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Monday, 2 December 2019

The Secret Seven in a Shimmy around Shifnal (with Lashings of Proper Beer)

Our tale begins at 11:30am with the assembled members waiting outside the door of the magnificently refurbished (and repurposed) Codsall Station for a pre-shimmy shandy (or maybe something a bit stronger!).

...sorry, I'm getting correspondence in about the title...people (well, my reader!) are querying my arithmetic. Having read newcomer Paul Bailey's excellent account (here), Pub Curmudgeon's consistently superb ruminations (here and here) together with Retired Martin's entertaining ramblings (here, here, here, here and here) they are asserting that I've got my sums wrong!

I can assure you that I am correct. I'm using 'nu-maths' as promulgated by the political parties of our day...allow me to explain. Our group consisted of one Martin, two Peters, two Pauls and two Mudgies...that makes seven!

So, where was I? Oh, yes! Codsall Station.
This has been beautifully repurposed by Holdens Brewery and is a divine example of how to create a proper pub in the modern era. Although it is a Holden house, I had a pint of Salopian Oracle and, despite all of our beers being the first pulled of the day, they were all excellent!

It was soon time to move on to Shifnal itself, just a couple (or three) stops along the line. It was a short walk from Shifnal Station to our next pub, Black Country Ales' The Anvil.
That shot makes it look like it was a very busy day, but we weren't the only group on the day to disembark that train and head straight to the pub! Inside, it was appointed in the usual style of Black Country Ales other pubs. Here I had a pint of Enville White which was very pleasant.

Moving on, it was probably the longest walk of the day (all of 10 minutes!), and we arrived at our chosen lunch stop, The Plough Inn.
This was the first pub of the day that felt properly 'lived-in' and was a bit more ramshackle than the previous two places. The lunch was good and my pint of Oakham Citra was as wonderful as ever.

Next it was on to The White Hart...our northernmost foray into Shinal.
This was a nice cosy two room pub, that didn't quite know how to cope with a group of curious old codgers investigating all the nooks and crannies of another well used pub. Here I slowed down to a half of Enville Ale...also good!

Soon it was time to retrace our steps back towards the centre of town, via The Wheatsheaf.
By now the rain was persistent and dusk was rapidly approaching, all of which made The Wheatsheaf even more welcoming. Another cosy, lived-in pub where I had a half of (Marston's) Wainwright...another good drop!

Moving along quite quickly and we approached what could have been (should have been!) one of the highlights of the was the opposite. From the outside, The Crown Inn looked everything that a pub should be.
Inside, it wasn't. At first it sounded like live music was on, but then we realised that it was an excellent sound system turned up way too loud! This tactic obviously wasn't bringing in the custom as we doubled the attendance when we entered, whereas the rest of the pubs we'd visited had been all ticking over nicely for a Friday afternoon...not The Crown. I have to say, though, that my half of Woods Shropshire Lass was very good.

None of us were too sad when it quickly became time to depart for the Jasper's Arms.
By now it was dark and the Jasper's Arms was fairly busy, but we managed to find seats. It was a cosy, slightly more upmarket place that had a ceiling covered with old pumpclips. I was still on the halves, here it was Three Tuns XXX, which wasn't particularly to my liking. (There was nothing wrong with it, just not to my taste!)

All too soon we were approaching our final (7th) Shifnal pub of the day, the Odfellows.
From the outside I was a bit concerned that it was a converted solicitor's office (or similar), but inside it was a proper, fairly busy pub. Salopian Lemon Dream was on, so I had a pint...very nice!

At this stage, Paul set off back to Kent (a long trek back from 'darkest' Shropshire) and the rest of us supped our ales ready for one last call. This was Martin's hotel for the night so we bade him farewell (safe in the knowledge that he'd probably visit the remaining pubs in the town) and we waited for the train to Wolverhampton. Once there, the three of us (one Paul, two Peters and two Mudgies) decided that we had time for a short diversion to the Great Western.
By the time we got there, it was heaving, but as luck would have it a group were just leaving as we got served. I had my first drop of any of the Black Country beers that had been on offer all day...a pint of Bathams Bitter. Before we went our separate ways, I had time for a swift half of Salopian Lemon Dream.

The perfect end to a great day out! It was good to meet Paul for the first time (all the way up from Kent) and it was good to catch up with Martin, Paul and Peter. The rain didn't dampen our spirits (I often believe that a cool, dull, damp day makes the pubs seem that bit more welcoming!)...and we never mentioned the election once!

Shifnal is a hidden gem with a fine collection of proper pubs all within easy walking distance of each other and with a very varied selection of ales on offer. It isn't as touristy as some places (nor as twee) rather it shows off the best of 'ordinary' England!

Onward to Burton upon Trent in early March for the next installment...unless someone organises one in between times!


  1. Lovely read Peter.

    Had you been to the Great Western before?

    1. Yes, I've been a couple of times in the past. It's a pub that I'd not discovered until it was pointed out to me by Peter a few years ago; we used to leave the canal basin and head straight into the we take a different route!

  2. A good read Pete with top notch photos as ever. Not done Shifnal but looks good...liking your maths and conversion to ale!!!

  3. Cheers! I'd never been before, but if it'd been on the canals I would have raved about it before now! One of Stafford Paul's suggestions for another date was Stone which is a place I've visited quite a few times, yet when he listed the pubs worth visiting, I'd only been to half of them!

    The conversion to ale only lasts as long as there's a good choice like in Shifnal...if it heads towards BBB then the Carling will a siren dragging me to my doom!

  4. Sounds like Shifnal made a great first impression Pete, and love the pictures especially the one of the Great Western - the setting is so atmospheric with the bridge backdrop, can think of many happy occasions when I've tottered along those cobbles! Cheers, Paul

    1. Thanks Paul...well it ticked a lot of boxes...Proper Pubs, good beer (both in quality and variety - there was nothing worth returning to the bar), good company and not too far to walk! I just wish it was on a canal bank as well!

      My first nighttime visit to the Great Western...a scene very evocative of days gone by with the glistening cobbles and the railway bridge.

  5. A great read Pete, and some great photos too. Definitely worthwhile carrying that expensive looking camera about – reminds me of my trusty old 35mm Pentax, and the mickey taking from my family for taking it with me on days out!

    Was good to meet you, and an excellent day out all round. Looking back, I probably would have had time for a swift one in the Great Western, but as I was booked on a timed Virgin Trains departure from Wolverhampton, I didn’t want to risk missing it.

    Here’s to next March, and the trip to Burton.

    1. Cheers, Paul - that camera is a bit wieldy on a rainy day, but I get much better results than with my small Canon!
      The Great Western isn't quite as easy to find from the station since they've closed off an underpass...and it is a pub to be savoured, so you probably made the right decision!
      See you in the New Year!