Standing just off Manchester’s Oxford Street, an old lav has been transformed into a quirky, underground cocktail bar. Dating back to the 1800s, the restroom now bar named The Temple existed at a time when the surrounding Manchester area was a thriving Victorian destination.
Gone are the bogs (still one for customers to use, of course) and replaced with a bar with beer taps and shelves adorned with spirits behind. Yet, The Temple has added features like old fashioned railings outside and tiled walls leading down that give a nod to the Victorian era and its former life.
The bar is not to be confused with The Temple Bar in Dublin, for this drinking hole is rather different with maintained elements that pay homage to its previous use as a public toilet such as the tiled walls and floor of the restroom still intact. Not forgetting the sketches and graffiti scrawled on the walls reminiscent of a public loo- although who knew the Victorians used such vocabulary?
However, despite its history dating back to the Victorian era, The Temple has many elements of a dive bar from the jukebox fixed to the wall to the dim red lighting, sticky flooring to eclectic décor. Sit back on a leather booth-style seat or old school chair surrounded by band posters and soak up all that culture and history with a pint in hand.
Located near the Palace Theatre in Manchester, the building is now considered a rare sight as most public conveniences of the Victorian and Edwardian times in Britain have been demolished, being deemed as commercially unviable spaces for the modern age. Another rarity to The Temple is what this Manchester bar has inspired.
The bar on Great Bridgewater Street has been a den is a musician’s haven where hundreds of young bands have sat and drunk the night away. The Temple is the ‘hole in my neighbourhood’ which then-local patron Guy Garvey sang about in Elbow’s Grounds for Divorce.
The Temple not early serves nostalgia but also good drinks too. Guests can drink a range of continental beers both bottled and on draught as well as get up close and personal with them since the kegs are part of the furniture due to the limited space, yet these add to the dive bar atmosphere.
The Manchester bar may offer escapism from the hectic pace of life up on the surface level of Manchester city centre however in the summer months The Temple cracks out the outdoor seating. The location is not only a little suntrap but it’s also set back from the busy Oxford Street, and with its Cruzcampo beer signage next to wooden benches it gives Madrid meets Manchester vibes.
The Temple is a small, yet simple spot – the charm of which comes from its repurposed history – but it’s one of the most unique spots in town if you’re looking for a change from your usual haunt. And it’s definitely a right of passage to visit.
The Temple, 100 Great Bridgewater St, M1 5JW.