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Pub Visit - England

Samuel Oldknow 1Sunday 22nd January 2017

Bob Thompson

When opening a micro-pub the proud new owners often give it a snappy name that references beer or its ingredients. Or sometimes its title harks back to the previous use of the premises. Whatever the new name is, it is rarely in the traditional mould. Well, this one is different as it is named after the man who, above all else, shaped the town of Marple. Why there has not previously been a pub with his name here is a mystery.

So who was he? Well, Samuel Oldknow was a cotton cloth maker. He was born in 1756 at Chorley, Lancashire and began his empire of cotton in and around that town. In 1784 with the help of a £3,000 loan from Richard Arkwright he purchased land in and around Stockport.

Samuel Oldknow 2Here he built a warehouse and bleaching factory. The “putting out” system was used where small and medium sized spinners were given cotton and he purchased the finished yarn from them to weave.

Oldknow’s speciality was muslin and eventually he was the leading manufacturer in the country. He gradually brought all of the production in house.

He started buying land in the parish of Mellor, the other side of the River Goyt from Marple. In 1790 he opened a mill there that employed 2,000 people and was steam-driven.

In 1793 he opened a mill in Marple that was brick-built and six stories high.

He was financially involved with the establishment of the Peak Forest Canal and the associated Peak Forest Tramway which conveyed quarried stone from the High Peak around Dove Holes to a railhead on the canal.

Samuel Oldknow 3Transport was important here because of the hilly nature of the area. Later he became involved with the Marple to Stockport turnpike road.

People flocked to the town to work in his mills and many homes were built to house them. Whilst the town prospered, Samuel Oldknow slipped into debt because of a drop in prices for cotton products. He mortgaged his mills to the Arkwright family. However he paid for the restoration of All Saints Church and provided it with a vicarage in 1826.

He was High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1824 and died in 1828. The Mill burnt down in 1892 and nothing is left today apart for mill ponds on the River Goyt. However, his warehouse on the canal remains.

Samuel Oldknow 4Returning to the 21st Century we find Anthony Meynell and Billy Booth joining forces to open and operate their own micro-pub.

They settle on an empty unit on pedestrianised Market Street in Marple. An old photo shows it was named “Struck by Lighting” so I guess it previously sold lighting and electrical goods.

It is to be the second micro-pub in the town following Beer Traders in Stockport Road that opened in December 2015.

I had met Billy at the CAMRA Manchester Beer and Cider Festival and the earlier CAMRA National Winter Ales Festival also held in Manchester. We were both working on the bar. When he learned that I live in East Kent he questioned me about the many micro-pubs there. He had seen the micro-bar in Bolton Market and also the Micro Bar in the Arndale Market in Manchester (Please see BeerVisits.eu article).

Samuel Oldknow 5I was impressed by his enthusiasm and could see that it was only a matter of time before he had his own pub.

And so it came to pass and the partners opened the pub in March 2016, just before Easter. So here I was with Linda on a Sunday lunchtime.

Unfortunately Billy was not behind the bar but there was a young lady named Rachel who had worked with us on the bar the previous day at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival.

On entering we could see that it is a narrow pub. The door from the street is on the right side of the façade. Once inside we could see that the window space is occupied by a large shelf holding some pot plants and books. On the same (left) side of the room there is a bench-type seat with two loose wooden tables and some chairs.

Samuel Oldknow 6There is no space for any seating on the right side until the room widens further along.

Even though there is a bit more space nearer the bar counter it is still a narrow pub. There’s another table on the right. Opposite is a small table with board games and beer magazines.

Then we come across the crowning glory, a wonderful large framed painting of the man himself, Samuel Oldknow. Beyond that is a coat and hat rack.

On the left at the back of the pub is a gate guarding the rather steep stairs down to the lower room and toilets. Downstairs is a very cosy room with wooden furniture and a wood-burning stove in a brick-built fireplace surmounted by a large mirror. Back upstairs Next to that is the bar counter made of dark varnished wood. The bar back containing many bottles is also wooden in a modern style.

