Some history of the Queen's Head on Burbury Street
Located on the corner of Burbury Street and Bridge Street West, the Queen's Head was one of those pubs that could serve the needs of customers from Lozells, Newtown and Hockley. However, the pub was a popular watering hole with those who worked at the Lucas Factory situated a few yards from the front door. In the first photograph [below] the Queen's Head can be seen in the late 1920's and shows the elevation on Bridge Street West along with a tantalising glimpse along Burbury Street. A woman in contemporary 'flapper' clothing is walking up the street towards the mailbox on the corner of the street.
The Queen's Head can be seen in the livery of Atkinson's Brewery though the pub had earlier been operated by Peter Walker and Co. Ltd. of Burton-on-Trent. Note the large brass handle on the corner door, a feature that would soon vanish - an early case of metal thieves in Birmingham perhaps? Management of the Queen's Head changed during the year of this image with Arthur Payton being succeeded by Alfred Cashmore as licensee.
The Queen's Head probably dated from the early 1850's, a period when Burbury Street was being developed, though some houses and businesses were established during the late 1840's. The pub appears in the 1854 Post Office Directory which recorded Samuel Cockayne as the licensee. The victualler appeared in a more expansive listing during the following year when White's Directory of Birmingham was published. This also shows that he was wholesaling wines and spirits in addition to running the public house. Moreover, he had established a cab business in the locality. Unfortunately, it all went a bit pear-shaped for Samuel Cockayne for the former publican was declared bankrupt in 1867.
The Queen's Head was a fully licensed house and one of the principal taverns in Lozells for the property was often used as a Coroner's Court. One of the more sensational cases to be heard in the tavern was that of the manslaughter of George Burman, a gold pencil worker who lived along the road. He was assaulted by Alfred Marshall and Edward Birken [see newspaper article] who were found guilty at the Warwick Assizes and each sentenced to one year's hard labour.
In 1862 the licensee of the Queen's Head, Mr. Simpson, appeared before the local magistrates when opposing the proposed opening by William King of a 'new' public house in neighbouring Great King Street. He told the bench that the Queen's Head was of "a very accommodating character and that pigeon flying was an amiable pastime at the pub. Occasionally there was a little dog-fighting, varied, probably, by a little rat-killing now and then." His solicitor made a strong case against any close competition and, as a result, the bench refused a licence for William King.
This photograph shows the two shops next to the Queen's Head fronting Burbury Street. Mrs. Elizabth Penketh was running the adjacent shop at the time of this photograph when Alfred Gilbert was the publican. The next property was divided in terms of business with Mrs. Harriet Hawthorne running a fish and chip shop whilst Henry Hawthorne operated a small garage. In the 19th century these buildings had traded as a fruiterer's shop and bakery respectively.
Birmingham-born Edward Thomas was mine host of the Queen's Head during the mid-1860's until 1871. He kept the pub with his Coventry-born wife Anne. The couple would later run the the Old Farm on Lozells Road where he was recorded as a retail brewer. Edward Thomas probably brewed ale here at the Queen's Head as it was once a homebrew house, a fact gleaned from a newspaper article in February 1873 which reported the death of a young boy in the pub's brew house. On Friday January 31st the young lad, George Richard Bennett, accompanied his uncle to the Queen's Head Inn who was to do some work in the cellars. Whilst his uncle worked downstairs, the ten year-old boy wandered into the brew house where brewing was being conducted. Curious to see the contents of a large mash tub containing the boiling hot wort, George Bennett mounted a pair of moveable steps. However, these fell forward and the lad was flung into the scalding liquor, which completely covered him. A boy, who witnessed the accident, raised the alarm and he was rescued by his uncle. Unfortunately, the boy's burns were so severe he died on the following Sunday.
There was an odd incident in Burbury Street in 1871, one possibly related to the Queen's Head as drink was involved. John Mocock, a gun maker from Buckingham Street, was charged with carrying a gun without a licence. Mocock pleaded before Aston magistrates that he was carrying the gun as an ordinary course of his business as a gun maker, and was, therefore exempted from paying a licence. However, evidence brought before the bench showed that Mocock had pulled out a revolver and threatened to shoot a man and his performing bear in Burbury Street. The weapon had six chambers, all of which were loaded. There was all the more danger on account of Mocock not being sober! He was fined £2.10s.
