February 19th – This one has been puzzling me for a while.
In Shelfield, theres a backstreet pub called The Four Crosses. Most nights on my way home from work I pass it, it’s lights glowing warmly in the darkness. It’s a good pub, and always was, with fans across the borough.
In recent years, this pub shut for a while, and then, after a brief planning dispute, reopened, with the rest of the pub being converted into flats or bedsits. The outer walls of the building were reclad, and it lives on.
Except for one thing. There is no sign. Nothing to tell the unfamiliar passer-by this is a pub.
It has been like this for 12 months now. It can’t be good for business.
It worries me.
June 29th – Intrigued and saddened to see the Four Crosses pub in Shelfield – the last pub in the area, closed a few months ago – now up for sale as a ‘residential development site’.
Planning permission was granted some time ago to build a care home behind the pub and adjoining it; the developer recently tried to get the admission criteria loosened to allow those needing care additional to senior citizens to be admitted. Combined with the pub’s closure, there was a furore in the community and false rumours it was to be a drug, alcohol, mental health or bail hostel.
I would imagine that permission has been denied, or is not looking positive, despite rewording to exclude contentious groups, and the developer has decided to cut their losses and sell.
The building was granted meaningless Asset of Community Value status and a petition raised, too. Both have proven now to be pointless. From a development that looked like it may retain the pub, it now looks likely the building might be lost altogether under more housing.
At the heart of this is a basic truth nobody seems prepared to face: you cannot force people to keep running a business they don’t want to. It’s the huge elephant in the room that sits unspoken in many debates about the future of once-great pubs like this one.
A cautionary tale hangs here, I think. I shall watch with interest.
April 29th – To my surprise, I noted on my way home that local real ale Mecca the Four Crosses in Shelfield had closed, and was boarded up. With a planning application granted in 2012 to build a nursing home attached to it, despite the best efforts of the community, I guess it was always living on borrowed time.
With the Spring Cottage and Four Seasons gone, I don’t think there are any pubs now left in Shelfield, are there? A great sadness.
December 13th – Over in Shelfield, the traditional boozer wins. Whilst the Spring Cottage had loads of brewery money spent on renovations and refits over the years, the Four Crosses behind it ploughed on in it’s own traditional way. The larger, more modern pub failed; a succession of poor managers, problems with the clientele and falling returns now see it being converted to a Co-op store. The street corner local behind it, however, has always been peaceful and welcoming. Closed for a few months a couple of years back, it was thought to be lost, but a new owner and good real ale ensured its revival. A pub in the true sense of the word.