One of Bloxwich’s best-known watering holes, which closed in the summer of 2007 amid reports of violent incidents, and which was later targeted by vandals and arsonists in November 2010 leaving the upstairs and roof burnt out, now looks set at long last to spring back into life as a JD Wetherspoon’s pub.
The mock-Tudor styled Bull’s Head in Park Road, which replaced its genuine 16th-century namesake, famed for the legendary ‘Bloxwich Wishing Tree’ outside its doors, in 1928, has been a local landmark since living memory, but went into decline in the last years of its life, partly due to the economic downturn and partly due to a troubled reputation.
Up for sale since closing, the “Bull” as it is affectionately known to Bloxwich folk, narrowly escaped being lined up by owner Aldridge based Dorchester Land Ltd for conversion to shop units. Not being a listed building, presumably due to alterations over the decades, the historic pub had little legal protection from redevelopment despite being situated within the Bloxwich Conservation Area.
In the event, there were no takers until recently, when the heritage-minded Wetherspoon’s pub company, which has long had a track record of sympathetic conversions of historic buildings, reportedly took a tentative interest last year.
Since then there has been public silence on the matter, but now a planning application is up for consideration by Walsall Council this Thursday, and the refurbishment and extension of the pub, if it goes ahead, will hopefully generate up to fifty new jobs at a cost of £1 million in investment.
Not everyone thinks this is good news, however, and a letter with 28 signatures protesting against the proposal has apparently been received, together with an additional five individual letters, all from local residents citing noise, litter, anti-social behaviour and parking issues as factors against reopening the pub.
In mitigation, the planning application states that, as in keeping with many Wetherspoon’s pubs, there will be no music, that adequate parking will be provided and that the pub is close to public transport.
Members of Walsall’s planning comittee will be recommended to approve the application, subject to conditions, in their meeting at Walsall Council House on Thursday evening.
The JD Wetherspoon company was founded as a single pub in 1979 by Tim Martin. The company now owns 835 outlets including the recently converted St Matthew’s Hall (formerly the County Court) and the Imperial (a converted theatre), in Walsall town centre. They have a reputation for decent food and good beer at reasonable prices, so hopefully things now are looking up in Bloxwich on the foodie pub front at least.