Shakespeare

Greater Manchester - Farnworth

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

1 Glynne Street
Farnworth
BL4 7DN

Tel: (01204) 578282

Website http://theshakeyfarnworth.simplesite.com/

Real ale & Cider: Real Ale

Nearby Station: Moses Gate

Station Distance: 750m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Moses Gate) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

Built in 1926 for Bolton brewers Magee Marshall and largely unchanged since. Beyond the main entrance is a spacious drinking lobby, whose rich counter is topped by a carved shield (one of several such adorning the woodwork). The tilework, unfortunately, has been papered over. The lounge to the left has good panelling and a Tudor-style fireplace. At the front right is the ‘News Room’ (so named on a door-plate), complete with richly decorated counter, fixed seats and the original coat hooks. The back room is described on the door plate as the ‘Commercial Room’ and has another fine counter. A door at the side of the pub accesses the off-sales, now lost in most pubs but here untouched, albeit unused. The final ground-floor room (rear left) seems to be a private room brought into pub use and now houses a pool table. Much of the panelling is actually modern, now painted in an unfortunate pastel shade.

A fine and unusually intact 1920s pub built for the 'better class' of customer. It was erected in 1926 for Magee Marshall, brewers of Bolton, on a prominent corner site though architecturally it is not particularly distinguished, presenting a rather four-square, Neo-Tudor appearance to the two roads. It is faced with large areas of whitish terracotta interspersed with red brick and, over some of the bays, are gables with touches of half-timbering. It has lost the original etched lower window panels as owners will only replace with plain ones due to the number lost but does have some leaded upper panels with 'MM' in them. The plain panels now have 'Shakespeare's Head' symbols (transfers?) on them. The splendidly ornate interior was brutally modernised in 2012 due to inappropriate treatment with paint, adding of TV screens in every room and one room permanently ready for karaoke! (our photos were taken prior to 2012).

The layout, amazingly, remains intact and the spaces are fitted out with woodwork of the highest quality making it one of the finest remaining examples of an inter-war suburban pub. The main entrance on Albert Road has solid oak doors and leads into a drinking lobby with a richly carved bar counter topped by a carved wooden shield which almost reaches the ceiling (the same shield appears over the other counters). There is likely to be a parquet floor under the carpet. It is here one finds the one real blemish in the pub - the inter-war tilework of the walls has been papered over - shame!

On the left is the Lounge which has lost its door and vestibule entrance but it does have a superb Tudor-style wood and stone fireplace with panelled overmantel, original fixed seating and there are two low baffles as you enter the room and another two by the fireplace which have all recently been painted black, The room has unusually detailed bell-pushes for waiter service also recently been painted black and above is some three-quarter height panelling that was added in the 1980s and is much plainer than the other woodwork in the pub and recently has been painted a light blue colour. This room is in use regularly for karaoke so expect the 'disco equipment' and large speakers to be still in place.

On the front-right there is the News Room, which has lost most of its original vestibule entrance and in recent years lost its 'News Room' deep etched with gilded lettering and frosted glass panel. It now functions as the Vault and has a richly carved bar counter topped by a carved wooden shield and a red brick fireplace, which looks like a later addition, but is now blocked up and covered by a radiator. The room has a tall baffle by the door with frosted glass panels but recently painted a light blue colour, original fixed seating with a low baffle painted black and until recently it retained the original coat hooks. The three-quarter height panelling was added in the 1980s and is much plainer than the other woodwork in the pub; it has recently has been painted a light blue colour.

The back room (fronting Glynne Street) retains a rare wooden internal vestibule from the lobby area (unusual as most vestibule entrances lead from the street), but has in recent years lost a 'Commercial Room' deep etched with gilded lettering and frosted glass panel, which has been replaced by a modern 'Shakespeares Head' one. This, the best of the rooms, has another richly carved bar counter topped by a carved wooden shield and a decoratively carved fireplace with panelled overmantel, copper canopy and some modern tiling. The fixed seating is original with low carved baffles at each end recently painted black, unusually detailed bell-pushes also recently painted black and, as elsewhere, original elaborate brass door handles. The three-quarter height panelling, recently painted a light blue colour, was added in the 1980s and as well as much plainer than the other woodwork in the pub there are noticeable gaps where it meets the fireplace here.

It is a real pleasure to find the off-sales area untouched (entrance from Glynne Street) - doors lead off it to the Vault (minus its etched and gilded panel) and Commercial Room. It has lower rising sash panels and fixed glazed panels up the ceiling. This screen forms the original bar back fitting which has shelves fixed across it. This tiny room also has richly carved bar counter topped by a carved wooden shield and has a short screen by the external door.

The last public room on the ground floor seems to have been brought into use after serving as part of the former kitchen and has modern dado panelling. Off to the left are new toilets in a flat roof extension as when built the toilets were outside - look for the black and white tiling on the way to the toilets indicating where the original exterior door lobby was situated. An open staircase with leaded window half way up leads upstairs.

The upstairs function room, with a figure '7' on an enamel disc on the door, is at present not accessible to the public. It is an excellent example of inter-war Tudor reinvention; the walls are covered with three-quarter height oak panelling, there are heavy roof timbers, a Tudor-style stone fireplace, and it still retains its quality bell pushes for waiter service. The large room has a folding screen so can be converted into two separate rooms as there are two doors from the landing and, until recently, it even retained ten circular tables from the 1920s, three of which had Formica tops added.

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