A trip to Tile Hill back in the nineties was probably not for the faint hearted. Apart from the odd foray into Balsall Common and Meriden, Coventry pubs have been conspicuous by their absence on the blog.
One of my work colleagues back in the nineties, who was a Coventrian himself, would describe Tile Hill as ‘Bandit territory’ when we used to weave our way through it towards the A45 on regular jaunts to Northampton. This may well have been some ‘inter-suburb banter’ but his message was clear enough – have a drink somewhere else!
Twenty five years on and it’s still close to leafy areas such as Burton Green and the aforementioned Balsall Common but there have been big changes.
The iconic Massey Ferguson building has long since gone and been replaced by housing and the imposing Maxims casino has also bitten the dust and is, ironically, being used as a church.
I suspect Coventry, like the rest of the Midlands, has lost a lot of those pubs from the nineties but it always seemed to do big roadside pubs better than most other areas.
(Tile Hill shopping centre to the right…)
Big boozers are its speciality so I was glad to see that Tile Hill still has a decent sized one in its centre.
355 – Bell Inn CV4 9HS has actually been given heritage asset status by Coventry city council and there has been a pub listed on this site since 1851.
This incidentally, is the last time Coventry City owned their stadium or won a major trophy. Actually, that’s not strictly true and who can forget the ‘Gary Mabbutt own goal’ FA Cup Final of 1987 and this boozer hasn’t as the Sky Blues victorious team is pictured in the bar.
Actually, apart from me and one other bloke in the bar, it was quiet but there was lots of noise in the lounge, Coventrians always like to be different!
(large group just out of shot on left)
However, considering it is around 2pm on a Monday then there is a reasonable crowd in and a large group of 50/60/70 somethings are making their presence felt in the lounge.
Unconfirmed rumours that it was a subversive day out for the Beer and Pubs Forum have yet to be substantiated.
One of the group was leaving with a walking frame and he was getting plenty of stick with one particular sage warning him not to hit the accelerator button otherwise he’d end up in Canley!
It’s listed on Whatpub as being a Mitchells and Butlers boozer but that’s not the case as it’s changed hands to Milton Pubs and Taverns (a new one on me) but the menu didn’t appear to have any food over £8 so it is clearly playing to the fact it is a local and the atmosphere was excellent.
No signs of any bandits; it was a gentle pace of life with sky sports all around. And plenty of people drinking a variety of different drinks.
I had an IPA (Greene King) which came in at £2.45 but after the barmaid had deducted my 70 pence parking charge it cost me £1.75 which is Wetherspoonsesque (if there is such a word).
Food is on the agenda but this place, which had a huge lounge, did feel as though it was set up for drinking as opposed to dining.
However, one of the bonuses of a quiet bar means you can have the run of the place to take some photos and tick off your checklist for traditional boozers.
Pool table – check,
dart board – check, bench seating – check, jukebox – check,
fruit machines – check, sky sports – check, beermats – check, carpet that only trad pubs seem to have – check,
boxing style memorabilia on the walls – check, football team picture on the walls – check, (Wasps don’t seem to have had the same impact in Tile Hill) barstools – check, Six Nations Flags on the ceiling in February – check.
A good solid pub with a good core of friendly locals, decent priced beer and food, lots of chimney pots in close proximity and on bus routes and near to the train station.
Hopefully the Bell Inn can keep its tills ringing for many years to come.