Something Old…Something New: Digbeth Part 2

I know Citra and Paul WME visited this place last week too so I won’t be the first blogger to report on the gem that is 682 – The White Swan B12 0QY

Like many big cities Brum has been guilty of letting some of its classic buildings fall into disrepair and then raise them to the ground… The Eagle And Tun is a prime example – read here.

However, in another of those ‘Phoenix From The Flames‘ style stories The White Swan in Digbeth has been resurrected by two blokes who know a thing or two about running pubs.

Will Young, who runs The Woodman – that classic Victorian Lister & Lea boozer next to (the soon to be resurrected) Curzon Street Station – is on the case.  Joining him is Nigel Barker who is head honcho at The Wellington, a Brum alehouse institution.

 Like a lot of Digbeth, it is ‘under renovation’ so the walk along Bradford Street, at the back of the coach station, is colourful or edgy, depending on your outlook.

There is no denying that this is a classic building though as Lister and Lea built it for Ansells in 1900 and it is a glorious sight of  stained glass throughout, Terracotta on the outside and Minton Tiles indoors with the old adage “they don’t make them like that anymore,” very applicable here.

It’s been shut for two years and the big skip out the front tells you there is still plenty of work to do in the surrounding areas. SevenCapital have spent the last 11 years proposing to build a big development so there is apparently no rush…

However, they must recognise the value of this pub. With so many closing in Digbeth in recent years, this is an absolute winner and there is even talk of them building a beer garden once the much vaunted Connaught Square development begins…so expect some tables and chairs around 2030.

It was just after 3pm when I walked in the place just oozes pubbery. 

A dartboard tops it all off and the barmaid was friendly and chatty, the Best Bitter (Hobson’s) was in terrific nick and there was a good atmosphere with around ten other punters inside.

The bar itself is terrific and I hope this place is well used as it is another sign of Digbeth holding onto its past whilst moving with the times.

At the other end of the spectrum is 683 – Halton Turner Tap Room B5 5NL. You’ll find this tucked away in Trent Street opposite a dance club and it is one to rival the Dig Brew Company Tap House nearby.

It’s under the many arches in the backstreets of Digbeth and is a good move for them. 

They initially started brewing in Hall Green but there is probably more space an definitely more punters in Digbeth…

…so putting your brewery and taproom here makes commercial sense.

Cask or Keg,

this was perfect Middle England

and kid/dog friendly. It was very much ‘new Digbeth’ and was full, so will capture the new market perfectly.

I had some top class craft murk and a pint of Ghost Town (Halton Turner),

which was excellent and this is a venue that is only going to become more popular.

From Victorian splendour to Tap Rooms under the arches, Digbeth is becoming the ‘go to’ destination in Brum and I know just how trendy my readership is – get yourself there Dave!

15 thoughts on “Something Old…Something New: Digbeth Part 2

  1. Thanks for this post, The White Swan was pub 10 and the final one of my visit to Brum last Friday, with the effects of being pub 10 and train departure time rapidly closing in, the pub didn’t get as much attention from me as it deserved, this is a good memory jogger. As it happened we missed the train anyway.

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  2. Beermat I have some great (albeit vague) memories of The White Swan following inevitable defeats at St Andrews. One such night was spent in the small room at the back and was brought to an abrupt an untimely end following an ill advised game of human bumper cars between two of my mates. I think the mismatch in size (think Simon Sturridge against Kevin Francis) was the main contributing factor as unsurprisingly Studga took a tumble and hit his head on the iron leg of a table. A trip to A & E and the inevitable dressing down from the landlady was the unfortunate conclusion. Thankfully there was no long term damage bar a banning of that particular post match activity !!

    Your love of The Specials made your choice of beer in the second pub reassuringly predictable. Another one I intend to visit in the very near future.

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  3. Whilst the beer is clearly not the most important aspect of the White Swan, it’s great to hear there’s a steady beery hand at the tiller now. A truly great pub let down by some very poor beer last couple of times I was in there. Shame, the landlady was lovely too, just not enough demand for the tired Bonks’s. Hopefully the reputation of the new gaffers will attract enough beer drinkers to make the difference.

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  4. Greetings Beermat, it was great to see the White Swan again myself earlier this month even if I didn’t get overly cavalier about drinking the ales. Have to agree as regards the improvement in beer quality too, my Blackheath Stout was superb. Nick and I found Halton Turner almost accidentally on the same day and were very impressed. Cheers, Paul

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    1. Of course! Remiss of me not to mention this as I read it in your top class Shirley post….I’ll need to get up early to beat you WME although I suspect you’d enjoy The Fountain Inn after it’s refurb…I think if you walk around Digbeth for long enough tap houses just appear from nowhere! 😃

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