Out and About: The Lord Nelson public house, Urmston, Manchester

THURSDAY evening in mid-January. The time had just crept past five-o’clock and the rain was pelting down. I wished I had windscreen wipers on my specs as the rain droplets remained static on them. The walk to my destination was less than 10-minutes. By the time I arrived, my coat was soaked and my light-coloured trousers were covered in random rain patches. I stepped into the calm home – a home that was emotionally warming. The outside elements seemed like a distant memory. I noticed the living room as I walked towards the bar. This home whispered comfort, charisma and community – I had arrived at The Lord Nelson.

My early memories of pubs go back to growing up during the 1970s in London: the days when the majority of the local community worked within walking distance; a time when all the kids in the neighbourhood went to nearby schools, and Sunday services at church were filled with locals. In addition to workplaces, schools and the church, the pub was the central to the community – a place where people came together.

As my mind wandered whilst downing my half-pint, The Lord Nelson felt like more than a pub: as I sat looking at the windows with tied-back curtains, the fireplace and the homely decor, it felt like stepping into my own living room after a day at work. The Lord Nelson felt like a home from home.

As I explored the home and chatted to some of the drinkers, it was clear that The Lord Nelson is a home from home – it reflected my exact initial feeling when I’d walked through the door. Feedback from the drinkers was consistent: the staff are pleasant, it is a well run local, and of course, it is homely. The attendance span for the various drinkers I chatted-to ranged from five years to 50 years! The conversations were locally themed on subjects like what shops are now needed in Urmston and how much Urmston has changed over the years. There is no doubt that Urmston has changed over the years, there have been ins and outs, but The Lord Nelson has seen it all and is still standing firm.

Located on Stretford Road, the Lord Nelson building is majestic; no surprise really when we consider its history: In 1805, the Lord Nelson Hotel was established by George Royle. The hotel came up for sale in 1856 it was advertised in the Manchester Guardian as having 15 acres of farmland attached along with dwellings. The hotel was rebuilt in 1877 by George Royle’s grandson and was utilised by Colonel Ridehalgh (Lord of the Manor of Urmston) while holding court. It was also used as a terminus for local tram and bus companies in days gone by. All-in-all, not too shabby.

“When we lose pubs, we lose communities” was the quote I saw during my travels a few months earlier. After visiting the Lord Nelson, the quote is absolutely valid. For many of the drinkers that came into The Lord Nelson, it is about community, it’s about friendship, laughter and switching-off from the outside pressures. The Lord Nelson helps to build the Urmston community.

The time had come for me to leave. As I said my goodbyes and left the majestic building, I felt happiness and satisfaction with the promise of returning fairly soon. The rain had stopped and I was back home within 10- minutes. Even though I was back in my own home, the home I’d recently visited was pleasing and enjoyable.

The Lord Nelson is located at 49 Stretford Road, Urmston

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