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The Volunteer Hotel

A Grade II Listed Building in Ashton upon Mersey, Trafford

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Latitude: 53.4285 / 53°25'42"N

Longitude: -2.3224 / 2°19'20"W

OS Eastings: 378673

OS Northings: 392455

OS Grid: SJ786924

Mapcode National: GBR DX7S.0Q

Mapcode Global: WH98P.93B0

Entry Name: The Volunteer Hotel

Listing Date: 8 February 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1401662

Location: Trafford, M33

County: Trafford

Electoral Ward/Division: Ashton upon Mersey

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Sale

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Ashton-upon-Mersey St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Chester

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A public house of 1897 constructed for Chesters Brewery by the architect James Diggle Mould.


MATERIALS: Red brick with applied timber framing and render. The roof is of tiles and slate, with a lead dome.

PLAN: Irregular plan, with a sub-rectangular range to the front facing south-east and projections to the rear south.

EXTERIOR: The building is two storeys plus attic and basement, constructed in the neo-Jacobean style. It is of five bays, with gables to bays one, three and five increasing in size; each has a design which incorporates applied timber framing and barge boards carved with the national flowers of Ireland (shamrocks), Scotland (the thistle) and England (the rose). There is a lantern tower with gothic windows and a lead dome to bay two. A stone porch sits to bay four with marble fluted pilasters, Composite capitals, ball finials and a triangulated pediment displaying the name of the pub and the date; this retains its original panelled doors. There would have originally been a secondary recessed entrance under a segmental arch to the left, between the canted bays windows, however this has been converted to an additional window. Windows are a mixture of canted and rectangular bays, both single and double height, as well as multi-paned casements. Gothic window tracery containing stained glass survives throughout. The roof is clad in small red tiles with alternating strips of plain and fish scale tiles to the front and south; both plain and fish-scale slates are used to the rear. Clay ridge tiles are used throughout. Chimneys are substantial brick stacks. The north elevation to the front range is plain save for the corbelled gable, which incorporates applied timber framing with quatrefoils and carved barge boards. The south elevation of the front range is similar to the north, save for a corbelled chimney stack and Tudor arch timber framing replacing the quatrefoils. The south elevation of the rear range is rendered with applied timber framing to the first floor. The rear elevation is largely plain save for smaller, applied timber framed gable ends. Windows are a mixture of sashes and casements with stained glass to the top lights; most are original.

INTERIOR: The ground floor has been largely opened up; the ceiling plaster indicates the original layout. The entrance porch incorporates Art-Nouveau style dado tiling, although this has been painted over. The bar sits to the middle of the main space; this is renewed. There is evidence of mosaic flooring at the cellar entrance, however the level of survival elsewhere is unknown; the original plans indicate it was once also in the hall. The wooden staircase to the upper floors sits to the rear of the bar; this is an original closed-well stair with substantial square newels, panel balustrading and tiling to the wall, although painted over.

The first floor has a function room to the south (constructed as a billiard room) and the current private quarters to the north; these originally formed hotel bedrooms and storerooms. The private quarters have been divided from the public space by the insertion of a partition wall to the landing, which has necessitated the removal of the stairwell balustrade panel to this side. The bedrooms were not inspected, however two large rooms to the north are separated by a panelled room divider, framed by an opening with a large Tudor arch flanked by Doric pilasters. The former billiard room to the south has full height wood panelling to all walls, with a painted plaster frieze above depicting mythical creatures. The ceiling is plastered with a geometrical pattern, surrounding the rectangular light well with wooden geometric tracery and stained glass depicting foliage and fish-scale patterns. A fireplace sits to the north wall; this incorporates a mirror flanked by Art-Nouveau wooden reliefs, a marble surround and tiles painted with foliage and butterflies. The grate is original. On the opposite wall there is a recessed niche housing the radiator. There is a wooden window seat to the east.

The stairs to the attic are straight flight, with turned balusters. The attic floor houses a large number of rooms, most probably for staff housing and lower standard hotel rooms. The main areas are decorated with anaglypta up to dado height. Most rooms have lost their fireplaces. Access to the tower is via a raised door off one of the rooms, leading to a small stair.

The cellars are extensive and appear to have been partially reused from the previous public house on site. They incorporate a barrel drop, exits to the west and a blocked stair.


The Volunteer Hotel was constructed in 1897 for Chesters Brewery of Ardwick and opened in 1898. The original plans show an architect’s stamp with the name James Diggle. This is likely to be James Diggle Mould who commenced independent practice in Manchester in 1883, extending his practice to Bury soon afterwards.

The new building replaced an earlier public house, as well as the adjacent cottage. Its name was changed from ‘The White Lion’ to ‘The Volunteer’ some time between 1807 and 1827. The new name is thought to have commemorated the local defence unit, the Ashton-upon-Mersey-cum-Sale Volunteers, who were mustered in 1803 to cope with a possible Napoleonic invasion.

The footprint of the pub has remained largely unaltered since its construction, although some outbuildings comprising stables and stores have been lost. Plans were submitted in 1949 for part of the scullery to be converted to urinals. In 1954 plans were submitted for internal alterations to provide a ladies’ lavatory, a new service bar and accommodation in the old snug. Proposed plans at this time indicate a bar parlour and smoke room to the right of the entrance hall, with a lounge and public bar to the left. The service bar had an island fitting and continued to overlook the hall, lounge and public bar. The ground floor was altered later in the C20 to create a more open plan to the public areas, including the replacement of the original bar. It is likely that this coincided with the closure of the hotel facilities; the majority of the first floor continued in use as private accommodation. One of the original entrances was also blocked at this time.

Reasons for Listing

The Volunteer Hotel is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural: the neo-Jacobean exterior is of a high standard, incorporating good quality eclectic features decorated with ornate elaborations
* Interior design: the first floor houses an intact and elaborately-decorated first floor billiard room in the Arts and Crafts style, utilising high quality fixtures and fittings.
* Alteration: the loss of a good proportion of the ground floor is compensated for by the architectural quality of the remainder of the building, as well as the less-altered upper floors.

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