West Midlands - Birmingham

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

New Canal Street
Birmingham, Digbeth
B5 5LG

Tel: (0121) 643 4960

Email: ant@thewoodman.birmingham.co.uk

Website http://thewoodmanbirmingham.co.uk/

Real Ale: Yes

Real Cider: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Nearby Station: Birmingham Moor Street

Station Distance: 550m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Birmingham Moor Street) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

Reopened in 2013 after restoration by sympathetic new owners. Built in 1896-7 for Ansells' Brewery, this is one of the finest of the many Birmingham tiled and terracotta pubs designed by James & Lister Lea. It stood, for many years, unloved in an urban wasteland but recent developments around it helped secure its future. The main bar, now one room, but once two split by a partition, is dominated by the splendid bar counter and even grander bar-back. The room has much excellent Minton tiling. To the right is a small drinking corridor, also sumptuously tiled. An angled door leads to the true marvel which is the smoke room, with more glorious wall tiling, a lovely marble fireplace, an old mirror set into the tiles, bench seating all round and a large hatch to the bar with glazed panel above. Returning to the main bar, and ahead of the corner entrance, a snug occupies what had been a plain back room, brought into pub use at a later date.

Built in 1896/7 to the designs of James & Lister Lea, this terracotta and tile corner pub stood, for many years, in an urban wasteland and under threat of demolition for road widening. With the recent creation of the Eastside City Park around it, and with the HS2 terminus scheduled to materialise close by, its future now seems assured. After being shut for several years, it was rescued by Linford Developing Heritage and Birmingham Inns, sympathetically renovated and reopened in September 2013.

The corner entrance leads into a small glazed vestibule and then the main bar. Originally this doorway accessed just the public bar with a screen on the right (removed many years ago) dividing this from the lounge (the position of the door into which is still discernible on the Albert Street frontage). The now single L-shaped room is dominated by the splendid bar counter and even grander bar back. The central mirror on the latter was reputedly intended for the nearby (and currently closed) Eagle & Tun but someone supposedly got the delivery wrong. What's more, the Fox & Grapes up the road (now demolished) had a bar front featuring little woodmen carrying axes and bundles of wood – another botched delivery? The top of the bar back was originally adorned with a large Ansells clock but this was stolen when vandals broke in whilst the pub was closed – they also destroyed many of the etched glass door windows but these have thankfully been carefully replicated, based on that from the smoke room door which, thankfully, survived. The room also has much excellent Minton tiling which has benefited greatly from steam cleaning whilst the ceiling and cornice have been repainted in their original colours.

To the right of the main bar is a small drinking corridor, also accessible from a now unused door to the street – a hatch to the bar once served as an off-sales. This corridor, with fine Minton floor tiles throughout, has an angled door to the smoke room then narrows on its way to the (now relocated) toilets.

The smoke room itself is a marvel. It has bench seating all round with wood panelling to half-ceiling height. Above the benches this sports a simple indented pattern and a collection of bell pushes. The top half of the walls is beautifully tiled. The lovely marble fireplace also has some attractive tiles showing pastoral scenes and old roses and, above it, an old mirror is set in the tiles. A large hatch to the bar has a glazed panel above.

Returning to the main bar, and ahead of the corner entrance, a snug occupies what had been a very plain room at the back, brought into public use at a much later date. The bar counter was cut back to allow an entrance to it. The small internal stained-glass window was found upstairs during renovations (still ongoing) and relocated to this new position.

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