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Meriden Licensees Receive Prestigious Long Service Award
Awards , News
The licensees of The Queen’s Head in Meriden, Solihull have received a prestigious long service award to mark their 20th anniversary at the historic 1600s pub. West Midlands born-and-bred Caroline and Laurence O’Neill are not calling ‘time’ yet and are now extending their lease so they can clock up a further decade at the pub.
The award from the pub’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars, recognises the contribution the couple have made to Meriden over the years. Known for serving a great pint and its popular homemade pie of the day, The Queen’s Head is the last traditional local in the village and provides a meeting place where residents come together as well as a refreshment stop for ramblers. A hub of the community, it supports village events like the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, helps raise money for local good causes and delivers meals to housebound elderly residents.
Regulars of The Queen’s Head for 15 years, Caroline (who was then a teaching assistant) and Laurence (an engineer at the time) changed careers to take on the pub, when the previous landlord told them he was retiring. Says Laurence: “It was the heart of village life with a lovely atmosphere and customers; we couldn’t resist it.” Two decades later the duo have no regrets. Continues Laurence: “The original plan was to stay here five years but we never wanted to leave! We love running The Queen’s Head, and the best part is our fantastic customers and staff who’ve supported us every step of the way.”
Originally a private home, the building became a drinking house in the late 1600s and then a coaching inn called The Queen’s Head Hotel. The pub has been extended over the years, but the original beams are still visible in the attic. Whilst the O’Neills have maintained The Queen’s Head to a high standard, they have kept the traditional décor they liked when they first became customers in the 1980s. Pictures of the pub through the ages adorn the walls along with horse brasses, bridles, a halter and a collection of old memorabilia such as Toby Jugs reflecting its past. “It’s like stepping back in time”, says Laurence.
The pub’s old-fashioned feel and friendliness have helped it retain a loyal following of regulars, some of whom have been customers for more than 50 years. It is also bringing in younger pub goers, who are discovering the attractions of “a proper pub”.
Looking to the future, the O’Neills say their greatest wish is to keep The Queen’s Head thriving. Says Caroline: “It has played a central role in Meriden life for nearly 350 years, and we’d like to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.”
Comments Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager Jacqueline Frow who presented the award: “Despite all the challenges of the past few years, The Queen’s Head has stood the test of time and is busier than ever. It’s a wonderfully welcoming pub and it’s all down to Caroline and Laurence. It’s brilliant news for the area and testimony to the enduring popularity of the great British pub that they’ve taken another 10-year lease.”