Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another one bites the dust

I was taken aback, although not entirely surprised, to see the Four Heatons pub on Didsbury Road in Heaton Norris boarded up during the course of yesterday. In the morning, going to work, it still looked open. In the evening, returning home, the boards had gone up.

It is (or was) one of two pubs within easy walking distance of my house, although not the one I tended to frequent. It was built in 1971 as the Moss Rose to replace an old pub of the same name further down towards Stockport town centre. Despite the unprepossessing modernist exterior inside it was more congenial and comfortable than you might have expected.

It was built with separate cellars for mild and bitter, and I remember many years ago being taken down into the cellars by the licensee and being shown the impressive rows of barrels (and I mean barrels) on the stillages. Twenty years ago it was thriving and shifting large quantities of Hydes Light and Bitter through electric meters. More Light than Bitter too in those days. Unfortunately after that it started to go downhill, not helped by one or two licensees who struggled to get a grip on it.

In the early 2000s, in an attempt to revitalise its fortunes, it was renamed the Four Heatons and given a surprisingly smart refurbishment, although the exterior still didn’t give a proper impression of what was inside. However, this didn’t seem to do much to stem its long-term decline, and recently it always seemed very quiet, so its final closure in hindsight looks inevitable. There comes a point where you start to sense the “smell of death” about a pub. Note the smoking shelter on the right-hand side which was added post-2007.

Apparently the site is now to be redeveloped as flats. This now means that for a substantial area of housing, much of which is quite prosperous, there is now no pub within half a mile.