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Monday, 28 January 2013

#100 Two Boats, Long Itchington, Warwickshire : 1981 to 2012

Well, I've made it to my 100th entry on this blog and I thought I'd treat you to a special post. Although I only started to take a picture of every pub we visited in 1986, I found this photo from only my second ever trip on Emma Jane in 1981.
This first visit to the Two Boats was on the evening of Wednesday 19th August 1981. I don't remember much about the pub in those days, but it was very convenient being right on the canal bank. That visit was close to the end of an epic canal trip that had started out from Preston Brook 12 days previously. For the first week of the journey we'd been up against the clock because of a breach in the canal near Audlem on the Shropshire Union and to get to Birmingham on time we were sometimes travelling for 12 hours per day non-stop. Once we'd reached Birmingham, the next week was much more leisurely with the replacement crew of Andrea and Jackie!

I did visit the Two Boats again in 1984 (29th August), but didn't take a picture!

Circumstances conspired to make it so that our next stop at the Two Boats was on the evening of Sunday 24th August 1997 at the beginning of a journey that would take us to Nottingham and Leicester.
Over the intervening 16 years the pub was no longer a Whitbread house and, miraculously, the chimneys had disappeared!

We returned again the next year, on our way to Oxford.
This was at lunchtime on Tuesday 1st September 1998. We would have been here earlier in the week, but we'd broken down in Warwick and had to wait two days for an engineer to fix the engine! Remarkably in just 12 months the outside had been completely transformed. However, inside it was still pretty much the same. It was a small pub with two rooms that made very good pub food and whenever the sun's out it can get very busy...but they've always managed to cope with the demand whenever we've been there.

It was another three years before our next visit, this time on our way to Aylesbury.
Another lunchtime stop, this time on Sunday 26th August 2001 and you can see how busy it was on that Bank Holiday Sunday. Again there are more changes to the outside signage!

The next visit was at lunchtime on Sunday 17th August 2003 on the way to Leicester.
Remarkably, the Two Boats was unchanged!

Over the following years we visited every other year and there were few changes, but the photos are shown below.
Lunchtime on Saturday 28th May 2005...first time we'd ever managed to moor right outside!

Lunchtime on Thursday 31st May 2007 - taken from Emma Jane, just as we moored up outside again (we don't like to have to walk too far for our lunch!!)

In 2009 we stopped at the Two Boats twice. Firstly on Sunday 24th May 2009 and then again at lunchtime on Friday 11th September 2009.
The only visible change was the removal of the trellis that had been there since at least 1998!

Again, it was another two years before we returned and again, the Two Boats had undergone another transformation!
Not only had it been whitewashed (again), but it was now a Charles Wells pub. This was at lunchtime on Sunday 29th May 2011 and I was expecting to see radical changes inside as well, but was pleasantly surprised to see that it was unchanged and, more importantly, the landlord was still the same. The food was also just as good as ever!

We did visit again that year on Emma Jane's last voyage, this time on the evening of Saturday 5th November 2011.
This was our last visit (so far) on our canal trips, but I did drive by in 2012 to get a more up-to-date shot.

This was on Sunday 26th August 2012 and I'm happy to report that the Two Boats is still as busy as ever, especially when the sun is out!

Monday, 21 January 2013

#099 The Shipley Pride, Shipley, West Yorkshire : 1937 to 2012

Obviously I didn't visit this place in 1937, in fact my only visit was in 2012 on our canal trip along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. However, hanging in the pub were pictures from bygone days, so I took advantage of this and photographed them.

Back in 1937 it was called the Beehive Hotel.

The next picture was a night-time shot taken in 1994.
From this picture I can't make out the name of the brewery, but a Google search confirms that it was Tetley (no surprise there!).

Finally, to the modern day. We visited the pub on the evening of Tuesday 16th October 2012 on a bit of a pub crawl around Shipley.
From the outside, The Shipley Pride looks quite imposing, but inside it is a cosy and welcoming place with separate rooms. It was fairly quiet as it was a Tuesday night. We actually went in twice, before and after eating and caught the end of the Tuesday night quiz. Although it prides itself as a real ale pub, there was proper lager (Carling) on offer so we were happy!

