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This is an article from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) What's Brewing news website re the historic Britons Protection, a pub much visited by Beer Tours UK on our Manchester visits. We very much hope it survives under the current ownership.

David and Goliath court clash over iconic Manchester pub

28/05/2024 by Timothy Hampson


The fight to secure the future of one of Britain’s most treasured pubs is set for a David and Goliath-style court showdown on 17 June. Leaseholders of Manchester’s Britons Protection have been battling for more than a year against Heineken’s Star Pubs & Bars’ plans for the pub. They will now put their case before Manchester Civic Court in a hearing, which is expected to last for five days. Licensee Allan Hudd has successfully run the popular Great Bridgewater Street hostelry, which gave refuge to the Peterloo Massacre victims in 1819, for 12 years. Under the 2016 free-of-tie market rent only (MRO) legislation, Allan created an eight hand-pull cask ale haven plus he has also collected a near 400-strong range of whiskies. Now Star Pubs & Bars, with more than 2,400 outlets, wants to take the pub into its Just Add Talent (JAT) managed-house portfolio.

The court will hear a challenge to the company’s move to serve a Section 25 Eviction Notice to take back the pub. Under security of tenure legislation, Britons Protection will ask the court to allow it to continue as tenant for another 10 years. A 17,000-plus signature petition will be submitted to support its case. The current lease agreement came to an end two years ago, but rent has been paid since then. Listed in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Pub Interiors, the Britons Protection dates to early 1800s and was used for army recruitment during the Napoleonic Wars.

Today the distinctive building stands as a proud tribute to the city’s heritage, dwarfed amid a forest of tower block apartments and hotel developments. Over the past 12 years, Alan has built up a whisky range from around the world. Also, until this dispute, each summer he and business partner multi-site operator Mark West travelled to Kentucky to select a barrel of bourbon to import and release for Christmas. They fear both the whisky and cask ales will be lost under the Star Pubs’ plan. Allan said: “We are seeking judgement to allow our lease to continue to protect the future of this iconic Manchester pub. It feels like a David-and-Goliath battle. If it becomes a managed house the city will lose a much-loved venue for cask ale and whisky to yet another bland gastro pub.” More than £180,000 has already been spent in legal fees to support the fight, which Allan and Mark West regard as a cause célèbre for leaseholders who may face similar action.

A Star Pubs spokesperson said: “Britons Protection is a beautiful, historic Manchester pub that appeals to both locals who love real ale and visitors looking to experience a traditional Mancunian great British pub. We believe in its future and, now that the lease is coming to an end, we feel this is the ideal opportunity to review how the pub will be operated going forward to ensure its long-term sustainability.  “Britons Protection is the perfect fit for our managed operator model, and we plan to build on the current offer while continuing to support the pub’s historic status and maintaining its focus on serving an interesting range of real ale and ciders. We are going through a legal process with the licensee and due to this are not able to comment further.” Star Pubs & Bars has previously announced plans to increase its JAT managed operator business from its current 150 pubs to 250 by 2026, which it will see it make up around 12 per cent of the company’s pub estate.  


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