We visit the Digbeth pub rebult in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, with so much potential
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The pub trade may be in turmoil as less people are using them, but folks still have a huge fondness for historic boozers.
The outcry over the fire and demolition of The Crooked House in Himley in Staffordshire is a prime example of the devotion that these landmarks evoke.
West Midlands Mayor has been leading calls for Britain’s wonkiest pub to be rebuilt brick by brick - and it’s only fair that this amazing building that holds so many special memories for local people should not be lost forever.
But you may be surprised to know that it’s not the first time there have been calls to rebuild a historic pub ‘brick by brick’ in the West Midlands.
We visited a pub that started out in the 16th century in Digbeth, Birmingham, but was rebuilt brick by brick in Moseley. The Golden Lion wasn’t burned to the ground or demolished like The Crooked House though. It was constructed around 1520 and was originally a Guild House that stood in Deritend High Street - on the opposite side of the road to The Old Crown.
It has been used for many purposes like a school, housing for the clergy, and later a tannery and a pub. It fell into disrepair and was under threat of demolition in 1910. It was bought by a local and relocated brick-by-brick to Cannon Hill Park in Moseley - where it now sits.
What happened in the case of The Golden Lion pub could give The Crooked House fans a few lessons in how to manage their treasured landmark if it is re-constructed.
We went to Cannon Hill Park yesterday (Thursday, August 24) to take a look at the state of the pub, which is in need of some TLC to say the least. The Golden Lion is far from gleaming, it lies vacant and derelict. It is also barricaded and padlocked.
While there, we came upon two men - who were participating in Geocaching - which is an outdoor treasure hunt in which participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches".
A spokesperson from Geocaching HQ said: “According to the Geocaching map on our website, there is a Multi-Cache located at The Golden Lion. A Multi-Cache includes at least one stage in addition to the physical final container with a logbook. In the case of the Multi-Cache at The Golden Lion, it appears that players seek information from an information board at that location, which they use to determine the location of the actual physical geocache, which is located somewhere else.”
While the men were excited to get their hands on the hidden treasure, they didn’t know what the Golden Lion was - which turned out to be a recurring theme with other passers by.
Cannon Hill Park is one of the most popular city parks and most of the people we spoke to didn’t know about the Golden Lion. However, once they learnt what it was they were eager to see it transformed into a heritage centre.
A park-visitor, Michael Jones, said: “A bit like Back to Backs, they could turn it into an open air type of museum where children and families could go in to learn about the history of the location.”
Another visitor, Annie, said: “It would be nice if this building could be made into a museum, show the historic value and what happened in this area and Digbeth area, you know, to preserve the heritage.” And, Jeff Stindley who was also passing by, said: “If money was no object, I’d like to see it restored but it will cost a bit to make it safe.”
The Golden Lion certainly has a lot of potential according to local people and its so sad to see a building which has survived so far to be left to rot. With calls for The Crooked House to be rebuilt brick by brick maybe the powers that be can take another look at The Golden Lion with its brick’s already rebuilt and give it the care and attention it needs.