A group of local, craft beer-loving dads are transforming Withington’s empty Public Hall Institute into a pop-up pub this weekend.

Neill Woodward, Casey Longden, Mark Brennan and Ed Wellard all became friends after their children started going to St Paul’s Primary School and set up The Lock Inn in an effort to bring their local community together.

They form the core of a larger team helping to run the events – buying all the beer independently from local Manchester brewers, finding out what’s been brewed that week and getting their hands on the freshest kegs going.

“We love Withington and we love the Manchester beer scene,” said Ed.

“It’s great bringing the two things together, and bringing a bit of life to the village. We want people to have an excuse to get together and have some fun. Everyone’s welcome.

“We have a strict rule of serving drinks produced by local independents. It seems to work for people, and as long as it does we’ll keep coming back for more.”

Pouring at this weekend’s event will be a carefully curated selection from local breweries Marble, Blackjack, To the Moon, Wander Beyond, Pamona Island, Cloudwater, Shindigger, Beatnikz Republic and Burton Road.

There’ll also be gin from Manchester Three Rivers, cider from the Moss Cider Project and pop from Steep Soda, plus music, bar snacks and pizzas from their friends at Wilmslow road pizzeria Wishbone and Stone.

A real family-friendly affair, you can rely on there being squash and things on hand to entertain the kids too.

Taking place from 5pm on 4th and 5th October, the weekend-long event will breathe new life into the historic Institute, which has lain empty since the beginning of the year.

It was originally a men-only club but moved to admit women in 2017 in an effort to boost fading membership numbers.

One nicknamed ‘The Homewreckers’ because it provided the men of the area early and late drinking facilities in the days of restricted pub opening hours, the historic site was first built in 1861 and donated to the community by Lord Egerton.

Over the years it has functioned first as a members’ club and later housed a lending library between for locals between 1861-1911, prior to the modern library being built further north in the village.

It is now believed to be in public ownership, but Ed hinted that this weekend may be The Lock Inn’s last event there – citing issues regarding access to the building.

Fans of the pop-up pub needn’t worry though. He reassures us they’ve got plenty more interesting ideas regarding other venues and collaborations going forward.

Taking over the little snug and the main snooker hall, the Friday night session will coincide with Withington at Night – a community-focused event that promotes Withington and its independents.

Street traders and local traders will be open late and there’ll be live street art happening as part of the Withington Walls street art project.

The project has previously commissioned Akse_P19‘s Peter Saville mural on Palatine road aa a reminder that Factory Records was started here, and the event hopes to raise funds for more murals going forward.

Then on Saturday night, The Lock Inn will team up with Indy Man Beer Con festival to host a fringe offering from 4pm onwards featuring some very exclusive beers.

The main IMBC festival is completely sold out, so if you’re a craft beer looking to get your hands on the good stuff this weekend this should be your next port of call.

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