Back in 1840 Bromsgrove was famous for the fact there were 59
You could have had quite a pub crawl in those days...
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
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
||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...
||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.
Golden Cross Hotel
bottled Westons and more!
||Concreted area that is shaded in the afternoon.
There has been a Golden Cross Hotel on the current site for a long
but the current one only dates back to the 1930's. It's a
building and much of it's exterior charm was preserved when it became
of the first JD Wetherspoon's pubs to open in the Midlands back in
However, it was at this point the Hotel part of the name ceased to
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
it's so popular. Where it does win over many other
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
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.
The Black Cross
||Concrete slabs surrounded by car park. But a real sun
Now here's an historical pub for you. Dating back to 1640 it
every bit the old coaching house that it once was. Inside you'll find
distinct areas. At the front is the bar, down the side is the
room and at the back is the lounge. In the lounge you'll find a
panel in the floor exposing an old well discovered when the pub was
A few years ago this was my favourite pub in the town by a
The landlord and landlady - Bill & Pat - had run the place for a
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
to meet in a pub. Friday nights were fantastic. Familiar
good music and good service. And it was during one of those
nights that I met Claire so this pub really does have a special place
Several changes of landlord, ever changing bar staff and an invasion
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!
The Wishing Well
(Formerly The Shoulder Of Mutton)
||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
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
The Hop Pole
||Birmingham Road (junction with Blackmore Lane)
||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.
||Birmingham Road (junction with Burcot Lane)
||Slabbed and shady. Not the best...
I'm not too sure of the age of The Crabmill but looking at it's
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
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
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
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.
(Formerly The Merlin and The Hundred House)
||Stourbridge Road (junction with Broad Street)
||Slabbed and decked terrace and proper grassed garden.
Update Jan 2015: It is
unlikely that this building will ever be a pub again after being
converted to a Sainsburys Local which opened its doors in September
2014. Another sad loss to the Bromsgrove pub scene...
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
original bar (to the left in the picture above) was kept to keep the
Slug and Lettuce
||Laurel Pub Co
||Excellent! Despite being
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
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.
||Smith & Jones (Barracuda Group)
||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). And so it became
The Grapevine with the biggest improvement being the introduction of a roof
terrace that is a great place to catch the evening sun during
2104 saw another name change as the pub became The Grove. The
interior took on a new stripped out and modern appearance that apes
bars like the Brewdog chain. I actually quite like it though I'm
not sure why!
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. 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
I make and occasional visit to try the Symonds Founder's Reserve cider
that is on draught. Yum...
Little Ale House
||21 Worcester Road (corner of Station Street)
choice of REAL ciders!
||A few benches out the front when the weather is good
Bromsgrove's newest pub is a micro-pub. It
opened its doors on Friday 11 October 2013 and I paid my first visit on
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
Sunday. This is how the pub was promoting itself early in
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.