A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: IIWood Green Road
Built in 1898 to designs by Wood & Kendrick, this pub is included here for one reason – the servery in the public bar. This has a ceramic bar counter, one of only 14 left in the UK, which is organised in a series of layers as if on a cake, each with a different colour and different detail. It also has brown pilasters, each terminated by a grotesque mask with a protruding tongue, dividing the counter front up into a series of bays. Unfortunately the counter has been cut back on the left to create space for an entrance from the corridor. Behind the counter is an elaborately treated back-fitting of six bays housing some fine mirrorwork. At the back of the servery is a hatch which would have been used for off-sales. The large rear room is almost wholly modern and is an expansion of the original smoke room.
An imposing and ornate red-brick building of 1898 by Wood & Kendrick (Wednesbury Herald, 27 Aug. 1898) who did many a pub in the West Midlands conurbation. This pub is notable for the marvellous front bar with its spectacular ceramic counter with fabulous embossed tiles in pink, green, ochre, brown and cream. It has gargoyle-looking figures with their tongues out on pilasters all along it. The left-hand part (about one-sixth) of the counter was cut off in post-war times and replaced by a wooden counter on a diagonal which meets the back wall. Originally the counter continued in a straight line to meet the left hand wall (i.e. it didn't curve round on the left-hand side as it does on the right-hand side). This is one of the most impressive ceramic bar counters in the country in terms of its detail, colour, and size.
CAMRA is only aware of 14 remaining examples of ceramic bar counters in the whole of the UK (11 in England). Other Heritage Pubs with a ceramic bar counter are the Black Horse, Preston, Lancashire; Burlingtons Bar (at the Town House), St Annes on Sea, Lancashire; Mountain Daisy, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear; Red Lion, Erdington, Birmingham; Polar Bear, Hull, East Yorkshire; White Hart Hotel, Hull, East Yorkshire; Garden Gate, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire; Golden Cross, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales; and Crown, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Other examples can be found at Castle, Manchester City Centre; Whitelock’s Ale House, Leeds, West Yorkshire; Waterloo Hotel & Bistro, Newport, Gwent, Wales which has no public bar facility; and there is one in China Red which was the Coach & Horses, Dunswell, East Yorks and now operates as a Chinese Restaurant. There was one in the Hark to Towler, Tottington, Greater Manchester where the bar has been moved; but the pub closed and has been converted into four flats so we must assume the bar counter has been lost.
There is also a very good large, six-bay original arcaded timber bar-back with lots of mirrored sections including some part gilded ones and an off-centre clock. The arcading on the bar-back also meets the left wall but only the top sections of the left hand two bays remain so part including the lower shelving has been lost and a new doorway cut so staff could reach the new lounge servery. Originally there was a hatch to the lobby (where the new entrance to the public bar is situated – originally it was right by the front door), which was used for service to the rear Smoking Room.
On the right-hand side two bays of lower shelving remain with two replaced by fridges. Originally the public bar was split into two by a partition with a doorway in the middle and there was a vestibule entrance in the centre but all these were removed in post-war times – the present screens were added in 1998. A number of original etched windows remain but most of the fixed seating is modern.
The side entrance on Hobbs Road has two inner doors with the figures ‘4’ and ‘5’ on them – behind the left-hand one is the off sales and service was via the two-part rising hatch in the bar back fitting which still remains. The hall behind the servery has a colourful Victorian tiled floor and a tall fridge is situated in front of the off sales hatch. The Lounge/Dining Room at the rear was created in post-war times by doubling the size of the former Smoking Room and removing the original toilets etc. and a servery was added for the first time. New toilets were added to the front left of the pub as well as a new staircase to the upstairs function room, which has a modern servery. The access to the function room was originally via a staircase from the hall at the rear right - a doorway in the back of the servery (with hatch for service?) has been permanently closed.
The pub was built with a bowling green but this has been replaced by the car park. On the outbuildings you can see the wording ‘Bowling Green’ painted on brick.