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Monday, 30 April 2012

#064 The White Swan, Digbeth : 1998 to 2011

The White Swan in Digbeth is another example of the fine pubs designed by James & Lister Lea. This is what it looked like in the mid 1930's.

In 1998 when I took this picture, The White Swan appears to have changed little.
At the time of taking this photo, I don't think I'd been inside, but this was rectified in 2002 when we were in Birmingham on one of our canal trips and ventured into Digbeth for a bit of a pub crawl.

This picture was taken on Saturday 7th September 2002.
It's difficult to tell from this picture if anything had changed. As I recall it was a busy, 'proper' pub only let down by the fact that the only 'quaffing' lager was Carlsberg (probably the worst lager in the world in those days - it is better nowadays!). I've visited at least once more since and found it to be a very pleasant place if you like real pubs.

On to 2011 and this is how The White Swan looks.
Again, it looks almost identical to how it was in 1998. Obviously, it is a Grade II listed building and so there's not much that can be altered, however, none of the buildings that were on either side have survived.

Amazingly it is now a Marston's pub, but you wouldn't know it from the exterior.

And here's The White Swan given the Photo Digital Art treatment.

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

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

#063 The Railway, Warwick : 1998 to 2011

The Railway in Warwick is a unique looking building, but in reality it is a typical local pub. Our first visit was in 1998 when our boat Emma Jane broke down on our Summer trip to Oxford. We'd spent the previous evening at the Cape of Good Hope, also in Warwick, and Emma Jane's engine stopped quite quickly after we'd set off. Luckily there was another boat nearby and we got a tow to Kate Boats which was only 50 minutes away. Unfortunately it was a Sunday and there was no engineer available to have a look at our problem and, as it was a Bank Holiday there was going to be no one available on Monday either!

Two days in the same place could have been a disaster, but we were on the outskirts of Warwick and in the next two days (= 4 sessions!) we went in most of the pubs in Warwick!

The Railway is the first pub we came to, but I don't think we went in on our first venture into town. However, at some stage we did go inside.
This was on either 30th or 31st August 1998 and I remember little about the visit.

The next time we went to The Railway was on a trip to take Emma Jane to Nuneaton for a new roof and a few other things. This photo was taken on the evening of Friday 27th May 2005 and I'm pretty sure that we had one and then moved on into Warwick.
The pub has changed little, but it no longer shows the M&B sign, the hanging basket has gone and the outside has been repainted.

And so we move on to 2011. Again this was a Spring trip, this time a round trip of the Grand Union, Oxford, Coventry, Birmingham & Fazeley, Worcester & Birmingham and Stratford Canals. We'd moored up late outside Kate Boats and were keen to find a pub to watch the Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United as it was Saturday 28th May 2011.
It was fairly full, mostly with 'anybody but United' fans, but we got seats although the view of the telly wasn't ideal. We only stayed till half-time and moved on to a pub closer to the restaurants for the second half. Over the years, The Railway has hardly changed and it's a perfectly decent boozer, but there are so many more pubs in Warwick that it will only ever be a pub we visit for a swift one on the way into the town centre.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

UPDATE 2 : #008 Navigation Inn, Lapworth : 1986 to 2012

Back in November I reported the closure of the Navigation Inn in Rowington and hoped that it would be reopening soon. Well, I have good news. It isn't open yet, but I had a chat with the new owner and he is well on the way to reopening in about 4 weeks time. This is what the outside now looks like.
I was driving past earlier today and, on seeing the new external decoration, I pulled over and took a few pictures. As I was walking back to the car I peered in through the window to gauge how much was being done to the interior. The new owner, Mark, saw me and invited me in for a chat. 

Mark is a no-nonsense Yorksireman who's been involved in the bar fitting trade for many years and lived in Warwickshire for about 30 years. His plan is for the Navigation to NOT be a Gastro Pub, but to keep the front bar as a drinkers area (no food) and to serve food in the rear room. His view of food is very much like mine - proper, good quality, English pub grub. For the beer drinkers he aims to have 4 or 5 hand pulled real ales, a couple of ciders and a decent range of lagers.

I hope all goes well for Mark and the newly refurbished Navigation Inn.

Monday, 16 April 2012

#062 Town Crier, Digbeth : 1998 to 2011

This is a pub I've never been inside although I've passed by on many occasions. This is how it looked in 1998.
A rather unprepossessing appearance, but surprisingly it has survived into 2011!
Quite a few external changes have occurred in the intervening thirteen years. Most notably, it was an M&B pub and now it is Banks's. The Off Licence (or 'outdoor' as we Brummies call it!) is closed and boarded up and the windows have been replaced. Apart from that, there have been signage and other changes as well.

Apart from that I don't have much more information.

