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Thursday, 30 August 2012

#080 Red Lion, Hopwas, Staffs : 1986 to 2011

There are two pubs by the Coventry Canal in Hopwas, the Tame Otter (formerly The Chequers - #037 in this series) and the Red Lion. We've rarely stopped in Hopwas even though we pass through it very frequently. This is usually because we're there at the wrong time of day or there are no mooring spaces.
Our first visit was on the evening of Tuesday 29th July 1986 on the way back to our moorings towards the end of a two week trip that had taken us to Leicester and Nottingham.
As I recall it was a fairly basic Ind Coope village pub. (Before I zoomed in on the photo I'd have guessed it was an Ansell's pub, but they were part of the same company - Allied Breweries.)
We didn't stop in Hopwas again for many years until the lunchtime of Wednesday 18th September 2002. Again near the end of a journey that had taken us along the Caldon Canal. After 16 years you would hope to see some changes.
And so it proved. Now it had been re-badged as an Ansell's pub and had been completely refurbished inside as well. It had become (or had tried) a more upmarket food and drinking establishment, no doubt to compete with the now revamped Tame Otter across the canal.
Our most recent visit to Hopwas came on the lunchtime of Sunday 28th August 2011, this time at the early stages of our journey to the Caldon Canal. We didn't actually go into the Red Lion this time, but I took a photo just so that I'd have a record of any changes that had taken place in the intervening 9 years.
The only discernible change I can make out is the disappearance of Ansell's from the signage (and the temporary banner sign), but apart from that it is almost the same as 9 years earlier. Judging from the Red Lion website, this isn't too surprising as it would appear that 2002 was the current owners first year! 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

#079 Falcon Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon : 1997 to 2011

An Easter trip to Stratford became a regular part of our boating calendar in 1996. As there are lots of pubs in the town we could always find somewhere different, or in later years, ones that we hadn't been in for a while. The Falcon Hotel falls into this latter category.

Our first visit was on Saturday 29th March 1997 on our lunchtime 'crawl' around Stratford.
It is a fine Tudor style building and inside it is all you would expect from an 'olde worlde' hotel - with the sort of prices you'd expect as well. As it isn't a 'proper pub' is probably the main reason that we don't visit it every year.

The next time we ventured into the Falcon was on the evening of Saturday 14th April 2001
We only spent one session in Stratford this time as our journey had been in the balance because of the Foot & Mouth outbreak. It was only a few days before we were due to set off that British Waterways managed to open the canals by insisting that we carried the chemicals needed to dip our shoes in to prevent spreading the disease. There were also disinfectant dips at all canal access points in the countryside.
This possibly explains why there were no people in the shot of the Falcon. As I recall, Stratford was very quiet that year, mainly because the outside world believed that Britain was closed. Vast pyres of burning cattle didn't help that perception!

The next time we visited the Falcon was on the evening of Saturday 26th March. This isn't one of my best photos - I can only conclude it was late on in our session!

Our most recent venture into the Falcon was on the evening of Saturday 30th April 2011. We'd delayed our trip by a couple of weeks so that we would be away during the Royal Wedding.
As you can see from this picture, the place hasn't changed a bit in the 14 years we've been visiting. Hardly surprising in a historic town like Stratford. However, it is now one of the Legacy Group of hotels...and the bar prices are still reflective of this status!  

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

#078 The Boat, Newbold-on-Avon, Warks : 1995 to 2011

My first ever visit to The Boat 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.

It wasn't until Friday 1st September 1995 that I returned to The Boat, this time on the trip that brought our boat Emma Jane back to the Midlands from Winkwell on the Grand Union Canal.
Next door to The Boat is the Barley Mow which has already featured in this series - #053. So, each time we stop at Newbold-on-Avon we inevitably visit both pubs, this means that I have little more to add to the text - so here are the pictures!

This was on the evening of Monday 29th May 2000 and the pub hadn't really changed much.

Another five years had passed before we were in Newbold again, this time a lunch stop on Tuesday 31st May 2005. This time the outside had been extensively redecorated and inside it had been refurbished to give a more modern feel.

Our final visit, to date, was on Monday 30th May 2011 in the evening. This time I have two photos to give a better all round view of the pub and the changes.
 This view shows the Barley Mow in the background.
This view better shows how the outside of the pub has changed over the years. Inside there were more changes but it still had the pool table. You can see pictures here.

Monday, 6 August 2012

#077 Old Royal Oak, Hillmorton, Warks : 1993 to 2011

The first time I ever visited the Old Royal Oak at Hillmorton was on my first canal trip in 1980. Sadly I don't have a picture of the pub from that trip, but I do remember that we had a great evening there and moored the boat right outside the pub.

It took us quite a few years to 'rediscover' it in September 1993. Our boat was moored at Winkwell on the Grand Union Canal near to Berkhamstead and our annual trips took us north as far as we could get, then we'd turn around and retrace our steps. On this trip we got as far as Stretton-under-Fosse before turning around and we actually visited the Old Royal Oak on the way up and on the way back. It has a superb location as it sits right on the bank of the Oxford Canal.
As I recall, it was no longer a 'proper' pub, but was aimed more at the family market. However, we stopped because they did food which wasn't as common then as it is now.

The next time we came this way was in 1995 when we moved Emma Jane back to the Midlands. My only picture of the pub, though, is a somewhat blurry night time reflection shot from across the cut. From memory, the pub was largely unchanged.

It wasn't until 2004 that we returned to the Old Royal Oak on a return trip from Oxford.
This was at lunchtime on Thursday 26th August 2004 and the Old Royal Oak had become a fully fledged family pub - it was now a Hungry Horse!

We were there again in 2005, this time on a Spring trip that took us to Coventry.
 This was in the evening of Monday 30th May 2005 and I took the photo from the road bridge as we walked into Hillmorton to find some 'proper' pubs (which was a successful decision!).

Our next visit was on Wednesday 30th May 2007, a lunchtime stop.
Little to report, apart from the extra growth of ivy on the front!

Our most recent visit was on our last ever trip on board Emma Jane and this was the last ever pub we visited from Emma Jane.
This was on Sunday 6th November 2011 and the pub was still a Hungry Horse. It is still possible to moor right outside and I managed to get this shot from inside.
Again, we used the Old Royal Oak as a useful stopping place and ventured into Hillmorton to revisit the numerous 'proper' pubs to be found there. It's not that there's anything wrong with the Old Royal Oak, but we weren't in family pub mode. As a lunchtime stop it is great, but for an evening, it isn't ideal for us.