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8th March 2016

The Pilcrow Pub

Craftsmen and volunteers unite to build a pub from scratch

On a crisp and sunny Friday morning in Manchester I found myself in the heart of Castlefield surrounded by industrial Victorian warehouses. In one of these sites is Joe Hartley’s workshop, now serving as the heart and development centre for the exciting community-spirited project, The Pilcrow Pub.

In this dusty, dynamic and creative workspace are the team behind the project that is soon to be built in NOMA, behind Manchester Victoria. The aim for this venture, as the brains behind the idea Ben Young explains, is to create a pub, therefore a social welcoming space, which has been supported by the best of Manchester craftsmen. In turn this site will also house multiple workshops specialising in true craft skills, such as workshops in wood and ceramics, skills that have been eclipsed by technology for the youth of Manchester.

Photo: The Pilcrow Pub











So why a pub? As Ben enthusiastically addresses, for him and his team it is the first original social network; the pub is the heart of a neighbourhood. By creating a pub there is the hope to create a community, a hope to create a welcoming, earthy, and completely inclusive space.

These ideas are already evident in the pub accents that have been created in previous workshops, from bar taps that have all been individually sculpted, to the bar cornices that have been fashioned to form the shape of a pilcrow, a paragraph sign. There is no control over who will design the space; the pub is constantly in transition depending on new creative activities and involvement.

So what can this pub do for us students? Aside from the obvious fact that it serves alcohol! Building the actual pub starts in a couple of weeks and once constructed the workshops will be open to anyone, with any level of skills. So if you’re hoping to learn a new skill aside from your degree or wanting to revisit a previous one, this pub is the place. The team are sure to make anyone feel welcome and confident in your abilities; I was only there for ten minutes before I started creating my own journal using traditional techniques and fabulous local materials, such as paper from G. F. Smith.

Photo: The Pilcrow Pub











I am sure that this community-spirited, wholesome, and visionary drinking hole will be a much welcome addition to Manchester’s famed drinking scene.

Thanks go to Ben Young, Project Leader, Joe Hartley, Head Maker, and to the other helpers and crafters for making me feel so welcome.

To find out more about this designer boozer, or to become part of the 600 volunteering team visit:

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