Hare & Hounds

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West Midlands - Birmingham

Three star - A pub interior of exceptional national historic importance

Listed Status: II

106 High Street
Birmingham, Kings Heath
B14 7JZ

Tel: (0121) 444 2081

Email: info@hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk

Website https://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HareandHoundskingsheath

Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Public Transport: Near Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This prominent corner-site pub had been sadly abused by the mid-1980s but still deserves recognition for some spectacular tiling and other specific features. It was rebuilt in 1907 under architect Samuel Owen of Owen & Ward for the Holt Brewery. What really counts is the abundant tiling by Maw & Co. of Jackfield, Shropshire. Best seen in the staircase-hall on the York Road side, this extends from floor to ceiling and right up the stairs and into a corridor. Stylistically it might be described as Moorish meets Art Nouveau. A special feature in the dado is Maw’s tube-lining technique in which areas of colour are separated by thin ribbons of clay. Above, with floral motifs, are creamy green tiles broken by strips of flower forms. The public bar is now one L-shaped room, but until 1983 there was a series of separate spaces. The double-sided clock, complete with Holt Brewery squirrel, is a delightful feature. The mahogany bar counter and bar back have both been tinkered with, but much survives. The lounge used to be two smoke rooms but its bar back and fireplace are mostly original. This pub is very much a music venue.
A large, corner-site pub-cum-hotel rebuilt in 1906-7. Architect: Samuel Owen of Owen & Ward for Holt Brewery Company. (Birmingham Pubs states “In 1906 Charles H Collett bought the original Hare & Hounds from Mrs Eleanor Collins and others; he then mortgaged it back to Mrs Collins and to the Holt Brewery Company; rebuilt the pub and sold it to Holts in 1910. Holt seemed to have been the real clients all along,…”) Large three-storey building of red brick with red terracotta dressings. The central rendered gable on High Street side has timber-framing with the words 'Hare and Hounds' and the date ‘1907’. On the corner is an octagonal turret with clock faces capped by a lead dome. On York Road elevation there is a half timbered oriel window on the first floor.

This pub is well worth a visit to view a remarkably impressive display of floor to ceiling Art Nouveau-style tiling by Maws, especially in the hallway and stairs accessed from the York Road entrance. The dado tiling is particularly impressive being an example of Maw & Co’s tube-lining technique in which areas of colour are separated by thin ribbons of clay laid on the tile, rather like toothpaste. The dado has floral motifs in deep green, pastel blue, mustard and brown; and above the dado more tiles of creamy green broken by strips of crisp flower forms. The tiling continues up the stairwell and along the corridor on the first floor in the form of a colourful dado as previously described and creamy green tiles above.

‘Birmingham Pubs 1880-1939’, published in 1986, listed 5 pubs open at the time with Maws tiling: – the Britannia, Aston, which is currently closed after a period as a café; the Church Tavern, Aston which has been demolished; the New Inns, Handsworth, which is now flats; the Kings Head, Hagley Road, Harborne (built 1905 to a design similar to the Hare & Hounds) where only a small amount of tiling survives in the staircase area and on the first floor landing in an otherwise modernised pub; leaving the Hare & Hounds the only pub remaining in Birmingham with a large display of Maw & Co tiling. Other rare displays of Maw & Co tiling can be found at the Seven Stars, Oldswinford, Stourbridge and Bulls Head, Wrockwardine Wood, Telford. At the rear of the hall with its terrazzo floor is an open staircase with a fine newel post. An illustration in ‘Birmingham Pubs 1880-1939’ shows it originally had a metallic Holt squirrel squatting on the newel post holding a branch from which two lamps hung.

Originally there were a number of handsome partitions which created separate bars along the High Street side and they remained more or less unchanged until around 1983. The public bar is now one L-shaped room – two former entrance doors have been bricked up – firstly one on York Road side led into a small vestibule, some of which remains – look up and you can see the outline on the ceiling. In this area there is a notable clock with Holt squirrel, by Marsh & Co, Birmingham featuring Queen Victoria's crest, "Rebuilt 1907"; with surrounding metalwork suspended from the ceiling. Another door was situated just inside the York Road entrance passageway and was blocked-up in 1983 – inside the public bar you can see a wood surround and mirror but tiles either side of it.

