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Thursday, 22 September 2016

#194 The Crown Inn, Alrewas, Staffordshire : 1997 to 2015

Alrewas is a lovely village on the Trent & Mersey Canal that we've only visited infrequently because of its position relative to our canal cruising round trips. There are at least three pubs in the village (at time of writing!) so it is always a welcome stop when we are passing through.

The first time we visited The Crown Inn was on the evening of Monday 1st September 1997 on our way back from Nottingham.

I don't remember much about the interior other than it being a comfortable village pub that served food.

We returned to Alrewas on the evening of Saturday 23rd August 2003.
This coincided with the Wychnor Boat Rally that is held each August Bank Holiday so the pubs in the village were packed. We couldn't get any food so we decamped to Lichfield for the rest of the evening.

Our next foray into Alrewas was at lunchtime on Monday 31st August 2009, this time heading towards Nottingham.
Again, there is little discernible change to the exterior, the only minor changes being the removal of the parasols and the disappearance of the crown sign that had appeared in 2003.

Our most recent visit to Alrewas was at lunchtime on Good Friday 3rd April 2015.
Now that's what I call a transformation! Twelve years and virtually no changes...and then this! Inside it is now done out in the modern pub and dining style, but fortunately it hasn't gone all the way to being a restaurant. To see pictures, The Crown website is here.

Friday, 16 September 2016

UPDATE : #106 Jolly Tar, Wardle, Cheshire : 2005 to 2016 (RIP)

The text below in italics is what I wrote in my original post in 2013.
Whenever we pass through Barbridge Junction on the Shropshire Union Canal, there is only one place where we regularly stop...and it isn't The Jolly Tar! We'd normally visit Ye Olde Barbridge Inn which is right by the canal. However, many's the occasion when I've thought that we should pay The Jolly Tar a visit. So in 2005 we finally decided to pop in for a pint.
This photo was taken on Friday 26th August 2005. As I recall, the pub was fairly quiet and a bit of a throwback to the 70's and 80's in style.
We haven't been back inside since then, but I took this photo as we were passing by at Easter on Thursday 12th April 2012.
It has obviously been repainted in the intervening years and the colour scheme has changed from blue to red. This place always reminds me of a seaside pub.
Each year, in recent times, when we've passed by I've been surprised to see that it has still been open. Although it is advertised as a canalside pub, there is the slight problem of the A51 which runs between the pub and the canal, which must make it difficult to 'sell' to the visiting public. Sadly my fears have been confirmed and, as of writing, The Jolly Tar is closed. It would appear, from this statement, that the lease ran out on 10th March 2013 and new tenants have not yet been found. Sad, but in this current economic climate, not too surprising. 
It would appear that tenants were found and the pub was running into late 2014, but we passed by during our recent summer boating trip and found the following sad sight! 
I've tried to recreate the view from previous visits - not entirely successfully! These shots taken on the afternoon of Tuesday 9th August 2016. The whole pub has disappeared, almost as though it had been abducted by aliens who'd forgotten to take the pub sign! Grass grows where the pub once stood, but the car park continues to resist nature.  

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

#193 Boot Inn, Nuneaton, Warwickshire : 1995 to 2015 (RIP)

It is quite likely that we visited the Boot Inn in 1980 and again in 1982, but that was before I started taking a photo of every pub we visited on our canal trips.

Our first recorded visit was at lunchtime on Monday 4th September 1995.
It was quite a large place, but a proper drinkers pub that did an extensive range of basic food at a ridiculously low price. I remember being taken aback at being charged a whole 65p for a freshly prepared Bacon Roll!

We stopped at Nuneaton on several more occasions without revisiting the Boot even though we did take our narrowboat Emma Jane to Boot Wharf for a roof replacement in 2005!

Our next attempted venture into the pub was at lunchtime on Tuesday 26th May 2009, but it was closed over lunch!
Not surprisingly it had been externally refurbished over the passing fourteen years, but its demise was quite obvious from the signs asking for people to run the pub for £1,000!

When we returned at lunchtime on Wednesday 2nd September 2015 its demise was complete.
I'm not quite sure how many properties it has been converted into, but one thing is for certain - the Boot Inn is no more and never will be!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

#192 New Inn, Long Buckby, Northamptonshire : 1986 to 2015

One of the things that I've noticed about pubs in this country is that, nine times out of ten, those that have a prime location on the inland waterways have appalling customer service and generally don't care because they don't have to. I'd like to say that the New Inn is an exception that proves the rule...but I can't!

The first time I visited the New Inn was on my very first canal trip back in 1980. In those days I wasn't taking pictures of the pubs we visited, but our logs record that we visited twice on that trip - Monday 16th April and Tuesday 24th April. They were both evening stops and I recall having a fantastic time playing skittles each time! We also stopped there on Friday 27th August 1982 and Thursday 30th August 1984 (Lunch) before the first time I took a picture on Monday 21st July 1986.
This was a lunchtime visit on a trip that would take us to Leicester and Nottingham.

In the early years Emma Jane was moored at Woodford on the River Nene, then Earlswood/Lapworth on the Stratford Canal which explains the frequent visits. Then Emma Jane was moved to Adlington on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and then down south to Cowley Peachey/Winkwell on the Grand Union Canal which is where we pick up the story again!

For a few years our 'summer' holiday consisted of heading north on the Grand Union for a week, see how far we got then turn round for the journey back. So, our next visit to the New Inn was at lunchtime on Friday 25th September 1992.
We were also there at lunchtime the very next day! This had been an eventful trip with a fire in the 'engine room' and a 24 hour delay because the canal was flooded near Grafton Regis! In the intervening six years the pub had acquired a hanging sign and the main sign had been replaced.

