Quintessential Britain: Hampton In Arden

You left me at a pukka pub in Etwall as I completed the quartet of boozers in this Derbyshire suburb.

Derby and its surrounding villages are often ‘overpubbed’ which is a rarity in 2019 and very often contain some old school crackers that are well worth making the effort.

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Contrast that with Solihull and you have a good sized town in the West Midlands, once dubbed the most desirable place to live in England by the Daily Mail, with a selection of complete dross.

Popworld, Yates’s, TGI Friday’s, Slug & Lettuce and O’Neill’s are about your lot although a Wetherspoons, a couple of (new) craft desi pub/restaurants and one old school M&B pub on the High Street offer a bit of light relief.

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Basically, for a population of over 210,000 punters in the Metropolitan borough of Solihull it is the Midlands’ answer to Maidenhead for boozers.

But, if you travel into the surrounding villages then there is light at the end of the tunnel with Knowle, Dorridge, Cheswick Green, Barston, Balsall Common and Shirley all offering some decent village pubs along with Olton for a selection of estate style boozers.

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And, in even closer proximity to the town centre is Hampton In Arden where I found another classic piece of Middle England with the perfect village pub.

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480 – White Lion B92 0AA is a thriving place that should be Brunning & Price but is actually a magnificent pub and in the GBG this year.

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Rather disappointingly it has a train station and a bus route along with normal opening hours so there should be no dramas for our intrepid trio of GBG tickers when they head into this village of just over 1,000 punters.

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Martin will be delighted to see lots of grown men in shorts and, in true middle Britain Dick Emery style fashion, there was a vicar in the back room necking a beer and watching sport on the TV!

It’s an all things to all men kind of place with plenty of food on offer but once you get past L- part of the L-shaped lounge it feels very much like a proper drinker’s pub.

(some maps for Martin)

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I was there at around 5:30 on a Saturday and whilst it was by no means full I reckon it was warming up ahead of the evening slot and it’s a handsome place dating back to the 17th Century.

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An old boy was waxing lyrical about how Brian Clough should have managed England (there’s no escaping Cloughie, even in Birmingham territory) and a couple were knocking back drinks at a fair rate of knots and a bloke with luminous green shorts came in and looked as though he would be there for a while…..

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The beer was magnificent and the barmaid gave me a taster of the Elgood’s and the Hobsons but there was only one winner and the Best Bitter (Hobsons) was absolute nectar.

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Solihull CAMRA are clearly making good choices but then again, with so few to choose from, it is about on a par with Scotland for cask.

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However, if you avoid the town centre and head into the outliers then there is ale aplenty and if you can imagine a quintessential English pub in middle Britain then this is it.

21 thoughts on “Quintessential Britain: Hampton In Arden

  1. Back in 1982, that was my local! I shared a house with a bloke who lived just around the corner. I was only there for about six months as I was trying to get money together to buy my own place. Even then, Hampton-in-Arden was out of my price range – that’s how I ended up in Stirchley. I don’t remember much more about it other than it being an M&B pub and us being vacuumed around well after closing time as a hint that we should leave!

    Years passed and I didn’t think much more about it until a few years ago when I came upon this story – https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/drinker-barredso-he-bought-the-pub-21600 – The man in that picture was my landlord in 1982 and he’d bought the pub in 2006! I have no idea what happened after that, but I’m fairly sure he isn’t still the owner!

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  2. Not sure I’ll be inclined to swap the Black Country for Solihull anytime soon but the White Lion is a good pub and Hobsons is a brewery I rate highly (nice to see the Banks’s Mild making an appearance in posh places too). I vaguely recall the White Lion having a French vibe one of the times I went, possibly due to someone having an unnverving obsession with Gerard Depardieu. Definitely agree that the best Solihull boozers are anywhere but the town centre! Cheers, Paul

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    1. Are you sure it wasn’t Gordon Kaye? Yep, definitely agree there isn’t a lot for the beer connoisseur to get excited about in central Solihull and if I had a few quid I would definitely set up something there…..

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  3. 210k population? That would make it the 4th biggest place in Scotland. No wonder Moors are flying high! Think you will need written permission from Martin in advance if you are planning any future GBG visits.

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    1. I was using the greater Manchester style analogy which hoovers up any town or suburb in close proximity! I lived in Balsall Common which had a CV postcode but was swallowed up by Solihull and all of NEC and probably Coleshill comes under the umbrella…. apparently I’m going to have to book an appointment for any future GBG outings 😉🍻

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      1. The same is true of Stockport – the town itself has a population of 136k, but the Metropolitan Borough 285k. However, I’d guess that, historically, Stockport is a much larger town than Solihull. Wikipedia says that, in 1901, the population of Solihull was a mere 7,500, hence the dearth of pubs.

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      2. Yes it’s definitely growing all the time with the Monkspath and hillfield estates adding a huge amount of houses. As a 20 year old it was a good night out but in terms of good boozers you are spot on

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