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The Bartons Arms, Birmingham

144 High Street
Postal town: Birmingham
B6 4UP
Phone: 01213335988

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 9 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Will Larter left this review about The Bartons Arms

This fantastic-looking pub has been on my radar since purchasing Camra's real heritage pubs guide to the Midlands and my visit to Birmingham to do a Digbeth crawl provided me with an opportunity. It's easily reached from the city centre by the frequent 51 bus service (my Plus Bus ticket obtained with my train tickets made the journey a cheap one, too). The pub is well described below and in the Camra publication (and website) referred to, so I'll concentrate on the beer. There are numerous hand pumps scattered around the large central bar, most of the beers being from Oakham. My half of Bishops Farewell was in good nick, but not the best I've ever had. Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to be here and I hope to get the opportunity for a return visit before too long.

Date of visit: 11th July 2018

On 22nd October 2018 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2630 recommendations about 2480 pubs]

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Ian Mapp left this review about The Bartons Arms

Nominated on its own facebook entry as Birmingham's best kept secret.

I'd heard about it but this was my first visit.

A terrifying urban walk from the CIty Centre and met with an impressive victorian classic exterior. But its the inside where all the beauty is. Simply stunning tiled interior with plush red carpets leading to snob screen bars, an opulent staircase, tiling and stained glass windows.

Beer festival on - in addition to the Oakham regulars. Thai food smelled wonderful.

Visit blogged at

On 29th April 2018 - rating: 10
[User has posted 655 recommendations about 649 pubs]

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Nick Davies left this review about The Bartons Arms

A bit of a pilgrimage to get here. I'm not going to repeat the descriptions below, suffice it to say it's one of those living museums that all pub lovers should make an effort to visit. I would say that at 5PM midweek we doubled the number of customers. In some other cities it would be filling up with after-work trade. I just hope the Thai food and live music are enough to keep it going.

On 25th February 2018 - rating: 9
[User has posted 497 recommendations about 489 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Bartons Arms

Large and very imposing building - left somewhat marooned by various road and urban regeneration projects of dubious merit - dominated by a grand clock tower. However, a lack of disctinction is certainly not something you could say about the interior which is widely held as being one of the most remarkable in the country. The tilework and stained glass are fantastic survivors from the late Victorian period when it was built by Mitchell and Butlers in 1901 as their flagship house. A total of 15 handpumps are scattered around the central triangular bar, with quite a few doubled-up, but offering five Oakham beers ranging from the JHB (£2.80 after 20p Camra discount) through Citra, Inferno, and Bishop's Farewell to the Green Devil IPA plus a couple of guest beers and two ciders (one of which was the Oakham Apple Twisted Tree). Thankfully (mostly) untouched over the years, so let's hope that it is kept that way so that future generations can make the effort to get out of Birmingham city centre and marvel at this must-visit pub.

On 20th September 2015 - rating: 9
[User has posted 6090 recommendations about 6090 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Bartons Arms

Built in 1901 for Mitchells and Butler, this grand Victorian pub has one of the most visually striking interiors I've ever had the pleasure of encountering. The view from outside is remarkable enough thanks to some wonderful Dutch gables and a central clock tower on the roof. It certainly looks out of place in a part of town otherwise devoid of aesthetic appeal. Entering through the right hand door, denoted by a cut glass pane stating 'Lounge', you rather confusingly find yourself in the public bar thanks to the removal of various internal walls over the years. The doorway, like others around the pub, boasts a mosaic tile floor porch and small glass panes depicting delicate flowers. The servery dominates the room, acting nowadays as a peninsula bar with a decorative dark wood counter and gantry and a relatively restrained bar back with at least one decorative mirror which the barmaid was busy cleaning when I arrived. Original snob screens can be found around one side of the bar, although I initially dismissed them as such when I viewed them from the other end of the bar, assuming that they were too high to be snob screens - presumably a visual trick caused by the sloping floor. Walls are half panelled with some diagonally set tiles on the end wall with coloured inserts and a high decorative frieze. Windows are a mix of plain and etched glass including some curved panes over in the right hand bay. Plush banquette and standard seating runs around the perimeter of the room and makes this a great spot to settle down for a few drinks.
The pub takes on a different character as you move left of the bar, eventually reaching a room signed as the 'Smoke Room' by another cut glass door, but now used as a dining room for the in-house Thai restaurant. Various original walls remain on this side, creating distinct areas and offering a degree of privacy, especially at quieter times. The floor is still bare boarded here and seating has switched to a more formal table and chair set up with most tables laid for service, but the big change here is the breath-taking tile work which sees a dazzling range of colours and styles vying for attention. There is a large stained glass window on the far wall and further back, a separate area boasts a most impressive fireplace. Perhaps my favourite spot is the hallway that connects these rooms to the main bar. This space is dominated by a grand curved staircase leading up to the Board Room and Billiards Room (both unexplored on this visit), but can also boast an upright piano, a large M&B stained glass window and an amazing painted tile picture of a hunting scene. The whole area is rounded off with a decorative ceiling, elaborate light fixtures and a large floral display on the end of the bar.
As if all of this was not a good enough reason to visit, the pub was taken over by the Oakham Brewery back in 2003 following a period of closure and various failed ventures and threats of demolition. This guarantees a good range of ales on the bar, with Oakham Citra, Bishops Farewell, Inferno, JHB and Apple available alongside guests Brentwood Maple Mild and Off Beat Bohemian Antipodean Pale. Kegs options included Oakham Green Devil IPA, Mad Hatter Down the Rabbit Hole and Shiny Wrench. A CAMRA card ensures a 20p discount on a pint of ale. I had a pint of Citra which was in near perfect condition and slipped down very well after my brisk 20-25 minute walk here from Moor Street station (it's not a great walk - you might consider one of the buses that run past the pub from the city centre).
There was so much I enjoyed about this pub, yet as I left I couldn't help but think that I had probably missed as much as I discovered. It's a pub that will reward repeat visits, but if that isn't possible, make sure you at least make it out here once - I'm certainly glad I did.

