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How was it for you? with trainman on the Pub Forum

Blue Gates Hotel, Smethwick

100 High Street
Smethwick
B66 1AA

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 4 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines


Please Note: This review is over a year old.


Pub SignMan left this review about Blue Gates Hotel

Sometimes a pub is worth visiting not for its beer, its atmosphere or its architecture, but because it has an interesting story to tell, and such is the case with the otherwise fairly unremarkable Blue Gates – a large pub and former hotel opposite Smethwick Rolfe Street station. In 1965, civil rights activist Malcolm X visited Smethwick after learning of a local government scheme that prevented black and Asian residents from buying their own homes in the area. As part of his visit, he was taken to the Blue Gates – a segregated pub with a separate bar for black and Asian customers. He entered the whites-only Smoke Room but was refused service and was forced to move through to the side bar where he was served a pint of bitter. Testimonies from local Sikh residents paint a bleak picture of life for immigrants in places like Smethwick and his visit plus the attendant press coverage galvanised the community to push for change, with pub segregation in the town on the way out by the end of the year. Sadly Malcolm X never got to see these results as he was assassinated back in the US just nine days after his visit to the Blue Gates.
I suspect he might be pleased to find the pub currently being operated by two friendly Indian gentlemen and frequented by a wide range of customers from this multi-cultural community. Having said that, when I arrived on a Saturday afternoon, I was unsure quite what to expect when I was confronted by a sign on the front door stating that the pub was open for ‘Regulars Only’. Undeterred, I soldiered on, finding myself inside a large open plan room – the old separate bars having been knocked through to form a large square room with a central island servery. The room is carpeted throughout with some comfy banquettes around the perimeter supplemented by some standard chairs. This leaves a large gap between the seats and servery, which unfortunately makes the place feel rather soulless, even as a good pre-match crowd started to build up ahead of West Brom’s 3pm kick off. The front right corner is filled by a pool table and there was a dartboard on the other side of the room, but this only made a small dent in the empty acreage. As if this wasn’t enough, there is an overspill area to the rear right, which is also opened out beyond a small low wall and offers more of the same seating in a very plain, unadorned space. TV’s throughout the room were showing Bargain Hunt with the sound on, although thankfully someone put The Doors on the juke box which drowned it out. Elsewhere, several pictures sparingly dot the walls, many depicting various Indian scenes.
It was no great surprise to find no handpulls on the bar, so I ended up with a pint of M&B Mild for £2.30, which represented good value and by far the most interesting option among the usual keg mega-brand suspects. The service was pretty efficient and friendly and the pub seems to have a good core of regulars who all seemed to know one another.
I was really pleased to visit this pub which merits a small footnote in the struggle for race relations in the UK. The pub today is a basic affair that will probably have little of interest to the casual visitor, but it seems to serve the local community well (certainly more so than its 1960’s incarnation) and has a story that deserves to be told.

On 4th April 2017 - rating: 4
[User has posted 2508 recommendations about 2508 pubs]


Please Note: This review is over a year old.


Soup Dragon left this review about Blue Gates Hotel

This is a detached pub and former hotel. It is a 1930s build, which replaced an earleir hotel on the same site and with the same name - indeed, there were likely two previous incarnations. It is in a 17th century style, executed in brick, with large sash windows and dormered mansard roof. There is a projecting enrance tower, and blue shutteres are attached to the lower frontage windows as a pun on the name. The interior is a huge open plan room, all around the central island serving bar. There is a dart board, table footy game and a couple of pool tables. The decor is mainly cream, with some wood panel and it mainly has perimeter seating. A few mixed prints adorn the walls. There is a TV - somewhat awkward for most to see, which had general programmes on. The service was friendly and the clientele mixed and cosmopolitan - watch out for the impromptu dancing by the semi-merry locals - driven by coutry and western music on the jukebox. Beer; no real ale, just the usual keg stuff, with a decent enough M&B MILD. A place that is so big, i am sure it nearly always feels empty, no matter how many are in. Nothing for the real ale fan, but friendly and ok for a swifty.

On 14th August 2013 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 3053 recommendations about 3048 pubs]