Interior Photography Pub Series: Sam's Chophouse

If you saw my last blog post you’ll know that as an interior photographer, my aim is not just to photograph a building but to tell it’s story. And in my opinion, there’s no better place to tell a good story than in the pub. Literally.

There are so many great pubs in Manchester, but they are fading fast. So in a bid to preserve these great institutions, I’m photographing and blogging about some of my favourites. Next up in my Interior Photography Pub Series: Sam’s Chophouse. Sam’s is one of Manchester's most celebrated pubs and it’s a haven for any interior photographer, whether or not they have a passion for pubs! 

Situated on the junction of Back Pool Fold and Chapel Walk, Sam’s Chop House is a traditional Victorian bar and restaurant serving cask ales, fines wines and traditional British food.

Established in 1872 and originally inhabiting a basement space on Manchester’s Market Street, Sam’s was the brain child of Samuel Studd, a Fleet Street Newspaper seller who moved to the city to fulfil ambitions of being a pub landlord. Along with his brother Thomas, the two later went on to open Mr Thomas’s Chop House, which can be found situated over the road on nearby Chapel Street. 

Upon returning to London for reasons unknown, Sam left his brother Thomas as the official guardian of both venues. There is little information on whether Thomas lived out the rest of his days as innkeeper to these establishments, but the buildings have remained and although the houses have changed custodial hands many times throughout the last century (29 to be exact), probably the most notable to date would be landlord Bert Knowles. Bert was landlord throughout the 1950s and he was firm friends with local artist L.S Lowry, who regularly frequented Sam’s Chop House. Knowles is said to have met Lowry at Art School and their friendship continued into adult life. Lowry is remembered by past staff members as being a warm and kind-hearted gentleman.

Sam’s closed down in 1996 and was left empty until 1999 when it was taken over. Thankfully the new owners preserved everything that makes it unique – the dark wood, Doulton tiles, copper pipes and mismatched furniture gives Sam’s an old-fashioned charm without being contrived. It’s almost like a Dickensian film set, with great beer and a sturdy British menu. Exactly the kind of space I like to photograph.

The place just oozes history. The brass plaques on its walls commemorate some of the many local societies and clubs that were formed there and Sam’s has also seen many famous patrons over the years. In 2011 to commemorate the life and works of L.S Lowry, a brass sculpture was commissioned by current pub owner Roger Ward. The sculpture was designed and created by local artist Peter Hodgkinson to mark the 35th anniversary of Lowry’s death but also to celebrate the bars most renowned customer. The life size sculpture sits in permanent residence at the bar in Sam’s Chop House and has attracted visitors from near and far who come to sit and have a pint with this local legend.

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Interior Photography Pub Series: The Marble Arch Inn

Working as an interior photographer, my aim is not just to photograph a building but to tell it’s story.  And in my opinion, there’s no better place to tell a good story than in the pub. Literally. 

I’ve been an interior photographer for a number of years and there’s something about the traditional British pub that intrigues me. Its the clumsy mix of old and new decor, features and trinkets collected over the years, that give them an unmatched, atmosphere. And although I photograph new pubs that deliberately recreate this aesthetic, its the unconscious, unplanned accumulation of quirks in a traditional British pub that makes it so authentic. Sadly the number of these landmarks are in decline, so I’m intent on telling the stories of these unique places before they’re gone. First up in my photography series of great British pubs: The Marble Arch.

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Bought by Marble Beers in 1998 and thus achieving Free House status, The Marble Arch played host to the Marble micro brewery up until 2011.Offering up an array of 100% vegan beers, this Northern gem has firmly secured its place as a 'go to' destination for beer connoisseurs. 

Records tell us that a public house has stood on this spot since at least 1850. The 'Wellington Inn' occupied the corner of Rochdale Road throughout the mid Nineteenth century and the building was later owned by publican giants of the era: Bernard & John McKenna (George and Dragon aka Band on the Wall). Renovated in 1863 by theatre architects Darbyshire & Smith; the pub later changed its name to the 'Wellington Vaults' and has continued to welcoming thirsty Northerners for over a century.

Over the years, many of the pub’s most celebrated features disappeared from view, meaning that unsuspecting punters could be forgiven for not appreciating the true loveliness of its interior. Yes the slightly wonky floor still remained, but most likely hidden under sticky patterned carpets and the exquisite tiled walls are said to have been hidden behind plaster board until its second major renovation in the 1990’s.

Now fully restored back to its former glory and granted Grade II listed status in 1998, The Marble Arch is a true delight for an interior photographer! And we can be assured that the stunning Victorian décor will be preserved and celebrated for many years to come.

If you're looking for affordable interior photography that really shows your pub or venue at its best, please drop me an email  or call me on 07795463308.