In the heart of Birmingham, at the corner of Bar Street and Wells Street, one can find a slice of late 19th century architectural history - the remnants of the Woodman Pub, adorned in the distinctive “Tudor-Bethan” style. Known for its charm and reminisce of a long history, the Woodman Pub is revered by Kevin Thomas, a guide from Birmingham Walking Tours, for its intriguing past and unique ambiance, and he shared his knowledge of the establishment with us.
With a history steeped in Birmingham’s renowned Jewellery Quarter, the Woodman Pub was once run by the Atkinson family around 1800. Portraits of the proud couple, standing boldly outside their establishment, reminisce in the rich history embedded within the pub’s walls.
The area where the Woodman Pub once stood was thought to be the site of an old Beerhouse. In an answer to the rampant alcoholism caused by cheap gin imports into Birmingham and Britain, the government in the late 1700s permitted small houses to produce beer, igniting the establishment of Beerhouses.
An eccentric detailing of the pub’s interiors was introduced by Fred Pierce in the 1970s, who chronicled its décor as “a monument to years accumulation of all manner of kitsch.” With an exhibition of life belts, lamps, ship models, pictures and shells, the Woodman Pub also boasted a diverse collection of glass bottles, Northern Ware jars, Toby mugs, plastic flowers and even a leather-clad alligator.
Across its rich past, The Woodman never stood alone. It was once neighbor to the prestigious Swallow Raincoat Company, whose workers would often pour into the pub on rainy Friday evenings, sporting their very own Swallow Raincoat Seconds.
Sadly, after the move of industries from the Jewelry Quarter in the 1980s, the renowned pub had to bow out and transition into an office. Despite this change in use, the heritage and legacy of the erstwhile Woodman Pub continue to live within its old patrons and the enduring memories of times gone by.