Coopers Tavern

Staffordshire - Burton upon Trent

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: Not listed

43 Cross Street
Burton upon Trent
DE14 1EG

OS ref: SK245231

Tel: (01283) 567246

Real ale & Cider: Real Ale and Real Cider

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Burton-on-Trent) and Bus Stop

View on: Whatpub

This remarkable pub is famous for being the former Bass brewery tap. It began life as an overflow store for special malts for the brewery and by 1826 was the repository for Bass's Imperial Stout, after which senior members of the brewery began using it as their private pub. Licensing as a public house followed in 1858 but the back area remained the fiefdom of the select few until about 1950, the hoi polloi being served at a hatch between this 'cellar' and the passage beyond. Now anyone can drink there, perching on three benches or in a raised area in the corner; within the same space a large variety of beers and other drinks are stored, creating a drinking environment like no other. A large lounge occupies the front of the building, the two types of quarry-tiles suggesting it may once have been two separate rooms; it has old benches and the bell-pushes still work. The snug (front left) is a recent creation sculpted out of private quarters.

In a sympathetic refurbishment in 2017 a bar counter was added for the first time in one of two newly added small rooms.

This remarkable pub is included here for having a tap room where you can sit with casks of beer stillaged alongside you making the Coopers Tavern one of the most precious surviving pubs in the whole of the UK.

It is famous for being the former Bass brewery tap. It began life as an overflow store for special malts for the brewery and by 1826 was the repository for Bass's Imperial Stout, after which senior members of the brewery began using it as their private pub. Licensing as a public house followed in 1858 but the back area remained the fiefdom of the select few until about 1950, the hoi polloi being served at a hatch between this 'cellar' and the passage beyond. Now anyone can drink there or in another four small rooms – two having been added in a sympathetic refurbishment in 2017 when a bar counter was added for the first time in one of the new rooms.

Access is via a Staffordshire blue brick passage between Cross Street and Milton Street, which has outside gents' and ladies accessed off it. The tap room has changed little in many years with a tiled floor (modern replacement). Prior to the mid 20th century the current bar/servery was an inner private bar and all but the chosen few were served from a (now removed) hatch door between the cellar and the passageway. It has a door with the figure '4' on it indicating there were three other rooms in use in the past. The brick thralls, that hold a row of casks, were replaced sometime mid 20th century with the similar arrangements now seen. In recent years it has been topped off by stainless steel. You can stand just inside the tap room to order your drinks including a large range of real ales served straight from the cask on a concrete thrall in one wing of the L shaped bar. There is a tiny shelf constructed from coopered staves to place the drinks as they are served and is a recent addition (possibly late 1990s).

If not already occupied, you can sit perched up two steps in the rear left hand corner on bare L-shaped old wall bench seating with the back / panelling recently painted dark brown in a very tiny area with terrazzo tiled floor. You can also sit on three benches around five wooden casks used as tables. One of the benches sits in front of a large exterior door (no longer in use). Within the same space is a large variety of beer casks with cooling jackets and other drinks are stored, creating a drinking environment like no other; there are also a number of handpumps The gas heater hanging from the ceiling still works but is no longer used.

Shelving above the casks is of various ages - the shelving above the stillage was added in 2002/3 - and recently painted dark brown as is an old glass fronted small display cabinet. There are some old bar back shelving near the small shelf for your drinks. Old Bass etc. mirrors have recently been moved so on the walls now are a large modern ‘Joules Brewery of Market Drayton’ mirror.

On the Cross Street end of the building the original second room has two types of quarry-tiles and two fireplaces implying it was two small rooms at one time, but may only one since it became a pub room. At the front is an old wood surround fireplace with a later cast-iron interior and coal fire. To the left of the fireplace is a bare wall bench painted dark brown and there is dado panelling on the right hand side. A series of old benches still with their original makers labels "B Goodall House Furnisher Upholsterer & Removal Contractor 12 & 13 Uxbridge Street, Burton-on-Trent', a small cast-iron fireplace, the odd bell push that still work and two 'Salt's' mirrors.

Modern double doors lead to the front left hand room, which was a private living room until c.1990 when it became the third room. It has old red tiled floor, an old wood surround fireplace (recently shotblasted) with a modern cast-iron interior but not in use.

What was formerly a kitchen has been turned into a small public room and a bar installed with a front painted dark brown and wooden top and also some modern shelving; some dado panelling is painted dark brown. A tiny former living room has been turned into an excellent new very small room with a black and red tiled floor and some dado panelling painted dark brown There is an old looking brick fireplace used for storing logs with wall benches either side – room for one on the right hand side and for two on the left hand side. There is a doorway from the room with the bar counter and a split door to the front left hand room.

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