A thriving community spirit is one of the things which stands out when you spend even a few hours in Boothstown.
Set on the border of the City of Salford, with Wigan to the west, the East Lancashire Road to the north and the Bridgewater Canal to the south, Boothstown’s location is its major appeal.
Once known for its mining community, the village is now predominantly a residential area. It’s small, but perfectly formed.
Transport and travel
Granted, Boothstown isn’t as accessible as other parts of Greater Manchester – its biggest drawback is the lack of train station, and the fact that it isn’t on the tram route.
All is not lost, though. The Vantage buses – aka ‘the Vimto buses’ – run into Manchester city centre every few minutes from Ellenbrook – just the other side of the East Lancs. The 34 bus runs directly into town, though it will take you in excess of an hour during rush hour traffic.
It’s only 20 minutes by car to reach the city centre, though again this doubles and even triples during peak times. The Trafford Centre is a quick ten-minute blast down the M60, and the airport is less than 20 minutes if the motorway isn’t bumper to bumper.
Bars and restaurants
Boothstown certainly isn’t short of places to eat and drink. As a matter of fact, it’s buzzing. The town’s precinct is home to a plethora of eateries. From American restaurant Buffalo Bar & Grill (don’t miss the burgers here) to everyone’s favourite Italian, Vesuvio.
Family run Cafe/Bar, Masons is a local favourite. It serves food until 6pm, but becomes more lively in the evenings. With a great selection of beers and cocktails, it’s easy to lose track of time here.
Just around the corner is the newly opened Coal and Cotton. The dog-friendly pub has its own distillery where Boothstown Gin is made – and afternoon tea comes with a gin fountain.
Previously The Greyhound, the pub has undergone a huge refurbishment.
“It’s really important to me that I’m from the area, and I think it means something to the locals, too,” said co-owner, Jason Green, who’s lived in the area for years. “I’m not someone who’s just swanned in with no thought to the impact.”
They’re preparing the large terrace for their first summer featuring a BBQ shack.
Across the road is the much-loved Why Not cafe. With open mic nights on Thursdays, an in-house record collection and player, and a decent drinks selection, its loaded fries are also worth writing home about.
The Royal Oak is a proper community hub. An unassuming pub from the outside, you won’t get a warmer welcome from anywhere else.
Landlords Karen and Tom have created an open-to-all environment, from mens and ladies darts teams to live performances and even drag acts. Pop in on a Sunday and you’ll be met with Karen’s famous cheese boards.
More of a table spread than a board, if you ask me. What’s more they’re free to punters and wash down well with a very reasonably priced pint of ale.
“I’ve been here for three years now and we’ve worked really hard to build it up to be a local community village pub,” says proprietor Karen Baerd.
“We have regular live artists on, play a quiz night every Thursday and host mixed darts and dominoes teams. We even have our own football team and screen all sports whereby we put free food on. We’ll have the cheeseboard out at about 4pm on a Sunday. We love our community and people. Most of ‘em anyway [tongue firmly in cheek looking at Martin].”
If you fancy some perfectly good cheap pub grub, The Moorings has an ideal location on Boothstown Marina, and tonnes of outdoor seating for one of the few days that Greater Manchester gets some decent sunshine. It’s dog friendly, so you can bring your furry friend along too.
The Royal British Legion runs a really popular soul and Motown night once a month, and The Windmill Con club around the corner is good for a cheap night out.
Parks and Recreation
Boats feature strongly in Boothstown’s history. Coal from the collieries was tipped into waiting barges here, and there’s a keystone at the entrance of Chaddock level dated 1816 which marks this. It’s from this very same canal, The Bridgewater, where you can head out on a picturesque walk to enjoy some greenery.
The aforementioned marina is a good place to start. If you fancy taking on two wheels, it’s possible to bike all the way to Runcorn or Wigan, though closer by (and within walking distance) are Worsley Village and Monton. Both beautiful in their own right and full of lovely pubs and cafes for a celebratory drink at the end.
With one foot in Boothstown and the other in Worsley, the hotly anticipated RHS Bridgewater is soon to open its doors. The spectacular 154-acre garden will transform the historic grounds of Worsley New Hall, and will offer even more green space for locals.
If you want an Instagram-worthy snap, take a walk down to Moss House Lane Bridge or The Moorings Bridge, both along the canal and both with gorgeous views.
Community and Shopping
As previously mentioned, community is a big thing here. A kind network of foodies called Incredible Edible Salford meet in local cafes and have helped create a confident and connected community by turning disused plots into abundant sources of healthy food.
There’s a community centre which offers classes, workshops and sports events. The local library next door is often used as a meeting place for local community groups, and has a good collection of books for all ages.
The precinct over the road is home to a collection of shops – some of which may transport you back to the mid-90s. Aside from a Sainsbury’s Local, Present Trend is great for home interiors and last-minute presents.
“Boothstown is brilliant,” says Claire Kimmins owner at Present Trend. “We’ve been open just over two years. Great community. Always new places and businesses opening all the time.”
Then there’s the usual village suspects: a hardware store, pharmacy and opticians. There’s a running joke about the number of hairdressers in Boothstown; there are at least seven, and that’s not including the barbers on Leigh Road.
There’s one salon that stands out from the rest like a little slice of Ancoats.
“It’s nice to be part of a nice warm and welcoming community here in Boothstown,” said Samantha Fleming at WONDER Salon. “We’ve been open for four months. I’ve worked in Manchester city centre for 17 years [at Toni & Guy and Reuben Wood] and brought my experience back home where I live.”
Adjacent along the row of retail units is another salon, Pin Ups Hair & Beauty, who feel more community spirit than competition.
“We’ve been open for seven years and we’ve seen the area grow,” says hairstylist, Lisa Scott. “Boothstown is the place to be.”
On the other hand if it’s your pooch who needs a good old pamper, Prestige Paws is the place to give your four-legged friend the all-star treatment.
And finally, it’s no exaggeration when people say that Wok’s Up is one of the best Chinese takeaways you’ll ever eat. Teamed with the chippy down the road, and the Indian on the precinct, there’s no reason to ever leave Boothstown…
Boothstown is growing quite intensely and house prices are rising quicker than neighbouring towns Swinton or Leigh. Which is great for existing homeowners but no so much for onlookers wishing to move. The good news is there’s plenty of variety. 1 bedroom terrace will cost you around £150,000, a 3 bedroom semi-detached circa. £280,000 and a 5 bedroom detached like pictured clear way over a million.
This is the Place is the name of a poem by Tony Walsh commissioned by Forever Manchester, the only charity that raises money to fund and support community activity across Greater Manchester. And they can’t do it without your help. Donate what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a hugely rewarding experience. There’s a unique sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are making a real difference to the lives of others, especially to those close to home.