- Commemorating Crabtrees -
Friday 16th August 2019 and the forecast is bordering on the abysmal with prolonged heavy rain due to set in for the entire afternoon. We are not to be deterred however so the Secretary makes his way to Walsall hoping to get a few pictures in the bank while things are still reasonably dry. Blue plaques allow for close-range photography accounting for Jerome K Jerome's Bradford Street birthplace and a Lyndon House Hotel homage to the founding of Crabtrees, a famous Walsall name specialising in electrical switch components.
- Bald spot bound for Aldridge -
Our meeting point is at Walsall Garage where the Chairman is ensconced in the Health & Safety Office, hopefully not interviewing people about traffic violations. Computer gremlins delay our start until about 1pm (cob penalty applied) but we quickly get down to business with a visit to the Desi Star, a basic Stafford Street boozer within a run of shops. One Worthingtons later and it's already bucketing down so a bus ride is the safest form of shelter, the 7A being on hand for a trundle towards Aldridge with a certain bald spot on the lookout for any particularly vicious puddles.
- 7A at Castlefort -
A White House Sizzling stop delivers a drop of Doom Bar before we continue to Castlefort, where the 7A terminates at the Link Road turning circle opposite the JMI School. The damp conditions make it difficult to fully appreciate our surroundings though so we press on to the next pub, namely the Brickmakers Arms on Salters Road. D9's cob forfeit is paid in full albeit the Secretary doles out extra punishment via the dartboard, WME Whirlwind sneaking into a 2-1 lead aided by some twinkling fairy lights.
- D9 Destroyer at the Drunken Duck -
When the weather is this bad you're better off in the pub so we drip our way along to a couple more Walsall Wood establishments which stand almost opposite each other on the High Street. The Boatmans Rest alludes to the proximity of the Daw End Canal while the Drunken Duck (scene of more darts as WME triumphs 5-3) was historically known as the Hawthorn Inn - both establishments might well have gained custom from local colliery workers when the pit was in its prime.
- Cuddling Colliery Characters -
Indeed, Walsall Wood's mining heritage is reflected in various pieces of public art from the sculptor Luke Perry. The Chairman therefore makes the acquaintance of the life-size figures arranged on the corner of Brookland Road - even Scruff the dog gets a mention. In between times we extract some silly songs: 'Bring Me Edelweiss' is frankly just bizarre whereas David Kossoff's version of 'When Father Papered The Parlour' combines music hall with a hint of Cockney comedy - oi!
- The Boy is Back! -
Picking up the pub thread again, we catch the 10 down to Rushall where we'd heard the Farmers Boy had reopened on Barns Lane. We'd feared for its future when we saw it all boarded up in April so this revival is something to celebrate, especially as it has been tastefully done out - cue some Banks's Mild to toast the new look. Also back open after a brief period of closure is Flan O'Brien's, an Irish-themed bar in Walsall town centre.
- A Palfrey Pint -
The rain is showing no sign of relenting as we proceed via Caldmore to Palfrey, hoping for a Milton Street nightcap. The Charles Napier gladly obliges although Chairman D9 does himself out of a discount by opting for Carling rather than the cheaper Brew XI. We've had our eye on the Napier for a long time, wondering if it survives given the lettering is all whitewashed over, and it had the feel of a slightly downtrodden haunt that's presumably popular on matchdays given the football scarf collection. Just up the road, the Bradford Arms is another source of long-term fascination but we only have time for the quickest of halves because the bus is due. With that our wet weather workout is complete, and this is one instance when rain definitely didn't stop play - cheers!