Saturday 9th January 2016
This house was the first owned by the resurgent Joule’s Brewery to open in Shrewsbury. Their second was the Dolphin Inn and you will find an article on that excellent pub elsewhere in BeerVisits.eu. Firstly it is important to explain that this is not the only pub with the name to be found in the town, there is another in the Abbey Foregate area, just over the English Bridge. This pub is located in Copthorne which is to be found over the Welsh Bridge, about ten minutes away from the centre.
The origins of the pub go back to 1874 when the Bricklayer’s Arms opened in a location on Copthorne Road that was 75 yards closer to the town. At some time it came under the control of Bass & Co of Burton-on-Trent, from 1927 known as Bass-Worthington following their merger with the Worthington Brewery, also of Burton-on-Trent.
The old pub was too small for the market as Copthorne expanded and in 1927 there was a proposal by Mr J Bowdler of solicitors Bowdler & Bowdler to move to the present site.
In an early expression of “people power” the pub regulars protested and the move was abandoned. However the situation worsened and 1930 Bass reapplied to the licensing magistrates to move the pub.
It took five attempts to get agreement which was eventually granted in July 1931 on the condition that the company gave up the licence of the Lion & Tap in the town centre. This is interesting as that establishment became a pub again in 1970 using its old name. It is a very rare Grade 1 Listed Building that is found in Barrack Passage and during October 2012 underwent a thorough restoration and is now known as the Henry Tudor House, or HTH for short.
Over in Copthorne the new Bricklayer’s Arms opened. It was built in a style typical of the times and this can be seen today. Joule’s were a brewery from Stone, Staffordshire, established in the mid-1700s who were taken over by Bass-Worthington in the early 1970s who closed it down in 1974. Modern-day Joules opened a brand new brewery at Market Drayton, Shropshire, in October 2010 and set about acquiring an estate that now totals over thirty pubs. See the article on the Cross Keys at Chester for more info on their history.
The company actually purchased the Bricklayer’s in 2009. It closed in late 2010 and a complete refurbishment was carried out and what a good job they have done.
Missing screens were built again and they obtained some mahogany panelling from the library of a country house and installed it in the pub. The result is visibly welcoming.
I walking the very short distance from the bus stop and entered the building through the main entrance at the front. The first thing that caught my eye was there was a cat in a box on the bar which had a written sign requesting customers to “please do not disturb the cat”. I ordered a pint of Joule’s Blonde, my favourite beer in their range, and went for a look around.
The main room is L-shaped and the bar is of a similar shape. It would think that as it faces out in two different directions, this room was once divided. At the back is a dart-board and a wood-burning stove faces the counter. On the right you can walk into another drinking area known as the “Mayor’s Parlour”. Although you wouldn’t know it, this was brand new, being opened in October 2015 and constructed on the side of the existing pub building.
Turning left past the cat, I entered a room named “Debating Chamber” through an opening with stained glass windows on either side. There were leatherette benches around the walls and the furniture was wooden, as is the case throughout the pub. Back in the other room there were high chairs in front of the bar with stools facing the other counter.
There are many old (and some new!) enamel signs all over the walls along with framed paintings and some photographs and certificates.
Back in Mayor’s Parlour one wall is lined with glossy green brick-shaped tiles and there are more enamel Joule’s signs. These were so shiny they cannot possible be old. In fact, one refers to craft beer.
The three regular cask beers were on offer: Pale Ale (4.1%); Blonde (4.3%) and Slumbering Monk (4.5%). Normally there would have been one of their seasonal beers offered but not on this occasion. Weston’s (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Old Rosey (7.3%) is also served.
There is a full menu (see below for times).
As mentioned earlier this pub is a short walk from the town centre and there is a bus service passing (also see below). It is well worth taking the time to get to this excellent pub.
Bricklayers Arms, Copthorne Road, Shrewsbury SY3 8NL. Tel: 01743 366032
Open: Monday-Wednesday 16.00-24.00; Thursday-Sunday 12.00-24.00
Food is offered daily from opening time until 22.00
The No 1 bus runs from the Central Bus Station through most of the day Monday to Saturday at an every 15 minute frequency. You need to get off at the Pengwern Road stop.
I don’t think there are any buses to the pub on Sundays but not to worry as it is a short walk from the town.
Cross the Welsh Bridge and when you reach the large roundabout, follow the road to the left and keep on. This is Copthorne Road and you will find the pub on the right-hand side.