Category Archives: Pubs

Bull’s Head Bloxwich redevelopment – Consultation

The "new" Bull's Head in summer 2007
The “new” Bull’s Head in summer 2007

We have been informed by Walsall Council that proposals are being made to demolish and replace the now-derelict former ‘Bulls Head’ public house in Park Road, off Bloxwich High Street.

Accord to the developers, Bromford Developments:

“Proposals are to be submitted for the redevelopment of the long vacant former pub site for residential purposes. The ambition is to provide a place full of opportunity and promise and bring life back to this derelict and unsafe site.”

Once one of Bloxwich’s best-known watering holes, the 1928 Bull’s Head, the second pub of that name on the site, closed in the summer of 2007 amid reports of violent incidents, and was later targeted by vandals and arsonists in November 2010, leaving the upstairs and roof burnt out. Since then it has been boarded up and vandalised even further.

The mock-Tudor styled building, which replaced its genuine 16th-century namesake, which was 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.

Bull's Head Burnt Down 6 Nov 10
Firemen damping down the badly burnt Bull’s Head, 6 November 2010 (courtesy Terry Humphries)

As far back as 2012, it was looking like the badly-damaged pub would be taken over and rebuilt as a Wetherspoon’s pub, but this did not go ahead, and instead J.D. Wetherspoon converted the old Grosvenor Cinema at the other end of High Street, which re-opened as ‘The Bloxwich Showman’ earlier this year.

Bromford Developments go on to say:

“We would like to advise you of a planning application that Brooke Smith Planning are preparing on behalf of Bromford Developments Ltd, for the redevelopment of a long vacant site.

“A fire in 2010 caused significant damage to the former pub, leaving it structurally unsafe and is now at a stage where it is beyond repair. Despite active marketing, there has been little interest in the site coming back to life as a pub, or alternative retail use.

Apartments

“Bromford have great aspirations to bring life back to this site with proposals for 14 self-contained apartments for Adults with Learning Disabilities, to be provided through one of Bromford’s innovative housing support models. Bromford’s housing initiatives have been met with great success and have proven results of decreases in dependency.”

Bromford have said that they would welcome local people’s views on the proposals, so that they “…can pursue the best possible development of the site that will not only provide a solution to a need, but will do so in a way that is supported by the local community.”

The Bull's Head today
The Bull’s Head today

All comments are welcomed by Bromford and must be submitted by 16th October 2015.

Consultation

You can either download and  fill in the consultation questionnaire, which includes more information and a picture of the proposed apartments, via this link- Bulls Head Consultation – and return it to : Bulls Head Consultation, Brooke Smith Planning, The Cloisters, 12 George Road, Birmingham, B15 1NP, or log onto the following website: www.brokesmithplanning.com/consultation

The Crown torched at Leamore

The Crown at Leamore on fire (Johnny Sanders)
The Crown at Leamore on fire (Johnny Sanders)

The only remaining pub building in central Leamore, near Bloxwich, was set on fire yesterday, apparently during the mid-afternoon as the above photograph, reproduced with kind permission of the photographer Johnny Sanders who took it at 5.34 pm, shows. Mr Sanders has also provided a short video on YouTube via this link.

Two fire appliances from West Midlands Fire Service’s Bloxwich Fire Station attended the blaze at The Crown, in Leamore Lane, around 5.15pm but the fire did not spread.  It was successfully extinguished and no-one has been reported as being hurt.

The Crown at Leamore the following morning (Stuart Williams)
The Crown at Leamore the following morning (Stuart Williams)

On inspection of the building exterior this morning, no major structural damage was visible, though the upstairs windows have been left open and there was a heavy smell of smoke.

Access to the building would probably not have been difficult, as the pub has been closed for several years and downstairs side windows have been heavily vandalised, but there has been no statement as yet as to whether there is evidence of accidental ignition or deliberate arson, so the cause of the fire is at present a mystery.

The only other historic Leamore pub left apart from The Crown – The Four Crosses, on the corner of Somerfield Rd and Leamore Lane – was recently demolished for redevelopment, following both The Butlers Arms and The Black Horse (the latter destroyed by arson) in recent years – a sad state of affairs.

The only Leamore pub still open is The Railway, a popular 1960s establishment on the corner of Broadstone Avenue and Bloxwich Road.

Bulls Head at Bloxwich to rise Phoenix-like from ashes

The Bull's Head before closing, summer 2007

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.

Bull's Head Burnt Down 6 Nov 10
Firemen damping down the badly burnt Bull's Head, 6 November 2010 (Pix by and courtesy of Terry Humphries)

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.

Original Bulls Head Bloxwich 10 June 1927
The original Bull's Head and The Wishing Tree (left), Bloxwich, 10 June 1927 (W. Meikle)

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.

The Lady Diana opens in Bloxwich

The Lady Diana, Park Rd, Bloxwich

We don’t often get to see a new pub opening in Bloxwich and, though not strictly ‘brand’ new, The Lady Diana, in Park Road, is still something of a surprise – and a pleasant one at that.