It was on August 3rd 1871 that the licence of the Queen's Head was transferred from Edward Thomas to George Edwards. A George Edwards is listed as leaving the George and Dragon in Barr Street in the same licensing sessions so one would assume this is the same fellow. In the following year the publican was unsuccessful in his application for a licence for music and dancing at the Queen's Head. He was on the move again on June 5th 1873 when he took over at the Grand Junction in Cardigan Street whilst the licence of the Queen's Head was transferred to John Davis.
Joseph Bagnall purchased the Queen's Head from Alfred Rhodes in the early 1880's and, although sometimes listed as publican in trade directories, he ensured a run of continuity at the Queen's Head by employing William Crook[e] as manager. The Wombourne-born manager kept the Queen's Head with his wife Emma.
Taken in September 1960, this would be the last 'complete' photograph of this road junction. Soon after this date the neighbouring properties were abandoned in preparation for the so-called regeneration of the locality. Burbury Street is to the right of the picture whilst the box van is parked in Bridge Street West. The licensee at the time of this 1960 photograph was Henry Davies. Taking over from Dennis O'Connell, he was publican between 1958-1960 when Edward Rowley took over the reins for Mitchell's and Butler's who had acquired Atkinson's of Aston.
The last publican of the Queen's Head was Samuel Sexton. As part of the redevelopment of the area, the pub closed on June 4th 1969 and was later demolished. Notice in this 1961 photograph that the shop next door to the Queen's Head had closed and the property was unoccupied. This photograph affords a glance along Bridge Street West to the church tower of Saint Saviours' Church, a Gothic-style building that stood on the corner of Villa Street. Designed by J. A. Chatwin, the church was consecrated in 1874. The small van parked just along the road from the Queen's Head was a bread van that delivered Golden Crust Bread to the locality. The name of Edward Rowley was above the door of the Queen's Head on this day.
"Yesterday afternoon Dr. Birt Davies held an inquiry at the Queen's Head Inn, Burbury Street, into the circumstances attending the death of
George Burman, a gold pencil maker, 41 years of age, and who resided at No. 11 in the same street. The deceased being supposed to have met his death at the hands of three men
named Alfred Marshall, an electroplate worker, Witton Street; Edward Birken, gunlock filer, Witton Street; and Philip Powell, brass founder, Burman Street, they were present
during the inquiry, in the custody of Inspector Percy and Detective Sergeant Mountford. The first witness called was Ann Burman, the wife of the deceased, who stated that on
the evening of Monday, April 13th, she accompanied her husband to the Bull's Head Inn at Birchfields. They went there for the purpose of keeping the "outcome" of a
young man named George Dodd, who had arrived at his majority. There were about seven or eight other persons present, and they sat in the parlour together. They sat drinking
ale and talking together there until two o'clock the next morning, when the deceased left with her. During the evening, whilst in the parlour, three or four young men came
into the room and commenced pulling off an oil-cover which had been placed over a bagatelle board which was in the room. The deceased told them not to do so, but if they were
gentlemen to act as such. They then desisted, and shortly afterwards the landlord coming in said it was time for them all to leave, and they all then left the house together.
Getting into the street she took one arm of the deceased, and young girl named Ann Delany the other. They walked along until they reached the Chain Walk in the Walsall Road,
when a small jug was thrown from behind, and striking the deceased on the shoulder bounced off and was broken against the wall near. She did not see who threw the jug, but
it had no sooner struck him than some one hit his hat from behind. The deceased then turned round and asked who had thrown the jug. George Dodd, who was with them, said he
believed it was Edward Birken, for he struck him [deceased] at the same time. The deceased then said to Birken, "Why did you throw that at me; did I ever give you any
occasion for it?" Birken denied that he threw the jug. Two or three of those present then told him he knew he did. He then swore and said, "Well I did." The
deceased then asked Birken why he did so, when he replied, "You bastard, because I meant to kill you." The deceased then said to her, "we will go home by the
turnpike-road, as I don't want any disturbance." He then shook hands with Birken and his party, which consisted of Marshall and two or three others, and "wished
them good night." She with deceased then went on until they cam to the bottom of Wheeler Street. They there met the same party again coming in the opposite direction.
