I co-own bar loved by Stockport County players where The Lathums sold out twice and Liam Fray performed

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“In five years’ time, Stockport will have taken over Manchester for me.”

One bar and music venue is fast becoming a social hub in Stockport. With live music, DJ sets, a wide range of drinks and serving food, Bask has found a much-loved home in the town. 

A stone’s throw from the train station and not much further away from Stockport’s brand new transport interchange, it couldn’t be in many better locations.  And it’s not just any live music - Bask has already played host to Courteeners frontman Liam Fray, The Lathums and The Zutons - with a Lightning Seeds gig to come. Stockport County’s fans and players love it too. 

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For Benji Taylor, one of three owners of the venue, the success is down to the fact Stockport was crying out for a spot like this. 

Benji Taylor is a co-owner of Bask Benji Taylor is a co-owner of Bask
Benji Taylor is a co-owner of Bask | ManchesterWorld

“The lack of a music venue and hub in Stockport was one of the main driving forces behind turning Bask into a reality,” he says.  “I’m from Stockport originally, and the reason I programmed Bask the way it is is because there wasn’t anything like this when I was younger. You’d need to get a bus or train into Manchester, so I wanted to bring artists to Stockport. 

“Agents started to pay more attention to Stockport, where at the start people would ask ‘where is Stockport’ and when they found out it was near Manchester they would just say ‘oh we’ll just do the gig in Manchester’. 

“We’ve had Liam Fray, The Lathums, The Zutons and we recently announced The Lightning Seeds. There are acts I’d book in Stockport that I wouldn’t necessarily book in Manchester because I know people in Stockport have been starved of live music.”

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The Lathums are among the acts to play an intimate gig in BaskThe Lathums are among the acts to play an intimate gig in Bask
The Lathums are among the acts to play an intimate gig in Bask | Getty Images

Benji felt that Bask would need to grow into its home, but it didn’t take long for Stockport to warm to the new venue. 

“I initially thought the bar was too big, but even after the first couple of months it felt like we needed somewhere bigger on a Friday and Saturday night,” he says. “It gets to 10/10.30pm on a night and there’s a queue around the corner all the way to Sainsbury’s, and then inside there are 250 people dancing. It’s an amazing thing that we don’t take for granted at all and we’ll always be looking to keep things fresh here.”

This wasn’t necessarily the original vision for Bask though - and it was almost something very different.  

“It’s a bit of a strange journey that we started,” Benji says. “My background is working in live music venues and clubs. Over lockdown live music stopped, and I started a vegan truffle company. This was over mail order and they ended up being served in the Trafford Centre and in restaurants. I thought then that food was the way I needed to go. 

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“My girlfriend’s dad worked at Curry’s and he took some of them in for his colleagues. This went down well and then he said that maybe they could invest in what we wanted to be a vegan restaurant. We looked around for a space and that’s how we ended up here, but after four months we were told we couldn’t do it. I went back to what I knew best. Now it feels like it wouldn’t be anything else than what it currently is. It’s connected so well with people in Stockport.”

Tickets for the big names are being snapped up in double-quick time, and Benji has one obvious choice on his bucket list. 

“Because we’re Stockport, I think having Blossoms here to do something would be brilliant,” he says. “It’s something I’d love to push. Blossoms would be fitting for this place. I’ll make it happen. The first time I put them on I was at Sound Control and they played in a 100-capacity room, so it would be nice to then have them here.” 

Stockport County also has a big presence in Bask, and a shirt has pride of place above the bar. The venue has become part of the matchday for many supporters, something Benji is immensely proud of, especially given the club’s recent success and promotion back to League One. 

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“When we opened, us being so close to the ground and me being a County fan I was thinking ‘wouldn’t it be great if we had fans in on matchdays’,” he says. “The first matchday we did was Barrow on their first game of the season a few years back - and the place was heaving. 

“It became part of people’s matchdays, they would come here for food, a few pints and then go to the game. One thing that County fans are good at is, win, lose or draw, is heading out. They’ll come in for a pint after the game no matter the result. 

The bar at Bask, with a lengthy 'What's On' listThe bar at Bask, with a lengthy 'What's On' list
The bar at Bask, with a lengthy 'What's On' list | ManchesterWorld

“Salford in the play-offs last year when we won on penalties was the first time the players came in. I was DJing and Paddy Madden and Will Collar walked in - that blew my head off.

“This has happened more now, the manager comes in and the players. After winning the league, all the squad came in and everyone had a great time. The best part is that the players didn’t want their own private area, they wanted to be in with the fans. I like that people enjoy coming in here on a matchday, and here it’s different. It’s new, fresh and it’s not like an old-man boozer. 

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“I had someone say that since we’d opened, they enjoy the match day experience enough to have got their season ticket back and that they had fallen out of love with it all. That’s such a lovely thing to hear, and once again we don’t take that for granted.”

Benji added that Stockport is continuing to change for the better, and that the town and football club are on the up together. 

“Being from here, even up to about five years ago, I never thought it would be somewhere I would move back to,” he says. “Now people are moving here, big brands are moving here. In five years’ time it will have taken over Manchester for me. People are staying here for a night out, it’s not overly expensive and it's a good night out.”

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