It's been six years or so since I've drank in Manchester. When I did, I was a pretty desperate ticker so spent most of my time in The Smithfield, The Beer House or The Marble Arch. However on my walks to and fro the pubs from my city centre hotel, I would usually pass The Castle on Oldham Street.
I was aware of it being a drinkers pub with a good range of Robinsons' beers, and a pretty much perennial entrant in the GBG, but as scooping a Robbos beer was not high on my agenda I never went in. That's a real shame, because for one thing it has an interestingly attractive exterior, and, no doubt, is pretty eclectic inside, and for a second thing I'll not get the chance again. The Castle appears to be the first regular Good Beer Guide entry to close and blame it on the smoking ban. Most of us have opined that decent pubs are coping, if not flourishing in the wake of the ban, but here we have something different.
I can see that the lack of a rear smoking area is a real issue for a city centre pub which only has a narrow pavement onto the road at the front. There's obviously nothing the brewery or publican can do about location, and unfortunately The Castle may therefore be the first of a few to meet the same predicament.
The article linked to suggests that today is the final day of its life. If anyone's in Manchester tonight do go in and raise a glass at its passing.