Solihull and District

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Solihull Drinker history

The following is a copy of an article from the Solihull Drinker issue 100. Available Back copies of the Drinker and its predecessor "The Boro Banter" can be found in the Solihull CAMRA Archive The history of the branch can be seen in

The 100th issue of the Solihull Drinker was produced in December 2023, however the branch has in fact issued over 156 newsletters since its formation in mid-1982. Preceding the Drinker was the Boro Banter which ran for 57 issues before it was renamed the Solihull Drinker.

The branch was formed in mid-1982. Officers of the branch at the time were founder members Clive [Claude] Deacon, Malcolm Glass and Andy Lyndon. Clive was our acting chairman; a real character who saluted everyone as “Captain” and drove a classic car which had no heating and still used traffic indicators I accompanied him on many cold nights visiting pubs in North Oxfordshire, an area he loved. He is no longer with us, regrettably.

It was Clive who issued what can be termed our first newsletter. At a meeting at the Saddlers Arms in Solihull [now the Tap and Tandoor] in July 1982 an information sheet had been written by Clive called the Boro Banter. Our newsletter was born.

The second edition was given out at the August meeting at the Red Lion in Knowle. At this stage of the newsletter, it was numbered as Boro Banter No.2. Attendees of these early meetings who are still around today are John Knibb, Dave Queenborough and me. Dave’s father Brian was also an active member of the branch. Sadly, Brian died in 2023. My first meeting was in September 1982 at the Golden Lion, Solihull [now the Beech House].

So, what did these early editions look like both visually and content wise . Clive typed them up on an old fashioned typewriter at work where he also photocopied it for distribution within the branch (he cut and pasted CAMRA logos to form a heading). Usually consisting of 1 to 2 pages it followed a format recognisable to many CAMRA members today as Branch meeting agendas/minutes. In the first issue there were some 50 members in the Solihull area and Clive and Malcolm undertook a door-by-door recruitment drive. It was Clive who knocked on my door and 42 years later I’m still here!

Local pub news in the issue was the George and Dragon, Stratford Road [now demolished, the site now occupied by Porcelanosa]. No real ale was reported and a further visit to the Plume of Feathers on the Stratford Road had real ale but as I quote from Clive "Real Ale but not exciting". It can be argued that it has not changed that much. Interestingly too was an article on Solihull pubs where M&B and Ansell's dominated the handpumps. However the Golden Lion had Courage Directors.

May 10th 1982 a meeting was held at the Golden Lion, Solihull to test support for the formation of an independent branch with Birmingham branch in attendance. 4 members were present. On the 18th May a further meeting was held with the Birmingham branch, again at the Golden Lion, where 6 members attended. A social took place in Henley in Arden where 7 members attended. July saw a Solihull pub crawl with 11 members present.

The layout and presentation of the next newsletter [No.3] improved substantially. I have a feeling that round about this time Brian and Dave Queenborough got involved with production. The most important item in this edition was the announcement of the inaugural meeting of the branch to be held at the Red Lion, Knowle on the 12th October 1982. At that meeting and in Boro Banter [No.4]. Clive gave a resume of the formation of the branch.

From there on the Boro Banter was issued. Issue 5 in November announced the new committee. Malcolm Glass [Chairman], Clive Deacon [Secretary], Brian Queenborough [Treasurer], Eric Mosely [Membership Secretary], Andy Lyndon [Social Secretary], Richard Adkins [Pub Surveys Officer] and Alan Machin [Publicity Officer]. The branch was now official.

It is of note that when the branch was inaugurated the Solihull area came under both Birmingham branch and Coventry branch. The Birmingham branch was supportive to the branch whereas my impression and experience of the Coventry branch was sadly non supportive. Luckily the then Regional Director Andy Beaton was very supportive, so the branch came into existence.

