The centre of modern Birmingham, like its recently revamped railway hub, is famous for its modernity, but Birmingham is also a historic city.
In medieval times, it was already the regional market town. Birmingham’s phenomenal growth into Britain’s second city began in intellectual circles. In the 1700s, it was home to enlightened thinkers like Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, Josiah Wedgwood, and the architects James and Samuel Wyatt.
Above all, Matthew Boulton and James Watt developed the steam engine here, establishing it as a leading centre of the Industrial Revolution and a hub of the national rail network. By the end of the eighteenth century, it had been dubbed “the first manufacturing town in the world”.
That creativity and income ensured that Birmingham was not short of fine buildings. As its many skilled tradesmen often had money to spend, some of those architectural gems were, inevitably, pubs. CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale – has worked with English Heritage to help restore awareness of their historical importance and enduring value, and provides a search engine to help you find them at https://pubheritage.camra.org.uk/pubs/pubguide.asp.
Below we outline just a few. If they tempt you, you can find serviced apartments in Birmingham for short or long stays at No.8 Waterloo Street apartments.
Historic pub crawl
The Red Lion is a listed building dating from 1901 on Soho Road, Handsworth, northwest of the city centre. Inside, there are multiple rooms with original tiling, including tiled paintings, as well as original benches, ornate glazing, and an impressive hall and staircase.
Another Red Lion, on Station Road, Erdington, has a clock tower and dates from 1899. Inside, there is a magnificent carved bar fronted by a sweeping tiled servery.
The Black Horse, on Bristol Road South, in Northfield, is another listed building with a half-timbered exterior and barley-sugar chimneys. Inside, there is a vaulted ceiling, wooden panelling and leaded glass.
The Woodman, on New Canal Street, in Digbeth, might be a good place to read CAMRA’s “Real Heritage Pubs of the Midlands”, as the book was launched here in April, 2017. It has Minton tiling, a marble fireplace, and splendid original features throughout.
While in Digbeth, be sure to also visit the White Swan, Old Crown, Wagon and Horses, Anchor and Spotted Dog. Then check out Aston’s Swan and Mitre and Barton’s Arms.