We were back the next year again...twice!
First on Thursday 23rd September 1993 in the evening.
Then again on the way back at lunchtime on Sunday 26th September 1993.

We were back on Sunday 4th September 1994 on our journey back for a lunch stop.
We'd missed out on the way up because of bad timing on the locks which closed at 4pm.

In 1995 we moved Emma Jane back to Lapworth and so our visit to the New Inn should have been the last for a few years. This visit was the first example of the intransigence of the people who ran the pub. It had been a slow morning coming up through the Buckby Locks and I'd gone ahead to see whether we'd be able to get something to eat if we were running a bit late. I was assured that we could get food.
We moored up at 14:05 on Thursday 31st August 1995 and dashed into the pub only to be told that food had stopped at 2pm! This was from the same woman who'd assured me it would be OK!

We returned on the evening of Monday 25th August 1997 on our way to Leicester and Nottingham again!
No problems this time and the hanging sign had returned.

In 2001, we took a trip down the Grand Union to cover some of the ground we'd become used to in the early 1990's. So, we had two (both lunchtime) stops at the New Inn. First on Monday 27th August 2001.
...and then again on Wednesday 5th September 2001.
Although the outside of the pub has seemingly not changed over the years, inside it had slowly transformed from a proper basic country pub into a more food based establishment. It was starting to look as though the skittle table would disappear, but, fortunately, that hasn't transpired.

Our next visit to the New Inn was on a springtime trip taking Emma Jane to Nuneaton for roof repairs.
 This was at lunchtime on Monday 30th May 2005. The main wall sign had finally changed after at least 15 years!

In 2009 anothr trip to Nottingham and Leicester (and the Erewash Canal) saw us stopping at the New Inn at lunchtime on Thursday 10th September 2009.
Our most recent stop was on the evening of Sunday 30th August 2015.
Again we were running a bit late as we'd had a 50 minute delay at Watford Locks. So, I'd phoned ahead to establish that the food stopped at 8pm. We moored up at 19:50 and got into the pub at 2 minutes past eight. The manager flatly said that the kitchen was closed and there was no food. A completely different manager, but he was channelling the same 'New Inn' attitude from twenty years previously.

Our evening was saved by the young woman I'd spoken to on the phone. She overheard the manager, had a word with the chef and offered us a choice of salad or sandwiches (no hot food) which was perfect!

The exterior signage had changed again, subtly whereas inside, little had changed over the past few years.

Just to demonstrate the "New Inn Attitude" I was very amused/disturbed by the replies of Michelle R to negative reviews on Tripadvisor which I discovered in my researches!

Friday, 12 August 2016

#191 The Vine, Rugeley, Staffordshire : 1999 to 2015

Over the years, we've found Rugeley to be a bit of a desert for memorable pubs and so we've tended not to stop there as often as you'd expect. However, with the new boat being moored on the Trent & Mersey Canal just an hour's cruise away, this may change.

We discovered The Vine somewhat by accident at lunchtime on Tuesday 31st August 1999.
I have little recollection of what it was like inside, but I get the impression that it was more pleasant than some Rugeley pubs.

We've been back to Rugeley on several occasions since 1999, but it was only on a recent visit that we rediscovered The Vine.
This was on the evening of Monday 6th April 2015. It was Easter Monday and it had been quite a pleasant day. We'd been to a couple of the pubs in Rugeley and were looking for somewhere slightly different. At the time, I didn't realise that we'd been to The Vine previously.  As would be expected, the exterior is somewhat changed over the 16 years between visits!

It is now a 'community' pub and inside it is furnished in a fairly basic, non-descript style - probably because they didn't have thousands of pounds to lavish on it!

You can find out more about it in the Oficial Pub Guide including a brief history.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

#190 The Bell, Brierley Hill, West Midlands : 1996 to 2015

Today you get a two-for-one bonus! As outlined in the previous entry (#189), we rarely stop at the bottom of Delph Locks and there are two pubs there. So, I thought I'd publish them together!
This was at lunchtime on Monday 27th May 1996 and I believe that we went in and had our lunch here, but I don't really remember much about it. The pub was managed by Holt, Plant & Deakin which meant little to me until I looked it up while researching this entry!

Fast forward to the evening of Friday 12th June 2015.
Now styled as The Bell Inn on the Delph, it had undergone a thorough exterior transformation over the passing 19 years. I have no idea who runs/owns/manages it now. Again, we didn't go inside as we spent the whole evening in the Bull & Bladder.

#189 The Tenth Lock, Brierley Hill, West Midlands : 1996 to 2015

One of the most impressive features of the Dudley No 1 Canal is the flight of eight Delph Locks. There used to be nine locks, but when the flight was rebuilt in 1858, the middle section was reduced from seven down to six locks. hence the now anachronistic name for the pub at the bottom of the flight.

We pass through this part of the canal system every five years or so, but rarely stop at the bottom of the flight as there isn't much mooring room. However, we did moor here at lunctime on Monday 27th May 1996, mainly because the propellor on our boat needed de-weeding.
As I recall it was a fairly standard Banks's estate pub that also did food.

We didn't stop at the bottom of Delph Locks again until the evening of Friday 12th June 2015 after a tortuous journey from Stourbridge in very shallow water!
The Tenth Lock has undergone a complete exterior refurb in the intervening 19 years and, although it doesn't look like it, it is now a Marston's pub.

On this occasion we didn't go inside. We'd planned a bit of a pub crawl down the hill from The Vine at the top, but we never left The Vine, aka the Bull & Bladder, as it was such a fantastic place and the Bathams was wonderful (and I'm a lager drinker normally!)