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Please note: Items and articles posted on these pages are for historical reference and archive purposes only. They are largely out-of-date and may NOT be representative of the pub or location as it is today. If you would like up-to-date information with news, reviews and helpful stuff then you'll need to visit the website's pages on Twitter and Facebook. These are places where you can have your say or share your valued input. Those who subscribe to these platforms are the first to get updates, receive images, coupled with news and reports of pubs and breweries in the Midlands' region and beyond. It's free and easy to sign-up to any of these media platforms. If you prefer, you can e-mail a reply or comment to any of the forum's messages by sending an e-mail.

Milton - Barley Mow Pump Clips

Barley Mow Scoops CAMRA Award
Located close to Shugborough, the Barley Mow at Milton has been voted 'Pub of the Month' by the Heart of Staffordshire branch of CAMRA. Much enlarged and extended over the years, the pub sells one locally-brewed ale from the nearby Shugborough Brewery. In addition, the hostelry serves Greene King IPA, Greene King Abbot Ale, Morland Old Speckled Hen and Hardy's and Hanson's Olde Trip. 26 year-old licensee Chris Wall was presented with the award.
Kieron McMahon 10th May 2011

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The British Queen at Blakenhall

Wolverhampton Publican Fined for No TV Licence
Gurpreet Singh, a partner in the British Queen located on Dudley Road, Wolverhampton, has been fined by magistrates for using a television in his pub without a licence. The publican of the Blakenhall public house was prosecuted under the Communications Act 2003, which states that "any pub or bar which shows live television must be covered by a valid television licence." Wolverhampton Magistrates fined Mr Singh £350 plus £150 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. Following this case, Mark Whitehouse TV licensing spokesman for the West Midlands, urged local publicans to check that they were licensed to show television within their pubs. He told the Express and Star that "we would always rather pubs and other businesses ensure they are correctly licensed rather than risk prosecution and a fine."
Kieron McMahon 18th September 2009

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Marston's Pedigree

Ashes Cricket Series boosts sales at Marston's
Marston’s sold a staggering extra one million pints of Pedigree during the Ashes series, largely thanks to its sponsorship deal with the England cricket team, an arrangement that has been extended until 2011. The Wolverhampton-based brewery enjoyed boom sales during the five matches between England and Australia. Marston’s had brewed a special seasonal ale entitled Ashes Ale, of which the brewery sold more than 350,000 pints over the eight-week period of the cricket showpiece. Marston’s marketing manager Des Gallagher told the Express and Star newspaper that the "company was a “passionate supporter” of the national side" and that "our faith and loyalty have been rewarded not, only with a historic victory, but with the knowledge that more cricket fans than ever before have chosen Pedigree to accompany the world-class action.”
Kieron McMahon 25th August 2009

