A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II23 Millgate
Tel: (0161) 480 2185
Real Ale: Yes
Lunchtime Meals: Yes
Evening Meals: Yes
Public Transport: Near Bus Stop
View on: Whatpub
This excellent 19th-century town centre pub has a well-preserved interior with simple wooden panelling, bench seating and quarry-tiled floors plus, in the lobby, a floor-to-ceiling curved, screened bar, still with its rising sashes. Three rooms open off this lobby whilst the fourth, known as ‘the Select’, offers a most unusual arrangement as it can only be accessed by passing through the bar, with permission from the staff. Only two other pubs are known to have rooms like this – the Bridge Inn, Topsham, Devon, and Ye Horns Inn, Goosnargh, Lancashire. The fixing of handpumps to the bar-back, rather than the counter, is also unusual. Throughout the pub are three quite extraordinary tables where bell-pushes to attract waiter service sit in the centre of tables rather than, as usual, on the walls. The two front right-hand rooms can be divided off from one another by a sliding screen. Some structural alterations have taken place in recent years, notably the incorporation of the once private rear right-hand room to make a larger pub space, but the integrity of the historic interior remains largely intact.
One of the great survivors amongst Britain's Heritage Pubs, the Arden Arms has a snug called 'the Select' which is believed to be one of only three surviving public rooms that can only be accessed by walking though the servery i.e. the licensees part of the pub so you have to ask staff for permission to use the room. This tiny room has an etched 'Arden Arms' window, original fixed bench seating around it with bell pushes from the days of table service. Modern items such as a fridge and a coffee machine have been added in recent years! The other two rooms where you can sit while the staff serve customers from the same space are the 'Inner Sanctum' at the Bridge, Topsham, Devon and the ‘Snug’ at Ye Horns Inn, Goosnagh, Lancashire.
The Arden Arms is a three storey building of red brick built in c.1815 and owned by the Raffald family until sold to Robinsons Brewery in 1889. The 1st landlord George Raffald was the nephew of Elizabeth Raffald, author of "The Experienced Housekeeper" and compiler of Manchester's first trade directory. Doors on Millgate and Corporation Street lead into a L-shaped drinking lobby with a black and white quarry tiled floor and featuring a floor to ceiling screened bar still retaining its rising sashes. All four on the lobby side are intact but are no longer raised/lowered. There is a good frieze around the walls of the lobby rand an open staircase. The lobby entrance on the Corporation Street side has a terrazzo floor.
On the right hand side of the pub is the Millgate Room - a two-part room with a red and black diamond quarry tiled floor and a folding partition that can create two separate rooms. The door nearest the front of the pub with a figure '6' on it is no longer in use, the door in use has a figure '1' painted on it. The front part of the Millgate Room has a good 'Arden Arms' etched window, fixed bare bench seating around the room with loose cushions, a draught screen by the door and a fireplace with an old wood surround but modern cast-iron interior and a coal fire. The rear part has a cast-iron fireplace also with a coal fire.
In the angle of the streets is the vaults with a figure '2' on the door, original fixed bench seating around most of the room, and two 'Arden Arms' etched windows. The screened bar here retains its two top sections but the lower panels are missing and the room has lost its fireplace. Look for the rare 'bell tables' - in most pubs you used to summon table service by pressing a bell push on the walls of a room but here some tables had a bell push located in the centre of it to attract the attention of the staff - nowadays they are not responded to! Note the splendid grandfather clock and that the handpumps are, unusually, affixed to the bar back fitting of shelves rather than on the counter - there are very few remaining examples of this.