It’s not that long ago that the only thing you would hear about pubs in Bloxwich was the cry of “bring out yer dead!”, but thanks to some new blood coming into the trade courtesy of Kenny Wallace, who reopened and to some extent reinvented The Prince of Wales, on High Street, back in May 2010, and who has now joined forces with a new business partner, there seems to be something of a resurgence in High Street/Park Road watering holes in the village.

Many will remember The Lady Diana’s predecessor, The Carousel, which was knocked together from a small row of Victorian cottages back in the 1980s, and converted into the then trendy wine bar, Chimneys.  In the 1990s Chimneys was refitted as a small pub, The Carousel, presumably named as a nod towards legendary Bloxwich resident and fairground mogul Pat Collins.

But over the years, The Carousel gained itself something of a ‘reputation’, and it eventually fell foul of the economic downturn and the smoking ban, opening and closing several times before shutting for good, it seemed, earlier this year.

The main bar area
The main bar area

Enter stage left Kenny Wallace, saviour of The Prince of Wales, and his new business partner Stuart Day, resulting in the surprise transformation of The Carousel into The Lady Diana, renamed to complement The Prince of Wales, as I found out today from Stuart’s wife Audrey, who is manager of the new pub.  Yes, I wondered about the name too – now it all makes sense!

Looking towards the 'L' with the entrance on the right
Looking towards the foot of the 'L' with the entrance on the right

The pub has been refurbished inside and out (though there is still a little exterior painting to complete), and with its two real fires, new seating and simple but smart redecoration, certainly looks the biz – especially with evidence of a ‘mod’ theme going on, what with the scooter pictures, 1960s photos and other decorative items on the walls.  It turns out that Stuart Day is a bit of a scooter fan, though he currently doesn’t ride out on one, having been forced to dispose of his trusty Vespa due to lack of space at his previous pub.

'Round the bend' and there's room for a spot of disco dancing
'Round the bend' and there's room for a spot of disco dancing!

The new pub, which is a Free House, has two small bars arranged in an L-shape as is the bright and airy room, and there is also a patio to the rear.  The drink on tap is the usual keg beers and lagers, including Boddingtons, Banks’s Mild and Bitter, Guiness, Carling, and Strongbow cider, as well as a range of spirits. Not a real ale fan’s dream then, but good standard stuff.

The 'side' bar
The 'side' bar

There is large-screen tv at both ends of the ‘L’, plus two games machines and some disco gear in evidence ’round the bend’ in the foot of the ‘L’.  The former pool table from the Carousel days is no more.

Opening hours are 11am-11pm seven days a week, over-21’s only admitted, and their telephone number is 078177 48523.

There's a 'mod' thing going on...
There's definitely a 'mod' thing going on here...

The Lady Diana opened on 18 November, even before the exterior renovation was completed, and is currently rebuilding its clientele.  We certainly wish the new management the very best of luck, and hope to down a pint or two there soon.

On the evidence of this observer’s eyes, it shouldn’t be too long before things are looking fab for them!

 

 

 

 

Blaze ravages historic Leamore pub

Black Horse burning: emergency services surround the scene of the blaze (Pic courtesy Craig Smith)

Emergency services were called to an historic pub in Leamore, near Bloxwich, on Wednesday evening when a blaze was reported. From around 6pm for about two hours, the centre of Leamore was sealed off by police cars, and buses to Walsall were being diverted down Harden Road, causing tailbacks and confusion.

According to first local reports, a large fire had taken hold on the first floor of The Black Horse, on the corner of Bloxwich Road and Harden Road, and a man was believed to be inside the building at the time.

It is now possible (17/3/2011) however to confirm that in fact there was no person or animal involved in the fire, and that the person initially suspected of being a victim is in fact in prison.  The blaze, we now know, was certainly the result of intruders breaking into the upstairs bedroom of the building and deliberately setting fire to the residential area of the pub at around 6pm.

The incident was attended by at least two arson investigation and fire vans, together with three fire engines and three Walsall police cars who cordoned off the danger area, diverting traffic. Most of the damage to the building is inside, and the roof appears from external observation to be intact.  Burnt furniture is visible on a flat roofed extension at the rear. Entrances have now been sealed with padlocks.

The Black Horse, a classic Edwardian pub that has seen better days since being built around 1900, has been closed since mid-2010, a victim of the economic downturn which has shut so many pubs in Bloxwich and Walsall over the past few years.  The building is of historical interest but probably due to alterations is only on the Local List, which does not offer the more substantial protections afforded Statutory Listed Buildings.

The once-popular watering hole is the second closed historic pub to suffer a fiery fate in recent months; The Bull’s Head in Park Road, Bloxwich, the second pub of that name on the site and dating back to the late 1920s, was destroyed by fire in suspicious circumstances, having been broken into over the Bonfire Night weekend last November.

Only one pub now remains open in Leamore – the 1960s-built Railway Inn.

Our thanks to Josh Williams of Bloxwich for background information and Craig Smith for the photo above. Also to West Midlands Fire Service and Walsall Express & Star for updated information.

Photos taken the day after the fire may be viewed on Flickr here.

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