Blog Surfer

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

#058 Spotted Dog, Digbeth (RIP) : 1998 to 2011

This is the other Spotted Dog in Digbeth that is on the corner of Meriden Street and Bordesley Street. When I took this photo in 1998 I'd not set foot inside the pub.

In 2002, on the evening of Thursday 19th September, we were in Birmingham on one of our canal trips and took a stroll into Digbeth. Among the pubs we came across was the Spotted Dog and ventured inside.
Not my best photo, but this was taken with my old Fuji SLR camera that dates back to the mid 70's so I was always 'guessing' the settings for night time photography. This time I was also 'challenged' as to why I was taking the picture. This is a fairly common occurrence, mostly with slightly out-of-the-way pubs that don't expect photographers. Once I explain that we're on a canal holiday and I take a picture of every pub we go in, they are always fine about it.

The only things I remember about it is that it was fairly quiet, typical back street pub. It was run by a black manager/landlord and the clientele were exclusively black, which you don't see very often.

A few years later I revisited the Spotted Dog on a Saturday night and it had transformed into a lively music venue seemingly specialising in up and coming bands.

So, when I came to take this photo in 2011 I was somewhat surprised to see that it was closed.
It had also changed its name to TJ's.

On Sunday I took part in the enjoyable Digbeth Photo Walk, organised by Pete Ashton & Matt Murtagh, that took us past the Spotted Dog which is still unchanged from when I took this picture. 

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

Friday, 23 March 2012

#057 The Unicorn Inn, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent : 2002 to 2011

Stoke-on-Trent is one of those places that I find very confusing! We don't visit that often on our canal trips, but I generally get lost when we do. We first came across The Unicorn Inn pretty much by accident and were very glad we did. I remember it as a lovely little pub that was well appointed and friendly.
This photo was taken on Sunday 15th September 2002 in the evening.

In the intervening years we've passed through Stoke quite a few times, but not ventured in to Hanley. Stoke is quite a sprawling city and so we've been to most parts over the years. This time we moored at Etruria Junction and headed off towards Hanley. As I've detailed before, there have been a lot of changes and, it seemed to me, that much of the area had been flattened!

After we'd rediscovered The Wheatsheaf Hotel, we set off to find another pub recommended by the locals...and got lost again. Luckily we managed to stumble across The Unicorn Inn again.
This photo was taken on Friday 2nd September 2011, again an evening visit. The outside has been extensively redecorated, but inside it is still a proper pub that is still popular.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

#056 The Woodman, Digbeth : 1998 to 2011 (RIP??)

The Woodman is one of the finest examples of what proper city pubs can be. It is one of the earliest of the pubs designed by James & Lister Lea. It is one of the pubs that I had occasionally visited before I took this photo in 1998.
As I remember, it has a compact front bar and a lovely, quiet back room that still had gas lights on the tiled wall. In 1998 this was still a busy and popular pub, but how times have changed.

In the intervening 13 years there have been massive developments in this part of Digbeth. The whole area behind The Woodman has been flattened and is now (or it was the last time I looked) somewhat neglected grassy area.
To give some geographical perspective, the city centre is off to the right. Behind me is the Thinktank which opened in 2001 and houses the Birmingham Science Museum and is part of the Millennium Point development. To the left of The Woodman is New Canal Street which leads to the old Curzon Street Station and the (closed) Eagle & Tun which was #032 in this series.

Curzon Street was the site of Birmingham's first raiway terminus and is a listed building. This will be the future Birmingham terminus of the HS2 High Speed Rail Line.
Here is the view from the back of The Woodman and the Eagle & Tun is to my right. These pubs are both under threat from the developers who have previous for demolishing old buildings that are in their way. Personally, I'd have thought that incorporating such lovely old buildings into a new development would make the final experience so much better. What could be better than to step off a high-tech, hi-speed train, that has whisked you to Birmingham from London in less than hour, into a lovely old pub for a pint? Obviously I'm biased, but surely even the developers can see the attractions of mixing the new with a bit of the old.

More about this can be found on the Digbeth is Good website which is better informed about these matters that I am!

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

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

#055 The Miners Arms, Milton, Staffs : 2002 to 2011

The Miners Arms is a lovely little local pub in Milton just outside Stoke-on-Trent. Our first visit was in 2002 on our second cruise along the Caldon Canal.
This first picture was taken at lunchtime on Saturday 14th September 2002. As usual I don't remember too much about it apart from it being a friendly local that didn't do food. It's the type of pub that was found almost everywhere, but nowadays this style of pub is becoming a somewhat endangered species.

So it was something of a surprise that it was still there on our latest visit to Milton on another cruise along the Caldon Canal.
This photo was taken on the evening of Tuesday 30th August 2011. It is still a proper local pub with friendly staff. They still don't do food, but were only too happy to direct us to the nearest curry house which was very good!

On a first glance The Miners Arms doesn't appear to have changed in the 11 years, but on closer inspection the name has gone from upper case lettering to normal text and the net curtains have been replaced with frosted glass (or the equivalent) to give it a more traditional look.

I'm not sure if Milton Rangers FC are still in action, but the Miners Arms team are active in the Coors Sunday League Premier Division.  

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

#054 The Fountain, Digbeth :1998 to 2011

The Fountain is a small street corner pub in Digbeth that in 1998 I'd never been in, but was on my route home from work so I passed it almost every day.
This is not to be confused with The Fountain Inn which is a gay pub in Highgate less than a mile away.

Since taking this picture in 1998 I've visited the pub a couple of times on pub crawls through Digbeth. Inside it is pretty much as you'd expect; a small basic bar with friendly locals and staff. In short, a proper pub!

As I went around the area in 2011 I was pleased to see that The Fountain was still there and largely unchanged.
Obviously, it has been repainted, but the M&B sign remains! The pub continues, I assume, as it is part of the strong Irish community in this part of Digbeth and because there is still industry here. I'm not sure whether the new residential developments nearby are a positive factor - do the people that live in these new apartments go to the local pub? I don't know, but I suspect not.

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

Thursday, 1 March 2012

#053 Barley Mow, Newbold-on-Avon, Warks : 1995 to 2011

My first ever visit to the Barley Mow was on the evening of 17th April 1980 on my first canal trip on Emma Jane. In those days I hadn't started taking a photo of every pub we visited. To get some idea of what it looked like, visit this link which shows the pub in 1976.

My next visit was a lunchtime stop on 1st September 1995 on our trip to take Emma Jane back to her 'new' moorings at Lapworth.
The Barley Mow is right by the Oxford Canal, just down a little lane close to Newbold Tunnel. The remarkable thing is that the next-door building is also a pub, The Boat. That makes it a perfect stop for a mini pub crawl!

Next time was another evening stop on 29th May 2000.
This photo is taken from outside The Boat looking back towards the canal.

Another five years later and we're back!
This was another lunchtime stop on 31st May 2005. By this time it looks like the pub was no longer an M&B house.

And finally...we move on to my most recent visit. This time we were on our way to have Emma Jane assessed for potential repairs to the cabin by Brinklow Boats who are a little further along the Oxford Canal. Unfortunately there aren't any pubs near the cut at Brinklow so we took the onerous decision to stop at the Barley Mow early in the evening on 30th May 2011.
The outside of the pub has had a complete makeover, but inside it hasn't really changed that much. There is a fairly extensive restaurant area serving very good food and, in the bar, there is a skittles table. This is always a bonus for us as we like to have a game of Northamptonshire Skittles (also known as Hood Skittles). We're not very good, but we both enjoy it having originally been shown how to play on our first ever canal trips.