The Pubs We’ve Lost

I thought it was about time I recorded some of the remaining closed pubs of Brownhills, and here they are:

I guess the whole BrownhillsBob thing started as a result of my frustration at the fate of the former Warreners Arms; at the time it closed as a pub the town had already lost several pubs – the Station Hotel, The Wheatsheaf, the Railway Tavern, the Jolly Collier – and to see it converted insensitively to a MacDonalds, only to close shortly after and remain unloved, derelict and crumbling, was a tragedy. The fate of the Warreners Arms is worth further comment and I’ll return to it at a later date.

Since then, we’ve lost the Rising Sun, the Pear Tree, the Swan, and the Wheel. They weren’t particularly salubrious – indeed, some were rough houses in their day – but all were community meeting points. While they existed, people met within them and debated the issues of the day, played dominoes, watched sport, argued, fell in love or just got pissed and fell over. This loss of community – loss of focus – is due to several things. The rising cost of beer, the competition from supermarkets. The increasing mobility of society and the rise of the car and ‘family pub’. The smoking ban. Falling out of fashion. The death of the pie and pint generation.

On occasion I drank in all of these establishments – they all had their own character, their own regulars. What becomes of these things, and more importantly, what becomes of a community riven from the things that held it together?

Once we let it go, it can never be replaced, and we’ll all be the poorer.

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53 Comments

  • Pedro

    Bob,

    Interesting Blog, I am a Brummie and not from Brownhills, but the loss of these Pups is a concern for all of us!

    We used to shoot over the border to those pubs that have closed to get the extra half hour drinking time. And now the pubs that are left are open all day!

    Along with the closures of the Post Offices it seems that the part of our heritage is disappearing. Am I becoming one of those grumpy old men?

    Regards Pedro

     
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    • Pedro

      Communities certainly seem to be losing their focal points – I blame the car and increased mobility most. It’s now all too easy to hop in the motor to the nearest retail park and shop where it’s cheaper. I guess it’s just another societal evolution, but it’s extremely sad and if watching that happen with a mixture of frustration and melancholy makes you a grumpy old man, then I’m very much afraid that I must be one, too.

      Thanks for your kind words

      Bob

       
      Reply
  • stymaster

    Hi Bob, Like the post. Unfortunately I’ve never drunk in several of those- the Jolly Collier unfortunately closed well before I’d have got served.

    I’ve narrowly missed out on the Pear Tree (closed when we walked past), and narrowly managed a visit to the Swan (a cracking pub quite recently, and a sad loss).

    I’ve been in the Warreners (Bottom Oak) when it was McDonalds, but sadly not as a pub. There’s already a place on the web with a good Brownhills pub history page, but of course this misses on the recent stuff you’ve detailed above. Word has it The Wheel requires a lot of work, so we’ll probably not see that re-open. Add to your list the Green Dragon at Clayhanger- now a nursery :-(.

    Things worth noting: the Station, The Swan, and the Shoulder of Mutton (not a plush pub, but one I like a lot) were all owned by William Roberts, and the two surviving pubs still have etched glass with his trademark- but the Swan is boarded at the moment.

     
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    • stymaster, thanks for your positive comments, it’s much appreciated. I know I’ve got mail from you at home but at the moment my gmail settings are borked, so I’ll answer those tonight.

      I used to enjoy a pint in the Pear Tree – it got a tad rough towards the end but it had a decent community feel to it. The Swan always seemed like a nice house – only went in a few times but it seemed OK. If I may just comment on one point – the Bottom Oak is the Anchor as far as I understand, not the Warreners. I went in the Warreners a couple of times – it seemed OK but a shade on the lively side.

      There’s some links I need to add to the sidebar for local history – Webster’s and Hodkinsons (which you link to) are both excellent resources. That page in particular taught me about the existence of the Leopard, which I’d cycled past on many occasions but nerver noticed. I’ve heard the rumours about the cellar in the Wheel too – I note that it didn’t meet it’s reserve at auction, so that could be why.

