local favourite will be showing every match in Qatar 2022. With two floors to pack out, this place if everything you’d want from a proper pub come tournament time. You can book your table here.
Bunny Jackson’s, First Street
For the most atmospheric, unpretentious World Cup viewing experience possible, you need to head to Bunny Jackson’s, the beloved dive bar famed for its 20p wings, plenty of pints and bar staff who are more likely to suggest shots than you are.
The First Street institution will be showing the games on the big screen tucked in the corner of the room with plenty of space for people on both floors to watch. The sounds in this place will be as well at full tilt volume from minute one. They don’t do bookings at this gaff, just get yourself there early.
BOX Deansgate, Deansgate
Open for just over a year now, BOX bar has gone from one of the newest places on the Deansgate strip to an absolute cornerstone of matchdays and weekends in general. From beer and shuffleboard to steins of pornstar martinis and live music, this place has a bit of everything.
With the jumbotron-style screen in the middle, not to mention all the other screens covering nearly every inch of the place, there’s no chance you’ll miss even a second of the action in this American-style sports bar. Get booking now if you want to sort yourself the best seat in the house.
The Courtyard, Oxford Road corridor
There are few simpler pleasures a bar with cheap beer and cheap food, so whether your student days are behind you or not, The Courtyard has to be on this list — even if only to remember all the other times we’ve watched the footy there down the years.
Of course, this place will be packed out as per, but with loads of deals on drinks, pool tables and a large beer garden area out back ready for when ‘Three Lions’ starts playing, Courtyard will be bouncing whether you’re there or not.
Gasworks, First Street
Another cult-favourite along the First Street/Jack Rosenthal Street run of venues, Gasworks has never been a sports bar per se but following the scenes during the men’s and women’s Euros these past two years, for our money, this is one of the best places to watch World Cup in Manchester city centre.
With a big projector; large booths and long benches for you and your mates to crowd around as you watch the games, eat various buns, sarnies and slabs, not to mention sample their sizeable selection of craft beer and ales, you won’t find much to complain about here.
Canvas, Circle Square
Another one of Manchester’s newest additions, the Canvas event space which recently opened up on Oxford Road’s ever-growing Circle Square complex might just be one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to places to watch the World Cup. Well, until that is.
The bar, entertainment and live music venue will be screening a selection of games throughout November and December, and there are even promising exclusive performances from the likes of Confidence Man, Happy Mondays, Liam Fray and more throughout the tournament.
Tib Street Tavern, Northern Quarter
Heading over Northern Quarter way, Tib Street Tavern is one of our favourite places to watch sport in Manchester, and that’s saying something. Cocktails, burgers and hot dogs don’t hurt either. With absolutely massive screens that fill the walls, it’s no wonder you’ll find hundreds of punters in here evet weekend.
Their booths may already be booked out for England’s first game against Iran, but there’ll still be plenty of room for walk-ins on a first come first serve basis and there’s always the next game. Just give them a ring and try your look.
Sir Ralph Abercromby, Central
Probably one of the best and most historic football-loving pubs you’ll find anywhere in the centre of town, the Sir Ralph Abercromby is a favourite of United fans and with the combination of a traditional pub setting and modern outdoor viewing area, you can’t go wrong.
In addition to multiple screens dotted around the marquee-covered beer garden, you have plenty of tellies inside and a big projector room in the back room. It’s a no-frills boozer this one, just get there in time to find yourself a seat and despite the cold, that outdoor area will be as lively as ever.
The Old Nags Head, Central
From one beloved United haunt to another. It may be the go-to pub for top Reds year in, year out, but come international tournament time we’re all on the same side and this place packs out all the same — and there are three floors, so that’s saying something.
The downstairs delivers plenty of screens, a large bar serving from all directions and karaoke; there are more seats upstairs and you’ve also got the wonderful rooftop terrace to chant ‘it’s coming home’ across the city come full-time. This place is dripping in football heritage just like the Ralph.
Brickhouse Social/Kable, Oxford Road corridor
From the old school to the new, Brickhouse Social on New Wakefield Street is another venue that hasn’t been around that long but is already building a strong customer base and is now turning its hand to the 2022 World Cup.
Turning the attached Kable Club in the basement of this three-floor site into their very own fan zone, Brickhouse are selling off tickets and a free drink for just a fiver. Spots for the England vs Iran game have already flown out the window so grab yours for the USA group game on 25 November while you can.
Twenty Twenty Two, Northern Quarter
Looking for a basement vibe for your World Cup vibes this year? Twenty Twenty Two might be underground but they intend to take the roof off the place when Harry Kane scores a last-minute winner or Tripper fires in another a peach of free-kick.
Best known for its table tennis and beer pong tournaments, this late-night party bar is opening early for England’s first game on Monday, 21 November and will be showing every other match for that matter. Once again, only walk-ins for this one, just be early and count yourself lucky if you grab a seat.
