Solihull often comes in for a bit of stick on this blog so don’t assume this post will be any different. Many an evening in my youth was spent in Rosie’s Nightclub or The Snooty Fox/Mason’s Arms/Byron’s or Shades Wine Bar, none of which have particularly pubby credentials.
Actually, that’s unfair The Masons Arms is a proper pub and is the sole survivor on the High Street these days.
(Not the Masons)
However, the advent of Touchwood Shopping Centre – in the nineties – meant a glut of even more chain pubs and whilst I know Mudgie, The Wickingman and Mark Shirley like to hit nightclubs till all hours, I am definitely a pub man these days.
So, a recent trip to the town of my birth to watch The Wonderstuff roll back the years at
The Dome The Academy saw me bookend a Christmas shopping trip with a couple of pub stop offs.
First up was 508 – Yates Solihull B91 3AD which is the old Council House building on Poplar Way, and a fairly imposing sight it is as well.
It used to be part of Tim Martin’s global empire when he thought Solihull needed two Wetherspoons but his cull saw The Assembly Rooms, as it was known change hands to the new CAMRA approved Wetherspoons, Stonegate.
Now they are dishing out vouchers to compete with Wetherspoons so they have changed the format of Yates’s wine bars, as they once were, to a more earthy chain of pubs known as Yates.
I say earthy, I mean that by Solihull standards of course as this would be an upmarket boozer of the highest order in Whitwick.
It’s open from 9am till either midnight or 2am every day so has many guises including late night DJ venue…however, in the daytime it tends to be a place for all Solihull society to drink/eat and watch live sport on the multitude of screens dotted about the pub.
I didn’t venture upstairs but it is more of the same and it really is an impressive building of the high ceilings variety. There were young couples with toddlers, groups of lads, groups of girls and people on their own across the whole age range so Yates is morphing into the new Wetherspoons in a damascene style conversion.
I had a choice of IPA (Greene King) or IPA (Greene King) and working on the old adage that less is more, I had a £2.45 pint of decent beer.
Martin Keown was waffling on in the background after arguably the Premier League’s dullest game of the season and there was plenty of human traffic in this boozer to see that it is going to find a niche in the market.
An hour or so later after braving Mell Square I managed to pop into 509 – The Beech House B91 3DA, which will always be known as The Golden Lion to Silhillians of a certain age.
Along with the Saddlers Arms (now The Tap and Tandoor), this was a popular boozer on the Warwick Road and I always remember it was the place that served Hofmeister!
Anyway it bit the dust as the Lion in 2000 and has had a succession of monikers since such as Bar Co, Town House and the Lazy Cow before Oakman Inns took it over in 2015.
They’ve got a roster of pubs and a quite a few versions of The Beech House in some of Martin’s favourite drinking haunts such as Amersham and Beaconsfield and he did challenge me to check this place out on one of his visits to Solihull back in 2018 – It sums up the town perfectly and you can read it here.
It is a pub, but very much a Solihull pub; nonetheless, it’s usually full so they are giving the punters what they want.
As is often the case in this town, I bumped into an old pal who I hadn’t seen for a decade and had a cracking hour in here whilst enjoying a couple of crisp, chewy pints of Mad Goose (Purity).
Although the news that Purity are now providing a match day beer for A**** Villa may mean a fine in future for any bloggers who drink their (very good) beer!
I left just as Hull had taken the lead against Blues – one for Si there – and the place was heaving. It’s very much a restaurant one side and a pub the other, with scope to eat anywhere.
It won’t feature on any ‘essential/classic must visit pub guides’ any time soon but it felt pub like and the atmosphere was great and the beer good and at £4 a pint, not comedy gold prices.
Whisper it quietly, but I actually enjoyed both boozers. I must be feeling the Christmas spirit.
Merry Christmas Everybody!