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Waggon & Horses

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By Matthew Thompson

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Published on Facebook 5/1/2023
Last Updated 1/8/2023

 

Just over Heald Green's border into Handforth, a pub with over two hundred years of history.

Standing just south of the Heald Green-Handforth boundary on Wilmslow Road, the Waggon and Horses public house has long been connected with  the history of our area, with many residents of the village drinking, working or holding family celebrations there across the last two centuries.

The first pub on the site was originally a small farmhouse, Stanley Fold, built c. 1750, around the same time as
Griffin Farm a few hundred yards further north, on what was then the new turnpike road from Manchester to Birmingham that ran through Cheadle, up Schools Hill to Long Lane, and on to Wilmslow via the toll gates near the junction with Stanley Road, which stood opposite the Waggon and Horses until 1881, and can be seen on the 1844 Tithe Map. [Ed: also illustrated here with a map from 1872 that also names the toll gate as the Hurlbote Turnpike]

 

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Fig. 1 Cheadle Hulme / Smithy Green / Holbert Green Tithe Map, 1844
© F. & T. Mitchell / St. James Church
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Fig. 2 Waggon and Horses Public House (P.H) and Hurlbote Turnpike (T.P.) opposite, 1872
© Old Maps Online
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As at  Griffin Farm, it was the Beerhouse Act 1830, which allowed any householder to sell beer by paying two guineas for a licence, and was intended to discourage the drinking of spirits, that led to the opening of the Waggon and Horses Inn at the farmhouse.

In 1836, the landlord was Charles Hudson, and in 1897 George Walker, who is on the 1901 Census there as a 43 year old publican, born in Hyde. The photo shows the pub around this time.

 

Fig. 3 Waggon & Horses, c 1900
from Cheadle & Gatley Postcards (Chris Makepeace) © European Library
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The farmhouse building was demolished and a new, improved pub, essentially the same structure as today, built some time between the wars, by the Greenall Whitley brewery of Wilderspool, Warrington, whose beers it still sold when I first drank there in the late Eighties. It was designed in the classic interwar roadhouse style, whose popularity peaked in the late thirties (another local example is the Gateway at East Didsbury), and can be seen in what must be very close to its original form in this photo from the mid fifties, although the air raid siren which was positioned on the roof of the pub throughout the Second World War has presumably been removed. There was also once, as befits its agricultural name, a saddle mounted on a pole attached to the side of the building, and this is apparently still stored in the loft.
 

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Fig. 4 Waggon & Horses, mid 50s
© Francis Frith Collection
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"My mother's cousin (long deceased) used to play in a dance band (my father on piano). He told me that the landlord at the pub asked why they charged so much. My Uncle Mick replied that they could do it cheaper by sending a man with a gramophone! Rather prophetic as it turned out!”
- Jeanne Yvonne Walsh, Facebook, Aug 2023

"Remember it being Wilderspool breweries back in the day.”
- Terence Johnston, Facebook, Dec 2022

"Yes, other people have said that - Wilderspool Brewery was Greenall Whitley."
- Matthew Thompson, Facebook, Dec 2022

"I celebrated my 21st Birthday and engagement in The Waggon & Horses in 1962. So much has happened in my life since then but seems like it was a recent event not sixty years ago.”
- Gladys Best, Facebook, Dec 2022

"The Waggon and Horses is where I met my husband in 1974. I knew at first sight he was the one! Still as happy today. Lots of happy times there, everyone knew everyone it was like a family, not the same now!"
- Janet Cochrane, Facebook, Dec 2022

"I worked there in the mornings bottling up, and as glass collector at night early 80's, My dad was the keyboard player there most weekends. Think it was a Mr Lowe or Howe ex police that was the landlord then. I used to walk up from Hilary Avenue every morning and evening.”
- Paul Howarth, Facebook, Aug 2023

"Few Licencee’s names:-
Alan (Snr) & Dolly Wild
Young Alan Wild (Son)
The pub then went to a managed house.
Bob & Lyn Rudd
Alan & Margaret Trow
.”
- Dave Wood, Facebook, Dec 2022

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Fig. 5 Bowling Green, 2011
© Geograph
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The Waggon and Horses is now owned by the Suffolk-based brewery Greene King. Developments in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century have included the opening of a Wacky Warehouse children’s play area at the right hand side of the building, and there has been an increasing shift away from it being a wet-led pub to carvery style dining – as has also happened at other pubs in the area – although the front bar is still mainly the preserve of drinkers, especially in the evening and when live sports events are shown on the TVs there. 

One notable feature is the large bowling green with a covered shelter and clubhouse to the rear of the pub, retained despite the widespread destruction of similar facilities in the Sixties and Seventies by breweries looking to expand the capacity of their pubs’ car parks.

 

"Dad would take us to watch the bowls at the back [in the] late 60s.”
- Pamela Dunning, Facebook, Aug 2023

"I also remember watching my dad playing bowls at the Waggon and Horses! A bottle of Coke and a bag of Smith's plain crisps (because that was the only flavour then) with a bag of salt and I was quite happy, although that wasn’t dad's (Brian Sutcliffe's) local which was the Heald Green Hotel where he played and captained the darts team.”
- Jean Taylor, Facebook, Dec 2022

"I remember my dad used to play crown green bowling there over 50 years ago and I used to go and watch the matches. We still go to the Waggon and Horses with our grandchildren. Good it is still there and well used.”
- Denise Gleaves, Facebook, Dec 2022

"I used to play darts every Sunday night with my best mate Spud (Will Murphy) starting in, I reckon, 1973. We played in the vault which was great because the beer was a penny a pint cheaper (about 17 new pence as we used to say) we once took a girl with us… never went again."
- Mike Heyes, Facebook, Dec 2022

"We had my late wife's funeral reception there back in 2004, God bless her. The staff that day were wonderful and caring.”
- David Buckley, Facebook, Dec 2022

Acknowledgments
I am grateful to the Clerk and the Chairman of Handforth Town Council, the Pub Preservation Officer of Macclesfield and East Cheshire CAMRA and the Secretary and committee members of Wilmslow Historical Society for their assistance in supplying information about the history of the Waggon and Horses for this article.

Thanks also to members of the
Heald Green Heritage Facebook page for sharing their memories of the pub.

 

Fig. 5 Waggon & Horses, 2021
© Colin Barnsley
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Bibliography

  1. Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey (2017). 20th Century Pub. : .

  2. Richard Boston (1976). Beer and Skittles. : .

  3. Andrew Campbell (1956). The Book of Beer. : .

  4. Williams, K.I.&.J.T. 1998. Long Lane Cheadle Remembered. : HG United Reformed Church Archive, .

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