      I thought about the Green Dragon, but that seemed a little harsh. My focus was on dereliction and the loss to the wider community – the Green Dragon seems to be functioning quite successfully as a community centre… perhaps there’s a pointer to a possible future for some pubs there.

      The Mutton wasn’t really my cup of tea – perhaps I caught in on an off day…

      The Station – ooh my, that was dog rough. The only pub where you could get covered in blood before you’d had your first pint, and I’m not kidding. Too young for the collier, but I hear it was reasonable.

      Cheers for the contribution
      Bob

       
      Reply
  • Hello Bob this is my first visit to your blog and found it very interesting and informative.I was told about it by chasewaterstuff who like myself is an old brownhillsarian. He mentioned your request for past Brownhills information and I gave him some to pass on to you which may be helpful. Regarding the Jolly Collier, this was my local for a few years until it Closed as I lived opposite until the early 70’s. Being out of the main area of Brownhills it was a quiet pub used mainly by the local residents. Being next to the canal the cellar was cold and damp which helped to keep agood pint of the odd Butlers bitter at one and threepence a pint. How times have changed Kind regards oakparkrunner

     
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  • JANE

    i need more info on The Wheel Inn please.

    1) what are the cellar problems, mentioned?
    2) who is selling the property?

    If you have the answers to these questions please email them to me at powpublichouse@aol.com

    Thanks

     
    Reply
    • Hi Jane

      Um, the cellar problems are just rumours and there’s no hard information at all, but the suggestion is that the building has severe structural issues which are beyond an easy fix. This could, of course, just be baseless speculation and anything like that should be taken up with the vendor…

      The Wheel failed to meet it’s reserve in the first auction, but was auctioned again, and I believe it was sold. Certainly, all the sale boards have been removed. It’s been empty ever since, but in the last couple of weeks it has been boarded up. The assumption locally is that the fairground people with the yard next door bought it, but again, that’s pure gossip and probably incorrect.

      In an area positively bristling with abandoned pubs, one can’t help think that there must be – um – less challenging prospects than The Wheel, to be honest, but best of luck.

      Best wishes

      Bob

       
      Reply
  • JANE

    Thanks for that BB. I managed to view the For Sale board, via your pictures, so have emailed both the auctioneers and selling agent to try and get some concrete facts.
    Yes you are probably correct in implying that there are ‘better’ public houses to take on. Problem being most of them are tied to breweries so prospects limited.
    I contacted The Pear Tree agents but that too is now sold so I believe that was the only other true Freehouse.
    The Swan is our next port of call. The people in at the moment must just be temporary as the tenancy or lease is up for discussion. Its a tied house but, from past experience, it should mean less work for us, hence less profitable. I’ll keep you informed.

     
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  • The Swan’s a nice pub- good luck, I’m always welcome to pubs opening or staying open.. I have no idea of the state of The Wheel, but rumour is as Bob says.

     
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  • JANE

    will keep you posted on progress.

     
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  • russ

    hi Bob,
    first visit to your site.just to let you know that i was the licencee of The rising Sun from 2001 till 2005.
    Wat a fantastic pub until w & D took over.They never wanted the sun but had no choice they bought. the job lot from burtonwood.
    It breaks my heart to drive past and see the state of it now.
    I really hope that it re-opens and returns to the pub it used to be .
    Russ

     
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  • Hi Russ

    I used to visit the Rising Sun quite regularly during that time, and it was a pretty good pub. I’m very sad to see it closed, always nicer than The Crown.

     
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  • mick c

    Hi Bob, having been a prolific dart player there ain’t many pubs in Brownhills I have not been in, the Tavern was always a favourite but my local was the Whitehorse. The Station Hotel was the only pub with plasma on optics, a rough house,
    but a good drink, the Warreners arms had the man with the golden arm,Derek Betteridge the dart player insured his arm for reputedly £1000 000, the Warreners was the team to beat, at one time or another they had John Lowe, Eric Bristowe and quite a few more pro players signed up to play for them(as and when). The Collier was a lunchtime venue
    on a Friday when I worked at Rubery Owen, Apex road, either there or the Dragon down clonger. It saddens me to see the demise of any pub but i guess there is not the expendable income there used to be, that, plus the smoking ban and supermarket beer. Do you remember the Castle and
    the Anglesey on the A5?. cheers mick.

