The ‘pub’ is one of Britain’s great institutions; it was largely a Victorian creation but since the 1960’s it has been subject to rapid and often insensitive change. Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) have estimated that 39 pubs are closing each week; a loss of any heritage asset will lead to a desire to preserve what is left.
CAMRA did just this and undertook a National Inventory of Pub Interiors of Outstanding Interest and of the 60 000 pubs in the United Kingdom, 293 of those were of significant importance. The inventory is in two parts: part one covers interiors which are essentially intact since they were originally created which holds 195 entries 8 of which are in Birmingham and part two lists pub interiors whilst not intact contain features or rooms which are of truly national significance of which there are 98 entries 4 of which are in Birmingham.
A series of pubs built in Birmingham between 1896 and 1904 by James and Lister Lea are truly unique to Birmingham. These pubs are named ‘tile and terracotta’ so-called from the red terracotta facing on the frontage and extensive use of tiles for decoration inside.
However, over the past three or four decades the public house has seen massive changes through changing fashion tastes, economy and benign neglect which has resulted in many nationally important interiors currently at risk. If you want to know more Licensed to Sell – The History and Heritage of the Public House by Geoff Brandwood, Andrew Davison and Michael Slaughter explains how pubs took their present form and examines the exceptional interiors that can be found.