Red Lion, Birmingham

229 Vicarage Road
Kings Heath
B14 7LY
0121 444 2803

The Red Lion in Kings Heath in the southern suburbs of Birmingham was one of the very first ‘improved pubs’, opening in 1904. Improved pubs or reformed pubs were the result of of long standing campaigns by the authorities to reduce drunkenness by having fewer but better pubs. The difference with improved pubs was really just one of design. The idea was to move away from Victorian gin palaces and recreate ‘Olde Englishe’ taverns instead.

The pub was built by the Priory Estate Company to serve their new middle class housing estate. It was based on the medieval Angel and Royal in Grantham in Lincolnshire and copied its pair of two-storey bays with mullioned windows (photo 1). The design was influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement and the carved monks drinking ale are echoed in the famous Black Friar in London. The ancient country inn idea is reflected in the fine carved inn sign, which shows that the pub was called ‘Ye Olde Red Lion’ even though it had just been built (photo 2).

The interior of the pub is now open plan but the large garden is still there, now with cabins for outdoor eating in the cooler weather. Food is from the Ember Inns menu and there is is a good range of cask beers.

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