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Second lockdown sounds ‘death knell’ for the ‘Ditch

Published:  05 November, 2020

Hanging Ditch, one of Manchester’s foremost independent businesses, has been forced to close due to the ongoing stress of the pandemic.

Owner Ben Stephenson paid tribute to the Manchester hybrid which was one of the first of its kind to combine wine bar and shop in a vicoteca style when it opened in 2008.

The intimate space was very much part of the ‘brand’ Stephenson said. It was a much-loved and active part of Manchester’s wine landscape, holding events and benefitting from a large shop front and south facing terrace.

Its location in the city centre however, coupled with limited floor space for social distancing and weather-dependent set-up, has made the site untenable in 2020.

Blossom Street Social in Ancoats will remain open.

“The arrival of Covid-19 sounded the death knell for Hanging Ditch,” Stephenson said. “The cosy intimacy of this small site made it impossible to trade in a safe way. In addition, following lockdown the footfall in Manchester City Centre has decreased dramatically.

“Hanging Ditch and our loyal team of ‘ditchsters have been proud to provide you with amazing wine and great events over the course of our history. It will hold special memories to many, and it has been a pleasure to be part of the DNA of Manchester.”

Stephenson opened Hanging Ditch with the help of his father, architect Roger Stephenson OBE. The derelict site was specifically chosen and redesigned to “showcase the product, the customers and the staff,” Stephenson said.

And although the site was always very weather dependent, which does “not always work out so well in Manchester”, he added that the shop was regularly “packed like sardines on Saturday afternoons when the weather wasn’t so good”.

Stephenson will now focus on Blossom Street Social in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

“Although Hangingd Ditch has now been lost for good, its spirit lives on in the form of Blossom Street Social in Ancoats which opened at the end of December 2019. The site is much bigger, which has enabled the business to trade whilst maintaining social distancing through a very challenging year,” he said.