Britons Protection: iconic Manchester whisky and real ale pub crowd-funding for potential court battle

There are fears that taking the much-loved boozer back under the management wing of a huge national firm could see the aspects so cherished by drinkers stripped away.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

An iconic Manchester city centre pub is crowd-funding for a potential legal battle against a giant pub company which wants to take management of it back in-house.

The Britons Protection, near The Bridgewater Hall, has been serving drinks to thirsty Mancunians for more than 200 years and is much loved for its huge collection of hundreds of whiskies and its rotating selection of cask ales by local and regional breweries.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Now, though, landlord Allan Hudd has been served with a notice by Star Pubs and Bars saying that the current lease arrangement will not be renewed and the firm wants The Britons Protection back in its management portfolio.

It is feared that this could be the end of many of the things drinkers most cherish about the historic boozer and a crowd-funding page has been launched to help the team in charge go to court to fight the decision.

However, Star Pubs and Bars says it wants to build on the pub’s heritage and reputation while ensuring its sustainability.

The Britons Protection. Credit: Google MapsThe Britons Protection. Credit: Google Maps
The Britons Protection. Credit: Google Maps

What has happened to The Britons Protection?

Although Star Pubs and Bars (which comes under Heineken UK) ultimately owns the pub building The Britons Protection has been run with an arms-length leasing arrangement giving Allan and his team a free hand in what they decide to stock.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The result is a collection of 300 or so whiskies which Allan has built up during his decade in charge and which is now known far and wide and eight cask handpulls serving real ale.

Now, though, Star Pubs and Bars have informed Allan that they want to take the pub back into its management portfolio and have served a section 25 notice which ends a tenancy.

Allan is particularly furious as he says this came just weeks after he took out a loan to clear the arrears built up during Covid-19 when the pub had to shut for much of the pandemic.

He said the arrangement for The Britons Protection also meant he received far less financial support than fully-tied pubs.

What is the problem with this?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It is feared that taking the pub back into in-house management means the range of drinks on offer will become narrower and the more independent aspects of the boozer which are so appreciated by real ale and whisky fans will be lost.

Allan said: “Heineken only have about 15 whiskies on their portfolio. They are not going to open channels with other wholesalers which I use and buy in all these different whiskies for just one of their sites.

“We’re known for our whiskies, that’s why our customers have been coming in here for decades.

The pub is known for its whiskey ranges Credit: aekachai - stock.adobe.comThe pub is known for its whiskey ranges Credit: aekachai -
The pub is known for its whiskey ranges Credit: aekachai -

“When we started the selection of beers was quite big but there were only a couple of local breweries. We’ve been able to expand the selection to eight cask handpumps and we’ve worked with a lot more local breweries and reinforced our ties with Camra.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Heineken won’t buy from a lot of the smaller local breweries I use because they buy in bulk, so the selection will suffer.

“We also have a group of guys who use our function room to look at pictures of old naval ships and enjoy the cask ales. We don’t charge them or anything like that. Are Heineken going to let them do that if they’re not making much money?

“It’s all the small things we do which I just can’t see Heineken sustaining?”

Why has a crowd-funding campaign been launched?

The Britons Protection has now launched a crowd-funding campaign to try to cover legal costs and fees in the event of taking Heineken UK to court challenge the section 25 notice and its plan for the management of the pub.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

An initial target of £5,000 has been set on the JustGiving page.

A petition at is also imploring the pub company to change its mind. It had received more than 4,500 signatures by Wednesday (30 March).

What else has been said?

Writing on the JustGiving fund-raising page, Allan said: “We are under threat. In a time where community pubs are becoming a thing of the past, Pubcos are finding ways to navigate legislation to their own in end and taking back independent pubs from hard working people .

“The Britons Protection has stood proud as an iconic Manchester pub for over 200 years, becoming a destination venue for whisky lovers around the world and a heritage focal point for the great city of Manchester .

“It now faces a great challenge to the pub as we know it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The offerings that have made the Britons a must visit for anybody visiting Manchester may soon be whittled down to a generic selection that has no unique attraction.”

What has Star Pubs and Bars said?

A Star Pubs and Bars spokesperson said: “Britons Protection is a beautiful, historic Manchester pub that appeals to both locals who love real ale and visitors looking to experience a traditional Mancunian Great British pub.

“We believe in its future and, now that the lease is coming to an end, we feel this is the ideal opportunity to review how the pub will be operated going forward to ensure its long-term sustainability.

“Britons Protection is the perfect fit for our managed operator model, and we plan to build on the current offer whilst continuing to support the pub’s historic status and maintaining its focus on serving an interesting range of real ale and ciders.”

Related topics: