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Photo-a-Day Archive
Photo-a-Day Archive

Photo-a-Day  (Saturday, 31st December, 2022)

The Berkeley


The Berkeley
The Berkeley on Wallgate, formerly the Minorca Hotel.
The left hand side of the building was the offices of Thomas Wall.

Photo: Dennis Seddon  (Sony DSC-WX500)
Views: 1,729

Comment by: Wigan Pub Historian on 31st December 2022 at 09:15

A bit of History of the Minorca

There is evidence that a Thomas Martin, had a house, farm, and malt kiln on the site in 1762.

Also, a building called the Minorca or referred to locally as "Willam Roper's" was in existence in 1790, previously referred to as Thorntons.

Reputably, the Minorca was named after the Balearic Island, now Menorca, lost in battle by Admiral Byng and he was subsequently shot on his own quarterdeck.

The first reference is of an advert for the return of William's "Lost" dog Pluto, with a reward.

The Minorca was used extensively in the 1790's and early 1800's for various land and building auctions, in addition to public meetings in respect of declared bankrupts.

In November 1805 William died of consumption.

Owners/Publicans:

1806-1807 - Mrs. Billinge

1809 - John Croudson

1816 - John Walls

1818 - Ellen Green, married Nicholas Cowell in 1819

1825 - Nicholas Cowell

1828 - Peter Aspinwall

The Minora was in the possession of the Wigan Brewery Company by 1843.

1854 - John Chadwick

The building was altered in 1857 to the designs of Alfred Waterhouse, the eminent Victorian architect.

1858-1869 - John Hesketh was the tenant with a large outside catering business for organisations in various locations around the town and surrounding areas.

In 1857, George Cox opened his Livery Stable. However, this was a short-lived venture, with the closing of the business in 1859, with 4 Horses, 3 Cabs, 2 Drags, 1 Gig, plus clothing, head collars, etc offered for sale.

In 1894, the whole estate of the Wigan Brewery was offered for auction of one lot, including the Minorca, comprising of the brewery, 86 public houses, and the extensive Wine & Spirit Store in Rodney Street trading under Henry Robinson & Co.

The auction was the result of a court case involving the owner, Ellen Ann Robinson Morris, a spinster, lunacy claim having been committed to an asylum.

Link to the 1894 Auction catalogue

The auction lot was bought by Magee Marshall & Co for £150,000. (£14m today). The stables and other buildings were not included in the sale, there were also right-of-way restrictions with adjoining properties although access to ashpit in the yard was included.

At the time of the sale Jane Kenny was the tenant/landlady.

Thomas Wall, the founder of the Wigan Observer in1853, was the first tenant in 1845 of the premises known as Minorca Buildings, the only tenant until the property was purchased by the brewing company Messrs Magee Marshall. This may have prompted the alterations by Alfred Waterhouse in 1857.

Magee, Marshall & Co.Ltd was taken over by Greenall Whitley & Co.Ltd, of Warrington in 1958.

The Berni Inns company took over the building in 1968 and undertook an extensive redesign of the property, comprising two restaurants, four bars, plus a bier keller.




 

Comment by: David on 31st December 2022 at 09:19

My cousin was the chef at the Minorca Bernie Inn Steakhouse back in 1974. Still the best steak I've ever had. He went on to start his own restaurant and guest house

Comment by: irene roberts on 31st December 2022 at 09:24

I remember The Minorca when it was a Berni Inn. It was " a bit posh" for Wiganers to go out for a meal in the 1970s, and the Berni had a standard fayre of either prawn cocktail or melon, followed by steak "garni" and chips, ( the"garni" was a tiny bit of salad cut very small), and Black Forest Gateau. I remember going for a drink with girls from work and feeling very sophisticated sipping a Babycham. The Minorca was reputed to be haunted, and they used to find a pulled pint of beer on the bar in the mornings; if I were a ghost I couldn't be bothered pulling a pint that I couldn't drink! I love these "before-and-after" photos....thanks, Dennis.

