A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II129 Bilston Street
An unspoilt gem of a four-room pub with a working mid-Victorian tower brewery attached. Sarah Hughes bought the business in 1921 and little has changed since the Twenties, apart from additional space being created at the back. The most remarkable feature is the highly unusual serving arrangement, a tiny glazed-in cubicle which sits between the front snug and the much larger smoke room. Both these have a small hatch for service, as does the adjacent corridor and at all three of these hatches customers have to bend down to communicate their requirements to the staff. The largest room is the smoke room which is boarded all over but this boarding had been covered over and was only revealed during refurbishment in 1987: its date is hard to determine but it may well be part of the 1920s changes. Near the servery you can see what appears to be 1920s lino flooring. The tap room at the front right may once have been a kitchen (see the range) and some of the fittings look Victorian. The brewery lay idle from about 1950 until reopened in 1987 by John Hughes. The famous Dark Ruby Mild, at 6% ABV, is still brewed to his grandmother’s recipe. Brewery tours can be arranged by prior appointment (01902 883381). Food consists of cobs. Listed in 2010 after an application by CAMRA.
An incredibly rare survivor – an unspoilt gem of a four-room pub with a Victorian tower brewery forming part of the premises and which produces award winning ales. Thought to have been built in the 1860s, it was bought by Sarah Hughes at auction in 1920 and the layout and fittings are from a refitting shortly afterwards. Little has changed since the 1920s apart from the creation of additional rooms at the rear, which do not impact on the historic core. From the front door a red tiled passageway runs to the rear where the brewery building is situated. Inner door has a leaded glazed panel. The pub has a remarkable arrangement in terms of its servery, a small glazed-in cubicle between the snug at the front and smoke room at the back with hatches for service in the two rooms and passage. No exactly comparable examples are known. The Snug on the front left is a small room with a door, a 1920s tiled, cast-iron with marble surround fireplace, fixed seating in three sections with a piano fitting neatly in between the front sections. The three side section of the servery in this room has a door with a small two-part sliding window hatch with the lower section permanently in the upright position and a small ledge to hold drinks.
The Tap Room on the front right has a door in a shallow vestibule, more red tiles on the floor, fixed seating in the form of bare benches attached to a tongue and groove dado which appears to date from Victorian times and could therefore be the original 1860s seating? However, there is a range fireplace which normally indicates a room that was formerly the kitchen and brought into use much later. There is a long oblong table which looks of age and a low basic loose bench. In the passageway the servery has a 1920s counter front and service is via a narrow hatch below a leaded glazed fixed panel which means customers have to crouch to order their drinks etc. Behind the fixed panel appears to be a sliding one that is fixed in the upright position. Note the Victorian service bell high up above the hatch. At the rear left is the large Smoke Room with tongue and groove full height panelling and fixed bench seating all around the room with two baffles, all of which have a Victorian appearance. There are two cast iron fireplaces which may date from the 1920s and presumably this was two small rooms prior to the 1920s refit. The section of the servery in this room is almost identical to that in the snug and has a door in the middle with a small two-part window hatch with the lower section permanently in the upright position and a small ledge to hold drinks.
A doorway at the rear of the smoke room leads to a modern conservatory-style extension which acts as a covered walkway to the toilets and brewhouse. The brewery is little changed and still retains a gas-fired 1921 copper vessel. Sarah Hughes brewed the beer now known as Dark Ruby Mild until her death in 1951. The brewery lied idle from the 1950s until 1987 when John Hughes, Sarah’s grandson recommenced brewing. From the passage past the servery a former exterior door leads into a red-tiled former patio area now another room created to satisfy demand and it has a part glazed roof. The outside toilets remain at the rear.