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Thursday, 29 December 2016

#206 The Oak & Ivy, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire : 1997 to 2015

The Oak & Ivy is a back street pub in Burton that breaks my main rule - I've never been inside it!

We occasionally visit Burton and, as the canal is a way from the centre we pass quite a few pubs before we get into town. Before going digital I was quite frugal and, generally, only took pictures of the pubs we went in.
I'm not 100% sure what happened at lunchtime on Monday 1st September 1997, though. I suspect that we were going to go in, but found that they didn't do food and so moved on...after I taken the photo! It was the day after Princess Diana died, so everything that week was strange!

Although we'd been back to Burton in the meantime, my next picture of The Oak & Ivy was taken on the evening of Friday 3rd April 2015 (Good Friday)
On this occasion, we'd moored at Shobnall Basin giving us a different route into the town and quite a few pubs to pass by. Sadly, it's a sign of advancing years that we can't stop off for several beers and still manage to eat afterwards - it is something of an either/or situation with food always winning!

Unsurprisingly, The Oak & Ivy had been completely refurbished externally over the passing 18 years. Back in 1997 it looked to be a typical Marston's pub of that era. Namely, a basic boozer with no frills; I seem to recall that, back then, all Marston's pubs were bog-standard boozers! 

I'm not sure when, but Marston's seemed to have something of a corporate epiphany and, in more recent years, they have tended to go a bit more up market in their refurbishments. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

#205 Sacks of Potatoes, Gosta Green, Birmingham : 1986 to 2015

The Sacks of Potatoes is a pub that will be familiar to any student (past & present) of Aston University as it sits in the middle of the campus. It is a pub I've visited on many occasions not involved with canal trips, but the only pictures I take are whilst on holiday (mainly!)

We start our journey at lunchtime on Thursday 31st July 1986.
We'd moored at Aston Junction and were nearing the end of a two week journey that had taken us to Nottingham. In those days the Sacks of Potatoes was a cosy, proper pub that did pub grub.

We didn't venture back there again until lunchtime on Wednesday 6th September 1995.
The reason for such a long delay was because our boat, Emma Jane, had spent two years up North, then another five years down South and this visit was towards the end of the journey bringing her back to the Midlands. In those few years, the Sacks of Potatoes has been extended quite a bit, much of it at the back. It wasn't quite as cosy as before, but it was still a proper pub!

It wasn't too long before our return at lunchtime on Wednesday 3rd September 1997, again mooring at Aston Junction and again returning from a trip that had taken us to Nottingham.
From this view you can see the considerable sideways extension of the pub compared to the 1986 view.

We were back again for another lunchtime stop on Sunday 29th August 1999, this time at the start of a trip that would take us along the Caldon Canal for the first time.
It had undergone a refurb in the intervening years and it was no longer labelled as an M&B pub, although it still was part of the Mitchell's & Butlers group. It was around this time that I completely lost track of who owned what pub and what beer you might expect to see! Sadly, the picture had disappeared from the side wall!

We were back again almost exactly a year later for lunch on Sunday 27th August 2000.
No real changes to report, the colour difference being caused by bright August Bank Holiday sun in 1999 versus Bank Holiday gloom in 2000!

It was quite a few years before we came back to the Sacks; almost exactly ten years had elapsed, it was another lunch stop on Saturday 28th August 2010.
Externally it had been repainted and there were many more seats (three years since the smoking ban), but other than that the pub was largely unchanged. In fact, most of the significant changes were going on around the pub as Aston University underwent a massive transformation.

The next picture is from Friday 6th June 2014, not related to a canal trip.
I was out by the university taking pictures, so, as we hadn't been there for a few years, I thought I'd get a new picture for the blog. Little had changed, but the hanging baskets now contained real flowers!

Ironically, we were back the next year for a lunchtime stop on Sunday 14th June 2015.
The Sacks of Potatoes wasn't our original destination for this lunch stop, but The Bull (#073) was closed on Sundays, so here we were again!

Despite the changes all around and the expansion of the pub in the nineties it still feels like a proper pub which is something of a rarity in this day and age! It is now part of the Stonegate Group of pubs (not sure when it transferred from Mitchell's & Butlers!) and the website is here.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

#204 Crewe & Harpur, Swarkestone, Derbyshire : 1986 to 2015

The stretch of the Trent & Mersey Canal that goes north from Fradley Junction to the River Trent is a part of the system that we don't often travel along.

Our first ever visit to the Crewe & Harpur Arms (as it was called then) was on the evening of Sunday 27th July 1986.
I remember little about the pub from that time apart from the fact that one of our crew was quite taken with one of the barmaids. Nothing came of it, but the name 'Rose of the Crewe & Harpur' has entered the folklore of our boating adventures!

We didn't return until the evening of Sunday 31st August 1997.
Although not particularly stand out, there had been many changes to the signage (and possibly ownership) in the intervening eleven years. The name remained the same, but the sign had changed completely, the Bass signs were gone, replaced by two larger information signs and two black squares had appeared. The bench seats remained, no parking signs appeared, the door had been painted, but the little lamps had gone. Inside, there was no Rose!

It wasn't too long before we returned, this time on the evening of Friday 28th August 2003.
Much the same externally, but with added plant life and a satellite dish! it was on this visit that we realised that it was now a Marston's pub.

Our most recent visit was on the evening of Saturday 4th April 2015.
In the intervening twelve years it was now just the Crewe & Harpur. Gone were the hanging baskets, bench seats and the satellite dish. The main sign had also been moved, yet the burglar alarm remains in the same place! You can also tell from the colour scheme, pastel drab as I would describe it, that it has become a more upmarket eating establishment.

More about the Crewe & Harpur can be found on their website.