A FORMER chef's vision for a craft beer and live music bar has been one of the reasons for the transformation of Tyldesley's high street.

Describing his former role as a "full on slog" with long and tiring hours, Barry Smith decided to change course five years ago and open his own bar, Hop and Hazlewood, in the vein of a venue you could find in Manchester's Northern Quarter.

With a wide selection of crisp craft beers, music-themed walls, and live entertainment, the Elliott Street boozer has quickly become a go-to venue in Tyldesley and has given residents more reasons to stay local rather than travel out of town.

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Leigh Journal: The stage and music-adorned walls at the barThe stage and music-adorned walls at the bar (Image: Leigh Journal)

Barry, who moved to Tyldesley from Salford 25 years ago, said: "I've always had a passion for craft beer and live music, and I just fancied doing something different.

"It's a nice little vibe here and people seem to really enjoy it. We have live music on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and the atmosphere is fantastic.

"We have a good core of regulars and are still attracting more people from out of town, which is really pleasing."

Leigh Journal: Live music takes place four times a week at the barLive music takes place four times a week at the bar (Image: Hop and Hazlewood)

Due to the success of Hop and Hazlewood, this has allowed Barry to further invest in Tyldesley with his next-door bar, Grape and Graze, which is more of a wine and charcuterie board venue.

Hop and Hazlewood has also been noted as one of the venues that has helped to change Tyldesley's fortunes around, as Ian Tomlinson and those associated with the Heritage Action Zone saw it as a perfect location to build the high street around and help other venues develop in a similar fashion.

With around £1.5 million being spent on the high street from the Heritage Action Zone, this has seen a transformation of shop fronts along Elliott Street, which has been improving Tyldesley's reputation and attracting customers from out of town.

Leigh Journal: The bar has been hugely popular, especially with its live music eventsThe bar has been hugely popular, especially with its live music events (Image: Hop and Hazlewood)

Aware of the improvements made along the high street, Barry added: "You can definitely see the difference on Elliott Street over the last five years.

"Tyldesley was struggling in comparison to other areas a few years ago and had a bit of a bad reputation, but now it's a really nice place to visit. There's a real mix of venues and it feels a lot safer, and we're attracting a lot more people from places like Atherton, Leigh, and Mosley Common.

"We have had to increase our prices a little recently [with the cost of living crisis] and that's been one of the hardest things, but it still feels like everyone's in it together in Tyldesley.

"I've met a lot of friends since opening the bar and it feels like a real community hub, where you can come in on your own and have a chat with anyone, so I'm proud of the atmosphere we've created.

"It's one of the best things I've ever done."

Leigh Journal: Hop and Hazlewood, on Elliott StreetHop and Hazlewood, on Elliott Street (Image: Leigh Journal)