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Feature

The rise and fall of Boddingtons, a proper Manchester institution

Where did it all go wrong?

Proper Manchester

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Literature & Libation

Boddingtons went from a roaring success to almost impossible to find, so what happened?!

Boddington’s became known as The Cream of Manchester in the 1980s, but to understand how it became such a huge part of the city’s history we need to go back to a time when people drank beer instead of water.

Hundreds of years ago, water was a huge cause of serious sickness and unfortunately a lot of death. And as communities and civilisations grew the water got dirtier and even deadlier as sewers flooded into open water sources.

This is where beer came in, fermented and brewed making it healthier than water to drink. It was much thicker and a lot weaker than we know it to be now. But even back then you would regularly find the whole family chugging a few glasses at the dinner table, even the kids.

Keith Williamson/Wikimedia

Mostly, beer was brewed within households. But as families got bigger and the need for space over a spot for brewing became more important.

Monasteries and schools started to lead the way for larger scale brewing operations. Manchester Grammar School used their ‘free’ workers to create beer under the guise of education and by the mid-1700s the school had a huge monopoly on the grinding of grain in the city.

As workplaces grew in the city, the desire for a nice place for a swift pint after work became huge. Hundreds of small brewers began setting up shop, including Strangeways Brewery.

In 1831, Strangeways Brewery employed John Boddington as a clerk. From a poor, large family down South, his family got wind of the job opportunities in prosperous Manchester and quickly followed suit chasing that northern dream.

In Memoriam: rattypete/Flickr

Surprisingly, it wasn’t John who set up Boddington’s as we know it. It was actually his brother, Henry.

John pursued a career in Corn & Provisions, emigrating to America and dying penniless over there 20 years later.

Henry on the other hand, got a job at his brother’s old workplace and quickly made a name for himself, becoming a partner in the firm just 10 years later. He borrowed some money and became the sole owner in 1877.

By this point, they were the biggest brewery in Manchester, with their output growing from a mere 10,000 to 100,000 barrels a year.

Dunk/Flickr

Henry, as you can imagine, died a very rich man in 1886. His fortune equates to around £19.2 million in today’s monetary terms. His son William Slater took over, made the company public, doubled its value and so Boddingtons Breweries Ltd. was born.

By the turn of the century, Boddingtons were the 12th largest tied estate in the UK, owning over 200 public houses across the country.

But then there was the English Beer Scandal in 1900.

Over 6,000 people were poisoned and 70 people died from arsenic in the beer of many of the city’s breweries. While the illness was prevalent across the Midlands and North West England, Manchester was the most heavily affected by it.

It turns out hundreds of Boddingtons’ barrels were poisonous due to the sugar in the fermentation process – the beer market by then was very competitive, and high-quality barley malt was replaced with low quality in efforts to reduce costs.

Mikey/Flickr

This meant the barley was supplemented with sugar, a sugar that was made by heating starch with acid to form glucose. The acid was unpurified sulphuric acid used by Bostock & Co. which contained arsenic.

The poison remained in the sugar, and then subsequently poisoned the beer and thousands of people.

There was a significant decline in the birth rate in 1901 in Manchester, Salford and Liverpool, with an investigation later concluding that the arsenic epidemic was to blame.

A subsequent investigation into the mass poisoning later revealed that arsenic had been present in beer for decades – unknowingly poisoning thousands.

However, Boddingtons managed to get over this blunder and actually continued to be prosperous for the next century.

Keough/Flickr

In World War II Boddingtons’ brewery was smashed to bits by the Luftwaffe in the Manchester Blitz, and they were forced to close for several months.

As a result, the the brewery was modernised and improved, becoming the first in Europe to install stainless steel brewing vats and getting all of the best mod-cons of the age.

During this time the Boddington family were selling shares and by 1930 only owned around 40% of the business. Then in 1961, Whitbread bought a 13% stake in the company.

In 1969, an attempted hostile takeover of the company took place, with Allied Breweries trying to force out the family and strip away its independence.

Whitbread actually raised the Boddington family’s stake to 23%, and by 1971 Allied Breweries had sold their 35% stake – leaving the family with 10% and Whitbread with 25% of it.

