If, like me, the retro scene is your bag then hurry up and get yourself down the 156 – The Red Lion B90 3AX in case it changes any time soon as it’s a cracking pub.
To be fair to Shirley’s most recognisable boozer, it’s near neighbour Solihull has a pretty average selection of proper boozers at best, so The Red Lion stands out like a sore thumb.
It was rebuilt in 1965 and looks suspiciously like it was built in the John Madin Brutalist style that permeated Birmingham and the suburbs in the sixties and seventies and has subsequently nearly all been demolished in Birmingham City centre.
The Lion keeps on chugging along almost oblivious to all the changes around it although the gleaming new Parkgate development just across the Stratford Road has probably had an impact on trade.
Nothing to do with the shops, but the fact that JD Wetherspoon have built a gargantuan boozer literally over the road called The Pump House, which is arguably attracting a similar clientele to the Lion.
I know that nothing ever lasts forever like Minder, The Sweeney, Grange Hill and space hoppers but I sincerely hope this pub fights off any sweeping changes proposed by Solihull MBC under the guise of progress.
It’s been in this spot since 1751 and is a ‘proper’ local on the Main road in a big suburb of Birmingham. The Shirley Folk Club still operate out of the back room (http://www.shirley-folk-club.org.uk/) and it has that classic look often described by https://twitter.com/oldmudgie of bench style seating that has been replaced by many modern bars with ‘high chairs.’
(proper pub seating to the left of a proper pub menu!)
I rolled up at about 1.30 on a Monday afternoon and was clearly the youngest person in here by about 20 years. No problem whatsoever with that as Elton John & Kiki Dee’s 70’s smash was playing in the background (followed by Queen and Dire Straits to stay with the seventies theme) but it leaves me wondering about who is going to replace these punters in the next few years…
Nonetheless, there were plenty of people tucking into pub grub and the menus were a glorious throwback whilst the beer was outstanding.
Not quite seventies prices but £2.75 for a pint of Top Totty (Slater’s) is great value. I noted the Slater’s pump clip was definitely of the seventies variety as opposed to the newer version and due to current changes I didn’t take a picture of the pump clip.
It describes itself as “A stunning blonde beer, full bodied with a voluptuous aroma,” so I’ll leave you to work it out.
(Fake news – it’s not Thatcher’s)
The pub banter was in full flow as the only other person under 60 in the pub – the barman – was shuffling around and was met with the line “What’s the matter with you son, have you got gout?” He was then asked what cobs they had and after reeling off cheese or ham as the options the reply he got was “have you got a sweaty one.”
There are live bands on too with a Small Faces tribute on the agenda (more sixties than seventies but what a fantastic voice Steve Marriott had) and whilst there were no televisions on show there were banners advertising forthcoming sports events and they also had free WiFi so the 21st century has been welcomed in some respects.
I’m not sure there are enough people in the generation beneath me who will support a place like this, but it would be a crying shame if The Red Lion couldn’t carry on in its current guise. It’s a ‘locals’ pub as there are plenty of chimney pots off the Stratford Road (A34) to make this within walking distance for many potential punters.
Everyone was friendly enough when I was in there and, for 1.30 on a Monday afternoon, there were around 25 people in, which isn’t too bad at all.
If you’re ever in Shirley then this should be on every PUB (Pub Union of Bloggers) member’s bucket list. The beer’s nectar and it ticks every box on what a ‘proper pub’ should be.