Manchester icons celebrated at pub which hopes to become the ‘new Hacienda’

Landlady Sarah wants The Grafton Arms to be a place where past and present talent is celebrated - but where great names of the future can be nurtured, too
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It’s the city centre venue where Marcus Rashford rubs shoulders with Liam and Noel Gallagher.

A new mural celebrating Manchester icons has just been completed at Joseph Holt pub The Grafton Arms, off Oxford Road.  

Alongside footballers and musicians, the striking artwork features some of the city’s most famous sons and daughters, including suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, mathematician and legendary code breaker Alan Turing, comedian Victoria Wood and anti-racism campaigner  Louise Da-Cocodia.

And now landlady Sarah Jones, who  commissioned the work, has extended an open invitation to the famous faces still with us to come and enjoy a drink at the pub.

“I’d love it if Liam, Noel, Marcus, Steve Coogan or any of those other famous faces on our wall would come in and have a drink with us,” she said.

“To see how we’ve immortalised some of the great talent which has come from this great city.”

However, Sarah wants her pub to be a place where not only past and present talent is celebrated but where great names of the future can be nurtured, too.

“I wanted a mural featuring lots of the legendary figures born or raised in Manchester so that  people who come to our pub  would feel like they were in our city. That they couldn’t be anywhere else.

“I wanted them to feel the vibrancy and history of our city and its people – which is very much the ethos of Joseph Holt, a brewery with such a strong sense of history

“But I want the Grafton Arms to also be a place for future talent to find an outlet, too. Not least because Manchester has always had such a fantastic music scene. 

“My plan is for the Grafton Arms to be the successor to, say, the Hacienda. A place people can come knowing they’ll hear wonderful new artists.  

“I want to see people queuing round the building to get in.

“On the other hand I also want it to be a pub where everyone, whatever their background, can feel  safe and supported.”

The Grafton Arms already runs a range of events to showcase new talent.   

These include  Jammin’ Thursday – where strangers can randomly sing or play together – and  ‘open mic’ nights, which gives unsigned acts a platform for their work. 

The pub recently held the first of two ‘Grafton-bury’ live music events  – the second will take place on September 23rd and 24th.

And as undergraduates  finally come back to the city after the long summer and COVID break, Sarah is keen that The Grafton Arms lies at the heart of Manchester’s student life.

“The Grafton Arms is such a unique pub,” she said.

“It’s a place where people from all walks of life can come, enjoy the vibe, drink Joseph Holt’s award winning ales and celebrate being part of the city.”

The mural is the work of 24 year-old Katie Grenville, a young artist who counts Prince Charles as one of her fans. Her oils of Dumfries House in Scotland have been purchased by the heir to the throne. 

She has also produced three distinctive wall paintings for the recently reopened Lower Turk’s Head pub.

“I’d love it if some of the icons we celebrate in Katie’s amazing work and who are still with us would one day come in and enjoy a dose of the Grafton,” she said.

“They all have an open invitation. 

“Hopefully one day we’ll see Liam and Marcus at the bar alongside their place on the wall – listening to the great talent of the future enjoying its first dose of fame in our pub.”

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