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Monday, 23 January 2017

Good News & Bad News from Stoke-on-Trent

I know! You get no pubs from me for a couple of weeks, then two come along at once!!

#208 The Bird in Hand, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent : 1999 to 2016 (RIP)

First, the bad news. This is a pub that I don't think I ever went in, but it is one we've failed to find on several visits!
This picture was taken on the way back to our boat after a bit of a pub crawl around Hanley on Friday 3rd September 1999. It was closed by then...and we probably couldn't have drunk any more. But, we'd be able to visit it next time we were in the area!

Sadly our optimism was unfounded (and our sense of direction let us down, again) so that we didn't pass by until the evening of Saturday 26th March 2016.
The Bird in Hand is no more, now it is an Islamic community centre - a fate suffered by many pubs in inner city areas.

#209 Shoulder of Mutton Inn, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent : 2011 to 2016

This is the good news story. On the evening of Friday 2nd September 2011 we stumbled across this magnificent looking back street pub.
At the time it looked as though the Shoulder of Mutton was gone forever, but no, this is what we found on Saturday 26th March 2016.
It was alive and well and open for business; so we had a quick pint. Inside it is all that you'd expect of an 'old school' back street boozer. The Carling was nice and cold, but there was no real ale (although there was a hand pump!). More information can be found here.  

Monday, 9 January 2017

#207 The Boat, Penkridge, Staffordshire : 1991 to 2016

Our first experience of The Boat was back in 1981 on my second ever narrowboat journey. This turned into an epic trip because the lock flight at Audlem was closed and we had to travel for at least 12 hours per day for three days to get to Birmingham for our scheduled rendezvous. Our normal day would have been 8 hours max.

At lunchtime on Friday 14th August 1981 on this trip we were passing through the lock adjacent to the pub and it was my job to get a pint for each crew member as we didn't have time to actually stop. These were consumed as we passed through the lock and the glasses returned before we were on our way again.

We didn't pass this way again for many years and the location of this event became somewhat of a mystery until the evening of Sunday 28th July 1991 when we once again passed through the lock and moored up at Penkridge.
Sadly not my best photo. I don't really remember much about it inside, probably not unrelated to the fact that it was our last port of call for the evening!

Emma Jane then spent a few years on the Southern Grand Union Canal, but we were back at The Boat at lunchtime on Wednesday 29th May 1996.
I took this picture to give the view from the lock, but it doesn't give any idea of changes that may (or may not) have taken place.

The next visit was on the evening of Monday 25th August 2003 and again, it is a poor picture as it was our last stop of the night having gone into the village first.
The exterior signage had changed over the seven years we'd been away.

We were back again at lunchtime on Tuesday 1st June 2010 and, as you can guess, it was a World Cup year...just before England's dismal failure in South Africa!
It was during this visit that I remember finding the interior somewhat sparse and not particularly welcoming, not helped by the lack of clientele.

We were back again just over a year later on the evening of Sunday 4th September 2011.
Not sure whether we actually went inside, but I made it a point to take the picture before setting off for the village! It looks so much better without the England flags!

Our next foray into Penkridge came on the evening of Wednesday 10th June 2015.
Again we used it as our last port of call, but now I have a digital camera (and more technical proficiency!) so I can manage to get much better night time shots. Enough to be able to see that the exterior signage had again changed.

Finally, our most recent visit to Penkridge was on the afternoon of Saturday 6th August 2016 and we were just passing through so I took this shot as I was working the lock.
It is good to see that The Boat continues to survive. It has the perfect location for warm summer days and must generate enough trade during the rest of the year to keep going. For more details their website is here.