Marshall coming up to the deceased said, "This is the bastard we want," and Birken made use of similar language. The deceased said "Hush, hush, my dear fellow,
you are mistaken in the man." The deceased then said, "Missis, come along; let's have no bother." He with witness and her sister then ran away down Great King
Street, and the men, Birken and Marshall, with another man wearing a billycock hat, followed them. Just as the deceased turned the corner of the street, the man with the
billycock hat caught hold of the deceased, and Marshall struck him a severe blow on the right side of his neck. He followed this up by giving him several blows in the same
place. Birken at the same time was striking the deceased with his fist on the other side. From the effects of these blows, but mostly from Marshall's, the deceased fell to
the ground. As he was falling Marshall kicked the deceased on the side of his neck. The deceased fell on his back, and Birken kicking at him, struck him on the hand. The
three then stood looking at the deceased for a minute or two as he lay on the ground. She then said to them, "You villains, you have
killed my husband," and
shouting "Murder" and "Police," they ran away. She did not see them again until about eleven o'clock the next day, when she went to Lozells to try and
find out who they were. Whilst in Lower Wilton she saw Birken and Marshall with two other men, and as soon as they saw her they ran into a back house. She followed them, and
said to Birken and Marshall, "It's you I want, you villains : you nearly killed my husband last night." They smiled and "turned up their noses at her." She
said, "You know you left him for dead last night." To this Birken said, "He should not have struck me with the pop-bottle, then." To this she said he did
not, and they replied "Some one did then, and if we have beaten the wrong man we will come down and see and beg his pardon." They did not, however, call to see the
deceased. After the three men had run away, leaving the deceased, in reply to her shouts of "Murder" and "Police," a Mr. Hawkes and several others came
up. The deceased bled very much from the wounds, and recovering in about half and hour, with great difficulty they got him home, and put him to bed. The next evening she
sent for Mr. Davis, Surgeon, who continued to attend him until he died on Saturday afternoon last. No one with the exception of Birken or Marshall kicked or hit the deceased.
The other man held him whilst they did so. The deceased never threatened or struck them. Emma Wallis stated that she resided at 189, Great King Street, and was a tin-plate
worker. About three o'clock on the morning of Tuesday, whilst in Wheeler Street, near the corner of Great King Street, returning home with the deceased and the last witness
from the "outcome," three men came up to the deceased and his wife, and said to the former, "You're the bastard we want." The deceased said they were
mistaken, they had got the wrong one." The witness then corroborated the evidence of the wife of the deceased as to Birken and Marshall striking him with their fists
and kicking him whilst on the ground. The deceased never did anything to them. Christopher Thislewood said he resided in Lower Hospital Street, and was a lapidary
: after the party left the Bull's Head, Birchfields he saw some young men who came and with them pushing each other about. The deceased said to them, "If you are men, act as
men; don't act as loonies." The man Birken, with an oath, said : "Who are you calling loonies? - you have only just come out of a lunatic asylum." They then
walked on. This witness also corroborated in every detail the evidence of the wife of the deceased and the last witness. In reply to questions from the prisoner Birken, this
witness stated that whilst in Wheeler Street he caught hold of him but it was before Mrs. Burman called "Murder" and "Police." Mr. Davis, surgeon, stated
that he was called in to see the deceased on the morning of Wednesday last. He was then suffering sickness, and there was a watery discharge from the right ear. He also
complained of a pain behind the right ear. He was quite conscious. The deceased gradually grew worse, and died on Saturday last. He had since made a post-mortem examination
of the deceased in the presence of Mr. David Fellows of Newhall Street. He found nothing externally with the exception of a slight abrasion of the left hand. Upon removing
the scalp he found an extravagation of blood about an ounce in weight, between it and the pericranium behind the right ear. On the left side of the occipital bone he also
found extravagation of blood in smaller quantities. In the dura mater there was effusion of blood which extended over the top of both hemispheres and at the base of it. The
skull was fractured in three places. The injuries were the cause of the death of the deceased. Such injuries might have been produced by a blow with the fist, a fall on a
hard substance, or a kick. This being the whole of the evidence, the Coroner in the usual manner asked both the prisoners Birken and Marshall, who had been identified by the
several witnesses as having struck the deceased, if they desired to make any statement. They said they had nothing to say. The Coroner having minutely summed up the evidence
and explained the difference in law between manslaughter and murder, the jury at once returned a verdict of manslaughter against the prisoners Alfred Marshall and Edward
Birken. They were committed upon the Coroner's warrant to take their trials at the next Warwick Assizes. The jury, considering there was no evidence against the prisoner
Philip Powell, he was discharged. During the inquiry, which lasted five hours, the public house was surrounded with large crowds of persons residing in the neighbourhood. A
few of the general public were also admitted into the room in which the inquiry was held."
