Tuesday 17th January 2012
Higher Boughton is a district in North Salford, around a couple of miles from Manchester city centre. For most of its life the Star led an uneventful existence yet, in contrast, its recent history has been very tumultuous. I'll get to modern times soon, but as the history of this pub is one of the best recorded I've ever come across; please forgive me whilst I present a potted history. This is entirely possible because of the work of customer Jim Simpson and he deserves to be congratulated.
It would be fantastic for the Pub History Society if every pub had such meticulous research available.
The pub was built as Paradise Cottage, a dwelling, in 1846. Ten years later it became the Star Inn. From then until 1893 it continued under several owners. It was sold in that year by Mary Berry to James Kay for £1,500. This gentleman owned Kay's Atlas Brewery of Stockport Road, Ardwick (about a mile south east of Manchester city centre). No doubt his beers were soon to be had in the Star. In 1897 he sold the pub to his own brewery for £1,800; a nice little profit! So from then onwards it was a tied house of the Atlas Brewery.
During the early part of the 20th century the pub was extended. The next major change was in 1929 when the Atlas Brewery and its 86 pubs were taken over by Robinson's of Stockport, still with us today. That company eventually closed the brewery in 1936.
In an interesting aside during research, I noticed that Kay's Atlas Brewery still exists today as a separate company, although probably owned by Robinson's.
The pub continued with relatively few licensees into the 21st Century. Finally the last of that era, handed in their notice in June 2009. As they worked out their notice Robinson's announced the pub would be sold at auction on 15th October and it closed the day before. The guide price was £80,000 and the regulars remarkably raised that amount quickly and decided to bid for it, but not after asking Robinson's if they would sell at that amount. Sadly, they declined and it went to auction. Yet the bids did not exceed that price and it was sold to the consortium of customers.
They had formed a company to run the pub, which was only registered the day before. This eventually was changed into a Mutual Co-Operative and so it stays to this day. Shares were sold at £100 and 80 customers own at least two each. A management committee oversees the operation of the pub and they appointed a Manager to look after all the day-to-day running. The pub then underwent a deep clean and redecoration and finally opened on 19th December 2009, just in time for Christmas. The community aspect of the pub is to the forefront as there is a quiz each Sunday night at 21.00 and the folk club, founded in 1976, meets on the first Wednesday of the month.
It was a cold night when we visited and I could not help but be impressed when walking up the lane to the pub to see that it was still cobbled with original stones. The Star is located in a Conservation area and I must have a good look around one day. An interesting bit of information is that it has a brewery in the outhouses. This started life as Bazen's Brewery and was established in 2002 in a building not far away in Knoll Street. They moved to the pub in November 2010 and downsized at the same time, eventually being known as The Star brewery. I well remember drinking their beer under the previous name and thought it very good.
Inside there are three separate drinking areas; two rooms with bars and another, separate. All the public areas are well furnished yet the pub still retains the Northern multi-room layout complete with bell pushes in the lounge. On offer that evening were Holt's (Cheetham Hill, Manchester) Mild (3.2%) and Phoenix (Heywood, Greater Manchester) Pale Moonlight (4.2%). I was with Linda and Mike along with a few others and most of us went with the house beer Star Brewery's Starry Night (4.0%), which was excellent.
The Star may not have the greatest range of beer in the world but what it has, is presented in extremely good condition. It is also a wonderful place to have a beer, being a classic pub of a type not often these days.
The Star Inn, 2 Back Hope Street, Higher Broughton
Open: Sunday to Thursday 13.30-23.00; Friday and Saturday 13.30-12.00
The pub is served by Greater Manchester bus route 98. This runs from Manchester Shudehill Bus Station to Bury and operates via Manchester Victoria Station approach. The stops in Knoll Street are around five minutes from the pub. It runs every 15 minutes through most of the day, Monday to Saturday and half-hourly on Sundays.