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Thursday, 20 October 2016

#199 The Steamboat Inn, Trent Lock, Long Eaton, Notts : 1986 to 2015

On the occasions that we go to Nottingham on our boating trips we almost always stop at Trent Lock which means that we have two pubs to choose from - the Trent Lock (Formerly the Trent Navigation Inn) which I featured in July (#188) and The Steamboat Inn. (Well, I say 'choose', but we generally go into both!)

Our first visit to The Steamboat Inn was on the evening of Friday 25th July 1986 on our way to Nottingham.
It was a pleasant summer's evening and the pub was very busy. The only other thing I remember is that we won quite a few quid on the Quiz Machine (£10 Jackpot in those days!). The machine did its best to thwart us with the last two (supposedly random) questions being on railway steam engines. Fortunately, our crew member Matt was something of a railway buff and knew both answers!

We didn't return to Trent Lock until Saturday 30th August 1997 for a lunchtime stop.
As you'd expect, the outside had been redecorated in the intervening 11 years.

The next time we popped into The Steamboat Inn was at lunchtime on Thursday 3rd September 2009 on our way up the Erewash Canal for the first time.
Another complete external refurbishment, this time after a 12 year gap.

Our most recent visit was on Sunday 23rd August 2015 at lunchtime.
Just a repainting job on the outside over the previous six years looks to be the extent of the change, the lettering appears to be the same, albeit with a missing 'T'!

At first glance I'm surprised that two pubs, in what is an out-of-the-way place (by road), have survived through to the current day. But, on further reflection, both The Steamboat and the Trent Lock are very different in character - the Trent Lock always being like a proper 'country pub' with the Steamboat being a bit more 'brash' and having the feel of a seaside pub. When the sun is out, both do a roaring trade and I hope that they both make enough on the good days to survive through the bad ones.

One final observation: in the first picture there is a large tree behind the right hand chimney of the pub. Eleven years later it looks to still be there, but leafless, even thogh it is August. In 2009 the tree has gone. I'm assuming that these pictures have captured the death of an Elm tree caused by Dutch Elm Disease.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

#198 Wolseley Arms, Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire : 2002 to 2016

Wolseley Bridge is just outside Rugeley and sits alongside the River Trent on a stretch where the Trent & Mersey Canal runs side-by-side with it for several miles. Although we'd frequently used this stretch of canal over our many years of boating, we had never stopped here until lunchtime on Tuesday 17th September 2002!
The reason for this was a phenomenon that has become all too familiar over the past 10 - 15 years. Our initial plan had been to stop at Little Haywood for lunch as there were a couple of nice little pubs in the village. We moored up, walked into the village (5 - 10 mins) and both pubs were closed at lunchtime! This was the first time we'd really fallen foul of this emerging trend. So, we moved on and discovered the Wolseley Arms which, even then, was one of M&B's Vintage Inns. This actually worked well for us as it was after 3pm by the time we got there and they serve food all day!

The next time was  at lunchtime on Monday 22nd August 2005 as we headed north to, ultimately, Chester.
Essentially it was unchanged which is why I took this shot from the other angle.

Our next stop off there was at lunchtime (as always!) on Monday 30th August 2010 this time as we headed north to Manchester.
The d├ęcor both inside and out now reflected the updating that all Vintage Inns had undergone through that period.

It was another five years before we returned on the lunchtime of Wednesday 10th June 2015.
Another makeover had occurred, but not quite as drastic as the last one! As the new moorings (for the new boat) are now on the Trent & Mersey Canal the Wolseley Arms has become a more frequent stopping off place and we managed two visits in 2016.
The first on Friday 25th March 2016 (pictured above) and the second on Wednesday 8th June 2016. Little or no changes had occurred!

Having never seen it as a pub I tried to find some old pictures of when it was a 'proper' pub, but this is all I could find.
This is taken from the Wolseley Arms Facebook page, but I have no idea of the date. This is a similar view to my last shot; the road to the right leads over the River Trent and the canal; the road to the left takes you to Shugborough Hall.

Consulting my "Nicholson's Guide to the Waterways" (7th Edition; 1995) the Wolseley Arms is described thus, "Comfortable pub which has Bass real ales. Bar meals lunchtimes and evenings, vegetarians catered for, restaurant open Thu - Sun evenings and Sun lunchtime." Sounds like a typical (for then) posh country pub!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Willington, Derbyshire : 1986 to 2015

This post is going to be slightly different in structure as a one-off. We've only ever stopped at Willington twice on our canal journeys with a gap of almost 30 years between visits.

Our first stop was a damp lunchtime on Monday 28th July 1986 and we discovered three pubs in the village, all extremely close to each other!
Green Dragon, Rising Sun, Green Man

It's not very often that you can get three pubs in one picture, but that's the case in the first shot - the Green Dragon, the Rising Sun and the Green Man on the right. Each pub representing the three main brewers in Burton at that time - Ind Coope, Marston's and Bass respectively.

The second picture shows the other view from the Green Man and you can just make out the intrepid crew heading back to the boat after a 45 minute stop with no lunch! We moved on to Burton-upon-Trent to find food!

So, the question is now, how many of the three pubs survived to 2015? After not stopping there for 29 years, we made two stops in 2015! Both lunchtime stops, first on Saturday 4th April 2015 and the second on Saturday 28th August 2015.

#195 Green Dragon (now The Dragon)

formerly The Green Gragon

The Dragon, as it is now called, is very much still there and can be accessed from the canal and from the road, but not the same entrance as 1986! It is now a more food led establishment that does very good trade when the sun is out! A brief history of the pub can be found on their website.

#196 The Rising Sun

Quite an impressive sight, but we didn't venture inside on either visit! Nonetheless, it is good to see it still there.

And so, we move on to pub number three - open or closed?

#197 Green Man

Still there as well!!
Almost unbelievably, all three pubs have survived and appear to be thriving! Back in 1986 the Green Man was a Bass pub, but now it is run by Punch Taverns. Although it provides an extensive menu, the Green Man still feels like a proper pub. More information is on their website.

So there you have it; Willington is an oasis of pub survivability in an age of decimation!

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!