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Monday, 30 March 2020

Stirchley in The Time of Coronavirus - Part 2

As part of my (semi) regular exercise around the not-so-mean streets of Stirchley here are some more of my pictures comparing the Stirchley of today with the place it was seven years ago.

Stirchley in The Time of Coronavirus - Part 2

We start at the junction of Bournville Lane and my old home Oxford Street.
Oxford Street/Bournville Lane - 27th March 2020
Oxford Street/Bournville Lane - 18th January 2013
Not much to see apart from the new lamp post on Bournville Lane and the now ubiquitous 20 mph reminder sign on Oxford Street!

Moving down the lane towards Pershore Road.

Regent Street/Bournville Lane - 27th March 2020
Regent Street/Bournville Lane - 14th January 2013
Again, not much change, except for the new signage on Hugh's Barbers - my go-to for haircuts, which I managed to visit just before the lockdown, so I shouldn't be too shaggy by the end of it!

When I first moved into the area in late 1983, all of that row consisted of shops (as did the next row), but it was only recently that I discovered a bit more of the history.

Bournville Market was built in 1899 by Cadbury's so that their workers could have somewhere to shop locally, especially for those who came up from the Peshore Road. Now that was a company that cared about their workers!

Bond Street/Bournville Lane - 27th March 2020
Bond Street/Bournville Lane - 11th January 2013
This hasn't changed as much as I'd thought, but it is the other part of Bournville Market and has much more commercial occupation, but Bournville Fish Bar is the only retail outlet left (and is staying open for longer through the lock down...even on Sundays!)

Moving down onto Pershore Road/Hazelwell Street we come to the Co-op...or what was the Co-op and soon (not sure exactly when) to become Morrison's.

Stirchley Co-op/Morrison's - 27th March 2020
Stirchley Co-op - 13th January 2013
With remarkably poor timing the Co-op closed its doors for the final time in early 2020 after almost 150 years on the site. (More here). It was never my go-to supermarket, although it was very useful on many occasions. The old saying about not appreciating what you have until it's gone is very apt here and now!

And finally, from one supermarket to another...errrrm.....!

Stirchley Lidl(?) - 27th March 2020
Stirchley Bowl/Fitness First - 13th January 2013
Over recent years, Stirchley has been a bit of a battleground for supermarkets. The longest running battle was between Tesco's and the Co-op which raged for over 20 years with Co-op blocking at almost every turn. Finally, Tesco's won and started demolishing buildings ready to build a brand new superstore...and then they changed course and decided against building one. That land is now empty and awaiting Seven Capital to develop it.

In 2017, Lidl obtained permission to demolish Strichley Bowl and Fitness first with a view to building one of their supermarkets here. This is the result. Almost three years have passed since the demolition and still nothing!

Imagine...if things had gone to plan, Stirchley would now have three supermarkets to choose from, but instead, in such a crisis, we have none!

More to follow as I re-discover Stirchley in the Time of Coronavirus.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Stirchley in The Time of Coronavirus - Part 1

Yesterday I ventured out for the first time in a few days and I thought that I might as well take my camera with me and take some photos as I got my 'exercise'! (As an aside - is the Great British weather mocking us? When we were free to roam anywhere it was continually pissing down and everywhere was we're under 'house arrest' it gloriously mocks us with unbroken sunshine and warmth!)

Back in 2013, at the beginning of Photo Digital Art, I wandered around my home suburb of Stirchley with the express aim of - "If I can make Stirchley look good, I can make anywhere look good!" I think I managed that (although I'll let you be the judges of that!) and so here begins my follow up to "Paean to Stirchley" (Part 1 and Part 2).

Stirchley in The Time of Coronavirus - Part 1 (and I don't yet know how many parts there will be!) begins at my favourite place in Stirchley...the cafe!
Shuttered up with no chance of reopening for the foreseeable future - I now have to make my own breakfast! (At least I've managed to obtain plenty of far!)

Moving on to a sight which must be very worrying for the owners. The Three Horseshoes pub had been in (terminal?) decline for many years, when it suddenly closed and became a hive of activity. A complete refurbishment and transformation into The Bournbrook Inn was almost finished, the opening was imminent...and then coronavirus happened!

I'm not sure where the 'Established 1836' comes from, so I may need to do a bit more research!

Moving along the Pershore Road and past the British Oak we come to this little selection of shops/businesses.