CrossingTheLineDVD/Youtube

The ’80s saw huge growth for Boddingtons Bitter. The brand expanded outside of Manchester for the first time and people became enamoured with the cheap and distinct beer.

By 1986 they had 580 tied pubs and were producing over 500,000 barrels a year (while only maintaining a 50% capacity at the brewery). Finally, though, Boddingtons was sold to Whitbread for £50.7 million in 1989.

It was during the Whitbread era that Boddingtons became an international brand and a household name.

Much of the success of the brand is attributed to one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time, ‘The Cream of Manchester’.

The style, swagger and colours highlighted perfectly the iconic taste of Boddingtons, and helped put Manchester on the map.

After the ’90s soaring success came the ‘fall’ of Boddingtons. It moved away from Manchester, the taste changed and the sales reflected that.

By this point the company had been acquired by Belgian brewer Interbrew, who are now known as InBev. By 2004 production had moved to South Wales and Lancashire.

The brewery had a huge send off in 2006 hosting the first ever Warehouse Project before the building was knocked down completely, and replaced by a car park – which it remains to this day.

The beer, however, remains the sixth best-selling bitter in the UK despite its sales falling by three quarters and it disappearing from the taps of many pubs.

If you do fancy a pint of it though, you can grab a draught pint at The Bay Horse in the Northern Quarter. And good news folks, it’ll be set to open its doors very soon now Boris has given the green light!

Feature

Inside the Wigan home ‘frozen in the 1970s’ that’s on the market for the first time ever

This is ICONIC!

Alex Watson

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Regan and Hallworth

If you love the ’70s you’ll love this house that is going on the market for the first time, which will transport you to the decade of platforms, flares and shag pile carpet. 

The family home in Wigan is thought to be going on the market for the first time ever, but inside is a ’70s lover’s dream.

Throughout the entire house is décor from the decade, including a retro orange sofa, plenty of frosted glass and shag carpets of course. 

It’s three bedroom and is tucked away in Parbold on Croasdale Drive.

Regan and Hallworth
Regan and Hallworth

Estate Agent Regan and Hallworth say that ‘despite requiring extensive modernisation’ the house ‘has an undeniably timeless appeal’.

You’ll also find teak wood storage units in just about every room, and plenty of earth-toned accessories throughout. 

Regan and Hallworth

There’s a huge copper fire place in the living room complimented by dark brown walls and a patterned ceiling. 

The kitchen is covered with white cabinets with a wood trim, an unusual corner sink situation, plus a fitted microwave on the lower half of the cabinets. 

Regan and Hallworth
Regan and Hallworth

The bathroom is covered in dark marble tiles and a frosted window above the bath, complimented by gold furnishing and trims on both the toilet and sink – plus a gold shower! 

For all the quirky features the house is actually surprisingly minimalist, it’s bright and has a big open plan living room. 

Regan and Hallworth

It’s also been designed with an upside-down layout meaning the bedrooms are on the ground floor while the living room is on the second floor, taking advantage of the views over the trees. 

The house is located on a leafy lane and features a glass-front, extensive driveway space with a double garage and plenty of greenery to enjoy from your orange sofa.

Regan and Hallworth
Regan and Hallworth

Regan and Hallworth add: “We don’t believe that ‘Beech Hill’ has ever been on the open market before and offers an incredibly rare opportunity for a wide range of buyers to purchase a home of true distinction with tons of potential without having to pay the huge premium you normally expect to pay to live in one of West Lancashire’s most sought after locations.

“Available with the added benefit of no upward chain, early viewing is highly recommended.”

Offers are in excess of £400,000. Find out more info here

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Feature

A look back at Manchester’s greatest nightclubs and venues

How many have you been to?

Proper Manchester

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21 Piccadilly Friends And Clubbers / Facebook

Over the years numerous iconic nightclubs, bars and pubs have disappeared from Manchester. Some of these venues have been legendary, others, well, were just a bit dodgy.

Either way, if you visited one it will have left a lasting impression – whether this is positive or negative is another question entirely.

