What it's like to spend 24 hours in a Birmingham Wetherspoons - Sunday Times journalist takes up challenge

Sunday Times journalist Harry Wallop arrived at a Wetherspoons in Birmingham at 10am on a Friday morning and didn’t leave until 10am on Saturday - here’s a few of his highlights (and low points)

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A Sunday Times journalist went on a mission to understand why 21.4 million people across the UK visited a Wetherspoon over the past six months.

And to help him grasp the reason behind this phenomenon he spent 24 hours in the Briar Rose on Bennetts Hill in Birmingham city centre.

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Arriving at 10am on a Friday morning, Harry didn’t leave until 10am on Saturday morning - which is pretty good going for the most hardcore ‘spoons fans.

Now I’m no expert, but so far as Birmingham Wetherspoons pubs go - the Briar Rose is not too shabby. At least, it’s probably more amenable than, say, The Square Peg. And not as hectic as The Soloman Cutler.

It’s fair to say Birmingham city centre is not short of Wetherspoons - there’s six of them - with two on Broad Street, so owner Tim Martin is obviously doing something right in Birmingham. Although The London and North Western pub at New Street did get into hot water when it used a manipulated image of Ozzy Osbourne previously, as you can see in our video - it has since taken the picture down.

Harry explains how he spoke to about 70 customers during his visit to the Briar Rose - that’s almost three people an hour, so he certainly wanted to ensure he didn’t waste his time during his research. Although he did have to get his important questions in before several of them headed off to Snobs.

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A common theme for these customers being in the bar, he tells readers, is that it’s “cheap and cheerful”. And with the average price of a beer at a ‘spoons being £3.18 - almost £1 cheaper than elsewhere with the British Beer and Pub Association placing the average of a pint now at £4.03 - that seems fair enough.

In addition to food and drink, The Briar Rose also operates as a hotel, with rooms from around £62.50 a night - so Harry didn't spend his entire 24 hours at the bar.

Other driving factors for the people he spoke to during his visit is that they knew what they were getting when they visited a Wetherspoons with Tim Martin being inspired by formulaic standards used by McDonalds which are checked by mystery customers.

Although it is fair to say that Harry encountered a few surprises at the Briar Rose - with someone vomiting over a table just four feet away while he interviewed one student.

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It’s a fun read and offers a fascinating insight into a night out in a Wetherspoons in Brum town. We even learn that the Briar Rose is named after pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne Jones who was born on the street in 1833.

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