Classic Canal Pubs #1: The Swan At Fradley Junction

This proposed canal tour of the Midlands with Pete and Mudgie is gathering pace after comments on my last post.

A fairly middle of the road canalside boozer in Branston sparked off the possibility and Stockport’s finest has virtually organised an itinerary of Stourbridge and Dudley canals with Pete as our less than sober helmsman.

(not Pete’s boat)

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Of course, half the fun of #publife is making plans that don’t always come to fruition and many an idea was hatched in a bar that drifted, along a canal if you like, before disappearing until the next time.

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Nonetheless, I am optimistic this will happen and the clincher will be if Pete promises to run a late night quiz at the nearest Ember Inn to a canal…

So, sticking with the canal theme, I visited an absolute classic last month that has won approval from none other than  Colston Crawford.

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410 – The Swan DE13 7DN is a classic in its genre and Derbyshire’s beer guru waxes lyrical about it here.

It’s a real hive of boating activity as it sits on Fradley Junction, which is where the Trent & Mersey Canal and the Coventry Canal meet at the Alrewas equivalent of New Street Station.

(one of those new filter pictures I know you all love)

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Everards, who I like as both brewers and pub owners, revived this place seven years ago and it was in fantastic form when I visited.

It’s apparently been here since the 1770’s and it was packed at 5pm on a Monday with a real mixed bag of a crowd.  There were punters outside overlooking this busy stretch of canal, two rooms inside were also full whilst the beer garden out the back had some real hardcore boat owners talking about the boozers and stretches of water in the Midlands.

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There was another room downstairs but food wasn’t on at that time, so it was empty but I suspect it fills up too as this place is a gem.

I spoke to the gaffer, who was a Brummie and he had been running it for two years and was making a real go of things and the beer was absolute nectar.

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Plum Porter was on but I opted for a top drop of Suffragette (Everards) which was a outstanding and watched the world go by on some quirky seating that really suited this place.

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If you can imagine what an old school canalside boozer should be then you’re probably thinking of this place.

Of course, I’ll be suggesting to Pete we try out Mudgie’s route as there will be far more pubs on it and a lot less actual navigating yet this is arguably the best canal pub I’ve been to since I started blogging…



23 thoughts on “Classic Canal Pubs #1: The Swan At Fradley Junction

  1. It was Mother’s Day when my daughter, the grandkids, dog and I took a stroll down the canal from Alrewas to look in at the Swan. It was bunged, they were turning over food and drink like nobody’s business. It’s always a good sign, I think, when the staff are coping calmly and cheerfully with being that busy… and that was the case here. I didn’t have to wait long to get served when it looked like that might be the case. There were boating locals whose drinks the staff knew on sight but no favouritism in the serving. Hugely impressed. Everard’s Old Original was as good as I remember it from the 80s, although it will be welcome if/when Everard’s get their own brewery again.
    The Swan’s a gem… I missed the cellar bar though…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a perfect description as there were definitely locals as well as tourists when I visited. Hopefully Everard’s will brew again at this giant new plant they are building. I like their ethos and the keg tiger in blue bell Melbourne is a great seller!


  2. The Swan at Fradley is a pub we’ve visited many times over the years and, although it is a great pub, the service over the years has been variable (to say the least!)

    The last few times we’ve been there (not catalogued in my blog – above) it has been very good, but it will be a while before we return having moved our moorings from Kings Bromley to Napton in Warwickshire!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Possibly the last place I enjoyed a pint of Aston brewed Ansell’s Mild, sat on a bench outside watching novices struggle with the adjacent locks, lovely place.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pub looks pukkah but I’d be cruising past to the next one if it’s Everard’s, who you incorrectly term ‘a brewer’. As others point out, they currently do not brew any beer, none of the beers badged as ‘Everard’s are brewed by them, instead they have it contract brewed for them by several other breweries. It’s been a while since the old brewery was sold with little or no evidence of brewing starting up at another site.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hang on my old Yorkshire mukka I’m not having that. Good beers when kept well ..project William pubs are impressive… brewery currently outsourced due to redevelopment which will happen… currently using Belvoir and Robinson’s brewery who are both British so helping our economy 👍🍻 you’d be missing a trick if you cruised past this one…


      1. Like I say pub looks decent, but Everards? Fake Beer; deception. It’s a bit like the urine sketch in Likely Lads when Bob gets locked up OPL and put in the same cell as Terry who deceptively provides the sample – turns out Bob had more to drink. In the simplest terms it wasn’t Bob’s piss and there was a moral element to the tale.

        I did think that Everards proliferation of PW pubs is a clear statement that IF they ever start brewing again, it will be on a much smaller scale.

        When they do actually brew I’ll try their beer not until. Thankfully there are options in PW pubs

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, Project William is Everards redeeming feature. Like I mentioned, using small brewers like this suggests to me they aren’t going to return to large scale production of their own beers.


      3. Fake Beer? Surely, Everards developed the beers and owns the recipes, so as long as they are brewed to the same quality control standards, why does it matter in what location they are actually brewed?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That sounds like a perfectly rational explanation to me 👍 it’s like following the C86 indie chart in NME avidly and if any band got mainstream they were sacked off for being too commercial…which makes no sense at all🍻👍

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ll play devil’s advocate.. advocate (?) here (probably to my regret).

        I can see both sides (i.e. Richard and those against).

        Many years ago, when I was still a big Guinness fan, I made the mistake of buying a case of Guinness made in Canada (brewed under license by Molson’s but – since it had to conform to Canadian brewing laws – it was (and still is) awful). We had a bit of a contretemps over here a few years ago when Kokanee brewing company continued to use the saying “Glacier Fresh”; even though, since they were purchased by Labatt’s, some of the beer was now being brewed thousands of miles from any bloody glacier water!

        On the other hand, my favourite beer, a bitter from Russell Brewing (no relation) is now brewed two time zones away due to the brewer’s popularity and expansion. Mind you, this has led to an increase in price as well as decrease in bottle size (!) so I now don’t buy it on a regular basis (still good though).

        Bottom line, in all of this rambling, is if they follow the recipe and adhere to the quality control it shouldn’t make a difference.
        (although tradition counts for something) 😉


        Liked by 1 person

      6. Don’t encourage him Russ!!! Yes, I agree as long as the beer tastes good then, to be honest, as long as it is still employing people in GB and using same recipe I don’t have a major issue whatsoever. I think you should bid for Russell Brewing!


  5. “with Pete as our less than sober helmsman”

    He did say that there’s no drink/drive laws with regards to being on the canal. 🙂

    “and many an idea was hatched in a bar that drifted, along a canal if you like”

    (slow golf clap)

    “and the clincher will be if Pete promises to run a late night quiz at the nearest Ember Inn to a canal”


    “that has won approval from none other than Colston Crawford.”

    High praise indeed.

    “(one of those new filter pictures I know you all love)”

    I think you’re trying to make it look like Plum Porter. 😉

    “with a real mixed bag of a crowd”

    It sure sounds like it!

    “Plum Porter was on ”

    Hah! See my comment on your filtering. 🙂

    “yet this is arguably the best canal pub I’ve been to since I started blogging…”

    More high praise there.


    Liked by 1 person

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