Welcome to Tom's Chop House
Mr Thomas’s Chop House is arguably the best-preserved public house of the Victorian era in Manchester.
Irrespective of any comparisons, it is certainly a municipal institution - both architecturally and socially. And we are proud to be its custodians. To paraphrase the native American saying, we prefer to think that we have not inherited Mr Thomas’s from previous landlords, rather that we are borrowing it from our successors.
Tom’s will certainly be here long after we are gone.
Like the city’s other tiled jewel, the celebrated Victoria Baths, Mr Thomas’s has recently undergone its own restoration. Our intention has been to preserve its character, to restore its grandeur… and to give it the toilets it deserves!
At the same time, we have decided to give Mr Thomas’s a new decorative theme - our own living photographic archive, capturing this exciting period in Tom’s history (which, incidentally, is now in its third century) in a style which reflects the surroundings. To bring this to life, we commissioned local photographer Simon Buckley to record the Manchester characters who make Tom’s special.
This is an ongoing project. And these photographic portraits represent the first of many more to come. We hope you enjoy them. And we look forward to the day when you’re captured for history too.
Welcome to Mr Thomas’s Chop House - described by The New York Times as “probably Manchester’s most venerable pub” and intended by us to be definitely Manchester’s most welcoming pub.
This site on Cross Street was originally occupied by a Georgian Town House, hence its long, slim shape. Mr Thomas Studd, who also gave his name to the premises, first opened it as a public house and restaurant in 1867.
Like the coffee house, the alehouse, the boarding house and others, the chophouse is a British institution dating back to the origins of modern commercial trading in the sixteenth century.
Chop house were originally places where businessmen dined and conducted their affairs over hearty plates of traditionally cooked meats, frequently grilled and washed down with fine wines or well-kept local beers. No change there then.
The architect Robert Walker was commissioned to rebuild and extend the original premises and this version of Mr Thomas’s was completed in 1901. (If you look back towards the bar, Cross Street originally extended as far as the arched doorway leading to the front bar!)
It is a cast iron frame building - one of the first in Manchester. The exterior walls are a superb mixture of decorative terracotta blocks and Accrington brick. The terracotta was hand cast and delivered to the site hollow. It was then filled with concrete for extra strength and fabricated over the frame on site. The building was given Grade II listed status by English heritage for its architectural merit and historical importance in the city.
The interior remains almost completely original.
The arches and Victorian tiling are Mr Thomas’s principal distinguishing features. These have been recently cleaned and restored to reveal the beauty and skill of the original craftsmanship. The intense green lustre of the darker arch tiles is something rarely seen in more modern work.
Since Thomas Studd there have been 29 further innkeepers. Their names are listed in the back room as an historical record and as a way of remembering their contribution to the life of the city centre. Tom’s has certainly had its ups and downs over the last century, but it remains a local institution and one of the jewels in Manchester’s crown.
The pictures lining the walls depict some of this local history. We are also recording our regular customers in period-style portraits to keep a living archive of this era in Tom’s history. The managers and staff are committed to keeping Mr Thomas’s at the forefront of Manchester life as we enter the building’s third century as host to people who are looking for fine food, fine wines, good beer and great company.