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Published April 3rd 2017
Great Victorian Pub Remains Amidst Changing Scenery
More than 40 years is a long time to go between visiting a pub, and I really shouldn't leave it as long next time! The Woodman, which resides in the middle of Birmingham's Eastside City Park, used to be my local back in the day when I worked across the road from the pub in my first ever job after finishing education.
The Woodman dates back to the end of the 19th century
In all that time - 43 years to be precise - it is hard to tell whether anything has changed. Certainly, the surrounding area has undergone something of an improvement with The Woodman now sits directly opposite Millennium Point science museum and also residing close to the Learning Zone area comprising various university and college buildings. And further change is due when the old Curzon Street railway station that lies adjacent to the pub is destined to be a hub for the next phase of the High Speed railway line, HS2.
The main bar area with the extensive range of ales
But despite the environment changing all around it, The Woodman has clearly remained a calm and welcoming oasis. In fact, the Victorian pub, which was built in 1897 for Ansells Brewery, was apparently closed for a few years before it re-opened in 2013 following a tasteful refit in keeping with its status as a Grade II listed building. The Woodman owes its ornate red-brick and terracotta design to renowned Birmingham architects James and Lister Lea. In fact, the historic pub interior is said to be of national importance, with both the large main bar and the one time rear smoke room being tiled throughout in Minton tiles. The small drinking corridor which connects them is also splendidly tiled, while the back room also features a marble fireplace and an old mirror set into the tiles, both of which are presumably original.
The former smoke room with marble fireplace and Minton tiles
As excellent as the architecture and ornate pub interior is, I was there for 'old time's sake' - and to sample the superb range of ales on offer before heading off to nearby Villa Park to see a game of football. The Woodman was serving two regular beers, namely Castle Rock Black Gold and Castle Rock Harvest Pale. It also had on offer half a dozen guest ales which included the wonderfully titled Elland Brewery Maximum Darkness, as well as a range of lagers and ciders. There is also a food menu available but we chose to stick with the beer on this occasion, with the Harvest Pale particularly well received.