DGM Archaeology Festival: The Historic Pubs of Altrincham


The Old Market Tavern, formerly the Unicorn PH, Altrincham Old Market Place

The first ever Dig Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival has 17 FREE events to choose from. The festival kicked off on Thursday 22 June with a tour of the historic pubs of Altrincham run by the South Trafford Archaeology Group (www.stag-archaeology.uk).


The walk is based on the inns, taverns and public houses mentioned in Pigot & Co.’s Commercial Directory of 1822-1823 for Altrincham, before the character of the town and the location of its commercial centre were altered by the arrival of the railway in 1849. Meeting outside the Orange Tree in the Old Market Place (WA14 4DE) at 6pm the two hour tour will take in, amongst other pub sites, the Unicorn (the former town hall of 1849), the Axe and Cleaver (late 18th century), the Wheatsheaf (late 18th or early 19th century), and the Orange Tree, which contains timber-framing from the 16th and early 17th centuries.

Altrincham was given its charter as a market borough in 1290. This market town sits on the northern flank of Bowdon Hill, with the market place terraced into the hillside. Even today the building plots surrounding the old market place reflect the long, narrow, burgages of the late medieval town. Although the placename suggests a late Saxon origin nothing earlier that 14th century has been found. However, Saxon activity was excavated on the site of Timperley Old Hall, roughly 1km to the east, by STAG in the 1990s.

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Excavation behind No 6 Old market Place, Altrincham by UMAU in 2004

STAG have been investigating the Old Market Place since the early 1980s, when they undertook test pitting with GMAU in the town fields to the north-west. In the mid-1984s a late medieval corn drying kiln was excavated off Victoria Street. During the 1990s watching brief work revealed medieval rubbish pits behind the buildings on Market Street, whilst a building survey with the local WEA class recorded half a dozen timber-framed buildings. In the 2000s, a developer-funded excavation behind No.6 Market Place revealed a late medieval burgage property ditch. A flavour of the old market atmosphere can still be got in the Orange Tree, with its timber-framing, brick barrel vaulted cellars and ghost (allegedly).



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