The Shipley Pride website outlines what they are all about and I must concur that it is well worth a visit!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

#098 New Inn, Harborne, Birmingham : 1998 to 2012

Harborne is a well-to-do suburb of Birmingham, next-door to Edgbaston and close to Birmingham University. Traditionally it has had a good number of pubs and was ideal for student pub crawls (although, sadly, I never partook of the 'Harborne Run'!).

The New Inn is off the High Street and was a lovely little pub with a small bar at the front and a small separate room off the entrance corridor. Through to the rear was a larger lounge and a bowling green out the back. It was always a very popular place. I'm not sure when I first visited and I have no idea exactly when I took this photo except that it was definitely in 1998.
I also don't know when it became a Banks's pub, but I assume it was part of the swap deal that gave Banks's some pubs in Birmingham and M&B some pubs in the Black Country. Here's a link to show what it looked like in 1960.

Over the following years I've been an irregular visitor and witnessed the slow decline of the New Inn. The two rooms at the front stayed pretty much the same, but the lounge was refurbished. In the long term, though, each time we visited there seemed to be fewer and fewer customers. I found this mystifying as, in a place like Harborne, it should have been packed. But it seems the pub trade is changing rapidly and in 2012 the New Inn was reborn.

It is now a Steak and Ale house and is part of the Bitters 'n' Twisted group of bars here in Birmingham. This group has been responsible for the resurrection of the Rose Villa Tavern and also runs two more pubs and a couple of themed bars.
From this picture taken on 16th May 2012 you can see that the outside it has been radically changed and inside it has been completely opened out as it has been transformed from a homely little boozer into a very up market Pub Restaurant. The new New Inn isn't really 'my cup of tea', but it's good to see that it is now successful.

It is also one of the pubs that I've subjected to the Photo Digital Art treatment.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

#097 Old Plough, Braunston, Northants : 1993 to 2012

Braunston, on the Grand Union Canal, is the spiritual heart of the English canal network and has a rich history. It lies at the junction of the Oxford Canal and the Grand Union Canal and is always busy from a boating perspective. There are four pubs in the village, two of which are on the canal.

The Old Plough is in the main part of the village, a short stroll from the cut. The first time we ever visited the Old Plough was on the evening of Thursday 23rd September 1993.
In those days, our boat Emma Jane was moored at Winkwell near to Berkhamstead and our Summer/Autumn trips were restricted to seeing how far north we could get up the Grand Union in a week then turn around and return to base! Judging from the photo, I suspect that this was the last pub of the night. As I recall it was a pleasant, well furnished local pub that did food, but we didn't eat there that night as we'd probably already eaten.

We did return the next year and visited on the way back to our base on the evening of Saturday 3rd September 1994.
I'm fairly sure we did dine there this time. The external signs had been changed, but it was pretty much the same inside.

We didn't revisit the Old Plough for quite a few years when we were reproducing our trips of the 1990's by heading down the Grand Union as far as we could get, then turning around and heading back to our moorings which were now at Lapworth on the Stratford Canal.
This visit was on the evening of Sunday 26th August 2001 on a trip that would take us to Aylesbury for the first time. Unfortunately, for us, this was a Bank Holiday Sunday and the Old Plough was so busy that we were told that the food would take two hours! So we drank up and caught a taxi to Daventry where we had a very pleasant Thai meal.

We were back again two years later on Sunday 17th August 2003.
This time it wasn't the Bank Holiday weekend and there was only a short wait for the food which was very good. Since 1994 the pub had hardly changed with the same signage outside.

Another two years passed before we came back again; this time a Spring-time trip along the Grand Union to Weedon.
This was taken on Saturday 28th May 2005. Again the pub was unchanged.

Our final visit from the canal was on the evening of Sunday 24th May 2009.
Again we got there on a Bank Holiday Sunday and again we elected to go to Daventry to eat as the Old Plough was way too busy! Inside the pub was the same as ever, but the external signage had been changed, removing the Pubmaster branding.

This final picture was taken on Sunday 30th September 2012 as I was on my way to play golf near Northampton.
A complete facelift! One thing I do notice throughout the pubs that I've covered so far is the TV aerial. Here it appears to have been unchanged since 2001, although a satellite dish has appeared! I didn't venture inside as I was on a mission to take pictures of all the Braunston pubs before getting to the first tee!