Circus Tavern

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Greater Manchester - Manchester

Three star - A pub interior of exceptional national historic importance

Listed Status: II

86 Portland Street
M1 4GX

Tel: 07863 349957


Real Ale: Yes

Nearby Station: Manchester Oxford Road

Station Distance: 450m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Oxford Road (Manchester)) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

A tiny pub in the heart of bustling central Manchester. The building, originally a house, is just one bay wide. A corridor on the left leads to two tiny, simply-fitted public rooms, separated by a vertically boarded partition. The miniscule servery, branded as ‘the smallest bar in Europe’, is under the stairs and is so small that only one person can serve. Its design, with its glazed superstructure, suggests a 1930s origin. Both rooms have old fixed benches: until very recently there were baffles at the entrances to the rooms but unfortunately all but one have been destroyed. The fireplaces are replacements. More than 40 customers and the place is packed. Listed in 1994 following a pilot study of Greater Manchester pubs by CAMRA for English Heritage.
This is one of the Top Ten Heritage Pubs in Britain which, despite its narrow internal dimensions, retains its room divisions and its modest fittings. An utterly unspoilt pub which is a tremendous survival in bustling central Manchester. Such survivals are rare nationally, and are especially uncommon in metropolitan surroundings. This early nineteenth-century stuccoed building is just one bay wide and was originally a house converted to a public house. It has a corridor on the left leading to two simply-fitted public rooms, one behind the other, on the right, which are separated by a vertically-boarded partition, the rear section which has a glazed upper section. It is packed if there are 40 customers so don't be surprised if, occasionally, you find the front door closed to avoid a crush!

In the corridor the tiny servery is placed under the stairs and is only large enough for one person to perform the noble act of serving the beer. The details of the servery with its glazed superstructure suggest it dates from c. 1930 date. A doorway leads to the very small room at the front which retains fixed bench seating, but a pair of draught screens by the door have recently been removed and the fireplace is a replacement.

The rear tiny room, also created by a partition wall to the corridor, retains its original fixed seating with bell pushes all around the room, a draught screen by the door, rear etched window, just two tables, but the a tiled and cast iron fireplace is a modern replacement and the glazed panel above the doorway and the wood with the figure '3', a requirement of the licensing magistrates, has recently been removed. The Gents has a 1930s 'Gents' glass panel on the door - the ladies was outside but is now covered over. Our photographs are now out of date as the walls of the whole place covered in photographs. There is no food, no piped music, no fruit machine and certainly no pool table - a TV is switched on for sport.
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