Samuel Oldknow 7On the right in an alcove are a number of shelves groaning under the weight of many bottles. There is a large variety of domestic “craft” bottles, foreign beers and bottled ciders as the pub has an off as well as an on-license. I was pleased to see there was no “craft” canned beer.

The idea of pub / off-license combined is a modern trend. It is to be welcomed as it provides residents of smaller towns access to a wide range of beers that would otherwise be unobtainable and of course, you can try them in the pub beforehand.

Five beers were on offer when we visited, all served from hand pups. They were Howard Town (Glossop, Derbyshire) Shining Clough (5.3%); Outstanding (Salford, Greater Manchester) Stout (5.5%) and two from Pennine Brewing (Well, Bedale, North Yorks) Misty Morning (3.7%) and Jacob’s Ladder (3.9%). Finally the last beer was a bit of an enigma. It was called East Coast Pale Ale and was 5% abv. Shepherd Neame of Faversham brew a beer of that name but it is 4.8%. Greene King of Bury St Edmunds brew an East Coast IPA but that is 4.6%. More information will be appreciated.

Samuel Oldknow 8There were three still ciders offered on that day. We had a choice of: Gwynt y ddraig (Pontypridd, Glamorgan, South Wales) Black Dragon cider (7.2%); Orchard Pig (West Bradley, Somerset) Mulled cider (4.0%) and Weston’s Raspberry Twist cider (4.0%). I got the impression that there normally a few more.

There is a full range of wines and also spirits including some speciality vodkas and gins. Tea, coffee and soft drinks can also be had. Snacks in packets are available and they offer pork pies from D.C. Whites butchers of Marple.

The Samuel Oldknow is well worth visiting and comes highly recommended.

Important Information:

The Samuel Oldknow, 22 Market Street, Marple, Greater Manchester SK6 7AD. Tel: 0161 425 9530.

Monday-Thursday: 13.00-22.30; Thursday-Friday: 13.00-23.00;
Saturday: 11.00-23.00; Sunday: 12.00-22.00.

Bus 383 begins at Stockport Bus Station and is a circular route running anti-clockwise.
It runs along Wellington Road South which is close to the station and town centre.
Monday to Friday it operates every 15 minutes to 19.00, thereafter half-hourly.
On Saturdays it is every 15 minutes during the day. From 17.00 it is every 20 minutes to 18.30.
After then it is half-hourly. On Sunday it is half-hourly all day. The journey takes 27 minutes.

Bus 384 operates clockwise over the same route and frequencies are broadly similar to the 383 route.
This route takes 38 minutes. However it stops near to Stockport town centre with a number of good pubs.
In addition it goes via Romiley and Bredbury, which also have some good pubs and railway stations.

There are two railway stations in the town, Marple and Marple Rose Hill.
They are on different lines.Marple has the better service.
Twice an hour from Manchester Piccadilly Monday to Saturday, hourly Sunday.
Journey times are between 20 and 28 minutes depending on route and number of stops en route.
Marple Rose Hill station has trains twice an hour Monday to Saturday until 20.30. No trains on Sunday.

From Marple station turn right at the end of the station approach road, after the road over rail bridge turn left. Turn left into Arkwright Road. Then turn right into Oldknow Road. Cross over the Peak Forest Canal.
The road joins Stockport Road. In the town centre turn left into Market Street. It is about 3/4 mile (1 km).
The pub is on the right. Alternatively wait for a 384 bus (see above) and travel three stops.

From Marple Rose Hill station turn right into Stockport Road. After a while the road forks.
Take the right road. This is still Stockport Road.
Pass the Beer Traders pub on the right (see separate article in BeerVisits.eu).
A bit further on turn right into Market Street. In the town centre turn right in Market Street.
The pub is on the right. Alternatively wait for a 383 bus (see above) and travel three stops.