After a relatively sober Black (Country) Friday: post election pints, this wench definitely felt the need to top-up her Black Country points with a Saturday afternoon spent in one of our fine drinking establishments. But, why visit one when there’s so many Black Country boozers to delight in?
First on the list was a familiar Wollaston local, The Foresters Arms. The Foresters is a traditional public house, and an ideal pit-stop for walkers and cyclists.
As you walk in, there’s a long, narrowish lounge to the right and off to the left a small dining area.
Not far from Chez wench, it’s a regular for a lovely, home-cooked lunch with a very friendly welcome (despite the sign).
Resident expert, bloke advises that on this visit it was Roger who dished out the beer, food and the welcome. I’m a big fan of Roger and his home-cooked lasagne and chips (although it’s actually a lovely lady in the kitchen who is the provider of the yummy grub).
Unfortunately, as designated driver I couldn’t dive into one of The Foresters’ ales, needing to save myself for the main event.
Onward to Dudley it was, stopping off at the Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) for a spot of Black Country shopping. After hearing that wench ma had refused wench pa his desired purchase of a large Black Country flag for his shed, it felt only right that the wench stepped in and saved the day. To prove the point that in the Black Country you’re never far from beer and scratchings, the BCLM has a handy supply of both, including Bottle & Glass Ale, named after the pub which is rebuilt inside the BCLM. The fab bottle artwork is designed by local artist Wozart.
The Bottle & Glass Inn originally stood on Brierley Hill Road, Brockmore, backing onto the canal at the Stourbridge Flight of 16 locks. It was probably built shortly after the canal was cut. A map of 1822 shows the Bush public house but by the 1840s it was known as the Bottle & Glass. It closed in 1974. The BCLM have produced an interesting fact sheet on the pub and it’s worth a visit to sample what supping an ale was like in tha olden days. The BCLM is a brilliant day out for the whole family so do take a trip there.
Being accompanied by a non Black Country friend, I felt it was only proper and correct to continue to educate them about our beloved region. So, off to the glamour of Netherton it was, and to one of the finest drinking establishments around. Or, as bloke later commented: ‘throwing your mate in at the deep end aren’t you?’
Ma Pardoes, a legendary public house and a real favourite of mine. I recently wrote about The Old Swan (it’s actual name) for the gorgeous Area Culture Guide (p66). It’s a Grade II listed boozer with a historic interior; mostly unaltered since Victorian times. A cosy lounge and snugs are to the left and rear.
But, for this wench, the real star of the show is the bar to the front right of the pub. It has a striking enamel ceiling, resplendent with swan, original bar and counter, working stove and weighing machine.
If yow am in the Black Country the pub is only known as Ma Pardoes, named after Doris Clare Pardoe who owned the pub until her death in 1984, aged 85. There’s a great picture of her in the bar. There’s also a pretty impressive selection of whisky, if the ale doesn’t take your fancy.
The pub is home to the Olde Swan Brewery which makes one of my favourites, the amusingly named Bumble Hole Bitter. If you drink enough you may lose track of time, or is it the deceiving clock that sits atop this beautiful bar?
Late Saturday afternoon and The Unicorn was packed (the pictures are a bit of cheat as the I took them when it was quiet), but a spot was found perching on the bench. We glanced enviously at a table and managed to jump in when the inhabitants left. Bloke stopped in for a pint and to find out out how the ‘throwing in at the deep end’ had gone. Many complimentary words were spoken.
That’s the Black Country for you. We welcome you in. We seduce you with ale and scratchings. You fall in love with us.