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Tuesday, 26 May 2020

#098 New Inn, Harborne, Birmingham : 1998 to 2020 (Revisited)

The New Inn is still a pub that I visit infrequently and, before I chronicle the last eight years, here's what I put in 2012: -

Harborne is a well-to-do suburb of Birmingham, next-door to Edgbaston and close to Birmingham University. Traditionally it has had a good number of pubs and was ideal for student pub crawls (although, sadly, I never partook of the 'Harborne Run'!).

The New Inn is off the High Street and was a lovely little pub with a small bar at the front and a small separate room off the entrance corridor. Through to the rear was a larger lounge and a bowling green out the back. It was always a very popular place. I'm not sure when I first visited and I have no idea exactly when I took this photo except that it was definitely in 1998.
I also don't know when it became a Banks's pub, but I assume it was part of the swap deal that gave Banks's some pubs in Birmingham and M&B some pubs in the Black Country. Here's a link to show what it looked like in 1960.

Over the following years I've been an irregular visitor and witnessed the slow decline of the New Inn. The two rooms at the front stayed pretty much the same, but the lounge was refurbished. In the long term, though, each time we visited there seemed to be fewer and fewer customers. I found this mystifying as, in a place like Harborne, it should have been packed. But it seems the pub trade is changing rapidly and in 2012 the New Inn was reborn.

It is now a Steak and Ale house and is part of the Bitters 'n' Twisted group of bars here in Birmingham. This group has been responsible for the resurrection of the Rose Villa Tavern and also runs two more pubs and a couple of themed bars.
From this picture taken on 16th May 2012 you can see that the outside it has been radically changed and inside it has been completely opened out as it has been transformed from a homely little boozer into a very up market Pub Restaurant. The new New Inn isn't really 'my cup of tea', but it's good to see that it is now successful.

It is interesting how trends and fashions change so quickly. When I went back to the New Inn a few years later, it was still run by Bitters'n'Twisted, but was far less popular than it had been when it was newly refurbished and revamped. This picture is from that time and was taken on 3rd June 2016.
The pub had undergone another external redecoration, but was still relatively unchanged on the inside.

Over the next few years we still popped in now and again, but it always seemed to be fairly quiet each time. Our most recent visit was just before the lockdown. We discovered that it had reverted back to Marston's control (this apparently happened in 2017 after Marston's and Bitters'n'Twisted couldn't agree terms for the rent) and that the new gaffer had plans to get The New Inn thriving again. (It was, again, very quiet for a Saturday evening!). Hopefully, the lockdown will only have delayed the plans, but I suspect it may have destroyed them. Only time will tell.
This is how it looked on the morning of 26th April 2020 as I took my lockdown exercise. It is largely unchanged since the previous redecoration.

Before the pandemic I was concerned for the future of the New Inn and now I suspect that it may be one of the pubs that doesn't reopen. This is a minor tragedy as the New Inn is back to being a proper pub, but because it is away from the main drag it doesn't get the trade that such a pub deserves (and there are plenty of pubgoers that frequent Harborne!). No doubt, all will become clearer in the coming weeks and months.

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