03 June 2016

The Whippet Inn fulfils Larkin’s wish that
people in pubs would talk about his poems

The Whippet Inn at No 21 Tamworth Street, Lichfield … a former home of the Larkin family once stood here (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

When I was writing about Philip Larkin earlier this week and the three poems he wrote in Lichfield while he was living in Cherry Orchard, I referred to the fact that the Larkin family had lived at two different addresses, including No 21 Tamworth Street, beside the sadly neglected and decaying former Regal Cinema.

The house at No 21 Tamworth Street is long gone, and the site now hosts the Whippet Inn, which is Lichfield’s first true ‘micropub.’

The Whippet Inn was named as Pub of the Year for Staffordshire and overall Pub of the Year last year [2015] by the Lichfield, Sutton and Tamworth branch of CAMRA. Earlier, official ale tasters from several Midland towns and cities converged on the Whippet Inn.

Deb Henderson and Paul Hudson of the Whippet Inn were delighted to receive this award from the Campaign for Real Ale within 12 months of opening their micropub. They opened the Whippet Inn two years ago, on 17 April 2014, in an old dress shop, virtually opposite the Pig and Truffle on Tamworth Street. Before that, they had spent six months searching for the perfect premises in the centre of Lichfield.

They say they have a passion and an obsession for real ale and this drove their desire to bring a wider selection of micro and small independently brewed ales to the Lichfield.

Lichfield has some excellent pubs, but this is the first micropub. A micropub is usually a single room, former shop premises, as is the case with the Whippet Inn. There, the focus is on real ale, real cider, and wine. They do not sell lager, keg beer, or spirits.

They add: “True micropubs hark back to the days of the ale house when conversation was king with no influence from gaming machines, TVs nor music.”

Nor is the Whippet Inn on Tamworth Street open every day, and when it is open the hours are not too long. It is closed on Monday and Tuesday; on Wednesday and Thursday it opens from 12 noon to 2.30 p.m. and again from 4.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; on Friday and Saturday it opens from 12 noon to 10 p.m.; and on Sundays it only opens from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

There is seating for about 25 people, and a total capacity of 40 or so. No keg beer or kiddie alcopops are sold, or even spirits – just real ale, real cider and fruit wines, plus a few bottled beers. Food is simple snacks, at the pork pie/scotch egg level.

The Whippet is the idea of Deb Henderson and Paul Hudson, who came from Morton Brewery, which had opened a micropub in Wolverhampton.

But where did they get the name? The Whippet Inn is a classic double entendre in the Carry On movies and is the name of the pub in Carry On At Your Convenience. No doubt, Philip Larkin – who once told his publisher “I’d like to think … that people in pubs would talk about my poems” – would have appreciated the humour.

The Whippet Inn is at No 21 Tamworth Street, Lichfield, WS13 6JP. Telephone: 07858 753653.

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