Worcester pubs we had one or maybe twenty two in for the road
There are pub crawls and pub crawls for alcoholics, but few can match Worcester’s seriously misnamed challenge, The Cross to Shrub Hill Run. It definitely wasn’t a “run”.
In the end, the contestants were lucky enough to be able to stand, let alone walk, and it took the constitution of a sponge to get well past the two-thirds mark. In fact, it was probably a sickly stagger before that.
The endeavor dates back to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and involved navigating all 22 licensed premises on the route through the borough of Lowesmoor from the junction at The Cross to the railway station at Shrub Hill.
Apparently you’d be a man if you could put a pint in each one, keep going and reach Shrub Hill upright. Anyone who could still read the timetable was superhuman. In the Victorian/Edwardian street creed, it became the ultimate test of manhood.
The pubs to be negotiated were Hollybush, Packhorse, Dog and Duck, Imperial, Old Yorkshire House, Old Falcon, the Union, Crown and Anchor, Boat Inn, Black Horse, Alma, the Express, Turks Head, the Swan, the Navigation , Lansdowne , West Midland Arms, Prince of Wales, Railway Arms, Midland Arms, Great Western Vaults and The Ram. Most of them are long gone.
Lowesmoor was originally called “Loosemoor” because it was an area of poorly drained soil east of the city center that was home to many of Worcester’s growing working class.
Narrow streets created a network of terraced and semi-detached houses and, as is so often the case, there was a lively sense of neighborhood.
More than 20 years ago, the originator of this column, the legendary Mike Grundy, interviewed 80-year-old Jim Tunstall, who was born and raised in Lowesmoor, and the following is just part of a firsthand nostalgic gem.
Jim said to Mike, “The houses were separated by narrow corridors and had a back yard and a garden. There were only two outside toilets between four houses and we had to walk down six steps and across the yard to them, using a candle to light the way after dark.
“Our house on St. Martin’s Street had a basement where the coal was stored and cooked, a sitting room and four bedrooms. Although times were hard in the 1920s and 30s, life was pretty good for us as a family, because luckily our dad was always working, he was a printer at Ebenezer Baylis.
“He was quite a strict Victorian and we always had to wear aprons to Sunday lunch and only sit at the table and leave him when he ordered us to.
“Previously, apples were delivered to Hill Evan’s huge vinegar factories in Lowesmoor by carts and these loads were lifted into an attic with a lift. As children we sometimes stole an apple or two. Nearby was the big yard of Winwoods, the big moving company. There were stables for Shire horses, several wagons, and a barn with a hayrack.”
The lamplighter was also an integral part of life in the area and Jim had fond memories of the trams that used to run through Lowesmoor.
Handy for those coming home who haven’t completed the Cross to Shrub Hill Run.