With that in mind, what better time to take a little trip down memory lane and remember some of the forgotten clubs of our city. Enjoy…

Piccadilly 21s

Piccadilly 21s was a ‘90s party paradise located in Piccadilly Gardens. It had a reputation for being very loud, very messy and very sticky, with cheap drinks to boot – there were even chandeliers in the bogs.

Unfortunately it also had a reputation for being rough as owt, after it managed to attract gang members and other unsavoury clientele in the late ‘80s and 90s, and it eventually shut down in 2004.

These days it’s a Premier Inn and a Nando’s – so the floors are probably just as sticky to be fair.

Manchester Past

Rotters

Besides having a name which would prove a branding nightmare for modern PR-led venues, Rotters boasted some of the best parties in the city, after it took over the site from Romanoff’s.

Located at the top of Oxford Road, in the ‘70s and ‘80s Rotters was a hugely popular nightclub, especi

It was housed inside the old Gaumont Cinema, and sadly the whole building was demolished in 1990 and replaced by an NCP car park.

Pips

Pips, located behind the cathedral, was a popular nightclub in the ‘70s, and was frequented by local musical celebs like Joy Division, Ian Brown, Morrissey and Johnny Marr.

It boasted four different rooms playing a variety of music, including a Punk room, Soul room and the infamous Roxy room with a huge Brian Ferry painting on the wall.

Pips closed in the early ‘80s before becoming a club called Konspiracy – which closed not long after.

Manchester Libraries

The Plaza

The Plaza was one of the city’s most popular venues to dance to the likes of Sinatra and Elvis in the ‘60s, and was located on Oxford Street.

Owned by Jimmy Savile, the disgraced DJ pioneered lunchtime disco sessions for the city’s young workers, where you could grab a quick lunch and soft drink while having a dance.

It later turned into Tiffany’s in the ‘70s, complete with fake palm trees and loads of disco balls, before finally becoming Tropicana, which closed in the late ‘80s. It’s now a Pizza Express.

The Hacienda

We couldn’t do a list of iconic Mancunian nightclubs and not include what is arguably one of the most famous venues in the world.

Founded by Tony Wilson in 1982, the Hacienda managed to define a whole era in the city, putting ‘Madchester’ on the map. Acid House and rave culture was born here – as were New Order and the Happy Mondays.

The club closed in 1997 and was demolished 18 months later, with a block of nondescript red brick flats now on the site – called The Hacienda Apartments.

Mikey / Flickr

Jilly’s Rockworld

Jilly’s was a Manchester institution. Originally called Fagin’s, it opened in 1970 on Oxford Road before being renamed Jilly’s in 1983, eventually adding Rockworld to the end.

The alternative club was always packed full with a cross section of people with a passion for guitar music, including punks, skaters, goths, metalheads, and indie kids.

Underneath was another club called the Musicbox – previously Rafters – but sadly both venues shut their doors back in 2010.

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Feature

There’s a hidden tranquil waterfall located in the hills above Rochdale

This looks so peaceful!

Alex Watson

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@thesijones / Instagram & @lockdownwalks / Facebook

If you’re after some tranquillity in your life (let’s face it – we all are), this is the perfect escape and it’s not too far away from Manchester. 

Tucked away in the hills above Norden in Rochdale is a beautiful waterfall surrounded by luscious woodland, and its the perfect weekend walk.

Naden Valley is home to four huge reservoirs Naden Higher, Naden Middle, Naden Lower and Greenbooth, which all offer perfect exploring options and ample walking opportunities.  

lockdownwalks/Facebook

From the top of the valley you’ll find stunning views of Manchester city centre’s skyline towering over the hills in the distance. 

The trickling waterfall is in the southwestern corner of Greenbooth reservoir, and is actually heading towards the United Utilities-owned reservoir after running through a housing estate. 

There are clear circular footpaths around each reservoir that are perfect for a gentle stroll and are mostly accessible. 

There are several flights of stairs to reach the waterfall which is slightly off path and requires a bit of careful exploring. 

If waterfalls are your thing, you could also head to Rivington Pike’s forgotten Japanese Gardens just outside of Chorley. 

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