Caspian used to be my go-to pizza place, but there's now so much more choice in Stirchley. If I hadn't done this picture I wouldn't have noticed that Elite Letting Solutions has been replaced with Yoga Borne! But my main worry is Phull Watch Co. I am a regular visitor - once every five years - when I need a new battery in my watch! It is a proper 'old school' watch/clock shop and the turban wearing Mr Phull is always on hand to efficiently replace the battery in my watch. I don't know how many years he's been there, but I do hope he returns when this is all over!

A little further along the Pershore Road, and on the other side, we reach Loaf; Stirchley's very own bakery and cookery school.

Stirchley Stores is no more, but Loaf has expanded to fill the void. Akash and Midland Computer are still going...hopefully! The masked couple (sign of the times!) buying bread from the 'outdoor' are people I occasionally see in the café and we had a brief chat (staying 2 metres apart!). Then Tony moved his van out of the way for my final picture of this little tour.

Although the shop is closed for the duration, it is protected by King Kong who appeared five years ago and is now one of the landmarks of the city!

I'll follow up with more images and observations from Stirchley in The Time of Coronavirus in the coming days/weeks.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Bimbling Around Beertown for a Burton [Re]Union

As usual I'm the last to report on the most recent Beer & Pubs Forum Proper Days Out.

There are two entries from Paul's Beer & Travel Blog here and here, there are also two more from The Pub Curmudgeon here and here and even Life After Football has beaten me to it here. But that's how it should be...someone has to be last, and it may as well be me!
 The first port of call on a Proper Pub Day Out, before even getting on a train, is of course the local café and a hearty breakfast! This is where you'll find me most days between 12:30 and 1:30pm! Then it was a short walk to the station and an easy, uneventful journey to Burton-upon-Trent.

Our meeting place was The Devonshire Arms, but I was a bit early (a rarity for me!). This did give me a few minutes to get a picture of the Cooper's Tavern in the bright morning sunlight even though we wouldn't return until early evening.
 By the time I returned, most of the 'gang' had arrived and were odering their first pints of Bass for the day - I chose a pint of Dark Star American Pale Ale which was very good. The group at this stage consisted of Pub Curmudgeon, Stafford Paul, Wickingman and his friend Chris (neither of whom I'd met before - but they turned out to be as friendly and as nice as everyone else I've met on these days out so far!). It wasn't long before Sheffield Hatter and Paul Bailey joined us to complete the set.

No sooner had the gang assembled than we split up! The more athletic amongst us headed for the Derby Inn (which if I was fitter I'd've loved to visit), Sheffield Hatter headed for some other pubs he wanted to sample and the remainder of us headed for the National Brewing Centre...but not before having a half of Bass, which was also good.

I've been to The Devonshire Arms before and it was just as good as I remembered it and would recommend it to anyone who visits Burton...a proper pub with rolls in cling film on the bar!

It was then quite a stroll to the National Brewery Centre, but it gave us time to appreciate the scale of brewing in Burton (even now when a lot has disappeared!) and the architecture of the town.

The Brewery Tap was pleasant enough and the food was good (a portion of chips was all I needed after my earlier breakfast!) but the others had more substantial fare. All three of us had pints of Charrington IPA, produced by the Heritage Brewing Company, which we all agreed was very good. The breakaway group caught us up here (having thoroughly enjoyed the Derby Inn) and shortly we left for the Burton Bridge Inn, which wasn't too far away.

Another lovely, cosy pub but it was lacking in a bit of atmosphere at the time we were there  I had half a pint of Golden Delicious which was pleasant. The owners are trying to sell the pub and brewery which possibly accounts for the lacklustre atmosphere, but it is still a very good pub!

Then we were off again for a long stroll to The Elms. Over the River Trent (which was still in flood, although it was on the way down) and up a gentle incline to find one of the best looking pubs you'll find anywhere.
Inside it was just as good (after risking life and limb to cross the road!) and, considering it was mid afternoon, the place was very lively with a wide range of folk (and assorted dogs) in attendance. The beer selection wasn't to my particular taste (it was too early for a pint of Carling!) so I tried the Reverend James even after being warned it was darker than my normal choices. It was as described, but enjoyable nonetheless (although I'd not fancy a full session of it).

