Monday, July 25

Hub Marketing 2016: Burntwood

Slap on the sunblock and settle back for a Staffordshire scorcher - the Hub Marketing Board are all bound for Burntwood and Boney Hay, bronzing up a certain bald spot during a full throttle summertime spree...

- New Invention Community Green -
Friday 22nd July 2016 and it's a 'will they won't they' morning until the Chairman's attendance can be confirmed. Secretary WME therefore starts off with some solo exploration at New Invention, targeting the Victory Club and the Community Green for some photographic treatment while pondering the increasingly precarious state of St Edmund Gennings Church. A Sneyd Lane stretch touches the edges of Essington as memories surface of playing fields, Sneyd School and Crab Lane approaches towards Bloxwich.

- Food for thought? -
News that Mr D9 has received clearance for hub duties means the Secretary is summoned to Walsall, but only once he's safely extracted himself from the Poets Corner estate near Short Heath. The local pub here is surrounded by scaffolding although Pings takeaway around the side seems unaffected. After quite a wait, the 41 bus beats the 69 in appearing on Keats Road so Lodge Farm and Bentley offer echoes of Monday's scenery until arrival at Walsall Bus Station. Members then get straight down to business by accounting for the Food Hub signage outside the Saddlers Centre.

- Swan Island Closet -
The 10 route provides our onward connection to Burntwood, travelling up through Rushall, Shelfield and Walsall Wood before D9 takes the imaginary wheel for a thrash along Brownhills High Street. Chasetown reverberates to the strains of Sir Sidney Saitheswaite's forgotten 45 'Our Mabel' - she looks good on a horse apparently - then we close in on Burntwood itself alighting outside the post office. The town rather blends with Chasetown and Chase Terrace to become one larger mass between Cannock and Lichfield but Swan Island is a defining feature, watched over by a shopping parade and the White Swan pub. It's then over to the Secretary's sleeve to locate yet another closet for the Chairman's prized collection.

- Springlestyche Lane -
Rugeley Road leaves Swan Island behind, passing the Memorial Institute and gradually revealing country lanes with high hedges. The Nags Head is a Chef & Brewer establishment on the edge of town where D9 evokes the sounds of 1937 as the Two Leslies warble about playing darts. We aren't taking our turn at the oche just yet, instead venturing along Springlestyche Lane in sticky heat to find the Drill Inn. You wouldn't really anticipate finding a pub in such an out of the way location but the sense of surprise all adds to the charm I guess, and it's certainly enjoyable sitting outside in the shade with a half of Doom Bar to slake one's thirst.

- A hint of the countryside at Boney Hay -
Meg Lane continues the feeling the escape with further field and farm views during our approach to Boney Hay. The local primary schoolchildren are excitedly breaking up for their summer holiday as hub members eye up our next pub with equally exuberant anticipation. The Ring O Bells has all the hallmarks of a decent community boozer - nothing too fancy just honest beer (Brentwood's Golden Galaxy), extremely crusty cobs and a good welcome. We do indulge in some darts here, taking care not to puncture the tyres of a bravely-parked bicycle with any stray arrows!

- Secretary in the White Swan -
Boney Hay is a rather pleasant corner of north Burntwood with appealing scenery looking out over the lowland heath of Gentleshaw Common. Secretary WME remembers visiting the estate back in 2010, tracking down the old 394 bus terminus on Oak Lane - not much has changed it seems with the Foresters Tavern still intact on Ogley Hay Road. 'D9 Destroyer' completes a rare darts victory before we reconvene at the White Swan to celebrate/commiserate as appropriate; respective tastings of Brains' Reverend James and Hobson's Best do the trick at a pub we were very impressed with.

- Chasetown's Cottage of Content -
The crawl continues as we weave our way onwards to Chasetown. The Trident is a simple local on Chase Road with a penchant for Marilyn Monroe montages then the Cottage of Content has the Chairman drooling once the original M&B picture sign has been spotted. Some Robinson's Trooper here befits the rock vibe as a replica Stig's helmet makes an appearance and the resident dog gives us a friendly sniff.

- Taming the 10 -
Chasetown Clock is where we catch the return number 10 whereby Mr D9 cannot resist another impromptu bash of back seat driving. His soundtrack of grunts and gear manoeuvres keeps us occupied all the way back through Ogley Corner, Brownhills and Walsall Wood while we keep a more sensible eye out for colliery and railway remains. 

- Four Crosses, Shelfield -
Our homeward journey is interrupted at Shelfield in order to visit a historic tavern that has been saved from closure. The Four Crosses sits on the corner of Mill Road and Green Lane where it is said to have served the village for 200 years or so, something worth toasting with Holdens Golden Glow and a pack of scratchings - Black Country indulgence at its finest! A Rushall splash and dash and the now-obligatory Moxley nightcap see us safely home, and with that our summer spectacular is deemed a sun-filled success!

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