Old Swan

West Midlands - Netherton

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

89 Halesowen Road

Tel: (01384) 253075

Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Public Transport: Near Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This was one of just four surviving pubs with home brewing when CAMRA was formed in 1971. It takes its nickname from Mrs Doris Pardoe, licensee until 1984, who took over from her husband in the early 1950s. Brewing stopped in 1988 but started again in 2001. The building dates back to 1863 and the wonderfully evocative servery seems little touched since Victorian times, apart from the gloriously over-the-top red paint. The enamel-panel ceiling is an extraordinary rarity and its eponymous swan a stunning feature, as are the old stove (still used) with its flue running across the room, and the old weighing machine. A rear smoke room also retains its historic fittings: originally it was entered from a corridor door on the right. The drinking area to the right of this smoke room, known as the ‘ladies’room’, was converted out of a former office during 1980s changes. A tiny off-sales-cum-snug lies between the public bar and ‘ladies’ room’ and has a single bench for customers seeking a quiet drink. In the 1980s, the pub expanded into a former shop to the left, but without compromising the historic core. The brewery is in the yard behind the pub. It is said that in Mrs Pardoe’s day the pub nickname was simply Pardoes and that she would not have appreciated the present widely used prefix.

An institution - if asking for directions locally always say "Ma Pardoe's". A legendary pub in the annals of real ale - when CAMRA was formed in 1971 it was one of only four pubs to have kept its home-brewing tradition since built. This tradition has been broken in the meantime but has recommenced. Licensed since 1835, the current pub and brewery were built in 1863.

The front bar is unaltered since Victorian times - apart from the fact that the attractive, bright red paint is unlikely to be authentic. It is one of the most distinctive public bars in the whole of the UK. The most remarkable feature is the enamel ceiling (possibly unique) bearing a picture of the eponymous swan; an old stove still in use with its flue running across the room; and a weighing machine. It retains the original six-bay Victorian bar back featuring an etched mirror 'The Old Swan', an original bar counter with a new top, and old fixed seating. Leaving the public bar by the right-hand door and the other side of a partition wall is the tiny off-sales lobby with a two-part glazed hatch and basic seating attached to the partition. Making up the original pub is the rear smoke room with a etched glass panel in the door, Victorian tiled and marble (?) fireplace with elaborate mirror panel above; service via a hatch to the back of the bar, a good ceiling rose and original fixed seating with baffles at either end. Also a dumb waiter between the off-sales and the smoke room with an old cast base fireplace nearby and a hatch to the back of the bar. In the 1980s, the adjoining shop was acquired and absorbed into the pub as a new lounge, but this has no impact on the historic core - a model of how to make a traditional pub viable without ruining it. A rear passageway with new toilets off links it to the original pub on the right.

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