Fat Mark of Bromsgrove

Bromsgrove Pubs

Back in 1840 Bromsgrove was famous for the fact there were 59 pubs.  You could have had quite a pub crawl in those days...  Unfortunately we've lost most of the old drinking holes over the years but there are still plenty of good pubs to visit in the town.  These are my personal feelings about those that I choose to frequent.  Many of these pubs have seen big changes since I created this website.  Please click here if you want to go back in time.

Queens Head
Red Lion
Golden Cross
Black Cross
Wishing Well
Hop Pole
Crabmill
Lime Bar
Slug and Lettuce
Grapevine
Little Ale House


Queens Head

Queens Head

Where The Strand
Who Banks's
Cider Strongbow
Beer Garden More of a yard really!  Sunny in the afternoon.

The Queens Head is a Victorian pub of great charm and character and is a lovely site to see when approaching the town via Stratford Road.  Inside it has an interesting layout which results in what is quite a small pub feeling bigger.  Only serves food at lunchtime.  Probably the closest thing you'll find to a 'traditional' pub in the town centre and it should be supported for that reason!  If only I could persuade Claire about that though - she is put off by the professional drinkers that seem to be in there most of the time...

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Red Lion

Red Lion

Where High Street
Who Banks's
Cider Strongbow
Beer Garden A real sun-trap but the old lawned garden is missed...

For many years the pub was run by Richard Scott who did an excellent job of promoting real ale.  Richard left to run The Dodford Inn in April 2009 and the landlord that followed did an excellent job of running the place into the ground :-(  Thankfully, Jason took over in May 2010 and the pub has found it's mojo again with good quality ales once again available.  It closed in mid-May 2011 for an extensive refurb and re-opened the following month.  The refurbishment proved to be a great success and the pub has continued to go from strength to strength.

Being a Marston's pub, the range of real ales is restricted to brands owned by that group.  But with a constantly changing selection from Banks's, Marston's, Jennings, Brakspear, Ringwood and Wychwood, that's not really a problem!  This is backed up by the fact that the pub won the Redditch and Bromsgrove CAMRA Autumn 2011 award for Pub of the Season.

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Golden Cross Hotel

Golden Cross

Where High Street
Who JD Wetherspoon
Cider StrongbowStowford PressThatchersGold + bottled Westons and more!
Beer Garden Concreted area that is shaded in the afternoon.

There has been a Golden Cross Hotel on the current site for a long time but the current one only dates back to the 1930's.  It's a handsome building and much of it's exterior charm was preserved when it became one of the first JD Wetherspoon's pubs to open in the Midlands back in 1994.  However, it was at this point the Hotel part of the name ceased to apply ending its historical role as a place to stay for good.

If you've been to a Wetherspoon's pub you'll know what to expect in terms of food and drink available.  And the prices!  No wonder it's so popular.  Where it does win over many other Wetherspoon's hostelries is that it was a pub to start with.  This gives it far more character and charm internally.  What I like most about it is the excellent range of real ales that are almost always available.  Marvellous.  Long-term manager Neil encourages CAMRA members by offering a discount on a pint of guest ale so make sure you have your membership card with you!

Food is served all day, every day.

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The Black Cross

Black Cross

Where Worcester Road
Who Banks's
Cider Strongbow
Beer Garden Concrete slabs surrounded by car park.  But a real sun trap!

Now here's an historical pub for you.  Dating back to 1640 it looks every bit the old coaching house that it once was. Inside you'll find three distinct areas.  At the front is the bar, down the side is the pool room and at the back is the lounge.  In the lounge you'll find a glass panel in the floor exposing an old well discovered when the pub was extended.

A few years ago this was my favourite pub in the town by a mile!  The landlord and landlady - Bill & Pat - had run the place for a fair few years and had it well sorted.  There were also some long term bar staff who really knew what they were doing.  One of them -  Ronnie - was the nicest and most streetwise old lady you are ever likely to meet in a pub.  Friday nights were fantastic.  Familiar faces, good music and good service.  And it was during one of those Friday nights that I met Claire so this pub really does have a special place in my heart.

Several changes of landlord, ever changing bar staff and an invasion by the younger generation saw the pub go downhill.  In fact it went so far downhill that it closed for several months in 2008.  When it re-opened, me and Claire visited for 'old times sake' and had the whole front bar to ourselves.  Nothing had changed in at least 5 years!  Sadly, it shut again in December 2011 and didn't re-open until the end of October 2012.  Steve and Lucille are the new team and, this time, the pub did get a bit of an update.  Good food is served in the rear bar.

Our occasional visits have all been enjoyable with a good pint of real ale always available.  It's good to be able to recommend the old place again!