JBs is another top contender when it comes to places to watch the World Cup in Manchester as not only do you get great food and drink in a top venue, but you’ve also got brand new projectors, screens upstairs and down, as well their Void sound system — perfect for bringing that big game atmosphere
Whether you cop the cheaper standing tickets with two drink tokens or opt for the very reasonable table package which includes guaranteed seats, two drinks each and a sharing platter, everyone gets the all-important big screen as well as DJ playing at half-time and after the. Nothing less than a good time.
ABC Taproom, Piccadilly
Back over near Mayfield, we’ve got another suggestion that you may not have considered until now: ABC Taproom. The on-site taproom of the Alphabet Brewing Company has hosted plenty of live music and comedy nights since it opened back in 2021, now they’re turning their hand to live football screenings.
They have recently installed a huge 200-inch 4K screen to show every England game over the next month or so and will even be introducing a special line of carefully crafted World Cup beers to celebrate the tournament. It may be a little bit out of the centre of town but it’s well worth a try for a game or two.
Back in NQ territory, The Pen and Pencil is not only a favourite place for Mancs to eat and drink but for anyone who’s been in on a matchday, the pub quiz on Tuesdays or pre-gig shows throughout the week, you’ll know the punter vibes here are just as good as any pub.
While booking is recommended for those who want to grab a seat and some grub, there will be space for walk-ins on the day and, best of all, it’s 50% off food every Monday — just in time for your dinner (lunch for any southerners) when England kick-off their group stage.
Second City, Ancoats
Travelling just down the road in Ancoats, the beloved Second City sports bar may have moved to a slightly smaller location just off Cutting Room Square but they’ve carried the same atmosphere into their new building.
This place shows all kinds of sports throughout the week and on screens of all sizes dotted around the place – the biggest being its premier 136-inch screen. There’s no chance you’re missing a glimpse of the Three Lions flying their way through the fixtures.
7Sins, Northern Quarter
The penultimate bar on our list of places showing the World Cup in Manny is none other than NQ’s 7Sins. While you might know it as a place to play retro video games, shuffleboard and pool, these lot aren’t missing a beat and they doing their bit to give Mancs another location to watch the England games.
For wondering how they’re managing it, they’ve recently had (you guessed it) seven different screens fitted along with their big projector screen to go along with their various arcade machines and bar activities. You can book via the website or email them with any enquiries.
Boom Battle Bar, Printworks
Last but not least is another offering from the Printworks as Boom Battle Bar is benching its activity and gaming bar theme to focus on the World Cup, at least for the duration of the games anyway. We felt we had to include this one not only because we like it but because they have a special promotion on too.
The chain is giving away 66 free pints of beer to select England fans who utter the right phrase — ‘‘It’s coming home and I want a free pint’ — at the bar an hour before kick-off. They’ll be first come first serve and you have to book a table to be eligible but hey, there’s no moaning when it comes to free beer.
Now, we obviously could have chucked dozens more mint Manchester bars and pubs on this list but we had to stop otherwise we’d go on forever. However, you’ve got more than plenty to be going on with for now.
Lastly, it goes without saying that besides finding places to watch the World Cup in Manchester, Qatar 2022 is a tournament that we’d rather every nation have boycotted this year and while we will always back the Three Lions, we can only hope that team taking part make a statement when they’re over there.
Qatar has been described by Human Rights Watch as having a “dismal human rights record”, and has shown discriminatory practices against women, the LGBTQ+ community, and migrant workers.
We’d love to see the boys bring football home, but we want the beautiful game to be for everyone more.
Featured Image — Love Factory/Road to Victory (supplied)
The best food and drink stalls at Manchester Christmas Markets 2022
Gluhwein, Bavarian beer and big fat German bratwursts in numerous flavours have returned to Manchester today as the Christmas Markets officially open in the city centre.
Running from Thursday 10 November until Thursday 22 December, central Manchester is now a maze of charming wooden huts selling everything from classic wintry drinks, to cheese-filled and curried sausages, alongside some new additions that celebrate the best of the local street food scene.
From the likes of mulled wine and hot, boozy cider, to steaming mugs of Italian Vin Boule, Nordic Glocc and French Vin Chaud, cheeky hot Vimto (Rumto or Ginto), Manchester blob and more, as ever there’s plenty to get excited about.
Some of the city’s restauranteurs are getting involved this year too, with the likes of Simon Shaw’s Habas setting up a Moroccan-inspired stall on King Street and Northern Quarter favourite Yard & Coop slinging out chicken trays on St Ann’s Square.
Elsewhere, you’ll find
Keep reading to discover all of the best food and drink stalls at Manchester’s Christmas markets this year.
Piccadilly Gardens – Winter Gardens
Bigger and better than ever this year, Piccadilly Gardens has once again been transformed into the market’s main festive hub for the season.
Featuring a new giant Nordic-style double tipi and eye-catching WIndmilll bar, as well as three separate areas full of different food and drink stalls, highlights include new stalls from local favourites Parmageddon and Oi Dumplings.
Winter Gardens also sees the return of 2021 hit trader Panc Foods, who wowed vegans and meat eaters alike last year with their plant-based bratwursts and burgers, as well as the popular Korean hot dog stall and bagels from Prestwich favourites Triple B (including a fried camembert version with red onion chutney and stilton mayo).
