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Thursday, 29 September 2011

#020 Garrick Inn, Stratford-upon-Avon : 1996 to 2011

I'm not exactly sure when I first visited the Garrick Inn in Stratford, but I know it was long before this photo was taken in 1996!
 This was the first of our annual canal trips to Stratford from our moorings at Lapworth. We take this journey each Easter and have only missed one trip since 1996. That was in 1998 when there was serious rain and flooding (and we had a flat battery!!).

The Garrick is a pub that has hardly changed over the years we've been visiting. There is a small bar at the front and a small bar at the back which opens up into a fairly large restaurant area. So, despite it's history dating back to the 1400's it isn't really a 'proper' pub, but if you can get a seat in either bar it is a pleasant place to visit for a few drinks!

This picture was taken in 2001 when we managed to get our boat to Stratford despite the Foot & Mouth outbreak!
One of the things I do remember about the Garrick is that it was one of the very first pubs I went in that banned smoking completely long before it was the law. This may explain why we didn't go there in 2005, 2006 or 2007!

Finally we get to 2011 and our most recent visit. Little or nothing had changed...except the car outside!!
The Garrick Inn is part of the Old English Inns group which is a brand of Greene King. Interestingly, if you go on the Greene King 'Find a Proper Pub' website it will identify the Garrick even though it isn't a 'proper' pub in my view...but what do I know?

Monday, 26 September 2011

#019 Wagon & Horses, Deritend : 1998 to 2011

As I was 'retracing my steps' to photograph these pubs I rediscovered the Wagon & Horses, almost by accident! I'd just done the Forge Tavern (#012) and was driving to see what else there was still around and I came across this lovely back street boozer. At first I thought that I'd missed it in 1998, but not so! I had indeed captured it eleven years ago.

This is the eighth in my 'Birmingham Eastside' series.
At the time, I thought that I should actually visit for a drink some time soon as it looked like a decent, 'proper' pub. But, I never did. It's not on the way to anywhere and so I was never passing and as the years passed forgot all about it!

And here it is in 2011, almost completely unchanged...except the signage and detailed paintwork (and the satellite dish!). Since I took the photo, I've actually been in and had a pint. The front bar is small and there seemed to be a reasonable choice of beer on offer - but as I drink Carling I didn't pay too much attention to the rest of the 'swill'! There was also a chocolate cake on the bar - 99p per slice - not something you see too often these days! There was a larger back room, but we didn't venture in there.

The reason that the Wagon & Horses has survived is that it is now a music venue as well with its own MySpace page. On the day we were there the Wagon & Horses was hosting a marathon charity event of live music that started in the afternoon and was due to end in the wee small hours. When we arrived the bar was relatively empty, but within a few minutes the place filled up with the next band and their followers.

For a more historical perspective this link has much more information.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

#018 The Dubliner, Digbeth : 1998 to 2011

This is the seventh in my 'Birmingham Eastside' series.

When I first came to Brum as a student in the late 70's this was the Barrel Organ, but I never visited it. There are some reminiscences of the old Barrel Organ from the 1980's here when it was a popular music venue as well. I'm not entirely sure when it changed it's name to The Dubliner, but when I took this photo in 1998 it had been that for a few years.

I still had never set foot inside the place until 19th September 2002. We were returning from our second trip up the Caldon Canal. We had planned to go to Chester, but a lock gate had 'blown out' ahead of us on the Shropshire Union Canal and we were forced to make an alternative plan. 

Often the penultimate night of our canal trips is spent in Birmingham and, in those days, I tried to visit pubs that we'd never been to before. The Dubliner was one of the pubs we visited that night. My only two observations that survive are that it was cavernous inside and the lager was the most expensive of the night! One pint was enough!

In 2006 it was the victim of an arson attack and didn't reopen until February 2008 as reported here. I have been back since the reopening, but again only stayed for one pint. It was about 9:30 on a Saturday night and the place was virtually empty. A disco was being set up, there was a bouncer on the door and, in the Gents, a bloke was setting up his range of perfumes and emollients for later in the evening! We discovered that they had a licence until 4 am! I'd like to say that I've become too old for that sort of scene...but I think I've always been too old for it!!

In 2011 it is still there and still thriving. It looks pretty much like it did in 1998, but closer inspection shows that the windows are new (not surprisingly) and the Ansells sign has gone (praise be!). Next door is the completely rebuilt Digbeth Birmingham Coach Station.

Monday, 19 September 2011

#017 Plume of Feathers, Barlaston, Staffs : 1991 to 2011

The first time I visited the Plume of Feathers was in 1991. I'd recently returned from a three year secondment to Australia and we were moving Emma Jane from Wigan on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to, ultimately, Cowley Peachey near Uxbridge on the Grand Union Canal. We were responsible for the first half of the journey and swapped crew at Lapworth, very close to where she is moored now!

This photo was taken at lunchtime on 26th July 1991. I don't really remember too much about it other than it was a fairly basic pub with all the required facilities - cold lager, hot food, serviceable toilets (a must on long canal trips!) and moorings at the 'bottom' of the car park!

We next visited in August 2000, but the pub was shut and we ended up catching a cab and drinking in Stone for the evening! It wasn't until 2002 that we could confirm that it had been redeveloped and reopened, although we didn't stop there again until 23rd August 2005.
It looked as though it wanted to be a 'gastropub', but in reality it had been turned into a modernised pub that did food and effectively fell between the two stools. Judging by the lunchtime crowd it felt that it should be a 'proper' pub, but judging by the d├ęcor it was meant to be more than just a pub. Anyway, we had a decent lunchtime visit.
We visited again in 2006 and 2010 with similar experiences.

