Stourport is one of Worcestershire’s oddities, a “fun” town by the Severn without the Georgian elegance of nearby Bewdley. It’s more of an inland Felixstowe than a Southwold, but just as worthy of a visit.
When we first visited the town from our Clows Top B&B 20 years ago, that giant permanent funfair looked out of place in the glorious countryside around the A456. It lacked the great curry houses of Bewdley or Ludlow (honest), and had few Beer Guide entries drew us back over the years apart from Black Country’s excellent Hollybush. No shortage of Banks though.
The polite term for the town centre is “traditional”, with little obvious to attract the hungry Black Country gourmets that make up its modest tourist trade. Plenty for the youngsters on their way to the funfair mind.
Not much for the shopper either, with the giant new Tesco syphoning the custom. In another blow to the town, the basic-looking Wetherspoons was sold to Hawthorn this year; it’ll be interesting to see if it survives that transition. I saw a few other large places up for sale; Stourport has never been short of pubs, just great ones.
There is good news by the Staff & Worcs Canal though, where the Black Star shone. I don’t know what it was like before, but Wye Valley have a little classic here.
This is how to run a canal-side pub. Sleeping dogs at the door, Black Country pies, good pale beer (NBSS 3.5), flowers, Abba’s Day Before you Came on the radio and a cheerful landlord. Twenty miles north this might be a smaller Brunning & Price, but that wouldn’t work here. In a quiet town mid-week it was doing a steady trade, and if Nick from Erlangen ever makes it this far west he might well set up home here.
I had noticed a fair bit of housebuilding along the Severn on previous visits, but it was the rather older housing along Severnside that was attracting the interest of elderly walkers, always keen to nose around other folks properties.
With old and new housing, canal boats and summer smells, I thought this stretch of the Severn as good as any riverside in England, and suddenly Treasure Island made sense.
Without a train service, I won’t be moving here, but it’s certainly worth adding to that tour of Georgian Worcestershire, and the Rock Tavern in Wilden is unmissable.