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UK pub was picked up and moved a few metres to make room for an M&S

Daisy Phillipson

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| Last updated 

UK pub was picked up and moved a few metres to make room for an M&S

This is the incredible story of a UK pub site that was once picked up and moved up the road a few metres.

Why, you ask? To make room for an M&S. That's a lot of effort for spenny finger food.

Of course, there were other reasons why the medieval venues were shifted - but that didn't stop the project from sparking outrage amongst the locals.

The pubs in question are The Old Wellington Inn, built all the way back in 1552, and its extension known as Sinclair's Oyster Bar.

Credit: Creative Commons
Credit: Creative Commons

Today they sit in an area of the northern city called Shambles Square - which is ironic considering its backstory itself is a little shambolic.

You see, the medieval site - previously known as the Old Shambles - was in an area of Manchester that was hit by the WWII blitz.

Amazingly, the Shambles survived and stood for decades as examples of the city's heritage.

But in 1974, officials decided to knock down much of the old property in the area to make way for the massive Arndale Shopping Centre.

Thankfully, city planners decided against getting rid of The Old Wellington Inn and Sinclair's Oyster Bar.

Instead, they were jacked up for a road to run underneath in the newly created Shambles Square.

The infamous watering holes continued to be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, but in 1996, tragedy struck once more.

In June of that year, an IRA bomb was detonated in the nearby area, damaging many of the surrounding buildings.

An IRA bomb blasted in Manchester city centre in 1996. Credit: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo
An IRA bomb blasted in Manchester city centre in 1996. Credit: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Once again, the old pubs managed to survive and only suffered minor damage.

When it came to restoring the city in 1999, architect and civil engineer duo Ian Simpson and Martin Stockley came up with an entirely new plan for the Shambles.

They wanted to quite literally pick the pubs up and move them 70 metres up the road. It's safe to say many people were apprehensive about the idea.

According to Manchester Evening News, one member of a civic society suggested it would create a sort of 'Walt Disney historical ghetto'.

What's more, one of the key reasons for the move was to make way for the redevelopment of a Marks & Spencer store.

But those behind the project were given permission to do so regardless after arguing that the pubs weren't in the right place.

Stockley told the outlet: "Although a lot of the other competitors were very shy of doing it, we said they’re in a completely inappropriate place.

"So we thought let’s move them to a part of the city where they will feel more comfortable, by the cathedral."

As you might have guessed, the job wasn't an easy one to execute.

Alison Nimmo - who was on the team that oversaw the project - said: "It had to be moved slate by slate, peg by peg, stored and then put together again."

And this included 'all of the creaky floorboards and skewiff windows, doors that didn’t quite fit'.

"It had to look really authentic in the way it was then put back together again," she added.

This is the 'new' Old Shambles. Credit: Creative Commons
This is the 'new' Old Shambles. Credit: Creative Commons

Although some were apprehensive about the development, the team pulled it off - so well, in fact, that it convinced those who weren't initially keen on the idea.

Aidan O’Rourke, a former member of the civic society, said: "There really wasn’t any choice when it came to moving them.

"They looked out of place where they were - a bizarre juxtaposition of medieval pubs in a concrete wasteland.

"I was sceptical at first, but when I saw they were being placed in an L shape with a new courtyard space in front I thought it worked very well. It was a good solution.

"They are a big tourist attraction now, but I think it’s important people know the history and what happened."

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock/NicholasH/TripAdvisor

Topics: UK News, Weird

Daisy Phillipson
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