And so to 3rd September 2011. Another lunchtime stop and this time we went into the Lounge for the first time. This side of the pub felt more like  a golf club...and then I noticed the large bowling green out of the rear windows. The food on offer is reassuringly simple and the service was good. The Plume of Feathers is a good lunchtime stop for us, but I'm not sure if it would be so good for an evening session!

Friday, 16 September 2011

#016 The Old Crown, Deritend : 1998 to 2011

This is the sixth in my 'Birmingham Eastside' series.

Back in 1998 The Old Crown was closed and boarded up, but I took a picture anyway as I knew it couldn't be knocked down.

 This is Birmingham's oldest pub and dates from 1368. I'm not sure when it reopened but it is now a pub that also does a lot of food, although I'd hesitate to call it a restaurant type pub as you can still go and just drink for a session! I've been a couple of times since it reopened and whilst it's great to see it thriving, inside you don't get the feeling that it dates back to the 14th Century. Since putting these photos up I've noticed that the chimneys have been rebuilt, seemingly in the original style.

Part of the renewed success of The Old Crown is almost certainly because of the Custard Factory which reopened in the late 1990's as an arts and media venue. (The coloured buildings behind The Old Crown are part of the Custard Factory.)  This was the factory where Bird's Custard was made for many years until 1964 when production moved to Kraft's factory in Banbury.

Monday, 12 September 2011

#015 The Sportsman, Stockton Brook, Staffs : 1999 to 2011

I've just returned from my annual summer canal trip and this year we revisited the Caldon Canal for the first time since 2002. However, our initial trip was in 1999 and this was my first visit to The Sportsman.
This photo was taken at about 2pm on 2nd September 1999. We were a bit late getting there and the only food available was Pork Pies which were behind the bar. Perfect to go with a pint (or three). I don't remember too much more about it other than it was a proper local pub. 
So, how would it be twelve years later? Remarkably unchanged!
Outside The Sportsman is pretty much the same as before, but inside there were no Pork Pies! Instead there were Ham & Tomato rolls wrapped in cling film - proper pub food!! We were greeted by a friendly barmaid/landlady and there was a sprinkling of locals in the bar even though it was a Friday lunchtime. The photo was taken at about 2pm on 2nd September 2011 - amazing, 12 years to the day!! 
Here's a photo of the bar: -
The locals were just out of shot to the right and whilst we were there an 'old boy' started playing on the skittles table, I assume to 'keep his eye in' as he seemed pretty good to me!

There was one very interesting feature, though, which I didn't see, but my travelling companions, both smokers, did comment on - the Smoking Area. Essentially it is a standard uPVC conservatory with no glass in the windows. There was glass in the roof so no-one would get wet and was a comfortable place to smoke! I'm no expert, but I've not come across anything like this before - maybe The Pub Curmudgeon knows of others. Just goes to show what a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work can accomplish in keeping a proper pub going!

Friday, 9 September 2011

#014 The Lamp Tavern, Highgate : 1998 to 2011

Back in 1998 I went around the Digbeth/Deritend/Highgate area of Birmingham taking photos of all the pubs I could find. It was my intention to return in 10 years to see how the Birmingham Eastside development had affected these pubs. I didn't find the time in 2008 and so, finally, I revisited the area this year with my camera and these are the results. 
This is the fifth in my 'Eastside' series.

At the time of taking this picture in 1998 I'd never been in The Lamp Tavern, in fact I didn't know of its existence! However, a couple of years later I was in the audience for a gig by Mean Old World. They were a Birmingham band who had incorporated a visiting American colleague of mine as the lead vocalist. I was amazed how small The Lamp Tavern is inside, but we had a great night. The lead singer, Dan Bode, can be seen here, back in the States, fronting his band Moko Bovo. Dan is a great singer and it was a pleasure to see him perform at several venues around Birmingham!

Thirteen years later and remarkably little has changed on the outside, although the upper windows have been replaced! The Lamp Tavern is the only pub in Birmingham that sells beer made by the Stanway Brewery from Cheltenham.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

#013 Carpenter's Arms, Digbeth : 1998 to 2011

Back in 1998 I went around the Digbeth/Deritend/Highgate area of Birmingham taking photos of all the pubs I could find. It was my intention to return in 10 years to see how the Birmingham Eastside development had affected these pubs. I didn't find the time in 2008 and so, finally, I revisited the area this year with my camera and these are the results. 
This is the fourth in my 'Eastside' series.

 This is another pub that I've never set foot in, but it was a pleasant surprise to find another attractive looking 'local'. That was 1998, but I've kept an eye out for this pub when I've been passing over the years. I was concerned that when I came back it wouldn't be there any more as it was boarded up and there was a lot of demolition work going on in the vicinity. When I went back this year it was transformed into something that I would never even have thought about in 1998!

So, here we are in 2011 and the pub has become Moon Shisha Lounge. These types of establishment had started to appear around Birmingham, but I thought the smoking ban had put paid to them...obviously not! (Although, this venue was prosecuted by Birmingham City Council for a wrongly designed outside smoking area!) I know next to nothing about Shisha, so here is a link to help you as well. Anyway, if a pub isn't viable then it is good to see it being put to use rather than being erased from the landscape.