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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Britain's Best Real Heritage Pubs

As regular readers know, I normally write about the exterior of pubs and how they have/haven't changed over the past 20+ years. However, I'm indebted to The Pub Curmudgeon for pointing me towards a new book - Britain's Best Real Heritage Pubs (Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest) by Geoff Brandwood.

I bought my copy from Amazon and it arrived yesterday. It is also available through CAMRA. I've only had it for a day and I've probably done what everyone else does on first reading; I've looked for any pub that's listed that I've ever been in. There are around 10 that I've visited and, most surprisingly, my nearest pub, The British Oak in Stirchley, is also listed.
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The British Oak was #007 on this blog and I've also covered it in my other blog as part of my Paean to Stirchley. I'm extremely pleased that a pub I think is great has made it onto this listing!

There are a few others that I've mentioned in this blog. First I'll catalogue the ones that I've visited, but that haven't featured here. I'll start in Manchester with Peveril of the Peak (2010) and the Circus Tavern (2013) which I've only visited once each. However, in my view, the best pub in Manchester that I've been to is The Briton's Protection. I was first introduced to it in 2006 by a colleague when I was in Manchester for an exhibition and revisited again in 2010 and 2013.
Quite simply, this is one of the best pubs in Britain and fully justifies its inclusion in the book. However, there look to be many more gems to seek out for future visits.

Others I've visited, in no particular order, are; the Holly Bush, Bollington (2000) which I have no recollection of, but I took a photo so I must have been there!

I'm sure I've been to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham on more than one occasion, but the last time was in 2009.
In 1997, we were in Nottingham on our narrowboat and failed to find 'The Trip', but we did manage to visit six others in the attempt!

The Anchor Inn at High Offley is a pub I've visited on several occasions through the years. It is on the Shropshire Union Canal and is probably the last example of a traditional canal side pub. We were last there in 2010 and the landlady explained that the grandfather clock in the right hand room dates from when the pub was built!
Those are the only ones outside the West Midlands that I've visited, but now I have this book I can search out many more gems.

Of the Birmingham pubs listed, both The Anchor (#025) and White Swan (#064) have been covered in this blog.

The Old Swan (Ma Pardoe's) in Netherton is a place I've been a couple of times over the years. The last time was back in 2004.
Of the other Birmingham pubs, I haven't been to the Black Horse in Northfield for over 30 years when I was a student and it was still a Davenports pub! I also haven't been to the Bartons Arms in Newtown for many years.

I first visited the Rose Villa Tavern in 2006 when it was in decline. I could tell what a magnificent place it had been, but feared for its future. However, it was acquired by the Bitters'n'Twisted group and has been completely renewed inside whilst keeping the main features. I revisited in 2012 and was pleased to see what a great job they've done.
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Just to finish off, here are a couple of near misses listed in the book. First, The Berkeley in Scunthorpe - I was born in this town and over the years I've driven past it on countless occasions, yet I've never set foot inside!

Second, and perhaps even more galling is the Waggon & Horses in Oldbury. In 2010 we stopped in Oldbury for the first time on our canal journeys with the intent to visit new pubs. It was a Sunday lunchtime and there are four pubs in the town centre. We went in three of them and rejected the Waggon & Horses because they didn't do food on a Sunday! I'm sure there will be other chances to sample this fine pub.

Britain's Best Real Heritage Pubs is an excellent book for those of us love pubs and I'll be actively seeking out those I've not visited before whenever I'm in the neighbourhood.

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