On 14th November 2014 - rating: 9
[User has posted 2472 recommendations about 2472 pubs]

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Mark Davey left this review about Bartons Arms

Fantastic Victorian establishment. Just check out those tiles and the wooden bar. It's hard to believe that the locals tried to burn this pub down during the 2011 riots, in an attempt to leur the police into an ambush where 11 shots were fired at them and the police helicopter. Some damage was done to the stained glass windows, the barmaid pointed out scars on the bar where stuff was thrown in but luckily the place survived with superficial damage. Superb range of Oakham brews as well as guests. certainly worth the ride out on the bus to sample, will certainly call again, don't let the horror story put you off.

On 31st July 2012 - rating: 9
[User has posted 292 recommendations about 276 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Real Ale Ray left this review about Bartons Arms

Here's another 10 for the Bartons Arms, I heard so much about this pub and was not disappointed. Can't wait for another visit.

On 7th November 2011 - rating: 10
[User has posted 2976 recommendations about 2976 pubs]

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Bucking Fastard left this review about Bartons Arms

There is little to add to the great reviews below.The detailing in the restaurant area is magnificent with velvet covered ornate benches,push button call bells and snob screen in what must have been considered as the respectable end of the large island bar.An upright piano sits underneath the sweeping staircase which leads the the function rooms.
Oakham showcase their outstanding ale range here,together with a guest mild from ABC ,a style which Oakham do not attempt.The Thai food is also wonderful ,and I am hard pressed to think of a better thai meal; the combination with Oakham ales work perfectly.
Any trip to the Second City should include a lengthy stay at this gem,one of the best pubs in the country.I will be back .

On 30th June 2011 - rating: 10
[User has posted 2058 recommendations about 2058 pubs]

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Thuck Phat left this review about Bartons Arms

An absolutely stunning late Victorian town pub with the majority of original features intact having undergone a sympathetic, and surely costly, restoration. The tiling, especially in the restaurant area at the back, is typically Victorian in its colouring and fussy detail and has to be seen to be believed. The bar at the front has comfortable, re-upholstered but original benches around the walls with a sloping wooden floor which is black and white tiled around the bar. It feels cavernous but comfortable. The restaurant at the back is cosier and very original boasting a stunning staircase on the way.
As an Oakham house the beer is top quality. Attila, JHB, Bishops Farewell, Black Hole Porter, Inferno and Citra were all offered. We tried all except the JHB and all were exceptional. ABC Aston Dark Mild was on as a guest.
At the rear is a Thai restaurant with an interesting and good value menu. The food we had was excellent, clearly fresh, well cooked and very tasty.
The Barton Arms is well worth a visit to see the interior alone but with the added bonus of top quality beer and exceptional food it must be among the best pubs in the country.

On 29th June 2011 - rating: 10
[User has posted 670 recommendations about 669 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about Bartons Arms

A pub with the ‘wow’ factor, despite the inauspicious location. Takes a starring role in CAMRA's National Inventory of historic interiors and it’s easy to see why. This is a late Victorian (1901) multi-roomed battleship with ornate wall tiling, snob screens, archways, mosaics, and a four-sided clock tower. Watch out for the sloping floor of the main bar after a few beers! After a long period of closure (apparently this was due to be demolished in the 70’s to allow for road widening) this is now owned by Peterborough-based Oakham Ales. Four Oakham beers are always on plus two guests alongside a great selection of Trappist beers. All ales are priced between £2.40-£3 – the quality of the three I sampled were all very good. Two large rooms out the back host a Thai restaurant. It was pretty quiet when we went in on a Friday afternoon and I imagine that it doesn’t get a huge amount of trade during the daytime, given its location. However the pub is near to Villa Park, so gets busy when the footy’s on.

The pub can be accessed by frequent buses leaving from right outside the Square Peg in the city centre which take around 10 minutes to get here. It’s a real must-visit when you plan a trip to Brum.

On 12th November 2010 - rating: 9
[User has posted 3997 recommendations about 3985 pubs]

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