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Friday, 16 March 2018

#243 Toby Carvery Festival Park (aka China Garden), Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire : 1991 to 2017

Wherever possible, we try to avoid chain establishments on our canal trips, but sometimes they are the only option when we need food. Wetherspoons, Vintage Inn, Hungry Horse, Crown Carvery and Toby Carvery have all come to our rescue on our travels.

When passing through Stoke, on the Trent & Mersey Canal, there are few easily accessible places for a lunchtime stop. (In the evenings, we have more time to wander and there are plenty of options.)
Our first encounter was on the evening of Thursday 25th July 1991 as we moved Emma Jane from her northern mooring. I have little recollection of the evening (or the pub), but my photographic records indicate that we didn't venture any further into Stoke on that evening.

Since that time, we've travelled through Stoke on many occasions, sometimes mooring up outside, but we didn't go back inside until lunchtime on Sunday 15th March 2015 (Mother's Day).
China Garden
This was, again, on a boat moving trip; we were moving the new boat Peggy Ellen from the boat builders (Braidbar) down to her mooring at Kings Bromley. We stopped quite early (for us) just after midday expecting it to be fairly quiet having forgotten that it was Mother's Day! Nevertheless, after a bit of a wait, we were seated and had a reasonable carvery lunch. 

We'd noticed that the name 'China Garden' had long since disappeared (as with the previous names of all other Toby Carveries), but were unaware of the name change until now (when I looked it up on Google; although I suspect many people still know it as China Garden rather than Festival Park!)

Our most recent visit was at lunchtime on Friday 9th June 2017 on the morning after THAT General Election!
China Garden
We had another pleasant lunch (as befits a Toby Carvery) and went on our way heading up the Caldon Canal.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

#048 Adam & Eve, Deritend : 1998 to 2018 (Revisited + RIP)

This is another of the Digbeth pubs that I've never been in! In 1998 when I first took this photo of the Adam & Eve I was aware of its existence, but as it was known as more of an entertainment venue I'd not had the urge to visit.
 Moving forward to 2011 the pub looked like this.
Despite the change in the colour scheme, the signs on the corner are exactly the same as in 1998! The windows have been replaced and skylights have appeared in the roof.

It is a pub that I've still not been in and now it is a pub no longer. Apparently it closed in 2015 after a triple stabbing (I bring you to all the nice places!) but was resurrected last year as Evolve - a café and event space designed to provide young people with training. (The upper floor had already been restored as flats for homeless people looking to get back on their feet.)
Evolve Coffee Bar
More information about the pub and its 200+ year history can be found here

Thursday, 22 February 2018

#242 The Bridge Inn, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire : 1997 to 2017

Stourport-on-Severn isn't a place we visit frequently on our canal trips, but it is always a joy for those of us who like a good variety of pubs.

Usually, when we've moored on the canal, The Bridge Inn is the furthest pub from us and so, we often don't make it there. So, although we'd been to Stourport on a few occasions, this was our first visit to the pub.
It was on the evening of Tuesday 27th May 1997 after a day's trip up the River Severn from Worcester. I have little recollection about the inside of the pub.

Our next visit was six years later on the evening of Tuesday 27th May 2003.
Although it looks very different, it is hard to ascertain how many changes there were because I've taken the photo from the opposite side! What is 'interesting' though, is that a new street light has appeared outside the pub.

Our next visit to The Bridge Inn was on a rare lunchtime stop in Stourport on Tuesday 27th May 2008. (Amazingly the same date as the previous visits!)
A fair amount of re-signage had taken place over the intervening period, but the pub maintained its basic character.

In 2013 we were stranded in Stourport as the River Severn was un-navigable. It wasn't in flood, but the levels were well up on normal. We didn't venture into The Bridge, but I also didn't take a photo even though we walked past it twice!

On our most recent visit to Stourport, we didn't go into The Bridge, but I did take this photo.
This was on the evening of Tuesday 8th August 2017 and it is plain to see that the exterior has undergone a complete renewal.

Having done a bit of research, The Bridge Inn is now part of Star Pubs & Bars which are the managed pubs run by Heineken which may indicate a long-term future for it...although they are looking for a new landlord/tenant!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

#068 The Ruin, Floodgate Street, Digbeth : 1998 to 2018 (Revisited)

When I first went around Digbeth and its environs in 1998 I came across many back-street boozers that I'd been completely unaware of previously. Horan's Tavern was one such boozer. This is how it looked in 1998.

When I returned in 2011 it was obvious that it had changed hands, changed name and then closed down.
Shortly after this photo I was passing by again and noticed that it had reopened and then closed down yet again...but I didn't have my camera. By this time I was convinced that it would never re-open, again.

There's one thing this blog is good at demonstrating, though...that I'm no Mystic Meg! 

I'd noticed that it had indeed re-opened a few months ago as I was passing by on other business (no camera!) and was reminded of this in an excellent write up by Ian Clarkson on his Life After Football blog. (Well worth a read!) So I finally got off my backside to bring you this...The Ruin.
The only reasons that I can think that it may well be viable are firstly, Digbeth is still a 'happening' place especially close to the Custard Factory and secondly, South & City College have opened a new campus almost next door to the pub which must be a benefit. Hopefully, it will continue to thrive.

