Express & Star

The Walsall pub a hit with local musicians wanting to showcase their talent

As pubs continue to battle the cost of living crisis, the Express & Star continues its Love Your Local series which celebrates our local inns.

Rich Gothard, Cathryn Jones and Ella Gothard at the Shire Oak

The Shire Oak in Walsall has become a hit with locals for its regular events, including the open mic nights which allows budding musicians to showcase their talents.

The pub is run by former comedian Rick Gothard, 59, and his partner Cathryn Jones, 45, after they took over in October 2020.

After having a difficult start building relationships with the locals, a lot of hard work has gone into building the trust and now Rick says himself and Cathryn are regarded more as friends than just publicans.

The Shire Oak

Rick, originally from Barnsley, said: "Cath owned a hotel in Scotland and we ran it for seven years before deciding to sell and we put our CVs out, and got offered lots of opportunities but the Shire Oak was ideal.

"It was a little difficult to start with, as the guy who had it before us had a good reputation and so it took a lot of work to win the locals over, but we turned it around, built many relationships, after a lot of hard work and effort.

"The hard work has not stopped though and still continues, we are still very hands on and we do not just rely on others to do the work.

"One of the great things we do is run regular events throughout the week, every night except Tuesdays and so it has become really popular.

The Shire Oak

"We also have done several charity events and helped campaigns for charity that local people have been running, all of this has really helped build that family-feel."

The pub runs several events such as open mic nights, quiz nights, karaoke nights, live music and bingo - all of which comes from Rick having worked as a stand-up comedian when he used to live in Tenerife.

He said: "I lived and worked in Tenerife and I would warm the crowd up before entertainment came on, and that has carried over into the Shire Oak.

"I still warm the crowd up, and so it is like Tenerife but without the sun.

The Shire Oak

"The open mic nights on Mondays really help promote lots of young local talent.

"We have seen a lot of young local talent come through and they invite people along to see them perform, and so they appreciate the platform we are providing but we also appreciate them because they are bringing people in and so it helps everyone all around.

"We serve food daily here too from midday, and on Sundays we do Sunday roasts which have become so popular.

"We initially started doing them when we took over and people wanted them as takeaways as you couldn't eat in due to the lockdown, and so it became a massive hit and has carried on ever since.

"One thing that we are proud of is that everything is made fresh on the day onsite, nothing is frozen and so customers can taste the difference and really appreciate that.

"It has become so popular that a table has to be booked in order to eat here on a Sunday."

The Shire Oak

The couple took over the pub in October 2020, during the Covid pandemic that crippled the hospitality industry, but for Rick and Cathryn, they saw that it was an opportunistic time for them to take over a pub.

Rick added: "It suited us taking over during that time as it allowed us to take time to prepare, put things in place and plan on how we want to push the business moving forward.

"There wasn't many big changes but it allowed us to inject our own ideas and touches to make it our own and so it worked out quite well for us.

"Now it has grown a lot and thankfully we are doing well. People are coming into the pub which is the main thing, and it genuinely is classed as a good local pub.

"We like to raise money for charities and help local campaigns, and the regulars are always happy to get involved - the punters are very supportive and we appreciate it."