The Manchester pub that was once at the heart of ‘Little Ireland

webnexttech | The Manchester pub that was once at the heart of 'Little Ireland

It’s a quaint and curious pub, one that you’re drawn to as you step off the train at Manchester’s Oxford Road station. Exiting the concourse the night draws you down a narrow flight of concrete steps – and then there you are – seemingly in a different era of cobbled streets running underneath railway arches. The steps lead down to Wakefield Street, and The Salisbury, hidden in a Victorian world just off Oxford Road and its relentless traffic. Inside, The Salisbury is the embodiment of a warm and welcoming pub Period tiles, wooden furnishings, barrels, comfy booths and walls covered in rock memorabilia. Like Grand Central nearby, The Salisbury is a favourite stop off for any music fan arriving in Manchester by train for a gig at the Manchester Academy, Deaf Institute or the o2 Ritz. READ MORE:’I’m Irish – and we do things a lot differently to Manchester when it comes to St Patrick’s Day’ Try MEN Premium for FREE by clicking here for no ads, fun puzzles and brilliant new features. But The Salisbury has a much longer history. A plaque on the wall tells you that the pub is located in the middle of what was once ‘Little Ireland’, one of the poorest slums in Manchester. Between 1827 and 1947, the four acre district lay south of the area now occupied by Oxford Road Station, enclosed by the railway line and the loop in the River Medlock. It became known as ‘Little Ireland’ as it was inhabited by poor Irish immigrants drawn to the city as a centre of manufacturing, mining, warehouses, docklands and railway building. Join our WhatsApp Top Stories and, Breaking News group by clicking this link The squalid conditions of ‘Little Ireland’ were detailed in German philosopher Fredrich Engels’ book The Condition Of The Working Class In England. It was written during Engels’ 1842–44 stay in Manchester, a city at the heart of the Industrial Revolution. Back then, the pub – which dates back to the 1820s – wasn’t called The Salisbury but the Spinner’s Arms, and later, the Tulloghgorum Vaults. Describing ‘Little Ireland’ as “the most horrible spot”, Engels wrote: “In a rather deep hole, in a curve of the Medlock and surrounded on all four sides by tall factories and high embankments, covered with buildings, stand two groups of about two hundred cottages, built chiefly back to back, in which live about four thousand human beings, most of them Irish. “The cottages are old, dirty, and of the smallest sort, the streets uneven, fallen into ruts and in part without drains or pavement; masses of refuse, offal and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all directions; the atmosphere is poisoned by the effluvia from these, and laden and darkened by the smoke of a dozen tall factory chimneys.” Describing the inhabitants, he recounts “A horde of ragged women and children swarm about here, as filthy as the swine that thrive upon the garbage heaps and in the puddles.” The German philosopher goes on to further describe the terrible living conditions – how around 20 human beings would live in the space of a few rooms with one “usually inaccessible” toilet between hundreds of people. In the 1841 census, ‘Little Ireland’ had a population of only 1,510, concentrated in the small streets and courts off the main thoroughfares. By 1847, many of these streets were vacated and later demolished for the construction of the Manchester and Altrincham railway line and Oxford Road railway station. According to the fascinating book, Central Manchester Pubs, written by researcher and academic at the University of Salford, Dr Deborah Woodman, by 1855 the pub had become The Salisbury. Renamed after the politician and prime minister, Lord Salisbury. In the 20th century, the pub belonged to Wilsons Brewery, before being acquired by Watneys through their takeover in 1960, and is independently managed today. A pub steeped in Manchester’s working-class history, it now stands as a solitary, but welcoming, monument to the city’s lost Irish district. Does this story awaken any memories for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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