List Your Local takes first steps to protect historic pubs

List Your Local takes first steps to protect historic pubs

An initiative to protect historic pubs following the destruction of the Crooked House has seen the first five submitted for Grade II-listed status by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Stourbridge’s Mitre (pictured), Duke William and Queens Head, plus the Pretty Bricks in Walsall, and Ye Olde Leathern Bottel in Wednesbury, were nominated as part of the List Your Local initiative launched last September by the WMCA in partnership with CAMRA.

The initiative encourages residents to submit the pubs they believe are of historical significance. 

The WMCA has sent the list to Historic England seeking a recommendation for the pubs to be listed. If agreed, Historic England will ask the secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, for approval.

By taking the first steps into listing pubs, the WMCA hopes the initiative will spearhead efforts to stop more being lost for good. More pubs are due to be submitted for listed status in the next few weeks.

Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA Andy Street said: “Six months on from the Crooked House tragedy, it’s a reminder to appreciate our precious cultural heritage – not least our local pubs. They are vital community assets deserving of protection and we’re working with CAMRA to do just that. 

“That’s why I’m pleased we’re able to announce that we’re recommending several pubs for listed status. We’re lobbying the government to approve these pubs for listed status with a degree of urgency befitting their importance to local people.” 

The pubs have long-held historical significance in the West Midlands. The Duke William was rebuilt in 1903 as the flagship taproom of the nearby North Worcestershire Breweries with distinctive terracotta and glazed brickwork. The Mitre, meanwhile, originally dates from 1714 but was rebuilt in 1935 by local architect, Percy Clark. It retains several features of the original pub. Both are within an existing conservation area.

The Queen's Head Inn dates from 1862 and was home to Edward Rutland's brewery. The Pretty Bricks was built in 1845, taking its name from the coloured glazed bricks on the front. Ye Olde Leathern Bottel goes back to 1510 and is said to host to paranormal activities.

Owner of the Queen's Head, Black Country Ales, MD Graham Manwaring said: “These pubs are some of the most historic and interesting pubs in Stourbridge.

“There used to be a boxing ring and a gym behind it. It’s a great real ale pub with lots of traditional features. We purchased it in 2017 and re-established it as a pub with a great selection of cask ales. There is now a room where skittles can be played at the rear of the pub which is also used for functions. I’m really pleased to see both the WMCA and CAMRA lead on this, preserving local heritage.

“It’s fantastic for the licensed trade to preserve these pubs in history. People will visit pubs for all sorts of reasons, and pubs that have history and are significant locally are a lifeline for our community.”

It comes after campaigners held a poignant memorial for the Crooked House in Himley, Dudley marking the six-month anniversary of its demolition. Campaigners pinned their memories of the pub to a tree and a specially erected display board.

Meanwhile, the WMCA has received more than 150 submissions to protect pubs with some as far away as Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

CAMRA pubs campaigns director Gary Timmins said: “Six months on from the loss of the Crooked House which continues to be a nationwide scandal, I am pleased to see the excellent progress which had been made through CAMRA's ongoing partnership with WMCA.

“The List Your Local initiative has proved to be an outstanding success and shows how passionately people feel about their pubs. They are a vital part of all of our communities and play an essential role in our society, helping to create a sense of belonging and providing important social hubs. 

“We want to ensure they are not lost for good and our joint work on listing our historic pubs is a positive step in the right direction to both protect and preserve them.

“However, our work does not stop here, we will continue to fight to save our beloved pubs across the country and campaign to ensure developers do not flout the rules without the proper planning permissions in place. 

“We are renewing calls for all UK governments to commit to improving protection laws and ensuring local authority planning departments are equipped to stop them being illegally converted or demolished, while sending a very clear message to owners.”

The WMCA and CAMRA have drawn up a target list of suitable heritage pubs, which, alongside the public’s recommendations, are being examined to see if and how they can be protected. Other options include putting pubs into community ownership.

The WMCA has received 155 nominations for protection. Out of the 155, 49 are outside the WMCA area – some by metres but others by hundreds of miles, proving the popularity of the scheme.

Of the 155 submitted, 65 are individual pubs. Of those, 25 already have Historic England listed status.

As well as reviewing historical sites, the WMCA and CAMRA are also exploring how local plans can be better used to protect pubs, as well as recommending an extension to the hospitality discount rate. Pubs currently benefit from a 75 per cent discount on their business rate bills, capped at £110,000, but this is due to end in March 2024.

Since April 2021, CAMRA has identified 81 pub closures in the West Midlands. In the first six months of 2023, the Campaign discovered 21 pubs in England which had been demolished without planning permission.

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