The Pub is one of the few great cultural icons of Britain. We are currently in a phase where the future of the pub is in doubt. This blog shows how pubs have changed (or not) over the past 10+ years. I first started taking pictures of pubs in 1986 and have amassed quite a collection. Most of these pubs are within easy walking distance of the English Canals and most are based in the Midlands. Apart from a (very) few, I have drunk in every pub pictured (and sometimes been drunk in them!)
Friday, 28 October 2011
#028 James Brindley, Birmingham : 1986 to 2011
This is something of a sad tale. When Birmingham woke up to the potential of the canals in the city in the 1980's Gas Street Basin was one of the first parts to be opened up and developed. Part of this development was the James Brindley, a brand new pub on two levels with a nice airy feel. It was named after the first of Britain's great canal engineers.
James Brindley built the very first British canal, the Bridgewater Canal in 1761. He then went on to the Trent & Mersey Canal including the feat of constructing Harecastle Tunnel which opened in 1777. In all he was responsible for building 365 miles of canals and also for the design of the narrow lock that is the feature of many canals. He also built the original main line canal from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. The pub was built at the staring point of this canal. I'm not sure exactly when it opened, but our first canal visit was in 1986.
This photo was taken on 31st July near the end of our journey from Earlswood to Nottingham and back.
We were back again in 1987 on our summer trip that took us to Worcester, Market Drayton, Middlewich and back to Earlswood.
This was taken on 16th July and shows the view from Bridge Street rather than the canalside perspective.
Our next visit to the James Brindley was in 1995 as we passed through Birmingham near the end our trip from Winkwell on the Grand Union canal to Emma Jane's new (and current) home at Lapworth.
This was from 6th September and best shows what a great canalside setting the James Brindley has. At this time the pub was still thriving, but soon the competition from the Broad Street area would take its toll.
This again shows the street entry view and was taken on 26th May 2001. I remember being surprised by how quiet it was on a Saturday night when the 'pubs' along Broad Street were so busy. Obviously the revellers want loud music and cheap 'shots' rather than a normal pub!
EDIT - 12th Feb 2012.
As I was searching through my photos for more pubs I came across this photo from 2006 that I'd missed in my collection!
This was taken on 7th September 2006 and the pub appears to be thriving at that time!
And so we move on to 2011 and this is the scene that presented itself on 6th September.
I'm not sure how long it has been boarded up, but it is sad to see a pub that has been open less than 30 years in such a state. Unless it turns itself into a 'nightclub' style venue I don't see too much hope for it judging by the way Broad Street has gone!