You Wait For One Then Two Come Along A Once


At the end of May saw the reopening of the Raglan Arms on Dunchurch Road.  A previous Good Beer Guide regular with a good range of ales available, we were anticipating what the new owners Black Country Inns had done to the place.  Then after two weeks of being open we heard Black Country Inns had bought a second pub in town, the Rugby Tavern, to say we were surprised, was and understatement.


Black Country Ales and its sister company Black Country Inns started life behind the Old Bulls Head in Lower Gornal in the Black Country.  Since 2002 their pubs have been known for large ranges of real ales and traditional Victorian interiors.  Pretty much all of their pubs fit into this category, with perhaps their most famous pub being the Wellington in the centre of Birmingham.  The first pub they bought was much closer to Rugby though and it may surprise you to know it was the Lawford Arms in Long Lawford.  The pub has turned out to be a bit of an anomaly as it doesn’t sell a wide range of ales and doesn’t have the feel of their other pubs.  If you look on their website it doesn’t even appear on it, but it still has a sentimental place in the company’s heart.


On the face of it little has changed in the Raglan.  The layout of the pub has been retained, with the corridor as you enter, the small snug on the left and the lounge to the right.  The most significant alteration is the moving of the bar back towards the right-hand wall, allowing more space to get served.  To the rear the darts and skittles area have both been retained, although the throwing area for the skittles is a little cramped.


Externally the pub is a great deal more inviting.  The front has been painted in the Black Country Inns colours and new benches have bought to sit at and gaze over The Close.  To the rear a patio has been created, complete with its own covered outside bar.  This has made good use of and area which was once used as an occasional car park.


Black Country Ales brew three real ales, with an occasional seasonal offering throughout the year, BFG (Bradley’s Finest Golden) 4.2%, Pig on the Wall 4.3% and Fireside 5% are joined at the bar by another seven guest ales and two hand pumped ciders.  Initially the guests appear to come from the West Midlands, but expect plenty of variety in the future.


The management of the pub got off to a shaky start, with the first incumbent Eric Mills leaving his post after only two weeks!  Now Keith and Helen are at the helm, having previously been assistant managers at the Kings Arms in Leicester.  With all the excellent work that has been carried out in the Raglan, Keith and Helen have a fantastic opportunity to succeed.  We wish them the best of luck in the future.


The buying and reopening of the Rugby Tavern came as quite a shock. The last thing we were suspecting was for Black Country Inns to buy a 2nd pub in the town centre.  It will revert back to its original name of The Windmill after lying unused for a number of years.  We believe it was owned by Everards of Leicester, which begs the question.  Why didn’t they open it under their name, as they do not own a pub in town?


Work is now taking place and should open its doors in late July or early August.  It’s been a while since it was last open and so expect a completely different layout to its previous island bar.  We look forward to it reopening, but as we said.  You wait for one to open and then two come along at once.


Article written by Richard Potter