Close this search box.

Underneath the arches: that’s where you’ll find some of Manchester’s quirkiest independent businesses


It’s bizarre to think that when you catch your train to work you could be travelling just metres above someone brewing beer or roasting coffee, but the spacious and inviting nature of the arches lend themselves perfectly to adaptation and imagination. And they’re perfect for anyone who thinks they can organise a piss-up in a brewery.

Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite railway arch dwellers.

Redbank Co

RedbankCo Manchester

The Redbank is a cool, eclectic venue which makes the most of its large interior and generous exterior. Whether it’s breakfast, homemade pizzas, Shindigger shenanigans, their photo studio or just booze, this place alone is a great reason to venture out to the Green Quarter. The benefit of being on the outskirts of the city centre (but just five minutes from the NQ) is that this is a place where you can bring 10 friends, find a comfortable spot inside or outside and just unwind. It’s like being at one of your own BBQ’s (if your back garden was a railway arch… you get the point).

Manchester Three Rivers Gin


Gin is the in thing at the moment, and no wonder when you’ve got local, small-batch, premium distillers on your doorstep. Three Rivers Gin produces a creamier, more rounded spirit compared to the old school, London giants,  largely thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like almonds and oats. Once again, this space is not just a distillery, it’s a bar, gin school and laboratory where you can make your own gin!

Popup Bikes

Popup Bikes Manchester

Love cycling? Love coffee? Then Popup bikes should be your second home. This place is a homage to improvisation. Why just repair bikes and sell spares when you can also furnish locals and weathered cyclists with great coffee, toasties and snacks. This may be a million miles away from Piccadilly’s overflowing chains, but don’t be fooled, Popup bikes is popular and seats are finite. You do the math.


ManCoCo Manchester

Out of the Green Quarter and over to Deansgate for local coffee roasters ManCoCo. This bijou space is ideal for those wanting to escape the noise of Deansgate, and with the roastery just metres from the cafe, you’ll go a long way to find a coffee that’s fresher. On a slightly odder note, ManCoCo have the nicest toilet in town. Go in and have a look. Some Fallowfield students would swap their flats for that loo.

Runaway Brewery


Runaway make some of the best keg beers in Manchester at the moment. But this isn’t just any old brewery. It’s also home to GRUB’s monthly food fair which combines street food and DJs with Runaway’s delicious beer served just a stone’s throw from the place it was made. Other local microbreweries like Track and Squawk also host semi-regular brew taps proving that they, too, are capable of hosting a piss-up in a brewery.

Knott Bar

The Knott Bar Manchester

Knott Bar is a pub with real character. Wander in on a Friday night and you’ll have to muscle your way to the bar but you’ll find it’s worth it when you see the selection of cask and keg beers on offer – and for very reasonable prices too. On those rare sunny days you’ll have to leg it upstairs to grab a table looking out over Deansgate and the massive Tetris block they call the Hilton.



Kitchen, bar, music venue, club – Gorilla does many things well. I’ve stumbled out of here at 3am only to return at 10am for their awesome brunch options. Catering for so many different needs isn’t easy, but Gorilla has managed to pull it off. It’s not just a good allrounder. It’s Freddie Flintoff pre-A League of Their Own.

Fighting Fit

Fighting Fit Manchester

Located in a railway arch just off Red Bank between the Green Quarter and Parker’s, a stone’s throw from the new Co-op building, this is a huge space where highly qualified instructors offer classes in a variety of martial arts as well as strength and conditioning.  “People are amazed when they walk through the door because they don’t expect something this size. They don’t expect it to be this well-appointed or have this atmosphere because they think it’s just somewhere under a railway arch.” Free parking for members.

Pollen Bakery

Pollen Bakery Manchester

This place isn’t yet open for action and I’ve never been, but sometimes you can’t help but be sure that somewhere like this is going to be good. Sourdough is king at the moment and Pollen want to introduce us to the darker side of bread, something they’re confident we won’t have experienced before. Give these folks a follow and look out for developments.

Blackjack Brew Tap

Blackjack Beers Manchester

Not to be confused with their brilliant pub, The Smithfield Tavern, Blackjack’s brew taps are the stuff of legend and really helped to kick off the street food/brewery combo we’ve all come to know and love. With the likes of Honest Crust providing pizza, you really can’t go wrong – beer, tunes and food. Simple.

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Close this search box.