Having gone all grumpy retiredmartin the other week on the train home, I really ought to balance it up with a bit of praise for the 2nd city(*)


So good was the day, that you get three exciting instalments(**), this one covering the Jewellery Quarter.

Birmingham was a reminder of what a joy a pub crawl round a big city can be, even in 2017.  Shown below are my ticks (old and new) on a day when I piggybacked on to a Brum day organised by Pub Curmudgeon and some old CAMRA Forum mates with names like Citra, Paul and EvilKeg3.


And what a joy the new Grand Central is to arrive at, after a 3 hour train journey from the Fens, “enhanced” by over-excited adults who’d escaped from a BRAPA script. It hardly needs saying they’d got on at Peterborough.

Here’s the evidence of an 05:35 start.  Just remember, kids, Simon does this every week.


Mr Clarkson may be able to spot St Andrews in this shot eastwards.


Quite a contrast between Digbeth (a bit threadbare of pubs this year) and the newly styled Grand Central.



New Street station transformed, a match for Kings Cross and my personal favourite Nuremberg.

Outside, while the rest of the city slept off their pints of Brew XI, I had the glories of Victoria Square, and omnipresent cranes, to myself in some rare Midlands sunshine.



That 5.35 am start meant a good day’s walking, and I’d clocked up 15 miles by the time I set foot back in the flatlands.  Most of those miles were walking to and from the Jewellery Quarter, belatedly becoming Brum’s Kelham Island or Ancoats. A heady mix of industrial decay, stained glass, Italian bistros and BrewTaps.

The churches are inspiring.

Birmingham Cathedral
St Paul’s


But on occasion the street art seems to be trying too hard, and you long for the simplicity of a Banksy or a sixth-form art student from Bewdley.

Brum street art

The Jewellery Quarter is, of course, to the west of Brum, over a canal I half expected boating/photography legend Pete Allen to be emerging from (not literally).


jewellery quarter.PNG

Yer actual jewellery shop

My entire lifetime spend on jewellery is £60, that on beer somewhat higher. In fact, I could have spent more than that in my first pub alone with not much effort.


There’s a lot to be said for the Red Lion.

  1. It opens at 10am.


2.  It’s gorgeous. Despite the slight “modernisation”.


3. There’s a Banks’s mirror that’s nearly as good as the one with the red triangle.


4. There are Old Boys and Young Pros.


5. There are Faggots (and Chips). Which cost £11.95.

6. There is a soundtrack of “Logical Song” and “Personal Jesus“.

7.  And there is Batham’s Bitter.


Half of Batham’s please

Two pound, please”         (Checks the price)

Oh, actually, it’s £2.10 please“.

Grief (I do say grief a lot), that’s a lot for a half”     (Checks again)

Actually, it’s £2.25. Sorry”  (She really was very polite)

If I keep asking will it come down ?”

A pint was £4.45, by the way, so not even a hefty mark up on halves. It was a decent beer (NBSS 3), though I wouldn’t have recognised it as Batham’s.

Clearly those prices pay for the refurb, the Baylis & Harding soap, and the crystal chandelier.  I wondered how the Old Boys, happily discussing their washing powder preferences, afforded them.

Winston didn’t look amused.


I headed for the clock, spotting Pete and his super-pro camera.


There’s a lot of photographic merit inside the Rose Villa Tavern, a second architectural gem of the day.  I’m not too fussed about “doing” the National Inventory pubs, but this was a spectacular, and lovingly maintained work of art.




Great seats, gorgeous windows, decent local beer (it wasn’t Doom Bar), pleasant staff, and Boney M.

Where has it been hiding ?  It took some effort to get Pete and camera to start the walk into town, but we were tight to schedule, and you know how important schedules are.


Tomorrow you get photos of Old Mudgie and some “proper pubs”, all of them open.



*after Manchester

** frankly, I get bored after writing 500 words.  And there’s too many photos.


  1. The view of st Andrews from the train still gives me a warm glow ( quite sad really at 46!) Rose Villa tavern is a fantastic place and always had top Tunes on to boot as well as first rate 🍺🍺 only been to lord Clifden which is a classic but red lion looks just as top notch by the photos….Brum is great for a walk/drink as so spread out but 15 miles is an excellent effort 👏👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “The churches are inspiring.”

    That shot of the bench seating in the Rose Villa Tavern interior looks like the interior of a church. 🙂

    I was so impressed I went to their website (where the main page says “stunning interior”, but when I clicked on the gallery all it bloody shows is basically shots of vodka bottles and burgers. Sheesh!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved your transcription of the whole Batham’s exchange. Yet another brand I wish I could get hold of over here– sounds like the sort of traditional British beer I’m a fan of. Does Simon really start his trips so early every week? Seems I need to be even more appreciative of BRAPA than I already am…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not to put a knock on Si (heavens!) but I think during the week he heads out straight from work to do the rounds, which means he’s usually not home till almost midnight and then up for work the next day. See here:

        Under “Other News” he mentions not starting work on Wednesdays till 9am which gives him an extra hour in bed after his Tuesday jaunts. 🙂

        But yeah, on the weekends he’s probably up with the roosters or some such.



      1. Thanks for the link – I essentially have two websites; Pubs Then and Now for my pub/canal pictures and Photo Digital Art for my arty pictures.

        It was a pleasure to meet Martin and Mudgie after years of internet communication. It was also good to meet the other intrepid pub crawlers…something I hadn’t done for years

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Birmingham is a much nicer city than many people realise…it has come on in leaps and bounds in the 40 years I’ve lived here. Currently it is undergoing another major redevelopment…so I often say to new visitors, “It’ll be nice when it’s finished”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It must be said, though, that the city centre was redeveloped in a particularly insensitive and brutal way in the 60s and 70s so, while there are some attractive parts, much of it is pretty unappealing.

        Plus, going back forty years, the city’s pubs were an effective duopoly of Ansells and M&B (with a handful of Davenports) so there was little to excite the beer enthusiast.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Some people prefer “perfect” cities and towns like Venice or Stamford. I prefer a bit of grit of industrial grit and imperfection, which is what you get in Stockport and Brum.


  4. Birmingham’s a fantastic place, and has great pubs, though I would say that. I liked the Red Lion much more than expected, and it’s probably the best Hockley pub to visit, except maybe the Black Eagle (which is a bit far out for walking, right on the edge of Hockley, but near the Metro).

    Less keen on the Rose Villa Tavern, myself. Don’t like the modern touches with otherwise a glorious building, and it can get a bit hipster, but that’s the JQ for you.

    The Lord Clifden is nicer than you’d think, and also The Church,

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s