Sadly I haven’t really been able to find any information on this gem of a now demolished pub, other than to state the obvious that it was named in recognition of Curzon Street station which stood opposite the site until 1966 (and if recently unveiled high speed rail plans are forged ahead, may well again!).
My first recollection of the Old Railway was in 1985 when a teacher at my school – who knew I was learning to play drums and was into rock music – told me his son’s band Hostage were gigging at the pub and that he’d put me on the guest list! At 15 it was the first gig I’d ever been to and I’d never heard of Curzon Street but found my way there and it certainly confirmed my conviction that playing in bands was what I wanted to do. Several months later I found myself there once more to watch the first gig of a local band called Fayre Warning after bumping in to their bass player on a number 27 bus in West Heath.
The pub itself was quite run-down and consisted of a small bar connected by a short corridor, which could also be entered directly from the Curzon Street side of the building, to the room that used to house gigs. The venue part was small – I would estimate it held a couple of hundred standing people at the most – with a stage at one end, alcove for mixing desk the other, and bar the length of one side with a small ‘dressing room’ for bands accessed from behind the bar via a hatch at the stage end of the room.
Legend has it that Robert Plant and John Bonham from Led Zeppelin – and a whole host of other Brum-based musical notaries – frequented the place back in the 70s but during my time there I recall mostly local rock/metal acts, such as Shy, Briar and Tobruk, regularly gigging there and/or propping up the bar. I also attended an all-day rock festival there sometime around 1986/7 which was fun as I was working at Musical Exchanges then and so knew a lot of the musicians who were playing during the day.
Also in 1986/7 I played a gig there myself with my band Lost Cause (prophetically named) and I seem to recall that the landlady was called Gail and whose partner was a very amiable Rasta whose name escapes me!
Some time in the late 1980s I recall the Old Railway closing as a pub/gig venue and being turned into a Mexican Restaurant and by then Edwards Number 7 & 8 was in full swing as a rock gig venue and that was the end of my association with the place. I do, however, understand it reopened once more as the Old Railway towards the end of the 1990s but, as can be seen from the above photograph, is once again no more. Subject of a compulsory purchase order as part of the City’s Eastside redevelopment the pub, along with its surrounding area, lay derelict for a time until demolition began in late 2007.
If anyone reading this used to frequent the Old Railway, played there in bands, or has any information that would add to this article, please get in touch.