Beer Blog

The Bloxwich Showman!

Bloxwich Showman-10

Pat Collins (1859 – 1943), formed the Van Dwellers and Showman’s Protection Society in 1889, it’s still going strong today as the Showmens Guild. He moved to Bloxwich in 1915 from Cheshire, there’s a memorial clock in the park further down the High Street; as well as being the Greatest Showman of his era, he was also Member of Parliament for Walsall and latterly the town Mayor.

More than a hundred years later, his famous funfair is still doing the rounds of the old Black Country Wakes, one of which was held on the traditional fair ground at the rear of the Wetherspoons’ that’s been named in his honour.

The Bloxwich Showman pub is housed in the old Odeon cinema, long closed down before Tim Martin took it into his care in 2014. Where’s the link there to the famous Bloxwich Showman, I hear you cry? Well a shrewd entrepreneur was Pat Collins and an early adopter of the Bioscope and then cinematographic images, incorporating them into his travelling funfairs and by the 1920’s owning fourteen cinemas across the W.Midlands; The Grosvenor, Bloxwich is the sole survivor. I wonder whether the original lettering is hidden behind Wetherspoon’s sign?

Bloxwich Showman-7

The main reason for stopping here, apart from requiring a cheap repast was because my Grandfather was a noted Showman and I liked the name, plus it was on the way from Birmingham to Cheshire, the home of my wife’s family, who coincidentally are Collins.

After a quiet evening in Birmingham city centre I was surprised to find The Bloxwich Showman was buzzing at 11am. Proper cross section of people from families with kids in buggies through to older folk enjoying a bite to eat. I mean no disrespect to spoon’s drinkers, but the clientele here was comparatively quite upmarket.

Commensurate with the buildings original purpose you walk through what would have been the foyer into a broad, high auditorium with the bar down the left side. A mezzanine floor has been installed to the back and right side, which is essentially a glass wall. To be fair, it’s been very well done and provides different zones with their own atmosphere.

Spotless throughout and professionally run, a decent breakfast arrived in no time. Stand out points; the original and connected artwork around the walls and the funfair related decor, including the carpet. I like a real fire too, especially in a space where it’s unexpected.

The other thing which caught my eye was the adverts on the tills, inviting customers to submit NBSS scores and help them get in the Good Beer Guide 2020! I’ve seen this overt propaganda in other branches recently, and why not.

Sadly I didn’t try any of the cask beers, as well as the unholy three, there was DBC Jurassic Dark, Jemima’s Pitchfork from Glamorgan Brewing Co. and Ossett Excelsior. Again, another spoons with a curtailed selection, which can only be good. I didn’t see any cask ale being pulled though, only John’s Smooth, Lagers and wines.

I didn’t know what to expect from Bloxwich, although it did rain. The flowers Mrs C bought her mother in the friendly shop near the pub were unbelievably cheap, but the town looked a solid well kept sort of place without being anything special.

I loved the history behind the Bloxwich Showman and I thought Wetherspoon’s have done a cracking job here with some quality touches. I like the comprehensive history for this, and other pubs on Wetherspoons website. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, you have to say well done Tim, again.

8 replies »

  1. High praise indeed for Tim’s sense of place, history and preservation…fantastic…

    ..and the art deco style signage looks perfect…

    Weatherspoon’s example of repurposing old buildings but preserving the look, feel and celebrating the history of the place, is a fine example which developers and other businesses should follow…the main lesson being none of these thing needs to be sacrificed in the of pursuit of profit…
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The building becoming a spoons was a big plus. During my youth in the mid-late 80s it was a nightclub called “Flix”, so it’s surprising any features at all remain, but as you suggest, it’s actually quite a good job.

    It spent a while in the 90s as some sort of youth centre, IIRC, then a long time derelict. The nearby Kings Arms pub had a very odd 80s makeover, then abruptly shut in about 1989, remaining so (and derelict) ever since.

    As you were in Bloxwich, tell me you managed Tinky’s (The Turf), The Bell, and The Romping Cat? Tinky’s and The Bell are amogst my favourite pubs (and Blowich is a surprisingly good place for a pint).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the information. Unfortunately it was only a flying visit and I was driving, so no I didn’t do any of the other pubs. I would much rather divert off the motorway and visit a local town like this for a breakfast/coffee than go to a service station. As usual, it was a pleasant experience. Like I said – Full marks to Wetherspoons.

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  3. As a driver you weren’t going to work your way along the handpumps but surely you could have managed one pint.

    Tim devastated the interior of Cannock’s old timber framed ironmongery and hardware shop before opening it as the Linford* Arms but that’s the exception to the rule that he generally does a very good job in reusing interesting redundant town centre buildings which probably don’t cost him any more than a former Woolworths would.
    Stafford’s Picture House is probably more impressive than that Bloxwich Showman and there must be a few dozen such old cinemas and banks that are half as good as the jewel in Tim’s crown, the Waterend Barn.
    It is common sense, and usually cheaper, to retain as many original features as possible, and that might be a planning requirement given listed status, and such premises are of course so so much nicer than his characterless identikit high street barns that differ only by their pictures on the wall, invariably reminders that the town’s lost nearly all its distinctive shops and industry, and the carpets for which he is becoming well known.
    * That’s Linford as in Simon Linford who restored Birmingham’s Woodman.

    Liked by 1 person

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