More pictures can be seen on the Closed Pubs website.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

#241 Hopwood House, Alvechurch, Worcestershire : 1999 to 2017

The first time we stopped at Hopwood House was way back on Monday 27th August 1984 for a lunchtime visit, but back in those days I hadn't started to take a picture of every pub we visited.

Despite the fact that Hopwood House is a perfectly located pub on the bank of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, just outside Alvechurch (and on the busy A441) we didn't return for 15 years!
This photo was taken from the other side of the busy road on the bridge over the canal on the evening of Saturday 29th May 1999. These days we'd try to find a place with a few pubs in the evening, but as this was the first day of our holiday (we were a bit late setting off) and would probably not have found anywhere else if we'd pushed on.

As I recall, it was a fairly large pub with a traditional bar and a larger eating area. Always a popular stopping point for hire boaters as it is the first pub after leaving Alvechurh Boats heading to Birmingham.

It wasn't too long before we returned.
This was another evening stop on Saturday 10th August 2002. This time I went to the other side of the canal to get the shot and also to get an idea of the arduous walk from our mooring to the pub!

This journey was part of a boat painting week during which we did a bit of painting, a bit of pottering about along the canal and a bit of drinking...not necessarily in that order.

Although we've passed by quite a few times in the intervening years it took us another 15 years before we revisited Hopwood House.

This was at lunchtime on Monday 14th August 2017 and I decided to take photos from both sides of the pub. The top one is the view from the mooring like we had in 2002 and the other is from the car park.

It is now a Marston's pub and, whilst the interior has been opened out it still feels almost like a pub with two rooms.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

#040 Eagle & Ball, Eastside, Birmingham : 1998 to 2018 (Revisited)

Back in 2011 when I started this blog I had two sets of pictures that I wanted to show to a wider world. Firstly was my collection of canal-related pubs that we'd visited on our various waterways holidays throughout the years from 1986 onwards.

Secondly, in 1998, I'd gone around Digbeth/Deritend/Highgate taking pictures of as many pubs as I could find with a view to going back in five years to see how things had changed with the forthcoming 'Eastside' developments proposed at that time.

Well, five years stretched into thirteen and I finally revisited them all in 2011 and recorded the changes here on this blog. Now we've moved another 6/7 years into the future to find that some developments are almost complete and others are in the pipeline, so now seemed an appropriate time to revisit this part of Birmingham.

But, where to start.....?

I decided to begin with a pub that I didn't know existed until I took the picture in 1998 and one of Retired Martin's favourite Birmingham boozers! Although, back then, it was called Moby Dick's and these were my observations back in 2011.

Back in 1998 Moby Dick's was a completely new discovery for me down a side street I'd never been on before.
Moby Dick's
A typical street corner pub, similar to several others in the area. Needless to say, I never made it back there for a drink.

Onwards to 2011 and it is closed, boarded up and, by all accounts, ready for demolition to make way for the Eastside Locks Development. This is a new concept to me, it looks very good on paper, but whether there will ever be the money to complete the project is doubtful in this economic climate.
Moby Dick's 2011 (RIP?)
Oh well, what do I know about the 'economic climate'? Very little as it turns out! What I'd failed to realise was that a major part of this redevelopment was to build a brand new campus for Birmingham City University and that Moby Dick's would become the Eagle & Ball which is, essentially, the student union bar, although it is still a pub open to all (when it is actually open!)
So, now it nestles amongst the ultra modern buildings of BCU and it has reverted back to its original name.
(...and I've still not been inside!)  

Friday, 12 January 2018

#240 The Anchor Inn, Cross Green, Staffordshire : 1991 to 2017

For our first visit this pub was known as The Anchor, Inn then it became the Fox & Anchor (when it became a Vintage Inn) but, as I recently discovered, it has now reverted back to being The Anchor Inn.

There also seems to be some controversy over its location - our canal books have always placed the Fox & Anchor in the village of Coven, but a couple of years ago we were 'put right' by a local who said that it is actually in Cross Green. (Search on Google and it appears to be an even split between the two!)

Our first visit was at lunchtime on Monday 29th September 1991 as we were moving our boat Emma Jane from the North to down South.

I have absolutely no recollection of the inside.

We didn't revisit until lunchtime on Tuesday 26th August 2003, by which time it had been converted into a Vintage Inn and renamed as the Fox & Anchor.

Obviously it had undergone a thorough redevelopment in the intervening years and inside it was a typical Vintage Inn.

Quite a number of years passed before we stopped there again on the evening of Monday 31st May 2010.
Although it was still a Vintage Inn, it had undergone a redecoration and refurbishment inside, but it was still recognisably a Vintage Inn.

We were back again the next year at lunchtime on Monday 5th September 2011. No real change.
It was a few more years bfore we returned in the new boat Peggy Ellen, another lunchtime stop on Thursday 11th June 2015.
With Peggy Ellen being moored at Kings Bromley, the Fox & Anchor has become a more frequent stopping place especially as it is one of the few food based pubs along that stretch of the Staffs & Worcester Canal.

We made two visits in 2016 - first at lunchtime on Thursday 9th June 2016.
Our second visit was an evening stop on Saturday 6th August 2016.

This second picture was taken the next morning.

Our final visit (so far) was on the evening of Sunday 6th August 2017...and again we got a mooring right outside!
I've also given this photo the Photo Digial Art treatment!
I look forward to revisiting and seeing whether there has been much of a refurbishment inside to go along with the name change.