It was here that the group split up again with the more athletic members heading for Stapenhill (Barley Mow, I think!) and the more 'built for comfort rather than speed' members calling a taxi to our next stop, The Dog. A wise move as the newer bridge crossing back over the Trent is even longer than the old one!
The Dog is a Black Country Ales pub with a wide selection (some would say too wide - 11 cask plus at least 5 craft!) of ales. However, my pint of Salopian Safe Room was excellent.

Then we were off again for a 10 minute amble through the town centre to the most famed of Burton's pubs...the Cooper's Tavern.
This was from the morning as it was dusk by the time we arrived there. This is another pub I've visited before and it was just as wonderful as on the previous visit. Yet again I eschewed the Bass and had a pint of Joules Blonde which was good.

All too soon it was time to move on again to our final destination The Roebuck Inn, but a couple of our group went for a curry first!
I couldn't resisit taking a 'romantic' photo of the moon over my beloved Carling tanks...the real beer of Burton! The Roebuck Inn was just around the corner.
Of all the pubs we visited, this is the one I've been in on most occasions and it didn't disappoint. As I'd been on the real ale all day, my mouth needed something a little more refreshing; something to cleanse the palate; something local...there was only one choice...a pint of Carling, please! It was everything I expected and may have been my pint of the day! (Only kidding, the Salopian Safe Room just pipped it!)

It was here that Life After Football made his debut on a Proper Day Out. And what a sparkling debut it was, despite none of us having met him in the flesh it soon felt as though we'd known him for ages. He was on a tight schedule, but he had time to get me another pint of Carling...and all too soon it was time to get the train home. (Apart from Stafford Paul who was going on to see the up-and-coming folk star Julie Felix...age 81!)

Another sucessful Proper Day Out, meeting old friends and new, visiting some great pubs, a good variety of beers, excellent conversation (as ever) and a beautifully sunny day.

Let's hope that our next outing on 24th April to Chester doesn't fall foul of the current, virus inspired, madness and that pubs are still allowed to open. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

#019 Dead Wax (aka Wagon & Horses), Deritend : 1998 to 2020

The Eastside of Birmingham continues to evolve and a pub that was unchanged for many years suddenly got a complete makeover. This is how the Wagon & Horses looked in 1998 and 2011: -

As I was 'retracing my steps' to photograph these pubs I rediscovered the Wagon & Horses, almost by accident! I'd just done the Forge Tavern (#012) and was driving to see what else there was still around and I came across this lovely back street boozer. At first I thought that I'd missed it in 1998, but not so! I had indeed captured it eleven years ago.

This is the eighth in my 'Birmingham Eastside' series.
At the time, I thought that I should actually visit for a drink some time soon as it looked like a decent, 'proper' pub. But, I never did. It's not on the way to anywhere and so I was never passing and as the years passed forgot all about it!

And here it is in 2011, almost completely unchanged...except the signage and detailed paintwork (and the satellite dish!). Since I took the photo, I've actually been in and had a pint. The front bar is small and there seemed to be a reasonable choice of beer on offer - but as I drink Carling I didn't pay too much attention to the rest of the 'swill'! There was also a chocolate cake on the bar - 99p per slice - not something you see too often these days! There was a larger back room, but we didn't venture in there.

The reason that the Wagon & Horses has survived is that it is now a music venue as well with its own MySpace page. On the day we were there the Wagon & Horses was hosting a marathon charity event of live music that started in the afternoon and was due to end in the wee small hours. When we arrived the bar was relatively empty, but within a few minutes the place filled up with the next band and their followers.

For a more historical perspective this link has much more information.

Because of the unchanging external appearance I haven't taken any more recent pictures of the Wagon & Horses even though we visited it on our Proper Pubs Day Out in July 2018 and it was then still unchanged.

However, I was doing a craft market at the nearby Arches Project and noticed that the pub had undergone the most radical transformation into Dead Wax. At the time, I didn't take a picture assuming that I'd have plenty of time to report back on it later, as it is a pub so far off the main part of Digbeth that no-one would notice for a while. How wrong I was! Within two weeks of me noticing the change Life After Football had already been there and written it up!

So, a couple of weeks ago I finally got around to taking a photo.
As you can see it is one of the more radical makeovers that I've seen and reported on! It is good to see that it has a future and that someone has invested in the business.

Unsurprisingly, I took the opportunity to render Dead Wax in Photo Digital Art style as well!
Here's hoping that it will succeed, but it's unlikely that I'll be visiting any time soon as it's not really my kind of place!