I’m thinking I’ve been here before, or is it just wishful thinking, some sub conscious thought that’s produced an amalgam of The Waterloo in Blackpool and some back street boozer somewhere?
On my own, on a dank night in February I might have turned back before I arrived at this edifice of faded grandeur stranded in the midst of what is undoubtedly a lower-layer super output area. If I’d been a stranger in Leeds doing a similar walk to a pub like the Leeds Rifleman, a stones throw from the city centre, I probably would have turned back. I needn’t have done though.
Maybe I’ve lost it since I retired? Maybe I was camouflaged amongst the other six Beer and Pubs Forum chaps. No one was picking up on it anyway, and if they were they definitely weren’t perturbed.
At this point I must apologise to the erudite company, and anyone else who’s ever noticed. I know I can appear a bit distant sometimes, switched off, staring into another place. I was actually, listening to the conversation at the bar and the offer of thirty quids worth of meat in a plain white carrier for a tenner. Wonder where they’re getting that from then?
The pub wasn’t busy, but there were a dozen or so drinkers in, proper mixed bag, all ages, all sorts and representative of Wolverhampton’s diverse community. It was exactly the same as the other pubs though, everyone was genuinely polite and friendly.
The bowling green out the back, which prompted the comparison with Blackpool, is still in use. It’s a strange L shape, which is unusual for a Crown green. A new age traveller styled gadge out the back on his phone told me it would be a week or so more before the season got into full swing again. The green looked to be in decent nick for the time of year too.
There’s several rooms, but the focus is on the main bar. Martin says, ‘it’s a basic street corner gem, and it really is unspoilt.’ If I’m honest it all looked a little forlorn, especially some of the back rooms, which are the greater part of the premises.
I’m glad the bowling green is still going. And the pub too. Martin is right, it is a gem, a forgotten one. You could see what could be done with it in the right hands. Thing is you’d need half a million, just for starters. But, would it financially, be worth it? Place is everything in the pub world. Mind you, we’d managed to make our way there, so?
It’s a proper project for a budding Humphrey Smith, someone who would surely restore it to it’s full glory given a chance. And believe me this has once been a glorious place with it’s watchtower styled corner window and, I’m guessing, very late Victorian/early Edwardian architecture.
Mind you, if Humphrey Smith got hold of it the beer wouldn’t be the same. I had Bank’s Sunbeam, while everyone else drank Mild, I think. Better than in the brewery I thought, it had lost that fresh edge, gained a little something, a greater complexity. The only other cask beers on apart from Banks’s, was Banks’s, sorry Marston’s Saddle Tank.
I can’t remember how much the beer was? Wakefield rather than Leeds prices. The food was equally cheap. Two quid for a bowl of hearty beef stew and a bread roll. I kid you not. I told the pretty, cheeky barmaid how impressed I was. ‘Your welcome she said.’ I’m not sure I was meant to hear the next bit, but turning to the punters at the bar she proclaimed, ‘everything’s cheap in here, you can have a blow job for a quid!’
Verdict? I’m glad I’ve been, I hope it keeps going, I hope someone sympathetically restores it to it’s former glory. If someone does then I’ll probably go back.