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The Wishing Well

(Formerly The Shoulder Of Mutton)

Wishing Well

Where St.John  Street
Who Punch Taverns
Cider Stowford PressStrongbow
Beer Garden Small but very pleasant.  Amazing multi-level deck!  Gets the sun in the afternoon.

Update Oct 2013: The Wishing Well (as a pub) is no more...  Claire and I had a drink in their on it's last night - Saturday 27th April.  Although their was still a contentious planning application to go through, we were told that the building was to become some kind of alternative health centre.  A few months later, that seems to be its fate as Well Being at the Wishing Well is soon to open.  A sad loss of one of the town's most historic pubs.

The thing I wish most about The Wishing Well was that it was not called The Wishing Well!  There has been a Shoulder of Mutton on the site for several hundred years and to change the name now is a great disappointment.  This is what the local rag had to say.

Enough carping though.  The good news is that the reason the name was changed was to reflect how the pub itself changed.  Inside, it was extended greatly, refitted to a very high standard and given an interesting layout with a central bar which usually has a couple of real ales on tap.

May 2005 saw the grand opening of the beer garden.  An amazing multi level deck makes the best use of the limited space.

Despite being a popular music venue, the pub, like many around the country, struggled during 2010 and was returned to Punch Taverns with a temporary manager taking over.  But in Feb 2011, Richard & Pippa became the town's youngest landlords at 23 & 20 respectively.  They announced their plans as, "The Wishing Well in not just a pub, but more of an entertainment bar".  It didn't work out and they quit the place at the end of August 2012!  I don't think the distraction of Pippa being on Britain's Got Talent helped - I only saw her in the pub once.

Currently (Feb 2013), the pub is up for sale and is being run by Badger and Cindy.

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The Hop Pole

Hop Pole

Where Birmingham Road (junction with Blackmore Lane)
Who Punch Taverns
Cider StrongbowThatchers GoldStowford Press
Beer Garden Large grassy area with decking.  Sunny in the afternoon.

Back in around 2000, The Hop Pole was a favourite pub of mine.  The owners were Julie and Pradip and the pub was cosy and traditional.  Claire and I liked it so much we had our wedding there!  In 2003, it underwent a makeover that saw the original two rooms knocked through.  Thankfully, it didn't change my opinion of the pub and it became the town's premier music venue under the ownership of Jeff.

At the end of 2010, Pete took over from Jeff.  The best thing about Pete is that he is a cider head so some REAL ciders have been available.  In addition, there are normally a couple of well kept ales on tap too.  Pete has built a great team of friendly staff and there are numerous regulars, surely the sign of a great little pub!

The Hop Pole is one of Bromgrove's premier music venues.  Check out it's website for latest news.

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The Crabmill

Crabmill

Where Birmingham Road (junction with Burcot Lane)
Who Freehouse (?)
Cider StrongbowThatchers Gold
Beer Garden Slabbed and shady.  Not the best...

I'm not too sure of the age of The Crabmill but looking at it's attractive exterior I would have to place my bet on 18th century.  It really is a nice looking building and is in a very nice position opposite All Saints Church.

Inside there is quite alot of open space.  This imparts a less than cosy feel to the place when there are few people in.  Throughout 2006 and 2007 it was modernised on the cheap and not totally successfully.  They even covered over the massive fireplace with pine cladding!  Thankfully, a change of landlord at the end of 2008 saw a big improvement and it is once again a nice place to have a drink.  In fact I regularly knock back a couple in there on my way to the nearby Ideal Fish and Chip Bar (the best chip shop in town!).

In the spring of 2011, Don the landlord oversaw the refurbishment of the exterior of the pub and a superb job was done.  Very popular for sporting events, the Crabmill is now one of the best pubs in town.  Home cooked food is served during the day.

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Lime Bar

(Formerly The Merlin and The Hundred House)

Picture of Lime Bar

Where Stourbridge Road (junction with Broad Street)
Who Thai Brasserie
Cider Strongbow
Beer Garden Slabbed and decked terrace and proper grassed garden.  Sunny all day!

Update Oct 2013:  Once again, this venue faces an uncertain future.  It closed it's door under mysterious circumstances on 9th October.  I will update when there is so more information.

I was in two minds whether to include the Lime Bar here but this building has so many memories for me that I felt I had to.  It's a huge place dating back to the 30's.  In those days the licensing authorities thought it better that all the drunken people were in one place so only granted licenses to large premises.  This is why there is a proliferation of huge pubs dating from this time (locally, The Marlbrook, The King George V at Longbridge [now a Cantonese restaurant!] and The Black Horse at Northfield are good examples).

