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The brutal history of the Mother Mac’s Massacre – 48 years on

Mother Mac's has been rebranded as the Rat & Pigeon. But the building's walls hold a secret, brutal past

On this day, June 18, 2024, we remember a chilling chapter in our city’s history—the 48th anniversary of the tragic event infamously known as the Mother Mac’s Massacre.

Tucked away down a narrow alley on Back Piccadilly, just a stone’s throw from the bustling main road stands a pub.

At first glance, it seems like any other—a place to unwind and enjoy a pint.

However, the beautifully refurbished Rat and Pigeon pub conceals a haunting legacy that lurks beneath its charming facade.

Forty-eight years ago, this very spot was the scene of an unimaginable horror.

The landlord of Mother Mac’s pub, driven by madness or despair, brutally ended the lives of his wife, three children, and the pub’s cleaner.

In a final act of destruction, he set the building ablaze, perishing in the fire himself.

Today, the Rat and Pigeon pub exudes warmth and cheer, a stark contrast to the darkness that once enveloped these walls.

Its bright interiors and lively atmosphere belies the sinister events that unfolded here.

As patrons raise their glasses, few realise they are standing on the grounds of one of the city’s most gruesome tragedies.

A dark day in Manchester’s history

On a dimly-lit backstreet in Manchester, an unspeakable tragedy unfolded.

Mother Mac’s pub, located off Piccadilly Parade, was the scene of a gruesome massacre that shocked the city.

The Mother Mac’s Massacre

Forty-eight years ago, on June 18, 1976, Arthur Bradbury, the landlord of Mother Mac’s, committed a series of brutal murders.

He killed his wife, three children, and the pub’s cleaner before setting the pub on fire and taking his own life in the blaze.

A Memorial to remember

Mother Macs

Outside the pub, a plaque commemorates this horrifying event. It has since been removed since the Rat & Pigeon took over the site.

Inside, framed newspaper clippings from 1976 recount the tragedy, ensuring that the memory of those lost is preserved.

The plaque read “In 1976 the pub manager Arthur Bradbury was given notice to quit, so he revenged himself the coward’s way by killing all around him.
“His wife Maureen, his six-year-old daughter Alison and his stepsons James and Andrew aged 11 and 13 respectively.

“The cleaner walked in on the carnage so he killed her too and then set the pub on fire to hide the evidence.

“But justice caught up with him and he ended up killing himself too. Six deaths on 18th June 1976.”

The reasons behind 29-year-old pub landlord Bradbury’s transformation into a serial killer in June 1976 remain a mystery.

However, reports depicted him as a man already notorious for violent outbursts directed at his wife, Maureen.

Additionally, the brewery had just issued an eviction notice to the couple, likely intensifying his anger.

Regular patrons of the pub recalled heated arguments between Bradbury and Maureen in the days leading up to the tragic event.

Following the incident, investigators and medical experts determined that Bradbury first strangled his 30-year-old wife.

Their three children met the same fate, believed to have occurred on the night of June 17.

The murder of Ann Hennegan

The murder of 52-year-old Ann Hennegan added to the tragedy when she arrived to help clean the pub on the morning of June 18.

She was last spotted around 9 a.m. sweeping the street outside Mother Mac’s.

It is believed she might have witnessed something inside that led to her becoming Bradbury’s final victim.

Shortly after Hennegan was last seen, a brewery drayman arrived at the pub but received no response.

Several hours later, firefighters were called to a raging fire at the pub.

After breaking into the locked building, they discovered the horrific scene of five bodies—bound, gagged, and strangled by Bradbury—piled in a first-floor bedroom.

Ghosts at Mother Macs?

We spoke to Gloria Sanderson, who was a previous employee of Maureen, and worked at Mother Mac’s around the time of the massacre.

She claims that the pub is haunted.

Gloria said: “I used to work for Maureen, who was the landlady involved in this awful event in the city’s history.

“Nobody mentions it, I’m not sure why, but the building is haunted.

“I remember vividly seeing the ghost in the pub after it closed – it was behind the bar. There were a lot of spooky instances happening at the pub around that time, including the piano playing in the middle of the night in the function room.

“When me and Maureen went to investigate the piano was locked.

“The children’s belongings were continually being moved even when the children went to stay with their grandmother.

“At the time I was the landlady at the Crown & Anchor at Hilton St which was just around the corner. The stock taker for the brewery couldn’t get into premises of Mother Macs so came to us as a second call.

“The murder haunted me for a long time but the story about the ghost would have not been believed.

“Maureen was the most down to earth person who would not fantasise. She just wasn’t that type of person.

“When I asked her whether she was frightened, she replied that it hadn’t hurt anybody yet. The subject of the ghost came up when I cautioned her about some smoke behind the bar. She told me to watch the card of peanuts behind the bar. As the smoke crossed the card, it moved.

Their dog , a large Alsatian would not go near the function room and his fur stood on end when they encouraged him to go nearer. Unfortunately I didn’t investigate whether anyone else knew anything about a ghost. We were all very much in shock at the time.”

A new beginning for Mother Macs

New beginnings as the Rat & Pigeon

The pub, which began as The Wellington Inn in the 1870s and was later renamed Mother Mac’s in the 1970s, is now known as the Rat and Pigeon.

After the massacre, the pub underwent an extensive renovation and refurbishment, with the sadness of that day never forgotten, immortalised with a plaque outside.

Over the years Mother Mac’s was one of Manchester’s most popular traditional boozers.

After a period of closure, it has now re-opened as the Rat & Pigeon, a bright and beautiful place and a far cry away from the dark past it hides behind its walls.

You can find out more about the Rat & Pigeon by clicking here

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