     
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  • JANE

    The Prince of Wales is about to meet its demise one thinks. Its all change again. A management company have put in temporary management on behalf of Scottish & Newcastle. A family that had a pub in Halesowen previously. Only met them once so far. Seemed ok. We told them they need SKY sports in if they are to do any good but they think thats unlikely. A lot of the regulars have taken their trade to The Whitehorse because They now have SKY and you know how it goes. If they’re made welcome there there’s no way they’ll go back to The Prince. Would love to get back in the saddle and get it back to how it was when we had it but, alas, there is no way I’m working my b***s off for a brewery! There is one shred of hope, now the footy lot have gone, along with their bad language, the more mature clientelle might venture back in and take it back to how it was before even we had it. Nice crowd of people. Bit stuck in their ways maybe but, they dont cause any grief. They just appreciate a nice cosy pub to catch up with their friends with a couple of times a week. Lets hope so eh.

     
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  • H J Kibble

    Hiya – do you know what’s happening to the Rising Sun, or who owned it? Regards.

     
    Reply
  • @H J Kibble: Rumour had it an Indian Restaurant was planned for it, but that’s only rumour. It was once scheduled to re-open, but that date was over a year ago now.

     
    Reply
  • pub-sales-uk

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    Cheers

     
    Reply
  • JANE

    would love to hear more about pub-sales-uk if possible?

     
    Reply
  • JeepBoy

    Slightly off subject – but can anyone remember the [now vanished] pub set in the sandstone rocks at Pipehill and what was it called?

     
    Reply
    • I think I detected somebody (perhaps yourself?) searching for this a couple of weeks ago (I do study my blog search stats, it’s a good way of identifying rumours afoot).
      I have a mate who recalls it and I *think* it was called the Royal Oak, but if reader Howmuch? is following this, he can step in and correct me.
      I can’t find anything online, but I’ll see what I can do, and throw it out to the readers.

      Anyone?

      Bob

       
      Reply
  • JeepBoy

    Think your mate has got it right – now I have a name the 1881 Cencus lists a Royal Oak at Sandy Way Pipehill – will investigate further – Cheers

     
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  • Brian Ansell

    The Wheel Inn.
    At the back of the pub you would note back in the fifties and sixties, there was a trapeez in the yard at the rear of the pub. These trapeez were used by the Pallow family for practice in between their travels with the circus. You will note the name Pallow as their one son went on to become none other than the famous Jackie Pallow, the champion wrestler.

     
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  • Jane

    The Swan Inn on Pelsall Road will be re-opening mid July so come along and support ‘a true freehouse’. Geoff & Jane (myself) formerly owners of The Prince of Wales, Watling Street (2003 – 2007) have bought The Swan. Our ‘logo’, as one seems to need one these days, is ‘bringing the community together’. That is our aim and that is what we will strive to do. Now it will be a ‘true’ freehouse so you’ll be getting a better choice of brands at affordable prices. No hot food but cheese & onion / ham cobs (pork & stuffing cobs on Sundays), crisps, scratchings, nuts etc. We shall be on the lookout for darts, pool, cribbage, dominoes teams so, if you’re interested, come along and see us.
    The pub (& living accommodation) needs money throwing at it but this will have to be done over time, as money and time allows. It will however be clean and fresh and inviting.
    Geoff & I shall be living there with our 2 daughters, Laura & Abbey. Abbey will be responsible for the majority of the cleaning and also wants us to train her up behind the bar. Laura works at Tesco so her input, initially, will be minimal. She has however set us up a page on Facebook and got us an email address (theswanbrownhills@hotmail.co.uk). Any input most welcome as we are here to please.

     
    Reply
    • Brilliant news Jane. As I’ve said, I will be dropping by- it’s not right by where I live but only a couple of miles of pleasant walk up the canal. I like the pub and get the impression you’ll do a good job of running it. It’s great that you’re a free house and offering some food- you’ve hit a good few of my criteria for the perfect pub, so make sure you remember to email when you open. With a bit of tidying the pub will be perfectly presentable- I’m looking forward to it.