Comment by: Veronica on 31st December 2022 at 12:08

I remember going for a meal there in the early seventies I thought it was quite ‘select’. I recall having steak it must have been when it was a Berni Inn. To think the building has been on that spot from the late 1800’s …. Thank you for the very interesting history lesson. Only just across the road from a similar old building - The Dog and Partridge.

Comment by: Maureen on 31st December 2022 at 14:35

Veronica,I seem to have lost your email address also,but if you forward it to Ron he will send it to me,therefore I can send you my address..

Comment by: Brasstoff on 31st December 2022 at 14:43

Good history knowledge there WPH, thanks for that.

Comment by: Cyril on 31st December 2022 at 14:55

I and fellow drinkers would call in the Stable Bar in The Minorca when having a night around town, usually it was just a couple of drinks then move on somewhere else, there was a bar in the main building but we preferred being in the bar which was in the yard off King Street. The Dog & Partridge was a great pub wasn't it Veronica, I couldn't believe that it was re-named the Bees Knees and they'd ripped out the enclosed seating areas to make one large room with such things as old bikes and prams etc., hanging from a black ceiling with gaudily painted walls, and it was like a scrum too everybody being pushy, shovey and noisy, and ten deep at the bar, we soon made an exit.

Those wooden enclosures made from oak (I think) with stained glass surrounds and seating about eight or so on comfy seats were more private to have your drinks and conversations, wonder if the landlord, I can't remember his name, ever went back to look what the brewery had allowed them to do to the pub.

Comment by: Veronica on 31st December 2022 at 18:10

It happened with a lot of pubs Cyril - catering for the young as usual.
Making a pig’s ear of historic pubs just to attract them - fat lot of good it did, when most pubs are now closed. Absolute tastelessness at the end with regards to decor.

Comment by: Veronica on 31st December 2022 at 18:12

Maureen I have your address but the email has gone along with my old iPad, which if I remember had Cliff’s name on it. xx

Comment by: irene roberts on 31st December 2022 at 18:49

Veronica and Maureen, I have the email addresses for you both and am happy to pass them on but just need your permission to do so.

Comment by: Thomas(Tom)Walsh. on 31st December 2022 at 18:53

Wigan Pub Historian, thank you for the information.
Would you be prepared to give a talk to Wigan Local History and Heritage, it would be facilitating, if you could give the time, I will mention to our Char who I know would be delighted to wellcome you.
Best Regards, Tom Walsh.

Comment by: Veronica on 31st December 2022 at 18:57

Of Course Irene.. thank you ..xx

Comment by: Maureen on 31st December 2022 at 19:44

Yes please Irene,would you send mine to Veronica..and Veronica's to me...thank you.

Comment by: Edna on 31st December 2022 at 20:59

Looks very posh on this photo, and the streets are all very clean as well. Best wishes everyone for New Year.

Comment by: Sir Bob on 31st December 2022 at 22:53

Circa 1981 the Minorca became the Berkeley Square, and it was that for many years before it became just The Berkeley

As regards the Dog & Partridge, I really liked it when it became the Bees Knees, I had many a good time in there, and it sold Loopy Juice (Merrydown Cider)

Around the corner in Market Street, was me favourite place of all, Bluto's

Comment by: Cyril on 10th January 2023 at 20:32

Maybe the Spanish refugee from the Napoleonic Wars who was a skilled hotelier and behind opening The Minorca Hotel -. Info here:

https://www.wiganlocalhistory.org/king-street-heritage-action-zone/introduction-to-the-street-that-was

Thanks to Jim Meehan for an excellent, comprehensively researched, and enjoyable to read article.

- well, that same man may have also been behind the recipe for Cyprus Sauce, which was being made on King Street and on an old advertisement flyer, the photo of which may well have been on the now defunct Forum.

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