The Lozells Inn traded on the north side of Lozells Road, almost opposite the Bell Inn. In the 20th century this was a clear case of 'us and them' as the Bell was a Mitchell's and Butler's house. So, depending on whether the locals liked Aston or Smethwick water mixed with their hops and barley, this determined the choice of watering hole in this part of Lozells. However, in the 19th century it was a completely different story as both of these pubs would have sold more unique ales, some locally brewed and almost certainly using malt processed nearby.
It was perhaps because Lozells was on the edge of the countryside up until the mid-19th century that a number of malthouses were in operation on this thoroughfare. One of the more well-known malthouses was indeed just across the road on the corner of Wilton Street. In fact, during the First World War the buildings were owned by Ansell's, a time when the Lozells Road Picture House stood next to them. Another large brewery to operate the maltings on the corner of Wilton Street were Showell's of Langley Green. In the 19th century however it was sole proprietors who were listed at this address. For example, in 1892 Thomas Swift was listed as the maltster, whilst in 1879, it was the business concern of James Poole.
The earliest reference I have found for the Lozells Inn is a listing in an 1835 trade directory in which Job Martin is recorded as the publican of what was then called the Lozells Tavern. The census of 1841 records him as a retail brewer so the pub, like many of the period, almost certainly sold homebrewed ales. Darlaston-born Job Martin kept the Lozells Tavern with his wife Sarah and the couple employed a servant for the chores of the house. Job Martin was still listed as the publican in 1845 but by the end of the decade he had moved to a nearby house from which he earned his living as a 'proprietor of houses' and seemingly doing very well for himself. However, the 1851 census records him as a widow. He evidently re-married and accumulated some wealth because the sensational story of his widow's last days are detailed in the right-hand column.
Job Martin probably remained the freeholder of the Lozells Tavern whist installing a manager or, more likely, renting the pub out to another individual. In 1851 this was Thomas Bagg, a 36 year-old victualler who hailed from Gloucestershire. Twelve years younger, his wife Elizabeth was born in Lichfield. The family's life within the licensed trade lasted only for a few years before they moved to Great King Street where Thomas Bagg took on the position of a milkman. He may have simply handed the keys to the Lozells Tavern back to Job Martin for the former landlord was again listed as licensee in a trade directory for 1852.
Thomas Hall was in charge of the place by the end of the decade. The name of the pub changed from the Lozells Tavern to the Lozells Inn around this period. Thomas Hall was also recorded as an innkeeper, suggesting that the building was now being used by transients. The railways had arrived by now and people found it easier to relocate to other parts of the country to find work or, indeed, a new life. This possibly explains whey the Lozells Inn was now being kept by somebody from Lincolnshire who had married a woman from Northamptonshire before moving to Aston. They brought with them a nephew by the name of Thomas Stokes who was recorded as publican in the census of 1871 but later trade directories reinstate the name of Sarah Ann Hall as the licensee.
Sarah Ann Hall found herself in hot water in March 1871 when she was charged with permitting card-playing in the Lozells Inn. She was brought before the magistrates after one Saturday morning a policeman found four men in the pub's tap room playing cards for a quart of ale, this being paid for by the two losers. The charge would appear to be rather harsh but the Superintendent told the bench that the Lozells Inn had become a resort of bad characters and that Sarah Ann Hall had been cautioned on several occasions. She was subsequently fined £2 and costs.
And so the Lozells stumbled on as a house of ill repute in the early-mid 1870's. The reputation of the pub was not enhanced when Edwin Butler was brought before the Magistrates in October 1874 on a charge of infringing the licensing act. It was proved by Inspector Frankton that he had opened for trading during unlawful hours, for which he was subsequently fined 40 shillings and costs. His stay proved to be short and the licence of the Lozells Inn was transferred on Wednesday 5th January 1876 to William Henry Collins. This publican had previously held the licence of the Roebuck Inn at Great King Street between March 1874 to October 1875.
By 1878 Marriott Miller was the licensee of the Lozells Inn. The Leicestershire publican kept the pub with his wife Mary for half a decade before deciding to up sticks and take over another pub in Manchester. The next incumbent, Henry Neary, witnessed some change in front of the pub in Lozells Road. It was reported on 1st December 1882 that there was a proposal by the North Birmingham Tramways to construct a tram line along Wheeler Street to Lozells Road. This promised to bring in some extra trade. However, there was a delay of some three years before the plans were put into action. The Lozells Road Line, operated by the Birmingham Central Tramways Company Limited, was opened on October 1st 1885. The company offered season tickets at 21 shillings for three months, and £4. for twelve. It was announced that cars would run every quarter of an hour from the Old Square. It wasn't long before passengers were being caught for riding the tram without a ticket. For example, James Williams was caught without his stub and was fined 2s. 6d. and costs, or seven days imprisonment.