       
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  • Does anyone remember the Crown when Fred Degville kept it in the ’70s? Wonderful live swing jazz, Django Reinhardt/Stefan Grappelli-style, roaring coal fires and packed every night.

     
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    • Sadly not, Peter. In the 70s I’d not have got served :-(. It’s OK, rather than good, now.

       
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    • Steve myatt

      My grandfather used to live next to the rising sun and we would go across to the crown and get packets of crisps out of square metal tins. With the salt in blue packets ( smiths and jones crisps )

       
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  • mick collingswood

    Certainly do Peter, what fantastic nights they were, Fred and his son Paul
    on guitars, Bill Horton on double bass, a blind guy (his name escapes me)
    on violin and Fred’s wife Trudie providing vocals, plus various other musicians.
    Also you would get the odd big name person dropping in.
    I believe Paul is still playing down London way, yes, they were really good times.

     
    Reply
    • Hi Mick

      Good to hear from you.

      Another musician from this era that springs to mind was a vibes player – I think his name was Norman Pritchard, if memory serves correctly.

      Paul’s still got a website but it doesn’t look like it’s been updated for a while.

      What with the Crown, the Trumpet in Bilston and the Lord Raglan in Wolverhampton there was a thriving jazz scene in the seventies. Glad to see the Trumpet’s still going.

       
      Reply
  • darren

    hi has anyone got any pictures of the old warreners arms darts team ie: when derek betteredge used too be there i am lookin for the team manager john knight who tradically lost his life in a lorry accident aged 39 his daughter wendy, has only one photo of him and is ther anybody out there who has a photo/s would email them too me so i could pass them on many thanx
    your help would put a smile on a girls face too show her children

     
    Reply
  • Steve

    What an interesting read brought back memories ,used to go to the wheel inn with a jug which was filled with beer for my father who would then have a hot poker ready to immerse into the beer before consumption .when I was 15 I was allowed to sit in the corner of the snug and drink a half pint of mild ,underage drinking is not a recent activity .having had a drink at most of the other pubs mentioned ,including the station which was a no go area for most ,anyone remember Roy Heath who kept this pub an ex boxer I was told ,hands like shovels not many argued with him all these pubs had diffrent characters .what about the clubs that have gone ,the top club,Middleton house ,Friezland lane to name few

     
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    • Steve myatt

      Hi about the station hotel. My dad used to drink in there along with stan (nigga ) platt and on a sunday morin they used to have strippers i used to go inthere as well to meet up with the dj. Gentleman geoff ( geoff king) to get records off him. Yours. Steve myatt. And i rememders the angelsey arms on the A5 by deakin ave

       
      Reply
  • Dazza

    Don’t forget the wheatsheaf on Ogley rd. I live where it used to be its been gone for about 15 years and I still get mail from brewery’s. I used to drink in the wheel inn back in the 90s when ted and pat had it.

     
    Reply
  • Went past the Old Warrener’s last night and it got me thinking of the old place. Only went in a couple of times before it turned into a Macdonalds. Was trying to think of the name of the bloke who always parked his bike up the bar. Bit of a character as I recall?

     
    Reply
    • No idea, only went in there a couple of times myself. Will toss it out there over the weekend.

      Cheers
      Bob

       
      Reply
  • Tracey

    My Grandparents were the proud owners of The Pear Tree from about 1975 to 1980. Nin and Charlie, now sadly gone, retired to run their own little pub after being managers for Ansells in and around the Birmingham area for many years. My husband and I met here, me looking after the bar whilst Grandad nipped out, and 36 years later still have fond memories of the people that made the pub the amazing community place it was.

     
    Reply
  • Clive

    Hello Tracey. Myself and mates were regulers at the Pear Tree back in the 70s. it was a lovely pub. I’m putting together another book covering local pubs, which includes the Pear Tree, if you would can you tell me your Grandparent full names so that I can add them to list of landlords please.

     
    Reply
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