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Saturday, 29 February 2020

#024 Eden Bar, Birmingham : 1998 to 2020 (Revisited)

These were my observations back in 2011: -

Another pub that I've never been in, but is an example that illustrates one of the changes in Birmingham's culture.
 This is the ninth in my 'Birmingham Eastside' series.

Back in 1998 it was The White Swan a seemingly typical street corner pub, just outside the city centre.

Now in 2011 it is the Eden Bar, one of the newer additions to the Gay Scene in Birmingham.

Since I began this project, the Gay Scene in Birmingham has 'come out' so that there are now a number of gay venues that are 'loud and proud'. The Eden Bar is no longer a traditional pub, but you can probably just pop in for a drink.

From the outside The White Swan has been changed quite extensively and the Eden Bar certainly stands out more. Just up the road is the Village Inn which is a completely new 'pub' and another gay venue.

Since then, the Eden Bar has gone from strength to strength, but is now threatened (potentially) by the possibility of residential accommodation being built next door...but in the meantime this is how it looked on Sunday 23rd February 2020.
It has been substantially redecorated in the intervening nine years, but I cannot comment on the interior as I've still not been inside.

Another view of the Eden Bar is here, showing another pub with much more fanciful decoration than you'd normally expect from a pub...but I like it!
After dark, the upper portion is lit up in rainbow colours from uplighters where the plant boxes used to be, but I've never been passing with my camera.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

#064 The White Swan, Digbeth : 1998 to 2020 (Revisited + RIP?)

This is what I wrote about The White Swan back in 2011 - 

The White Swan in Digbeth is another example of the fine pubs designed by James & Lister Lea. This is what it looked like in the mid 1930's.

In 1998 when I took this picture, The White Swan appears to have changed little.
At the time of taking this photo, I don't think I'd been inside, but this was rectified in 2002 when we were in Birmingham on one of our canal trips and ventured into Digbeth for a bit of a pub crawl.

This picture was taken on Saturday 7th September 2002.
It's difficult to tell from this picture if anything had changed. As I recall it was a busy, 'proper' pub only let down by the fact that the only 'quaffing' lager was Carlsberg (probably the worst lager in the world in those days - it is better nowadays!). I've visited at least once more since and found it to be a very pleasant place if you like real pubs.

On to 2011 and this is how The White Swan looks.
Again, it looks almost identical to how it was in 1998. Obviously, it is a Grade II listed building and so there's not much that can be altered, however, none of the buildings that were on either side have survived.

Amazingly it is now a Marston's pub, but you wouldn't know it from the exterior.

I'm not sure whether I'd revisited The White Swan in the intervening years, but I did take a photo on the afternoon of Wednesday 31st January 2018.
Very little had changed and there had been no progress on the development of the adjoining land. A few months later I did pay a visit as part of the Beer & Pubs Forum Proper Day Out in July, but I didn't take another photo on the day!

So, onto the present day. I was aware that the family who had run The White Swan for the last 50+ years were planning to sell up and go back to Ireland, but it was still a shock to find this on the afternoon of Tuesday 18th February 2020
This article explains the context much better than I could! Seemingly it is on the market for in excess of £400,000, but I've been unable to find any further details.

It would be a very sad day if The White Swan is truly lost, but hopefully it's Grade II listed status may save it from demolition...fingers crossed!

Saturday, 15 February 2020

#276 The Fishery Inn, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire : 1992 to 2019

On our canal trips we've only stopped at The Fishery Inn once, on the evening of Thursday 1st October 1992, on the return journey to the then mooring of Emma Jane at Cowley Peachey.
I have very little recollection of what it was like. It must have been alright as we ate there and didn't leave in search of alternative hostelries.

Although Emma Jane was moored in the vicinty from 1991 to 1995, we never returned to The Fishery Inn, preferring to visit the Three Horseshoes at Winkwell instead, which is only fifteen minutes away by boat.

Our most recent trip that brought us up the Grand Union from Brentford was very similar in that we didn't stop at The Fishery Inn and lunched at the Three Horseshoes. However, as I was winding the locks I still took this picture.
This was at midday on Monday 5th August 2019. Quite a transformation! It is another example of a Mitchells & Butler's Premium Country Pub. In fact, if you use the historical views on Google Street View it was an Ember Inn in 2008 and 2009, but from 2012 it adopted it's current guise!

Thursday, 6 February 2020

#275 The Sly Old Fox, Birmingham : 2000 to 2020

When visiting Chinatown in Birmingham or on a night out at the Hippodrome Theatre, The Old Fox was always a must visit pub for at least one pint. It was (and still is) a proper pub with a bar and a lounge that is populated with people from all walks of life. It's a pub I'd visited on numerous occasions before our first canal related encounter on the evening of Thursday 7th September 2000.
I suspect that it was our last pub of the evening after sampling one of the many Chinese restaurants in the vicinity.

Our next visit was on the evening of Wednesday 1st September 2004 near the end of a journey back from Oxford and a trip on the Ashby Canal.
I'm fairly sure that the interior was largely unchanged, but the outside had undergone a major redecoration.

We haven't been back on canal based visits, but over the ensuing years I've had the occasional pint (or three) with non-boating friends. The next photos, though, have been from occasions when I happened to be passing by with my camera to hand.

This one is from Thursday 21st August 2014 as I was taking pictures in the vicinity.
No discernible changes from 10 years earlier...apart from the chairs outside for the smokers!

This final picture is from late afternoon on Friday 24th January 2020 as I strolled back to my car which was parked nearby.
A complete external makeover and a name change as well to The Sly Old Fox. It has been this way for at least a few months (probably longer) but I'm fairly sure that it is largely unaltered inside.

I noticed on the first picture the name Chandlers Brewery, which I confess, I'd never heard of. Their head office is in Witton and has the same address as Uncle's Money, a pawnbroker. It would appear that Chandlers Brewery Limited was established in 1990 seemingly just to run The Old Fox. The company is still going, but I doubt that they've brewed any beer!