THE BRITISH OAK, 1364 Pershore Road (opposite Hazelwell Street, Stirchley)

Article reproduced by kind permission of Andrew Maxam.

British Oak2History

The British Oak, seen here when still new in 1929.

The present Grade II listed building opened on the 17th September 1926, replacing an earlier beerhouse on the same location. Although now owned by Punch Taverns, the Oak was originally owned by Mitchells & Butlers. Plans for new, larger premises had been drawn up some 5 years earlier by the prolific pub architects, James and Lister Lea who were also most notably responsible for the Bartons Arms in Aston. Though nowhere near as ornate and lavish as the Bartons, the British Oak is still a gem of a pub which has survived remarkably intact and is well worth a visit to see an example of a now dying breed of 1920s “road house” pubs.

Set back from the road from the site of its predecessor to allow for parking at this somewhat tight spot, the pub has a long, single roof line and bays balancing each other; the attractive purple brick diamond effects above the upstairs windows gives it a feel of an Edwardian Country mansion house. There is also a garden, Bowling Green with original club house at the rear. Inside the full suite of rooms have survived (a refreshing change from the wretched habit of knocking all rooms into one) and they have all retained their character with original seating, ceiling plasterwork, fireplaces, flooring, stained glass windows and wooden panelling. As you enter through the central door, under a fine, coloured Oak Tree relief plaque, you find yourself in the large, high, public bar with original floor now on show, after having been covered by Marley tiles for many years. Two smaller smoke or snug rooms are on either side of the bar, one of which houses a darts and pool table area which has previously been closed off. The Assembly Room or servery at the rear still has the original working real fire with marble surround; a fine wooden parquet tiled floor which had previously been covered over by two thick carpets! Even the original brass door plaques have survived and have been carefully restored. Back in the 1920s, “shilling” (now 5p) dinners were served there, cooked in the publican’s kitchen upstairs and transported via a lift (also still intact). The rear lounge boasts dark wooden panels and an enclosed built-up bar with opening windows, similar to those found at the Bartons Arms.

Article by Andrew Maxam, author of the book “Time Please! A Look Back at Birmingham’s Pubs” which contains 380 pictures of old Birmingham’s pubs with informative captions, based upon the Mitchells and Butlers archive, price £10.00. For more details, ring 0121 429 6369 or e-mail

© Andrew Maxam 2006