Mancunians have expressed anger over a proposed redevelopment of beloved public house Hardy’s Well.
The pub, located at the end of the curry mile, hasn’t been in use for a number of years but is seen by many as an artefact and a ‘central part of Rusholme’s identity’.
The new plans – originally submitted to the council a year ago – would see the iconic pub turned into flats and shops, with the pub’s frontage saved and partly kept unchanged.
The 200-year-old pub is the site of Lemn Sissay’s legendary poem ‘Hardy’s Well’. The renowned poet and Chancellor of the University of Manchester describes the piece as “public art”.
Sissay himself told The Mancunion that he was sad that the poem would be removed, and hoped that it would find a new home.
He said: “I’ve been aware for some time that Hardy’s Well was nearing its end. Hardy’s became “the poem with the pub on the side of it” as much as “the pub with the poem on the side of it.
“Since the 1960s, living poets weren’t putting poems in public spaces. Now, from Simon Armitage to Helen Mort, poems in public space have become part of the cultural landscape of Britain.
“I am proud that Hardy’s Well was first. The problem with a lot of the present poetry in public is that a lot of it is physically self-effacing. Hardy’s Well was written in a place for everyone to see and it was unashamedly bold.”
Some residents have slammed the proposals as a “shame” and “monstrous”, with one resident calling the planning authorities in Manchester “actually bonkers.”
Councillors and residents groups have also raised concerns about the proposed plans leading to additional traffic and congestion, with parking said to be a particular issue in the area.
One masters student, who chose to stay anonymous, said: “Some residents will see this as if the developers are tearing down a beloved statue; it’s a public monument, part of the Mancunian landscape, and many will be sad to see it gone.”
However, some have struggled to see the issue with the proposed redevelopment.
Luke Austin, an Environmental Science and Management student said: “It’s better being flats than it just sat there rotting, at least they’re keeping part of the building. Do you ever think it was going to reopen as a pub? It was only a matter of time before houses or shops got placed on its land.”
Alfie Wells, a second-year Geography student said: “I think as long as Sissay’s poetry is preserved on the Southern wall then regeneration should happen. That end of the Curry Mile is an eyesore to be honest but the poetry must be preserved though as its an important piece of Mancunian history. Personally, I would love for a brewery or independent to take over the lease and turn it back into a bustling community hub it once was.”
Harry Hamish Gray, an aerospace engineering graduate shared the proposed redevelopment on Fallowfield Students Group (FSG), calling it a ‘monstrous tumour’.
He told The Mancunion that whilst he understands the need for redevelopment “a lot of students are unfamiliar with the love northerners have for red brick.”
He added: “They may just see it as ruins, but many of these buildings are important to our shared history and culture.
“I don’t mind expensive flats just as long as they look nice. There is nothing worse than knowing that somebody is paying £140+ a week to live in such a ghastly building, I feel bad for them.”