When Henry Neary left for pastures new, his departure ushered in a long period of stability at the Lozells Inn as the Ransom family operated the pub for the rest of the century. Born in Bath around 1828, James Edward Ransom worked in the hotel trade when living in the Lancashire town of Ulverston. His wife Eleanor originated from Barsey, a town further south in the county. The couple later kept the Crystal Palace Vaults on the London Road in Liverpool before heading south to Birmingham.
Headed by James Edward and Eleanor, there was quite a Ransom clan living at the Lozells Inn towards the end of the 19th century. They employed two barmen and a domestic servant, suggesting that the place was really buzzing during this period.
It was a happy day for the Ransom family on August 9th 1887 when the licensee's daughter Annie Ransom was married to William Cole Bartram a short distance away at St. Paul's Church. I wonder if they held a function in the Lozells Inn? The pub did have a club room on the first floor. In 2012 two of the etched glass windows for this facility for the local community were still in place.
The cycle of life caught up with James Edward Ransom in October 1894 and, on his passing, the licence passed to his son Robert. I suspect that he sold the pub at the turn of the century. I have not seen a sale document but the next licensee, Harry James Walter, was recorded as a jeweller; it was his wife Emmeline who was running the Lozells Inn. The fact that she was recorded as manager suggests that the pub had been acquired by a large brewery by this period.
The 'big' brewery who took over the Lozells Inn was the Holt Brewery Company. They were almost certainly involved in the creation of the pub seen above. The whole building may been reconstructed as none of the existing exterior appears to date from 1835. It is possible however that the original building could be lurking beneath the outer casing? The Lozells Inn would have been one of the company's 250 pubs taken over by Ansell's Brewery Ltd. when they acquired the brewery in 1934. The photograph at the top of the page was probably added to the estate portfolio of images shortly after this date.
A full list of licensees from 1950 can be seen in the column
to the right. The last publican was Radcliff George Harrison who was involved
with the last pub company to operate the building: The Alehouse Company Ltd. of
"William Robert Emery, cab proprietor, Frances Road Mews, sued William Webb,
builder, Soho Hill, for £23., damages sustained by plaintiff in consequence of a
collision. Mr. Tanner appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. A. Young for the
defendant. Plaintiff's case was that shortly before eleven o'clock on the night
of the 15th September a cabman in his employ, named Thomas Reeves, was driving a
fare down the
Lozells Road, in the direction of the Six Ways. When he arrived
near to Carpenter's Road he saw a pony and trap approaching in an opposite
direction. There were two young men in the trap and the pony was galloping at a
furious rate. He saw the trap when it was fifty yards distant, and noticing that
it was on the wrong side of the road, he shouted to the young men, but they
seemed to take no notice. Believing that a collision was inevitable unless he
got out of the way, he "eased off" towards the wrong side of the road, and while
doing so, the pony and trap dashed into the cab. One of the fore legs of the cab
horse was broken, necessitating the animal being killed on the following
morning, and for this the plaintiff claimed £20. The harness and cab were
damaged to the extent of £2., and plaintiff had to pay £1. for the hire of
another cab until the damaged one was repaired. After the collision the two
young - one of whom was was named Arthur Harrison, and was in the employ of
defendant - endeavoured to get away, but Reeves detained them. In
cross-examination, Reeves admitted that he had been three times convicted during
the present year for being drunk while in charge of a horse and cab, and once
for being drunk and furiously driving. He was also convicted last year of being
drunk and disorderly. But he was perfectly sober on the night named, and this
was corroborated by Police-constable Underhill, who saw the man shortly after
the collision. The officer previously saw the two youths get into the trap, and
drive away at a gallop. He shouted to them, but they took no notice of him, and
shortly afterwards he heard of the accident. Mrs. Tyler, wife of Mr. Tyler,
butcher, Lozells Road, saw the young men drive furiously along the road towards
Villa Cross, and on the wrong side. She believed they were going at
the rate of eight or ten miles an hour. Mr. Young, for the defence, called Mr.
Webb and the youth Harrison to prove that, on the night named, defendant left
Harrison in charge of the pony and trap outside the Bull's Head, Lozells Road
[note: this is how the report read but is almost certainly the
Bull's Head in
Villa Road], giving him strict instructions not to go away, Defendant then went
into the inn, and shortly afterwards Harrison drove the pony to
and called on his mother, who lives in that street. He subsequently took his
brother a drive, and called at the Lozells Inn, where they had something to
drink. Later on the collision occurred. In the meantime defendant, discovering
that Harrison had disobeyed his orders, went in search of the pony and trap, and
ultimately found it in the
Lozells Road in a damaged condition. He there and
then discharged Harrison. Mr. Young urged that Harrison, having taken upon
himself to drive away on his own account, defendant was not liable in law for
any damage which was done. Aftre some argument, the parties had a consultation,
and Mr. Young then announced that they had agreed upon a verdict for defendant,
plaintiff to contribute £5. 5s. towards defendant's costs. His Honour strongly
commented on the reckless conduct of the youth Harrison."