Ember Inns Are Solihull Saviours #1 The Fieldhouse

I can confirm that the opening picture hasn’t been superimposed from Derby but is in fact a pub on the edge of Solihull centre selling a chalkboard of cask ale.

With a Yates’, Slug & Lettuce, TGI Friday’s and Walkabout, amongst others then it really is an oasis of dross with one or two rays of sunshine.

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There is good news as The Indian Brewery are opening their second boozer next month in the town after the success of their bar by Snow Hill Station in Brum so maybe the outlook is brighter.

If you head towards North Solihull and East Birmingham then it looks even less appealing for ale/craft but there are some classic earthy boozers.

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Villages such as Knowle, Hockley Heath and Balsall Common are worth a visit but, in general, this part of the world is Carling and Guinness and none the worse for it in the suburbs.

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So, with all that context, Ember Inns are absolute godsends.  That’s the kind of sentence I don’t think I’d hear many pub bloggers say (although the late great Alan Winfield was a big fan of The Hollybrook in Littleover) but this part of the world is different.

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As Martin discovered in his top notch blog most Ember Inns in this part of the world are local boozers that just happen to sell food.

So, it was good to see that 336 – The Fieldhouse B91 3JU still had the feel of a local boozer when I visited on a Monday afternoon.  It’s on the Monkspath estate which is an extension of Solihull centre really and mushroomed in the eighties and is now huge!

(locals play cards)

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As befits a big housing estate, albeit a relatively smart affluent one, it has a big old pub and this sprung up at about the same time although it used to be known as The Chequers.

Another bonus of Ember Inns is that they are open all day…and with two hours to kill before picking up from a pantomime this was the perfect way to spend at least an hour of it.

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The barman tried his best with the Sunbeam (Banks’s) but it had gone so I had very decent pint of Landlord (Timothy Taylor’s) and watched the world go by with my crossword.

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I did note that a couple of the old boys were drinking John Smith’s before indulging in some proper Whitwick style wordsmith behaviour and the Guinness and Carling were also selling well but it doesn’t matter what people drink…it is the people who make a pub.

Like The Red Lion in Knowle, The Olton Tavern in Olton and I suspect The Woodmans Rest and Colebrook (both in Solihull), this place is a locals pub.

(disappointed I missed this – not for Mudgie though!)

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With limited pub stock, people adapt and this part of greater Birmingham like their pubs to be open all day and go along for the craic rather than the food.

sdr

Pete’s blog covers Ember Inns far better than I do  and I know he regularly hosts quizzes at another Ember inn – The Bulls Head – in Hall Green.

Would I go here again? Absolutely.  I could go with the BB family or happy to along with some pals for a few pints as this place gets quite lively of an evening.

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A Monday afternoon in early January isn’t peak pub time but I had to queue for a pint and there was a good turnover of people eating and drinking.

Nice to see Mitchells & Butlers boozers serving their local community once again!

14 thoughts on “Ember Inns Are Solihull Saviours #1 The Fieldhouse

  1. If Ember Inns give people what they want they surely they must be good? And, from your pen picture, isn’t this the modern estate pub for the modern estate. Giving people what they want on their doorstep. I’d be more than happy with a choice of Proper Job or Landlord. Going forward, the only problem I foresee with this type of place is the constant need for it to reinvent itself. It can’t let itself go shabby and needs constant refreshment or people will get bored, go elsewhere, and the pub will become seedy. I don’t see this as a pub problem, more the fickle nature of modern people constantly searching for further amusement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re correct about the need for re-fits but the operators plan for it and a bit like shopfitting the look is more substantial than the reality. Compare to an old pub where any refit is going to be very expensive.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think the expected life span of the entire place is only about 20 years. Friends in the construction industry tell me you can buy them off plan, just obtain the plot and there permissions. This one looks suspiciously like many others you will see across the UK, not necessarily Ember neither.

        And isn’t that where the cheap refurb of the traditional pub falls flat on its face. Just tarting it up around the edges with the latest shade of paint and style of decor which seems to go out of trend so much faster than what was there before. This is one area where Sam Smith’s get it right. Okay the refry may only come once every 25 years (longer in some cases) but when they do it they do it right.

        The costs involved are currently driving the micro pubs. Essentially a pub for minimal capital outlay, decent beer (usually) and proving that a certain cohort of people will put up with spartan conditions to drink in a place that accords with their pre-conceptions.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. When they started out, Ember Inns did regulr refurbs every 3 – 4 years, but in the current economic climate they’ve slowed the pace on redecoration and refurbishment. I was discussing this with the gaffer of the Bull’s Head last Tuesday which currently looks ‘lived in’ but not yet shabby. To me, that’s the key for getting it right by not letting a place become grubby.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never actually been to the Fieldhouse, but it does run a very popular quiz (boo! hiss!…lol!)

    Birmingham is the ‘home’ of Ember Inns and I believe that the Bull’s Head in Hall Green (where I’ve been doing my Tuesday quiz for 18 years!) was the first one. In this region, the model was to turn suburban two-room boozers into something a bit more upmarket. The first incarnation made them more like wine bars, but they’ve progressed into comfortable pubs that do food – one step down from M&B’s Vintage Inns – but still pubs.

    I’ve been known to frequent several of them around here and I’d categorise them as a good safe bet for drink and food, but they’ll never win any awards for originality!

    I was in the Country Girl (Selly Oak) last night, but I’ve also been known to frequent the Selly Park Tavern, The Green Man (Harborne), Woodman’s Rest (Shirley – Weds quiz), The Colebrook (Shirley – ex Thurs quiz), Olton Tavern (Thurs quiz now), Red Lion (Knowle)…I think that’s enough Ember Inns for now (or even a lifetime!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “but is in fact a pub on the edge of Solihull centre selling a chalkboard of cask ale.”

    Love the concept of showing what’s always on; what’s on for the time being; and what’s waiting in the wings. 🙂

    “TGI Friday’s”

    Good lord. You have those over there?

    “most Ember Inns in this part of the world are local boozers that just happen to sell food.”

    I agree that’s better than the other way round. 🙂

    “it is the people who make a pub.”

    (nods)

    “(disappointed I missed this – not for Mudgie though!)”

    I think I recognise almost every album pictured.

    “I could go with the BB family or happy to along with some pals for a few pints as this place gets quite lively of an evening.”

    Quite the broad appeal then.

    “Nice to see Mitchells & Butlers boozers serving their local community once again!”

    And a diverse portfolio to boot.

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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