With more stalls serving up pancakes, churros, and an array of winter tipples, you’ll find two huge bars serving continental and foreign ales, as well as a host of different mixers, cocktails, and all the beers, gluhwein and hot chocolates your heart desires.
There’s also a huge Manchester Winter Ale House selling cask ales from local breweries like JW Lees, alongside hot drinks like boozy Vimto (made with gin or rum), and ‘Manchester’s legendary Hot Blobs’, which we’re told are a mix of sweet white wine, sugar, lemon, and hot water.
Old favourites the Pig and Barrel also make a welcome return to the Winter Gardens offering up their delicious pork barms and cosy seating area, whilst elsewhere you’ll find a new ‘dirty chicken’ stall, pancake house, ‘Rogue’ pizza bar, Japanese apres ski bar and a little Polish bakery selling cheesecake and apple pie.
St Ann’s Square and Exchange Street
St Ann’s Square- the original site for Manchester’s Christmas markets- returns with its large undercover bar providing German beers and warm cherry Gluhwein to keep Christmas revellers warm and merry throughout the winter season.
Also playing host to some of Manchester’s best local traders this year, you’ll find Northern Quarter foodie favourites Yard and Coop serving up their salt and pepper chicken trays alongside award-winning local favourites Great North Pie, and Manc and Proud serving up Mancunian-themed everything.
Elsewhere, you’ll find fresh authentic paella and tapas, square pizzas, continental chocolates and a range of English cheeses priced at just £3 each in flavours including the magnificent ‘chip shop curry’.
There are also Biscoff cookie pies, cookie and cream fudge puds disguised as Christmas puddings, chocolate orange slabs and giant marshmallow Christmas trees to discover.
There’s not much to report here food-wise, with the majority of stalls focusing on selling gifts and other crafty trinkets.
We did spy a massive stall selling pick and mix, though, for those who haven’t yet got over the closure of Woolworth’s, as well as a spiced rum stall and a few gift sets of cheese truckles.
Home to some of the best food stall in Manchester, the Christmas deli stalls on King Street takes foodies on a world tour of some of the best-loved dishes on the planet.
The amazing Italian cheese and meat stall returns, piled high with giant wheels of parmigiano, gorgonzola, goat cheese, pecorino and taleggio, plus a huge variety of salami and smoked bacon pancetta, with giant hams hanging above ready to be sliced to order on a custom machine.
As for ready-to-eat street food, you’ll find everything from squid ink arancini balls and gorgeous Sicilian cannoli, to Greek gyros and halloumi fries, French garlic mushrooms and mustard chicken, baklava, olives, marinated garlic cloves and local rum made right across the river in Salford.
Elsewhere, restaurant Habas, part of the El Gato Negro group, has a full outdoor set up serving dishes from its Moroccan-inspired menu including the likes of chicken and vegetable tagine with spiced rice and mini pittas, chargrilled lamb merguez burger.
There’s also a gin and mulled wine bar selling a huge variety of G&Ts with premium bottles like Gin Mare on offer, and a second beer and mulled wine bar at the Deansgate end with everything you need to get merry.
New Cathedral Street
On New Cathedral Street, the longstanding home of the big sausage, find stalls selling old-fashioned liquorice and handmade cocktails to drink at home, alongside hot street food stalls offering everything from vegan 5 bean chilli to New York Bagels.
Elsewhere, you’ll find Bar 3’s famous Instagram-worthy smoking cocktails, mulled wine and craft beers, and traditional steins and mouth-watering currywurst at The Witchouse.
Over on Exchange Square, you can warm up at the instantly recognisable Mill Exchange bar, with their special Mancunian mulled wine made on-site and its legends of Manchester artwork adorning its walls.
2022 also sees the return of the famous Porky Pig’s Yorkshire Pudding Wrap, alongside stalls selling hot curries, mini pancakes, fresh fudge, hand-carved olivewood decorations, German kebabs, and gourmet Italian pizza.
The Corn Exchange
Set between Manchester’s historic Corn Exchange building and Shambles Square, visitors can expect to find a pie stall from The Crusty Pie Company selling every filling variation you can think of – from pork and black pudding to Hunstmans pies, chicken and leek, wild boar and mushroom, turkey and cranberry, and chicken and chestnut stuffing pies. You can also find bags of traditional pork scratchings from £2.
Elsewhere, Jammy Dodger-loaded cupcakes, Nutella-topped confections, and more covered with pick and mix sweeties, chocolate Oreos, and golden pretzels can be found at Zara’s Cupcakes market stall, and there’s another English cheese stall selling flavours like ‘chip shop curry’, ‘stuffing’ and ‘fiery dragon’ from £3 each.
Opening Saturday 22 October in time for half term and Halloween, the much-loved undercover ice rink Skate MCR is back with entertainment each Thursday to Sunday all the way through to New Year’s Eve.
Next to the ice rink, hot food, warm drinks, pancakes and tipples will be on offer from nearby market stalls to help warm up cold hands and feet after a skate on the ice.