"Murderous Assault in Farm Street"
Birmingham Daily Gazette : April 21st 1863 Page 3.
Licensees of this pub
1854 - Samuel Cockayne
1858 - Charles Wilton
1865 - 1871 Edward Thomas
1871 - 1873 George Edwards
1873 - John Davis
1881 - William Crooke
1907 - William Crook
1920 - William Henry Hale
1925 - 1926 Henry Benjamin Hawthorne
1926 - 1927 Arthur George Payton
1927 - 1928 Alfred Cashmore
1928 - 1934 Alfred Gilbert
1934 - 1937 William Thomas Farbrother
1937 - 1938 Robert Albert Devey
1938 - 1942 Sidney Harry Watson
1942 - 1945 Mrs Violet Ryan
1945 - 1949 Sidney Harry Watson
1949 - 1952 Frank Ernest Bagshaw
1952 - 1956 Eric Ernest Ballinger
1956 - 1958 Dennis O'Donnell
1958 - 1960 Henry Davies
1960 - 1962 Edward Rowley
1962 - 1967 Raymond Harvey
1967 - 1968 Patrick Francis Smith
1968 - 1969 Samuel Sexton
In the post-war years Brewery Lanterns became quite an in-vogue feature of public houses. Although some Birmingham brewers used them sparingly, almost every Atkinson's-operated boozer seemed to be decked out with one above most entrances.
This map shows the locations of Burbury Street's pubs. The Lucas Factory on Great King Street is marked as a Cycle and Motor Bell and Lamp Works. This site had previously been occupied by a rows of terraced houses with courts, similar to that on the southern side of the thoroughfare.
Aston Brook through Aston Manor
Birmingham City Council
Birmingham History Forum
Birmingham Places and Place Names
Carl Chinn Archive
Ladywood Past and Present
Perry Barr and Beyond
Winson Green to Brookfields
Have Your Say
If you would like to share any further information on this pub - perhaps you drank here in the past? Or maybe knew a previous publican? Whatever the reason it would be great to hear of your stories or gossip. Simply send a message and I'll post it here.
"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too."
"An inquest was held by Mr. Hawkes, at the Queen's Head Inn, Burbury Street, on the bodies of Phoebe Chesterton , wife of John Chesterton,
a coal dealer, of 319 Bridge Street West, and Florence Breese, eight months old, child of Alfred Breese, Geelong Street. It was shown that on the 22nd January, the deceased
Phoebe Chesterton, whilst serving in her shop, died suddenly from syncope attendant upon heart disease, and a verdict of "Death from natural causes" was returned.
The child Florence Breese was accidentally suffocated by its mother whilst asleep in bed, on Thursday night. Verdict, "Accidental Death."
"Inquests Before the Borough Coroner"
Birmingham Daily Post : January 27th 1876 Page 7.
"Yesterday afternoon an inquest was held at the Queen's Head Inn. Burbury Street, before Dr. Birt Davies, Borough Coroner, on the body of Daniel
Burman, aged 18, a tin-plate worker, who lived at 11, Burbury Street, who came to his death under the following circumstances : On Monday evening last the deceased and
several young men companions, were together, when one of them, named William Hawkes, took up a small stone and struck the deceased with it upon the head. They all went on
together, and joined a companion, whom they accompanied to purchase a hat in Constitution Hill. When coming home, deceased put his hand to where he had received the blow,
and complained of being ill. He was seized with giddiness in the head and taken home. He there became sick and vomited. He was put to bed, and on the following morning, not
having recovered, Dr. Poncia, of 122, Brearley Street West, was sent for, and found the sufferer in a state of unconsciousness. He prescribed for him, but the unfortunate
young man continued to get worse until a little before twelve o'clock, when he expired. The Coroner charged the jury, explaining the nature of the offence, and after few
minutes' consultation, a verdict of "Homicide misadventure" was returned."
"Caution to Stone Throwers"
Birmingham Daily Gazette : June 12th 1868 Page 4.