Chorlton - why you should move to this Manchester suburb

Beech Road, Chorlton

Beech Road, Chorlton - Credit: Kirsty Thompson/Archant

With a wealth of fashionable delis, cafes, bars and shops, Chorlton-cum-Hardy - to give it its full name - is a haven for independent businesses.

Sitting on the south-western edge of Manchester beside pricier neighbours Didsbury and West Didsbury, it has a bohemian feel, beloved of the arty set, and attracts media types who work at Media City, post-grad students and a large lesbian/gay community. It's also a favourite for trendy families, with excellent primary schools and lots of kid-friendly cafes.

Georgina Donnelly is the owner and yoga teacher at Kalma Life, running children's and baby yoga classes across the area.

'Chorlton is a great place to live,' she says, praising its mixture of young local people, students, graduates and families.
'I’ve lived here since I was 13 and after university, I moved to London. I’ve been back 14 years and it's the best decision I made.

'What I love about Chorlton is I can go to Home Bargains, get my tofu, fresh bread, go to the park and still watch football in a ‘proper pub’ all in one day - although not so much these days with a toddler.

Beech Road, Chorlton

Beech Road, Chorlton - Credit: Kirsty Thompson/Archant

'There are lots of great independent businesses, many started more than 30 years ago, and hidden gems - like the Tibetan kitchen in Chorlton park. I did some outdoor family yoga this summer with them. It was great fun and the Manchester sun appeared.
'Tea hive is a favourite too - having a  small baby during lockdown/restrictions meant parks and local cafes was our saviour. Tea Hive can’t do enough when you visit. They have the best banana bread and scones.
'And we love Lead station. I’ve been going since the 90s. I had my baby shower there and they are great for parties if you want a working lunch or an evening of wine and cocktails.'

In the heart of Beech Road, leading down to the village green, The Lead Station is a Chorlton institution, housed in a former Lancashire Constabulary Police Station, dating back to 1885,  and opened as a restaurant and bar in 1996. Current owner Nick de Sousa took over 16 years ago.

The Lead Station in Beech Road, Chorlton

The Lead Station on Beech Road, Chorlton - Credit: David Sermon

'We were the first restaurant to open on the now-famous leafy Beech Road and have, over the years, become an institution at the heart of the Chorlton community,' he says. 'I was lucky enough to take over, having been a regular customer for many years.'

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They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner; Sunday roasts, and a carefully put-together wine list.  The old policemens’ bedrooms upstairs now form the events space, aptly named The Copper Room, for private events, parties and wine tastings.

It's also a favourite spot for walkers, who come in to warm up after a stroll through the nearby Chorlton Eees, which leads through the Mersey Valley to Sale water park.

'The Ees are also on our doorstep and they are fabulous for a winter walk or summer stroll,' says Nick. 'Also the Beech Road park is an old favourite place of mine.'

He clearly loves the location, and working in the area.

'It's amazing,' he says. 'Hard work but we are lucky it’s been a consistently busy, with a brilliantly supportive and growing community as long as we’ve been here.

'I bought this place because it was my local and I loved it.Chorlton is a fantastic place to live and has a wonderful community with its bars and restaurants at its heart; part of the social fabric. We are extremely lucky to have so many regulars at The Lead Station, many since we first opened and it is an honour to still be serving them. I really see myself as the custodian and not the owner; am sure that The Lead Station will still be here long after I am not.'

A slightly newer addition to the area's thriving hospitality scene, The Beagle bar on Barlow Moor Road was born out of the successful branch in Manchester's northern quarter, and is celebrating its 10th birthday.

Inside The Beagle

Inside The Beagle - Credit: The Beagle

Owners Jonny and Charlotte Heyes have recently launched a pizzeria in the Nell’s Pizza in The Beagle kitchen, serving up New York-style pizza, as well as their usual craft ales and cocktails.

'We’ve really loved both living, and running a business in Chorlton, it’s got a bit of everything going on, great shops, bars, pubs, cafes and being so close to the River Mersey and Chorlton Meadows makes a massive difference,' says Charlotte.

'There’s great food and drink shops like Out of the blue, Epicurean, Tiny’s Tipple and Epicerie Ludo. Also the newly refurbished Unicorn. 

'A personal favourite is to have cocktails at Henry C, maybe dinner at Oystercatcher or natural wine and small plates at The Creameries. Obviously, some tapas at San Juan would be high up the list, so long as you can get a table.'

The Beagle

The sign at The Beagle - Credit: The Beagle

Jonny adds: 'For outdoor living I’d head down to the Mersey or get lost in Chorlton Meadows, maybe take a walk round Sale or Chorlton water park.  During the footy season I’d definitely recommend going down to West Didsbury and Chorlton FC to watch a match. The atmosphere is amazing.'

The couple also praise the area's warm community of independent traders.

'We all rub along very happily really, our neighbours are always up for helping each other out', says Jonny. 'We organise joint events such as the Chorlton Beer Mile.'

A great stop off for any beer lover, The Epicurean is a small chain of specialist beer shops in and around Manchester. In 2020 they opened their third store in Chorlton.

'We’re home to over 500 different types of beer including local beers, international beers, vegan beers, non-alcoholic beers and even beers for people who don’t like beer,' says owner Simon Yarwood.

'When we first opened, craft beer was just starting to become more popular in the UK following on from its success in America but it wasn't that accessible.'

The shop, on Manchester Road, has been busy since it opened.

Simon Yarwood, owner of the Epicurean

Simon Yarwood, owner of the Epicurean - Credit: Simon Yarwood

'Chorlton is a great place to be and fits our model perfectly as it has a broad range of clientele ranging from students, young professionals, young families and more,' says Simon. 'As a community, they are big supporters of small independent businesses as opposed to the large corporations.

'Opening in 2020 meant everyone was shopping locally so we were lucky enough to meet so many individuals form the local community who have since become regulars and friends of the brand. 

Simon Yarwood, owner of the Epicurean

Inside The Epicurean - Credit: Simon Yarwood


'Chorlton is buzzing and brimming with Indie business, talking to customers they love the fact that they can buy everything from their, beer, cheese, meat, fish etc all from indie businesses which gives a real neighbourhood feel.'

Simon is also a big fan of the area's hospitality scene.
'Out of work I can't not pay a visit to a few of the local bars Electrik and Mary and Archie or visit Lilly’s for the most delicious Indian food.' 

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