The entrance on High Street side leads into a vestibule with a ‘Bar’ etched panel in the top of the left hand inner door. The walls of the public bar have a fielded panelling dado then above are tiles in shades of green and cream and at the top a frieze of more tiling including leaf and face motifs. The right hand side wall has no tiling as this is new stud wall added in 1983 to create a kitchen, which means a short piece of bar counter may be missing from the right hand end?

The current entrance to the left hand side of the public bar is a doorway (double) door(s) removed) on the far left in a curved mahogany screen with coloured leaded glass and some sliding panels, which is clearly original and in situ as confirmed by the line of the terrazzo floor in the hallway. If you take a look at the public bar side there is a small shelf at bar-height and small panelled sash windows.

The panelled mahogany bar counter is the original with pilasters but is shorter. Look above the bar counter and on the right hand / High Street side a drop in the ceiling height matches the line of the woodwork over the bar counter but on the left hand side the bar counter is set some two feet back from the ceiling height drop and a cornice. In 1983 the bar counter was pushed back some two feet and also was truncated on the left hand side. Originally the servery was much larger and incorporated the two mahogany pillars with mirror panels and curved on the left side to meet the curved screen and the present entrance was originally one for staff.

The elaborate carved mahogany bar-back remains having two bays on the left side (originally there were more) and five bays on the right including the middle one which faces two ways. They include advertising mirrors for Holts Brewery and various drinks in the top part and ornate narrow mirror panels just above the main shelf height. Birmingham Pubs stated that the bar back had a Holt squirrel perched in front of it but there is no sign of this now. The pot shelf was probably added in 1983 but has good quality stained and leaded panels to make it look authentic. The public bar has what looks like a Lincrusta ceiling but in the hallway (particularly the lower ceiling height) some of the ceiling is covered in a plastic moulded replica. Original fixed seating is lost in the public bar.

The rear lounge was formerly two small smoke rooms and it retains its original fixed seating in two areas and also a wonderful tiled, copper interior and wood surround fireplace with a polished copper boss depicting a hare and hound and fine mantelpiece but is disused. The bar back fitting is the original with four bays, the second being a doorway for staff and the lower shelves have, unusually, arched bays. The bar counter looks old but is of a slightly different design and lesser quality than the public bar counter so could be a post war replacement? There is more fielded dado panelling but another fireplace has been lost.

A wide gap has been cut into the front wall of the smoke room and a partition with a doorway gap inserted, presumably from the public bar? The small area beyond is likely to be the original off sales as the listed description states “The High Street elevation has entrances to former outdoor department and to bar.” The right hand High Street side entrance is now disused but the internal porch retains its attractive floor to ceiling tiling. The door with the ‘Out-Door’ etched glass panel has been re-located to the Smoke Room door from the hallway. There is a doorway at the rear leading to an ante room with tiling on the wall now painted over and a door with ‘Gentlemen’ etched and frosted panel which now leads to a store room. The Smoke Room is only open Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun evenings but staff will show you this room and the upstairs rooms if you call at a quiet time, but maybe best to ring ahead to check.

The first floor corridor leads to a large detached function room on the York Road side over a former carriage entrance. Now called ‘Venue 1’, it has a barrel vault ceiling with embossed plaster ribs, plaster frieze, pilasters and garlands but most of the superb Baroque detailing is hidden by black painted surfaces throughout.

On the first floor corner of the building is the former Billiard Room still with a good proportion of its raised original fixed seating which runs around the curved corner bay window, etched exterior windows and an original tiled, wood surround fireplace with mantelpiece including columns and capitals and a polished copper boss depicting a hare and hound but is not in use. A stage has been added and this room is now called ‘Venue 2’. The Hare & Hounds is now one of Birmingham’s prime live music venues –it hosted UB40’s first ever gig in 1979 – a fact that is recorded on a plaque on the exterior.
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