The Boro Banter has proved invaluable as a source detailing the branches formation and its early months. Issue 6 [January 1983] saw more improvements of the Boro Banter, now renamed Solihull and South Birmingham Boro Banter. It included adverts, one from Bernie’s Off License and the other from Tipplers Paradise on Kineton Green Road, Olton. Tipplers Paradise has long gone but Bernie’s’ is still going strong. Issue 6 was edited by Dave and Brian Queenborough who assiduously cut and pasted adverts, logos and spelling corrections as well as designing adverts... a long and tedious task. November 1984s edition experimented with printing in a different colour brown and in February 1985 blue but from thereon it was mainly back to black and white with the occasional colour used particularly at Christmas.

After edition 38, April 1988, no copies appear to be in existence, but it did continue to edition 57 in December 1995 under both me and Malcolm Field who was Secretary during my tenure as Chairman. Malcolm was a member of the Norman H. Field family who ran the successful Hi-Fi store on Hurst Street just above the Hippodrome Theatre. Sadly, Malcolm is no longer with us having passed away within the last 10 years.

There seems a lapse from 1996 as I can find no Banters for the period until summer 1997, when it was renamed The Solihull Drinker and was Numbered No.1 () and edited by Matt Bullock. Its lead article was The Harvester, Tanhouse Farm Road, Olton [now The Dingle] which won Solihull branches Pub of the Year 1997. Matt lived in Solihull Lodge and was a very active branch member not only editing the Drinker but a major contributor to our early beer festivals, particularly at the Golden Lion. Our loss was Oxford’s gain when he moved to Charlbury and became active in that branch too.

Matt, I think changed the format to an A5 booklet but left Solihull after issue 6 and I took over as editor. I handed over editorship to Julia Hammond [now Wright] for edition 35 (Winter 2005). Under Julia’s direction the Drinker became a much more professional production. When she took over, the magazine was a mere 12 pages of photocopied text plus black and white photos. It increased to 20 pages and a glossy cover in 2007, then two years later, 24 pages with a colour cover, plus in 2009 a colour centrefold. From summer 2010 we began using the very reliable Thistle Print Ltd to print the magazine for us - a heartfelt thanks to Steve Thistleton and his colleagues for all the help and advice they have given us since then. The Drinker became a full colour magazine from December 2011

Julia handed over editorship to David Cove for issue 76 (Summer 2016) and he held the post until issue 90 (Winter 2019). CAMRA magazines are judged annually within the West Midlands and in 2016 the Solihull Drinker was one of the regional finalists. Apparently according to Dave “In 2017 we had an issue with the logo used which meant it was disqualified, although it was no different to the year before”. However, in 2018, at the annual presentation held at the Barton’s Arms in Birmingham the Drinker achieved a highly commended award (pictured above). During Dave’s editorship the Drinker achieved its maximum pages ever with 36 pages.

Late 2019 COVID hit, though we did manage to publish a Spring 2020 edition under the stop-gap editorship of our branch chair Martin Buck. However, like all CAMRA branches, we then had to suspend printing the Drinker, but it reappeared in September 2021 (Autumn issue) under the editorship of Ray Cooke, a long serving local member and who is a past branch Chair.

The Drinker in different forms is over 43 years old and in good hands. However, difficulties are ahead in sustaining advertising income which pays for its production [if any reader would like to advertise and help support us then please see Solihull Drinker Advertising

Let us all hope the Drinker continues its valuable role as a conduit of information not only about our Solihull branch of CAMRA but also in providing information on the pubs, breweries and great beers that can be found in Solihull.

In compiling this article, I must extend thanks to those who have provided me with vital information. Dave Queenborough for his superb collection of early Boro Banters together with his memories. To Steve Wood the branches unofficial historian, now retired from the branch and living in Shrewsbury. His extensive knowledge has been invaluable. To past and present editors, Julia Wright, David Cove and Ray Cooke for providing details of their tenure, many thanks. Plans are in hand to make copies of

Steve Dyson [Steve would appreciate being informed, via Ray Cooke as the Drinker editor ku.gro.armac.lluhilos@rotide() of any mistakes in this article, so they can be rectified }

This article originally appeared in the Solihull Drinker issue 100