THEY come in all shapes, sizes and architectural styles and are a reassuringly familiar part of the British townscape or countryside and Bromsgrove and Droitwich are fortunate in having some of Worcestershire's finest.
We are talking about pubs. Those friendly, welcoming places where, in some cases, for centuries travellers and locals have met to rest, refresh or just chew over the day's events. Worcestershire has well over 500 pubs and 60 of them are included in a new book, Worcestershire's Historic Pubs, compiled by a dedicated couple of Kidderminster men, Keith Turner and Jan Dobrzynski.
The have worked together in the past to produce the highly successful A Postcard from the Severn, published by Sutton in 2006. Keith has also written numerous transport books and five local histories.
During the course of their extensive research for the book they visited and revisited all 60 establishments. As a result they can confidently recommend them to anyone in search of good food and drink, pleasant company, a slice of Worcestershire history and the odd quirk and curiosity with a witch or ghost thrown in for good measure.
The book includes some popular riverside pubs, wayside taverns, canal and railway pubs - such as at Stoke Works - some home brew' pubs and community locals.' The writers have done well to come up with some aspects of their chosen pubs' histories and former layouts given the craze in the 70s and 80s for big brewers to gut the ancient interiors in favour of plastic and other tawdry fittings and fixtures.
The Old Cock Inn in Friar Street, Droitwich Spa, is one of the pubs featured in the book.
This charming town pub, the oldest licensed premises in the Spa, is thought to have been first licensed as an inn in 1712, around the end of Queen Anne's reign.
It sports three distinctive windows from the former Norman church of St Nicholas and a stone carving of the head of the notorious hanging' Judge Jeffreys over the door with a frog emerging from his mouth.
There have been reports of spooks frequenting the premises, which comes as no surprise as it is generally believed that the end of Friar Street is haunted.
Situated alongside the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Stoke Works, near Bromsgrove, is the attractive mid-Victorian red brick Boat and Railway public house.
Both modes of transport which feature in the pub's name are still evident nearby and hark back to the days of John Corbett's Salt Works, which were situated just yards away.
The long public bar is sub-divided into two different areas - which would have once been separate rooms - and is furnished in the style of the period. Both have open fires.
At the back is a canalside terrace with the pub's sign above a door to inform and entice passing boaters to tie up and step inside.
The well illustrated paperback is published by Sutton at £12.99 and is available from all good bookshops.