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

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

#061 The Mary Arden, Wilmcote, Warks : 1997 to 2011

If we hadn't recently sold our boat Emma Jane I would have been showing you a picture of this pub from 2012 taken only a few days ago on our annual Easter trip to Stratford. However, this year we've hired a boat for the first time and enjoyed the delights of Chester. Anyway, back to history!
This was our second visit to Wilmcote and the photo was taken on Saturday 29th March 1997. As I recall, we had a couple in the Mary Arden before moving on to the Mason's Arms, #006 in this series. I don't remember much else about it from that time other than it was an alright place to visit, but not a proper local like the Mason's Arms.

Our next visit to Wilmcote wasn't until 2000 and the Mary Arden was unchanged.
This photo is from Friday 21st April 2000 which is pretty much the latest that Good Friday can happen.

Unusually, in 2001 we stoped at Wilmcote twice! Once on the way down to Stratford and again on the way back up.
These were taken on Sat/Sun 14/15th March 2001, both lunchtime stops.

We were back again in 2002 and this is the scene that greeted us.
For the first time in this blog, I've actually captured a pub being refurbished! This was taken on Saturday 30th March 2002, but the redecorating has hardly got underway as all of the signage is still the same.

And this is what it looked like afterwards.
This picture was taken on Saturday 19th April 2003, now just called The Mary Arden. The inside had also been refurbished, but I found it to be cold and not very welcoming.

We have visited here every year since (apart from 2007), but I won't bore you with all of the pictures as the pub has changed little in the intervening years!
Saturday 15th April 2006

Saturday 11th April 2009

Saturday 3rd April 2010 - the 'lintels' above the windows are now black.

And finally...Saturday 30th April 2011. Not Easter, but the weekend of the Royal Wedding.

The Mary Arden is not a place I'd say is a must visit pub, but it is perfectly pleasant and does good food. It is situated very close to Mary Arden's House (just behind and right of me as I took this picture) and has it's own website

Friday, 6 April 2012

#060 The Moseley Arms, Digbeth : 1998 to 2011

The Moseley Arms is a pub I'd never been inside when I took this picture in 1998. In fact I hadn't really noticed it even though I must have driven past it on numerous occasions on the way to work (one of my alternate routes when the main one was blocked)!
A typical street corner M&B pub, but a bit off the beaten track for Digbeth pubs.

As we move to 2011, I still haven't been inside the pub, but I was pleased to see that it was still standing.
It is not now an M&B pub and the outside has been extensively redecorated and re-signed, but essentially it is unchanged. It appears to be thriving and has its own website, although this is still a little spartan at the moment. The Moseley Arms is, like many Digbeth pubs, a music venue.

I've also applied the Photo Digital Art 'magic' to The Moseley Arms!
This is the twenty-eighth in my 'Birmingham Eastside' series.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

#059 Tom o' the Wood, Rowington, Warks : 1986 to 2011

When I first visited the Tom o' the Wood it was a great country pub in a perfect location just by the Grand Union Canal.
This shot was taken from the canal bridge in July 1986 before we started a canal trip that took us to Leicester.

The next visit was in 2000. In the intervening years our boat, Emma Jane, had been 'up north' on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and then 'down south' on the Grand Union. Although we moved the boat back to the Midlands in 1995, the Tom o' the Wood wasn't a regular stop, but we did visit at lunchtime on Saturday 27th May 2000.
The main sign on the side had changed and the ivy was starting to take over, but inside it was pretty much the same as before...apart from the extension/conservatory that had been added.

We were back again in 2001 at the start of our trip that took us to Aylesbury for the first (and so far only) time.
This was taken at lunchtime on Saturday 25th August 2001 and, apart from the extra growth of the ivy, it was still unchanged.

The next time we stopped at the Tom o' the Wood was on Friday 27th May 2005 on our way to Nuneaton where Emma Jane was going to get a new roof.
And what a disappointment it was! It was no longer a country pub that did good meals, it was an up market restaurant where you could get a pint! As I recall, it was lunchtime, but there were no sandwiches on the menu! On the outside, the ivy seemed to be taking over and the traditional pub sign had disappeared.

Over the next few years it went through several owners and,I think, was just called The Wood for a short while!

Our most recent visit was on Friday 4th November 2011 on what turned out to be our final ever trip on Emma Jane.
The Tom o' the Wood is under new ownership and it is their intention to turn it back into a country pub again, but on the evidence we saw it is still more of an eating place than a proper pub, but in rural Warwickshire, that's what will be successful. At least they've reinstalled the pub sign and trimmed the ivy!

Here is the above photo converted to a 'painting' which is my current project under the name Photo Digital Art.
Finally, where does the name come from? According to their website the name goes back to a 17th Century corn mill.