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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.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

#239 The Station Hotel, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire : 1997 to 2017 RIP

This is a sad tale that begins in the days following the death of Princess Diana. We were in Nottingham on that fateful night and our journey back to Lapworth took us through Burton-upon-Trent where one of our crew was departing us on the train. So, naturally, we popped into The Station Hotel for a drink.
This was at lunchtime on Monday 1st September 1997 and I have no recollection of the inside whatsoever!

The next time we were passing was a good number of years later and this is the sight that presented itself to us.
This was on the evening of Good Friday 3rd April 2015 and The Station Hotel was no more.

And, just to confirm that it was permanently gone here is the most up-to-date picture I have.
This was on the evening of Sunday 16th April 2017 on our way to finally discovering the Cooper's Tavern after years of not really knowing where it was! The Station Hotel is definitely no more having been converted into flats. (According to the Closed Pubs website, "This pub was originally owned by Salts Brewery until they were taken over by Bass, it then swapped to Ind Coope in 1978. It was converted into flats in 2009"

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

#238 Salopian Star, Market Drayton, Shropshire : 1987 to 2016

Market Drayton is a place I always look forward to visiting on our canal holidays because it has a wide selection of pubs to choose from. Over the years, we've been in most of them, but we tend to go back to them infrequently and, as we've got older, we tend not to visit as many in one session as we used to!

Back in 1987, on our only visit to the pub, it was called the Star Hotel.
 This was on the evening of Thursday 9th July 1987 and I recall very little about the pub itself.

Although we've visited the town on numerous occasions, we haven't had another drink in the Star since that first occasion. There are two main reasons for this...firstly, over the years the pub went somewhat downhill and was more a place for the younger crowd and people who liked music. This wouldn't normally stop us from popping in, but when there is so much more choice we tended to walk on by. The second part is that the Star is one of the first we come to on our walk from the canal and knowing that there are better options, we just carry on past.

However, we may have to reconsider our opinion - it is now known as The Salopian Star and is a real ale pub. It also gets the thumbs up from Retired Martin, so it should be worth a visit next time we're up that way.

This was at lunchtime on Monday 8th August 2016 as we walked into the centre Market Drayton and our ultimate destination, the Red Lion (#217). Remarkably little has changed in the intervening 29 years. Perhaps not so surprising as, according to Pub Survey, it is the oldest pub in Market Drayton.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Witton Street, Northwich, Cheshire : 2006 to 2016

Today you're getting a special 'Two-for-one' deal (before minimum pricing comes in!).

Northwich isn't a place we visit very often on our boating trips as it requires passage down on the Anderton Boat Lift from the Trent & Mersey Canal onto the River Weaver.

Anderton Boat Lift
We've done this trip twice and on each occasion spent an evening in Northwich.

#236 The Roebuck

I'm not entirely sure if we ever ventured into either of the pubs, but I did take pictures for posterity. The first visit was on the evening of Friday 1st September 2006 and this is what The Roebuck looked like. (You can just see the Green Dragon three doors away)
Our next visit was on the evening of Saturday 13th August 2016 and this is how much change had taken place in 10 years.
It had been completely redecorated, but was now up for sale...and according to WhatPub it is now permanently closed.

#237 Green Dragon

You've already had a glimpse of this pub in the photos above, but here are the close-ups. 

As far as I can tell, the Green Dragon is entirely unchanged in the 10 years between these pictures...and it is seemingly still thriving!

Whilst it is sad to see a pub close permanently it is worth noting that Witton Street also is home to the Witton Chimes, The Quayside and Penny Blacks which is a Wetherspoons, so it is hardly surprising that something had to give and it looks like The Roebuck was the unlucky loser.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

#235 Newton Brewery Inn, Middlewich, Cheshire : 1991 to 2016

This entry for the Newton Brewery Inn perfectly demonstrates the reason I started taking pictures of every pub we visit on our canal journeys. Namely, to have proof of which pubs we'd visited as it gets difficult after a few pints and a few years to remember where the heck we've been.

Back in 1991 we were bringing our boat Emma Jane from her northern mooring to a southern spot on the Grand Union. We stopped in Middlewich on the evening of Tuesday 23rd July 1991. Our mooring was by the Big Lock and one of the pubs we visited was the Newton Brewery Inn.
I vaguely recall that it was, like most Marston's pubs of that era, a fairly basic boozer. Other than that I don't remember anything about it.

Fast forward to the evening of Monday 15th August 2016; we were in Middlewich with the new boat Peggy Ellen and we'd moored above the Big Lock. Our easiest access point to leave the canal took us straight to the Newton Brewery Inn, so we popped in for a pint.
We found it to be a fairly basic boozer and departed for the Big Lock for food as there were only snacks on offer here. At this stage I was pretty sure that it was a new pub for us, only to find on my return home that we had, indeed, visited the Newton Brewery Inn twenty-five years previously! (It isn't the first time this has happened - see #166 Tilted Wig in Warwick - nor will it be the last I suspect!)

