One of the few original buildings left in Birmingham's Gun Quarter. The trade continued to develop through the 18th and 19th centuries with the tradesmen receiving their wages in the pub from the 'gun gaffers'. In the 1960s the heart of the quarter was lost when the Inner Ring Road and Lancaster Circus were constructed, a great loss of history for future generations.
The Blue Plaques outside states,
A brief look at the heritage of The Bull (formerly The Bull's Head) Price Street, Birmingham 4 By John Ashby During the middle of the seventeenth century, Birmingham was becoming established as a gun manufacturing centre and in 1689 a government contract was undertaken to produce military small arms. Later in 1693 a larger contract was awarded whereby Birmingham gunsmiths agreed to supply 200 weapons a month for a year. Such contracts resulted in the expansion of the industry, and this caused production to exceed demand. Manufacturers looked for a counter-balance and soon the production of sporting weapons became common. Firearms production was a very specialised trade and initially all the operations were carried out by individual gunsmiths, but as orders increased and different styles of weapons were introduced, people began to specialise in manufacture of the various component parts. By the end of the eighteenth century, when the development of the flintlock pistol had been perfected, Birmingham was the foremost arms producer in the world; by some one million items over its nearest rival London, and was employing a few thousand people who in the main worked in a definite area, this became known as the Gun Quarter. The Bull's Head is in the Gun Quarter. The exact date of its construction is difficult to determine but Price Street appears to have developed in two sections. Firstly, the old street on the corner of which stands number one, the Bull's Head and then the second section called new Buildings, also starting from number one. People who now the area well claim that as early as 1729 there was a gun implement maker residing at No. 1 Price Street. He was also a beer retailer. It is interesting to compare the trades of some of the occupants of both sections. The older certainly went back to the eighteenth century, and probably the Bull’s Head with it. The newer developed as a result of the rapidly expanding firearms industry. In the old section with its fifty-nine houses and seven courts there were several shopkeepers, two cow keepers, a tea urn and coal dealer, a marine store dealer, an earthenware dealer and two beer retailers, to name but a few. There were also twenty-two tradesmen associated with the gun trade working in domestic workshops. In the later section, all twenty-eight buildings were occupied by gun makers and allied trades. Malcolm Bowater, a gun stock maker, is still working in Price Street. He has worked in the area for more than forty years, having been apprenticed at Greener’s, which stood at the corner of St. Mary’s Row and Loveday Street. People such as Malcolm remember dealers made considerable fortunes from the gun industry at the time of the American Civil War, and there are accounts that they would go to extremes to publicise their wealth. When travelling around the town they would hire two cabs, one for the man and the other for his top hat and cane, In the middle of the 19th century it was common for the “gun gaffer” to pay their employee’s wages in the Bull’s Head. This practice inevitable led to much drinking and subsequently much brawling on the saw-dust covered floor. At this time, there was a strong catholic community in the Gun Quarter and often the landlord would summon for the local priest to sort out the fighters rather than enlist the services of the “Peelers”. There was also a resident fiddle player who would continue to play whilst all about him was in complete fiasco. Ben Wilde who has been associated with the trade for over fifty years and works in Price Street, has the only gun showroom now open in the Midlands, and is well worth a visit. This sadly reflects on the decline of one of Birmingham’s one-time major industries. Now, after extensive refurbishment, the pub has been renaming The Bull - and enters another place in history. Whether the next two hundred years will have the same colour as the last two hundred only time will tell.
This Bull is an award-winning, traditional pub located in the heart of Birmingham's internationally-famous Gun Quarter. There has been a hostelry selling ales on this site since the 18th century. Steeped in local history, The Bull is "a jewel in the crown of Birmingham's pubs” as you enter you will notice the supreme landlady Rose McCann who has been manager there for over 20 years, the deco has a lady’s touch. It’s a wonderful stepping back into history with such a warm welcome by Rose you sure want to come back.
When it comes to beer, they are proud to serve a wide selection of traditional hand-pulled cask ales, many of which are "guests", lagers or stouts. Not only that the food menu offers a wide selection of home-cooked meals plus an excellent daily choice available from their 'Specials' blackboard.
The title of this painting comes from the world-famous Birmingham band Black Sabbath, Sweet Leaf" the song from their third studio album Master of Reality, released in 1971
The Bull is the ideal place to unwind at lunch-time or in the evening, hence therefore our sweethearts have come along for a lunchtime meal, as you know Our Lady does enjoy a pint of cask ale its terrible moreish.