Ye Olde Pounde
Anyone who has lived in the Solihull area for a while, will know Ye Olde Pounde Café at the top of Liveridge Hill, just north of Henley-in-Arden. Famed for its all-day breakfast, it’s been there for so many years that it has become a much-loved local landmark. Frequented by business people during the week, and by walkers and cyclists at the weekend, it is bright, clean and friendly and serves inexpensive, good quality, home-cooked food.
Founded in 1968, in 2018 Ye Olde Pounde celebrated 50 years in business, which is no mean feat in this day and age. During that time, it has been run by just two families. The current owners, Malcolm and Sherry, who have had it for 14 years, bought it from Mrs Connor, who had managed it for the previous 36, with the help of her two daughters, Angie and Kate. Mrs Connor originally bought the business with her husband. Mr Connor, an ex-marine who had a haulage company and was already familiar with the popular “transport café”. When it came up for sale, he persuaded his wife to give up her job as a typist and run it with him. After only seven years, Mr Connor sadly passed away leaving his young wife and daughters to carry on without him. Mrs Connor, now a sprightly 90 year old, who has tragically outlived both her daughters, still lives in Henley just five minutes down the road from the café.
Although it’s officially only 50, in reality Ye Olde Pounde is much older. Mrs Connor believes there was a catering establishment, of one form or another, on the site for many years before she took over. The house attached to the café was built in 1907 and locals recall an eatery being there during the First World War. At the turn of the century, it is thought that a café on the site catered to the needs of cyclists and early automobilers. Even further back, records suggest that the location was a gathering place as much as three hundred years ago, when the Henley-in-Arden medieval pounde is thought to have been on the site, hence the name, Ye Olde Pounde. In the 17th century the location was probably the turning place for the cockhorses that assisted carriages up Liveridge Hill on their way on to Birmingham.
In more recent times, Ye Olde Pounde has been a thriving roadside café for as far back as anyone can remember. In the 70s and 80s the A34 provided a steady stream of customers travelling between the West Midlands and the South. During the construction of the M40 the café was the busiest it had ever been and Mrs Connor had to employ extra staff to cope with demand. Inevitably, the ascendance of the M40 as the main route south, and the downgrading of the A34 to the A3400, had a negative impact on trade. But, despite some challenging times, Mrs Connor and her daughters clung on and gradually built a new clientele from nearby businesses and passing trade.
That passing trade often included some very famous visitors in search of a good ‘Full English’. In particular, Mrs Conner remembers serving The Stranglers, The Three Degrees and Cliff Richard.
Sherry and Malcolm
By 2004, when Sherry and Malcolm bought it, the café had become a popular breakfast and meeting spot for field based workforces from the likes of Lucas and MEB. Indeed, Sherry and Malcolm both worked for Lucas themselves, prior to taking it on. While some of that business has since disappeared as the economic landscape in the Midlands has changed, new groups of customers always seemed to have emerged to save the day. Today the majority of customers are local tradesmen, travelling sales representatives and business people. The good Wi-Fi network makes it an ideal location to stop and catch up with some emails in between meetings.
The interior is fresh and airy, skylights flooding the space with natural light. Food is prepared behind the counter, in full view of the diners, on a large, spotlessly clean stainless steel range. The menu is simple: breakfasts, hot and cold sandwiches, jacket potatoes and a few British standards like pies, lasagne and fish and chips. The tea is divine!
Ye Olde Pounde is open every day except Sundays from 6.30am until 3pm (2pm on Saturdays). So, the next time you are passing, why not pop in for a cuppa and a bacon sarnie? Better still, make a special trip there for a Saturday morning breakfast treat!