BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘Four Crosses’

#365daysofbiking Thank you Gordon

April 2nd – One of the delights of Walsall Borough in springtime is the huge amount of daffodils on verges, in parks and other open spaces, like here on the corner of Four Crosses and Lichfield roads in Sheffield.

They are a credit to Gordon Kinnair at the council, sadly no longer with us, who was responsible for their planting.

This post is dedicated to both Gordon and his good friend Kate Goodall.

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#365daysofbiking An unassuming house

February 19th – Passing through Shelfield on the way home, I noted that the Four Crosses pub was looking warm and inviting as it usually does, but is still, several years from its renovation not carrying any signage to tell anyone it’s a pub at all.

The pub, partially converted to bedsits, has always been a popular, traditional local, but like many pubs, suffered for lack of business. Following a period of closure it was purchased and renovated.

It remains a popular and well thought of traditional Black Country pub.

I’m not sure how not having any kind of sign helps with the business, though.

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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.

October 12th – I note with interest that the Four Crosses at Sheffield – suddenly closed a while ago and up for sale for a few months – appears to have been sold.

Clearly the sale must have been to a commercial entity rather than the community, as the ACV deadline was January, this suggests that probably no ACV interest was received. Since the pub was priced well above it’s face value due too the vacant land behind, it’ll be interesting to watch what happens next.

People have clearly been in there as the windowsills have been cleared of ornaments left by the precious occupants.

I really hope it opens as a pub again. 

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.

March 3rd – The Four Crosses at Shelfield is a classic community boozer. Basic, but comfy, it serves fine real ale and is friendly and welcoming. I love the place. It’s telling that this small pub survived, while the plusher and larger Spring Cottage less than 50 yards away closed and became a retail grocery store.

Recently, following a frankly bizarre planning application, the venerable pub has been declared an ‘Asset of Community Value’ by Walsall Council. This declaration is essentially meaningless, but does show the council’s commitment to support this tiny pubs existence, which is appreciated.

The other pub I know to be listed in such a manner is The Black Horse at Edingale, which closed some time before it came to Lichfield District Council’s attention,and was awarded the status primarily to prevent the former inn being converted into flats. When I passed the other day, the Black Horse was still closed, and appeared to be in use as a private dwelling.

The unescapable fact of these things – ACVs, Local Listing and other such declarations – is that although planning can sometimes stop stuff being changed, you can’t force a business to continue to exist; you may well preserve a building, but not the pub itself.

A quandary for our times, and a demonstration that planning, heritage and community are uneasy bedfellows.

I wish the Four Crosses, it’s regulars, landlord and community well. If ever a pub deserves to thrive, it’s that one. Long may it do so.

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.