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The Green Man at Swindon

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Unspoilt Progress for Luddite Delectation at Swindon
It’s official. It’s April, the clocks have gone forward so it must be time to inflate the tyres, oil the chain, and roll out the bicycles for another season of pub tours on two wheels. With the world as your oyster, where do you go? Well, we decided on a canalside pub that we visit occasionally just because, well, we like it. So the Green Man at Swindon was our target. It is a round-trip of 28.13 kilometres so probably just about the right distance for a first-of-the-season ride. Living in the Black Country does not necessarily mean that cycle routes are grim affairs that pass through post-industrial landscapes. With a bit of careful planning they can be very pleasant sojourns. We passed through Mushroom Green, Saltwells Wood and The Leys section of the Black Country Forest before heading down the Dudley Canal to Wordsley Junction before picking up the Kingswinford Cycle Route and out to Swindon along the Smestow Valley. Located just a few yards from the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, The Green Man is a fine old village pub. It is run by a friendly couple, Alan and Raye Payne. To many folk, it would seem quite an ordinary pub but to me it has that certain intangible character that makes it a very pleasant place to spend a couple of hours. And it is this ‘grey’ area that has drinkers arguing on what really is a good pub. We met some friends at the Green Man but they fail to see what it is we like about this place. For me, there is some sentimentality because the Green Man is pretty much like many Banks’s pubs that I frequented as a young drinker in the 1970’s. Most of these old boozers have closed and the one’s that have survived have been ruined with subsequent refits and refurbishments. Of course, the sort of pub interior I am remembering fondly was a product of the Banks’s and Hanson’s homogeneity ushered in during the late 1950's and throughout the 1960’s. It was probably because the breweries used their own in-house decorators that they tended to be refurbished in a similar fashion. Quarry tiles, leather benches, simple tables with a dartboard up the corner. This is the pub I was familiar with in the last days of the industrial Black Country. But those days are gone and most of the pubs have been updated to suit the Ikea generation. And so was born the makeover pub movement. So I guess it is the ‘unspoilt by progress’ character of the Green Man’s bar that makes me feel contented. The room still has a quarry tiled floor, leather bench seats and a real fire at the end of the room. The bar has both a dartboard and a permanent fixture for the game of Quoits, an increasingly rare feature in pubs these days. Bar Skittles was restored in 2002 - another rare pub game in 21st century Staffordshire. We’re not that fussed about the rest of the pub - it is the bar that is the main attraction, a room for drinking and chat. A place where dogs are welcome and locals hang out without making the ‘stranger’ feel uncomfortable. The other key component of the Green Man is the beer. I have not had a bad pint in here. Indeed, it’s generally spot on. We were lucky to arrive just as a new barrel of Banks’s Bitter went on sale and it was superb. With so many new-fangled beers on offer around the region, it is not that often that I drink this old chestnut, but this is one place where I can reminisce about days when this was just about the only beer available in Cradley Heath. Of course, this would not be possible if the beer was served in poor condition, though thinking about it, that may be how to remember some of those old industrial boozers where the slops were probably filtered back into the cask. But the Green Man serves good Banks’s beer so it is possible to sup your ale with rose-tinted spectacles. They do sell a guest ale here and with a new cask of Jennings Cocker Hoop being put on sale, we gave this a whirl after several pints of Banks’s. The Cockermouth-brewed beer was in excellent form too. A most enjoyable session. The only criticism is the 1970’s music. I don’t remember music in here before and I’m not one for background noise as it is just not necessary in a pub. And I certainly didn’t need to hear Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” again in my life. Good grief, I thought we’d turned that corner. But this aside, I can most heartily recommend this canalside pub. Talking of which, has any boaters or bargees called in here for victuals? I would like to hear your experiences of the food and hospitality.
Kieron McMahon 4th April 2009