Known as The Merlin for many years, the pub had opened as The New Hundred House.  The old Hundred House Hotel was even closer to where I live but was converted into housing some years ago.  After going through a period of having a nightclub and a dodgy reputation it settled down to be a model of continuity with Clive the landlord doing a superb job.  In January 2002, much to our disappointment, Clive left.  Several changes of landlord followed before Keith and Linda took over in August 2004.

In the spring of 2005 a much needed refurb took place.  Major works saw the layout of the pub change dramatically and its original name restored.  The result of the refurb was a much improved interior and an emphasis on food.  Unfortunately, the pub never managed to reach its potential.  In January 2006, it closed briefly and was boarded up for several weeks.  When it re-opened it was a great place for pub grub but the quality was inconsistent and it eventually shut down as a pub and re-opened at The Feast Lodge, yet another curry house!

The Feast Lodge proved that Bromsgrove didn't need another curry house (as has the Elachi on Worcester Road).  It closed and was replaced by the Lime Bar and Thai Brasserie in Feb 2011.  As with the Feast Lodge, the original bar (to the left in the picture above) was kept to keep the locals happy.

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Slug and Lettuce

Slug and Lettuce

Where High Street
Who Laurel Pub Co
Cider Strongbow
Beer Garden Excellent!  Despite being the wrong side of the High Street
the position of the neighouring building means it gets sun
in the afternoon.

This pub is a conversion of three shop units that had been empty for several years.  The building itself was originally a Victorian house known as The Gables but, despite being a listed building, it had fallen into a state of disrepair (see for yourself...).  The quality of refurbishment of the building is good and many original features have been preserved within - the windows at the back, the fireplaces and some decorative coving have all been kept.

Originally opening as a Hogshead in April 2001, it was later renamed hogs head and was very popular for several years.  However, the arrival of The Rousler (now The Grapevine, below) saw it fall out of favour with the town's younger crowd.  In September/October 2007 it underwent conversion to a Slug and Lettuce, another chain owned by the Laurel Pub Company.

The pub is now more of an eating venue on the emphasis is on quality food with prices to match.  I've heard that all the food is freshly cooked - no boil in the bags tricks here.  The drinks menu shouts 'sophisticated' and the place has the feel of of city centre bar.  It may not be my thing but it makes a nice change from the other pubs in town.  I have to say that I actually quite like it and I'm not the only one - trade has picked up noticably.

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The Grapevine

The Grapevine

Where High Street
Who Smith & Jones (Barracuda Group)
Cider StrongbowAspalls
Beer Garden Roof terrace on the sunny side of the High Street

This pub originally opened as The Rousler in June 2006.  The Rousler didn't last long and it had a name change in an effort to try and change the image it had gained a a good place for youngsters to go for a fight at the weekend.  The story in the local paper said that it hoped to become a family pub and they even got rid of the TVs (and sport had been a dig draw for the Rousler).  My view is that little has changed - the TVs came back and I haven't seen many families going in there…  The good change was the introduction of a roof terrace that will be a great place to catch the evening sun during summer. 

The front of the pub near the windows is nice but the rest suffers from the fact that it is basically a converted and extended shop unit.  The central part has a high bar to the left, high tables in the middle and booths to the right.  It's far too structured and orderly to create a relaxed feel.  Most of the pub relies on artificial lighting and the rear section is dark and unwelcoming.

There's an extensive menu that I've yet to try but have heard good things about.

The pub has certainly been a big hit with the younger generation but I think the occasional visit is as much as I'll manage.

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The Little Ale House

Little Ale House

Where 21 Worcester Road (corner of Station Street)
Who Freehouse, micro-pub
Cider Family Reserve + a great choice of more REAL ciders!
Beer Garden None

Bromsgrove's newest pub is a micro-pub.  It opened its doors on Friday 11 October 2013 and I paid my first visit on Saturday 12.

There's no getting away from the fact that it's rather an odd place.  It's basically an old shop unit and very little effort has been made in making it feel like a traditional pub.  The seating is a real mish-mash with the strangest part being the long bench seat down the left hand side that is so high that you need a step to get up there and beer barrels to rest your feet on!

But this is a pub that is all about providing a great range of real ales and ciders and an atmosphere that harks back to the good old days with no music or TV.  In fact, its small size and unusualness has lead to me and Claire talking to more strangers in this pub than any other pub in town - the art of conversation has returned.

Beer is served direct from the barrel and up to 6 are available (although some are usually settling).  Cider has proved a big seller too so up to four real ciders and perrys can often be found.

Sensibly, the opening hours are 12 midday until 10pm Monday to Saturday and 12 til 6pm on Sunday. 

Terry Bacon has stuck his neck out and taken a big risk opening this place but it seems like he's hit on a winning formula.  With the added bonus of 20p off a pint of real ale (note, not cider) for card carrying CAMRA members, the reasons to return to the Little Ale House just keep stacking up.

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