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Monday, 27 February 2012

#052 The Kerryman, Digbeth : 1998 to 2011

When I first took this photo this was The Roscommon Bar, a small unprepossessing Irish pub along the main road in Digbeth. At the time I hadn't been inside, but I'd walked by on numerous occasions.
It also seems to have the name 'Fitzy's Bar'.

In the intervening years  I did visit one Saturday evening and, inside it is quite a bit bigger than it looks from the outside. As it was fairly early (about 10 pm) there weren't too many people inside, but the disco had started already!

I don't know when it changed to The Kerryman, but it has been this for a number of years now.
From the outside it has had a complete makeover and now looks much more appealing. Looking at the website for The Kerryman shows that it is also a B&B and puts on music like many of the pubs in this part of Birmingham. Also, I notice that the opening hours are from 8am most days and on Fridays and Saturdays closing time is 4am! That would be one hell of a session!

To me, this is a great example of what I was hoping to find when I embarked on this project showing how pubs evolve over the years to keep up with the changing times and stay popular with their clientele. 

This is the twenty-fourth in my 'Birmingham Eastside' series.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

#051 White Horse, Curdworth, Warks : 1987 to 2011

In the early 1980's I lived in nearby Minworth and drove by the White Horse on many occasions. In those days it was a fairly ordinary looking red brick pub and I never went inside - it was too far to walk to and not interesting enough to drive to!
The first time I set foot inside was at lunchtime on Thursday 16th July 1987 on our way back to our moorings after a two week canal trip.
As you can see it isn't a red brick buidling any more. In the intervening years since I'd moved away, the old pub had been demolished and a new building put in its place. Inside it was modern and without atmosphere, partly due to the fact that we were there very early and were the only people in there at the start. As I recall the food was good and we left, not to return for many years!
On our canal trips we often pass through Curdworth, but almost never stop in the village. For many years, our preferred stop was at The Kingsley just outside the village. When we first stopped there it was a Beefeater and the moorings were right outside. We revisited it many times until it recently closed and then reopened as a restaurant. Another reason for not visiting Curdworth more often has been the lack of mooring space for our boat, which is still an issue.
In recent years we have stopped a Curdworth a few times, but usually drank and ate in The Beehive which is more of an old style village pub with a separate bar and restaurant area. On our last trip we visited the White Horse on our way back to the canal for our last pint of the night.
This photo was taken on Wednesday 1st June 2011. The White Horse is no longer a proper pub, but is one of M&B's Vintage Inns. I have been there a couple of times outside of boating holidays and it is an acceptable place for food, pretty much like any other Vintage Inn.

I have mixed feelings about Vintage Inns; on the one hand the food is generally good and reliable, which can come in handy on our boating adventures, but on the other hand they're all the same and the faux 'county pub' decor lacks any character. However, in this modern age of pub closures, I'm thankful for small mercies...and at least you can still just order a drink!

"There has been a building on the site of The White Horse pub since Georgian times, when the pub was regularly frequented by blacksmiths, farmers and even other publicans. One one family, the Lucas, ran the White Horse from 1845 until the early 20th century." 
This quote is from the Curdworth Parish Council website and just shows how much times have changed!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

#050 Fox & Grapes, Digbeth 1998 to 2011 (RIP?)

The Fox & Grapes is a pub that I'd visited a few times before I took this picture in 1998. As I recall it was a fairly 'bog standard' boozer and was ideal as a meeting point for an evening's entertainment (either before going into the city or going on to sample the further delights of Digbeth!).
So, this is what it looked like in 1998...and here it is in 2011.
Sadly, it looks to be terminal, but you never know. The whole area is being redeveloped and this is quoted in the "Eastside Masterplan" - 

"There is also potential to incorporate the Fox and Grapes within the new station concourse to enhance design quality."

However, as is usual with developers, they are trying to obtain a Deed of Variation to facilitate the demolition of the nearby Island House, so who knows what the fate of the Fox & Grapes will be. I'll keep a watch on the very useful and informative Digbeth Is Good blog for the most up-to-date information.

This is the twenty-third in my 'Birmingham Eastside' series.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

#049 The Quiet Woman, Leek, Staffs : 1999 to 2011

On our first canal trip visit to Leek in 1999 The Quiet Woman was one of the many pubs we visited. I don't really remember too much about it, but what I do remember about Leek was that there were a lot of pubs in the town - certainly reason enough to go there again!

This photo of The Quiet Woman was taken on the evening of 2nd September 1999 (a Thursday).
From memory it was the our first 'pit-stop' of the evening, but that's about as far as my memory goes!

Our next visit was on 1st September 2011 (again in the evening and again on a Thursday!) and again it was our first stop. Inside it felt like a recently refurbished, 'proper pub'. Although it was early evening, the pub was fairly busy and filling quite quickly with young people who were there for a band, playing later.
From the outside very little has changed in the intervening 12 years, even the pub sign looks to be the same one. This isn't too surprising as it is a listed building and so only very minor changes are allowed. What was surprising was that it was still thriving, but this is probably due to the owners, a small company called The Yard Glass Pub Company that appears to have about 10 pubs. They in turn are part of Sporting Lodge Inns who are based in Leigh, Lancs. 

Hopefully this is the way forward for pubs, to be run by individuals or small companies who really care about pubs and are willing to make them welcoming, friendly places that keep the traditional feel (even though most have to sell loads of food to keep going!). All-in-all a good find and a pub well worth visiting again (and spending more time in).