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The Wheatsheaf at Walsall

Interior of The Wheatsheaf at Walsall

Handpulls at The Wheatsheaf at Walsall

Women Know Best when it comes to Running a Good Pub
We finally made it to the Wheatsheaf at Walsall today. I say finally because we have intended to pay a visit for some time following the great reports we’d heard since the historic building was taken over by Carrie Cooke and Jean James. As committed members of Walsall CAMRA, they established the pub as a real ale outlet and have staged regular beer festivals. Combined these with a number of other themed events and by engaging the local community, they made the Wheatsheaf an award-winning tavern. Located on the corner of Birmingham Street and Grove Terrace, the Wheatsheaf Inn is an historic building and was certainly trading in 1801 when it was known by the sign of The Greyhound and run by John Westley. Actually, Birmingham Street once had three Wheatsheaf pubs at different periods. An older structure was once the home of Captain Henry Stone, who fought in the English Civil War. He rebuilt the house in the 1660's and by the 18th century it was known by the sign of the Wheat Sheaff. Today’s Wheatsheaf dates from the early 19th century, the relocation to the corner of Grove Terrace was probably down to  Joseph Cowley, who later served as the Mayor of Walsall between 1836-7. The Wheatsheaf was once operated by Showell’s Brewery before they were acquired by Samuel Allsopp Ltd. of Burton-on-Trent. It was in 1961 that Ansell's merged with Ind Coope & Allsopp and Tetley Walker to form Allied Breweries. It was after this date that the pub would have sold the Aston brews of Ansell's. It was Allied Breweries who altered the property during the 1960's. This was much of the old interior layout was lost. Anyway, onto today’s pub.... the only negative report that we have heard about The Wheatsheaf is that it is cold inside. And indeed it was. We didn’t take our coats off during our visit. In their defence, the open plan interior they inherited does not help and it would cost a small fortune to warm up the pub at lunchtime. In addition, it was the coldest day of the year with snow on the ground so, noting us huddled up against a lukewarm radiator, one of the licensees did turn on the electric fire. It would be great if there was a real fire in this fireplace. The temperature is the only gripe so I have got issue out of the way first - besides, it didn’t really spoil our time as we had many layers on. Odd really, with it being awkward to get to Walsall from our bit of the Black Country, we chose a snowy day just before Christmas to finally pay a visit to the town’s CAMRA Pub of the Year 2008. We arrived on foot via the splendidly named Dandy’s Walk - quite treacherous in the ice and snow. The footpath emerges a few yards from the Wheatsheaf. We’d arrived at the fag end of a beer festival but the pub still had stocks of some winter ales we’d never tried. A beer menu on the counter was very helpful as it provided a “Tasting Notes” guide to the flavour and character of each beer. We dipped our toes with "Santa’s Claws", a 4.5% spicy ale from Beartown Brewery. Emma really liked this but I found the perfume character a bit too much - I’m not a big fan of Orval either, a Belgian beer that shares this characteristic. So, Emma took charge of mine whilst I warmed up a bit with the Titanic "Stuff It", a chestnut-coloured beer that was ironically packed with chestnut and cranberry flavours. Indeed, the taste of cranberry was so strong that, at first, I was not sure I’d enjoy it. By the time I’d had three sips I was really in the zone. By the end of the first pint I was up for a session on the stuff. The hoppy aftertaste kicks in at the end of each sip making it a really moreish beer. Carrie seems to be the partner who looks after the cellar and she told me that this was a really lively cask and venting was a messy affair. By the time I was sampling the beer it was still brimming with condition. A real Christmas pudding of an ale. Jean was confined to the kitchen once we joined the small queue to order nosh. There isn’t a great choice for veggies but we enjoyed what was brought to our table. Left in their skins, the homemade chips were top notch. For the carnivorous crowd there is plenty of choice and the menu looks pretty good and value for money. A regular of the pub was sat quite close to us and we struck up a conversation with him. Our boxer dog even made friends with his chocolate labrador - yes folks, you can bring your dog to The Wheatsheaf. He [the imbiber not the labrador] walked over to the piano to give us a rendition of “White Christmas” which, despite the instrument’s faults, was a pleasant experience. Living quite close to the building the customer, a bloke from Sunderland who had moved to Walsall some years ago, remarked what a splendid job Jean and Carrie were doing at The Wheatsheaf. In its tail-end years as a Firkin outlet, the place was on its last legs so it has been hard work making the pub a success. However, it is easy to see why The Wheatsheaf appeals to genuine pub lovers. Good beer, honest food, relaxed atmosphere, newspapers and books plus a friendly face behind the counter. Simple pleasures - that’s a successful formula. I noticed that there was no charge to visit The Wheatsheaf on New Year’s Eve - they even provide a buffet. What a refreshing change these days when most publicans elect not to reward their regular customers and would rather fleece them. So, a big thumbs up for The Wheatsheaf - a very enjoyable pub experience.
Kieron McMahon 24th December 2009

The Hurst Hill Tavern at Coseley

End Of The Road for The Hurst Hill Tavern
The green light has been given by the planning authorities for the conversion of the Hurst Hill Tavern into residential usage. The pub had been standing empty for a while and will now be converted into two houses that will form part of a six house development on the site. The pub had been operated by Marston's and, after deciding it was no longer an asset to the company, they applied to Dudley Council for permission to convert the property to residential use. Only three letters of objection were received - a poor state of affairs really. Perhaps no surprise that so many pubs are being lost - apathy seems to have set in. On approving the application, Planning Committee Chairman Tim Wright said: "I wholeheartedly welcome the development and it provides a nice scheme for the area." Not as nice as a decent pub I reckon but if only a few objected then what can you do?
Kieron McMahon 22nd December 2009

These Forum Pages Need You

Holden's Lambswool

Passion Awoke in Woodsetton
I have just received details of the 2009 Monthly Guest Ales programme for Holden's Brewery. It is identical to the 2005 programme and starts in January with Devil Dunn. I for one am particularly looking forward to the Passionate Monk in February. When this was available four years ago I had [too] many pints of this wonderful beer in The Great Western at Wolverhampton. Hope it's as good this time around.
Kieron McMahon 5th January 2009


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