Some history of the Saxon Penny at Lichfield
This pub, built in 23 weeks and opened in November 2013, is part of the Darwin Park development to the south-west of Lichfield. The building stands next to a large supermarket and possibly attracts some trade from shoppers. It is really a family restaurant rather than a pub but this market is a key focus of Marston's business strategy these days. They have closed down many traditional pubs in favour of these food processing plants. When the Saxon Penny opened Marston's were reported to be planning the closure of 400 pubs in order to open up to 60 new venues within two years "as part of an ongoing drive to expand its food operations." However, it would seem that their pub fodder wouldn't receive many marks on "Masterchef." You don't have to search too far and wide to find reviews such as 'worst ever meal,' 'the worst meal I have ever had' 'what a bin,' 'anywhere but here,' and 'welcome to bedlam.' These places do not tend to employ trained chefs and the large printed numbers on the food delivery boxes generally indicates which large number to press on the microwave. There are pages of complaints just for the Saxon Penny but these large family restaurants are generally all the same. And yet the public cannot seem to resist the temptation of a '2-for-1' deal, even though they know it isn't going to be a fabulous dining experience. Meanwhile one booking website states that: "The Saxon Penny in Lichfield represents all that is great about the British pub tradition." If places like the Saxon Penny are what is claimed to be pub tradition then I must have missed something over my lifetime.
"It has been declared the world's longest pub crawl and two friends have celebrated in the appropriate way - with a pint. Peter Hill,
59, and John Drew, 61, said cheers as they stopped at their 18,000th pub after a 30-year tour and vowed to carry on boozing 'until our livers give out.' The
group - who call themselves the Black Country Ale Tairsters - started visiting different watering holes in 1984 after becoming bored of always visiting the same
pub. Along with friends, they have drunk in a different pub every week since then - beginning back when a pint cost just 64p. Girls are banned from tagging along with
them on their trips, which have taken in bars in every county in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The gang always wear homemade uniforms on each night out
made of waistcoats fashioned from old beer towels. They also hold the record for being the first to travel to pubs around the entire coastline of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland. Last year they completed a seven-year quest to visit every pub in Wales after stopping off at all 3,905 of them. They have also been to every boozer in 11
Midlands counties and have driven over 250,000 miles during their monster trip, during which they've downed at least 36,000 pints. But there will be one notable absentee
from the celebrations after Peter's dad Joe, who had been with the pint-supping pair throughout their adventure, died in April at the age of 83. Founding member
Peter said they came up with the idea after becoming bored with drinking in the same pub each week. Machinist Peter, his retired dad Joe and scaffolder John then decided
that the 800 Banks's pubs they visited weren't enough so embarked on the challenge to conquer every pub in Wales. Speaking from the landmark 18,000th pub at The
Saxon Penny in Lichfield, Peter said: 'It's fabulous that we have made it to here. I think we'll stay at this pub for a while yet, but we may squeeze in
number 18,001 later on this evening. If I had to have a beer of choice I would just ask for any real ale to be honest. It's hard to think of a hobby which is so much
fun. We are just going to keep going until our livers give out, or at least something gives out. Although it may be a big surprise to people, we're not massive drinkers.
We just love pubs and everything about them. We have our own score cards which we fill in and we write the number of the pub on the card and ask the landlord to sign the
book we have which has information in from every bar we go to. We also keep a record of the pubs we go to by taking a photo of the pub, inside and out, and make a note of
anything special about the place. It turned from a bit of fun to a serious hobby. I'll be doing this for as long as I can - I intend to visit every pub I can.
Although I'll soon be 60 and I wonder where all the years have gone. We would never live long enough to have a drink in every pub in England. It's taken us seven
years to visit 3,905 pubs in Wales. Nowadays, I try to limit myself to 1,500 pints a year. If it's a cider and lager pub we'll just have a swift half. In every pub,
we ask for a £1 donation, with the money going to the children's ward at Sandwell Hospital.' Around 20 tipplers were originally in the group but now only two
remain including Peter, from West Bromwich. Every pub they visit is rated, photos are taken and information is noted down and Black Country Ale Tairsters [BATs]
approval is a recognised accolade in the local pub trade. They have also made trips to pubs right across Europe but they say these boozers don't count because they are
not in the UK. David Parsons, 67, owner of the Tame Bridge public house in Great Bridge, which is one of the team's favourite locals, said: 'These men are
incredible, they are such a presence in the pub here. They have changed this pub, we used to serve a lot of lager but since they started coming with the knowledge they have
of real ales, we sell a lot of the stuff. What they don't know about beer, no one does.'"
"Beer-loving friends celebrate world's longest bar crawl at 18,000th pub."
By Katie Amie in Daily Mail : December 1st 2014.
The Saxon Penny is supposedly named because of the Staffordshire Hoard discovered in 2009 in nearby Hammerwich. However, although that was the greatest find of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork, it was not for coins that the collection was famous, unlike the hoard of 5,000 Saxon coins found near Lenborough in Buckinghamshire during 2015. The English Penny was was introduced around 785 by King Offa of Mercia, the capital of which was at nearby Tamworth.
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