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

#234 Crown & Anchor, Stone, Staffs : 1991 to 2016

The town of Stone (between Stoke and Stafford) is a notable location on the Trent and Mersey Canal. Approximately at the mid-point of the waterway it was once home to the company that owned the canal and was the place where many of the original plans were formulated. 

However, more importantly, it is a town with a good number of pubs, so it is always a poipular stopping place for us. The Crown & Anchor isn't canalside, but it is only a short walk from the cut. Our first visit was on the evening of Friday 26th July 1991 during the journey that took Emma Jane from Adlington (on the Leeds & Liverpol Canal) to, ultimately, Cowley Peachey (on the Grand Union Canal).
I don't remember much about it and with plenty of other pubs to choose from, we didn't return until the evening of Tuesday 29th August 2000.
This was a completely unscheduled visit as we'd passed through Stone that afternoon and were moored at Barlaston. Unbeknownst to us the Plume of Feathers at Barlaston was closed and we needed an alternative! One of the good things about canal trips is that, although it may have taken 3+ hours to get somewhere, it's only a 10 - 15 minute taxi ride we chose Stone as a safe bet. As I recall the pub was largely unchanged.

Our next visit was on the evening of Monday 22nd August 2005.
Subtle changes from 1991 are visible (if you look carefully enough) but to all intents and purposes it is stil the same as before.

It was quite a number of years before we ventured back to the Crown & Anchor, this time there were many changes.
This visit was on the evening of Sunday 27th March 2016 as part of our Easter trip to Stoke. The pub had been completely refurbished inside (as a more dining led pub) and some minor changes outside. The one main external change is the removal of the distictive  hanging sign from the gable end of the pub.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

#233 Gunmakers Arms, Birmingham : 2004 to 2017

We 'discovered' the Gunmakers Arms at lunchtime on Wednesday 1st September 2004. We popped in after lunch and a couple of pints in The Bull (#073).
I remember it as a typical backstreet boozer with a very 'old school' gaffer who wasn't best pleased with my suggestion that £2 for a pint of Blackcurrant & Soda was a bit excessive!

After such a 'warm' welcome we didn't venture back until many years later when the pub had been taken over by Two Towers Brewery. So, our next visit was at lunchtime on Sunday 14th June 2015.
Unfortunately it was closed as refurbishment was still underway. Even more disappointingly, The Bull was also closed which meant that we ended up having lunch in the Gosta Green (#156) via the Sacks of Potatoes (#205).

We were back again this year and the Gunmakers Arms was open!
This was at lunchtime on Tuesday 15th August 2017 and I had mixed feelings about it. It is great to see an old pub resurrected by an up-and-coming new brewery, but when we visited it was obviously still a work in-progress and had the air of being done on a shoestring. I even sampled the local ale which was OK (but as I'm not a connoisseur, that rating should be taken with a pinch of salt!) The pub also hosts numerous arts events and I feel a little guilty that I didn't like it more.

For anyone who wants to form their own opinion (and I recommend that you do) the website is here.

Usually, that would be the end of the story as this was the last canal trip of the year, for me...but no...there's more. With the advent of the 2018 Good Beer Guide, I discovered that there were new entries in Birmingham and one very local to me. I contacted Martin Taylor and offered to join him for a pint (or three) when he next came to Brum.

His visit coincided with a separately organised Birmingham pub crawl arranged by Pub Curmudgeon. What could be better, a Saturday afternoon pub crawl with two of the bloggers who've consistently promoted my meagre blogging attempts on both of their excellent blogs.

Martin met me, lurking outside the Rose Villa Tavern with my camera (11 o'clock opening). We then strolled into town to meet up with the main band of drinkers in the Post Office Vaults (formerly the Royal Mail). We then visited The Wellington (surprisingly quiet for a Saturday lunchtime!). Next stop was The Old Contemptibles, where Martin left us for some more pub ticking and the rest of us had a pleasant lunch.

Then it was on to the Gunmakers Arms for my second visit of the year - Saturday 7th October 2017.
I'm pleased to say that I liked it more second time around, but the interior d├ęcor isn't completely to my taste...a bit modern and arty for me! Externally, the pub has changed little over the years.

This was where I left the crawl as Martin and I headed for his final tick of the day and the rest of the gang continued on to the Old Joint Stock and Craven Arms. I had a very enjoyable time and I hope that the others enjoyed Birmingham enough to want to return for some more great pubs.