A historic pub interior of regional importance
Listed Status: II48 Lichfield Street
An elegant town-centre pub of 1886 though the notable faience frontage is from a 1900 remodelling by local architect Fred T Beck. The public bar, entered through a vestibule added in 1983, is a very special room with its fabulous tiled walls and ornate bar back fitting, the latter with mirrored panels and a row of snob screens, now very rare in British pubs. Above them are three Art Nouveau leaded and green-stained panels. The ornate plasterwork ceiling is now painted brown. In 1983, an opening was created to the rear smoke room, previously accessed by a passageway running behind the bar back (still there but used for storage). This room retains a good proportion of its old fixed seating with bell pushes above; the 1983 alterations created an alcove on the right in what had been the rear passageway and an access was cut through to a new, small room at the back. Despite these changes, there is much to cherish here.
An elegant town-centre pub, built in 1886 on the site of its predecessor, the Noah's Ark; the notable faience frontage dates from a remodelling of 1900 by local architect Fred T. Beck. On the wall of the smoke room are the plans showing the changes made in 1983 (Architects: David Horne Associates) when Allied Breweries converted the pub into one of the earliest of their ‘Holt, Plant & Deakin’ pubs – these did include making an archway through the rear wall to give access to the smoke room and creating a third room at the rear.
It has an excellent ceramic exterior including the wording 'The Posada' on three tiled panels – one on the fascia and two in vertical lettering on pilasters in each of the external recessed porches which have mosaic floors. Below the small-paned bowed window is a dado of golden yellow glazed brick and tiles. Both porches have a glazed brick and tiled dado in golden yellow with cream glazed brick above up to ceiling height with a dark yellow tiled frieze at the top and mosaic floors. Of the five main lower front windows the central three are now plain, which is not likely to have been the case when the pub was built. The leaded window in the right hand door is a modern replacement.
The public bar is a very special room with its tiled walls in orange-brown on the dado and cream above, original bar fittings including rare snob screens and is little altered since 1900. The left hand door leads into a vestibule that looks modern as does the panelling so it has been added later, possibly in 1983. The bar counter looks like the original 1900 one with panelled frontage – the only changes being a 1960s/70s slanting piece of timber piece on the left for the present hatch; also, there is a cut right at the front right-hand end where the quadrant becomes straight, facing to the window which is where the hatch was originally.
The original ornate bar back fitting has mirrored panels on the lower part above the main shelf and above that a row of snob screens with plain bevelled glass in them. Original sets of snob screens are rare with examples at the Bartons Arms, Aston, Birmingham; Prince Alfred, London W9; Bunch of Grapes, London SW3; Lamb, London WC1; Travellers Friend, Woodford Green, Greater London; Crown, London N1; Gate, London N22; also Holly Bush, London NW3; and Crown & Greyhound, London SE21 but in the case of the last two they have been moved. Recent losses include those at the King Edward VII, Aston, Birmingham. Above the snob screens is a row of four Art Nouveaux leaded and green stained panels. Two-thirds of the lower back fitting shelving has been lost to fridges.
The public bar has a glazed brick and tiled dado in golden yellow with some in relief with cream coloured glazed brick-shape tiles above from floor up to ceiling height. The tiling is complete on the left hand wall, on the right hand wall i.e. in the passageway, with a tiled dado on the front / exterior wall under the windows with a narrow band of tiles above the windows. On the rear wall the original tiled dado extends to just before the 1980s cut-through with a good sized section at the top all the way from the left to right wall so some tiling is missing. There is a row of golden yellow tiles in relief one row just below the ceiling on the walls. On the left hand wall there is some notable staining on the cream tiles - apparently wallpaper was placed over them as part of the 1983 conversion into a 'Holt, Plant & Deakin' pub and has been removed in recent times. The room has an original ornate plasterwork ceiling now painted brown. The bay window fixed seating looks to be from the post war period – there was no fixed seating on the 1900 plan. On the 1983 ‘before’ and ‘after’ plans there was a section of seating in the rear left part of the room but this has since been removed and it must have been added after 1900 anyway.
The position of the bar back fitting creates a passageway for access to the rear smoke room (which continued until 1983 after which it is accessed via an arch cut into the rear wall of the public bar). It may have been used by stand-up drinkers in the passageway? The snob screens are situated here as a way of ensuring folks who drank in the smoke room could not be viewed by the occupants of the public bar and visa versa. There is a dado of golden yellow coloured tiling on the passageway side of the bar back fitting. On the right hand part of the back fitting i.e. close to the front door, there is some plain wood panels clearly added later - it is likely there was an off sales hatch here originally?
The smoke room retains a good portion of its old fixed seating with bell pushes in a wood panel above, but the seating and the baffles, particularly the stained and leaded panel in the top looks more inter-war - they are totally different to the Art Nouveau style on the bar back fitting. There is what looks like an original wood surround to the fireplace but a modern tiled and cast-iron hearth has been added which houses a gas ‘coal-effect’ fire. The smoke room is served from a small hatch / bar with original counter front. The smoke room remained little altered until 1983 at the time it became one of Allied Breweries ‘Holt, Plant & Deakin’ pubs. There are plans on the wall of the smoke room detailing the 1983 changes. The tiny seating alcove on the right was added in 1983 in what was originally a passage to the rear. The fixed seating on the right hand side was removed to create access to the new small room at the rear via an arch.
The new small rear room and new toilets beyond were built on the site of two bottle stores and the outside toilets. The new rear room has some fixed seating which could be the section removed from the smoke room but the dado paneling is new.
We are very grateful to Andy Foster for his research on the interior of the Posada.