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Monday, 15 August 2011

#007 British Oak, Stirchley : 1995 to 2011

This pub really should be my local as it is the closest to me and is one of the best pubs in Birmingham, but I'm only an infrequent visitor.

My first visit to the British Oak was back in 1983 when I first moved to Stirchley and, for a while, it was my local. In those days, when you walked in the right hand door there was a small lounge ahead (through some more doors) and a small room to the left (through another door also). This room felt like the front room of someone's house, but with a hatch to the bar and was my preferred part of the pub.

The small back lounge was also welcoming, but often too full to get a seat. Further on was a function room that was generally not in use, except when booked for meetings, etc.

If you entered through the middle doors there was a large bar which I hardly ever ventured into. From 1988 to 1991 I lived in Australia and when I came back, the British Oak had gone downhill and was nowhere near as popular as before. The first picture I took of the pub was in 1995, below.
At this time it was still a Mitchells & Butlers establishment, but it was still going downhill! Moving on to 2003 and the decline is not so evident from the outside (apart from the wonky 'H' on the sign!).
The only other noticeable difference is that there is only one bus stop now - another sign of the times! It was round about this time that it was taken over by new owners (but they might just be tenants!) who started to invest a lot of money into the business.

Now it is 2011 and from the outside, little has changed apart from the removal of Mitchells & Butlers from the pub. Inside it is both transformed and largely the same as in 1983! The small lounge and little room on the right hand side are still there as is the large bar at the front...but now the rear function room is open as a restaurant area (often has private parties on a Saturday) and to the left of the bar is another small room similar to the one on the right. The d├ęcor is tasteful and the menu looks good. There is also a good selection of beers, including real ales and it is listed on the Birmingham CAMRA website. I popped in on Saturday night for a pint whilst waiting for my takeaway curry and it was busy as usual.

Hopefully, once Stirchley has been redeveloped with the building of a new Tesco next door, the British Oak will become more widely known as a great pub! It even hosts a comedy club, The Laughing Sole.

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