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

One of only four brew-pubs still operating when CAMRA was formed in 1971, this Black Country institution takes its nickname from Mrs Doris Pardoe, licensee until 1984. Brewing stopped in 1988 but restarted in 2001. The wonderfully evocative front bar seems unchanged since Victorian times (aside from the vibrant red paint). The enamel-panel ceiling is an extraordinary rarity and its eponymous swan is a striking feature, as are the old stove (still used) with its flue running across the room, and the old weighing machine. Historic fittings are also found in the rear smoke room, originally entered from a corridor door on the right. The drinking area right of the smoke room was converted out of a former office in the 1980s. Between the two old bars is a wee off-sales-cum-snug with a single bench for customers wanting a swift one after making their take-out purchase. The 1980s changes also saw expansion into the shop next door but without compromising the historic core.

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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