Blog Surfer

Friday, 21 September 2018

#246 The Boat Inn, Gnosall Heath, Staffordshire : 1987 to 2018

I'm back after a bit of a hiatus mainly caused by actually visiting pubs that I've already been to before! I've also resisted the urge to create a pun-tastic title which seems to be de rigeur amongst pub bloggers.

Before we go further Gnosall is pronounced 'Knows-all' (not 'Nozzle' as I've done for most of the past 30 years). Also, for the last 30 years, I've believed that The Boat Inn was in Gnosall, only to find that border with Gnosall is 200 yards down the road and it is actually in Gnosall Heath. (The things you learn on a frustrating Sunday evening when with five pubs within walking distance, not one serves food after 7pm....aaargh! My Co-op Half a Roast Chicken for just £2 was delicious after a pub crawl around the village(s).)

I hear cries of, "get on with it!" So I shall.
This was a lunchtime stop on Thursday 9th July 1987 heading north up the Shropshire Union Canal. I have no recollections about the pub except that it was a comfortable village pub that did food.

We didn't return again until the evening of Tuesday 3rd September 1996 on our return from our first canal trip to Llangollen.
Although taken from the canal perspective, it is clear that The Boat had had an external makeover.

It was another nine years before we returned for another evening stop on Tuesday 30th August 2005, this time returning from Chester.
Again it had been externally redecorated with the standard (at that time) Marston's livery and for the first time give its full name of The Boat Inn. As I recall it was still a comfortable village pub that did meals.

We've been up and down the Shropshire Union Canal many times since then, but because of timings, we've hardly ever stopped there until recently.

This photo was taken as we passed by on the evening of Sunday 7th August 2016 heading for Norbury Junction (#215) where we knew that we would get fed.
It looks remarkably unchanged, but the garden/outdoor areas appear to have been tidied up and expanded.

Finally, we come to the Great Gnosall Disaster of 2018! This was on the evening of Sunday 26th August 2018.
As we moored up opposite the pub I could see the sign which said, "Food Served from 12:00 to 17:30 on Sundays" - the time was 17:45! Very frustrating, but potentially not disastrous until an internet search of the remaining FOUR pubs revealed that The Navigation, The Royal Oak AND The Horns all stopped serving food at 7pm on a Sunday.

This was on top of the fact that we'd missed lunch in Brewood (our own fault!) surviving on snacks and Salopian Lemon Dream.

The one saving grace was the new micro in Gnosall itself, the George & Dragon, which had cling-film wrapped rolls. But, a cheese & onion roll doesn't make for a proper meal which is why I bought a roast half chicken from the Co-op at the bargain price of £2 for later consumption.

We tried to have a pint in all five establishments, but when we approached The Navigation at about 9pm it was firmly closed. We headed for The Boat Inn and had a final pint (or two) there to round off an 'interesting' day.

Normally, we leave it at least nine years before returning - this time it was 10 days - on the evening of Wednesday 5th September 2018 as part of our return journey from Llangollen.
It is still a comfortable village pub that serves good food (till 9pm on a weekday!) so this was an altogether happier visit to Gnosall Heath.