Trying to find old photographs of pubs can be very frustrating at times. In this image above you can just see the junction of Berners Street on the right. If the person taking the picture had swivelled around to the left a bit and exposed the film we'd have a fine shot of the Old Farm pub. So where exactly was the Old Farm public house and how did it get its name?
This extract from John Dower's 1860 Map in Cassell's Atlas of Birmingham shows, to some degree, the level of development on Lozells Road during this period. Note that, apart from piecemeal development along Lozells Road itself, the key housing scheme was that of the Wheeler Street estate, formed by by the Birmingham Freehold Land Society, a body led by the non-conformist James Taylor.
The 1860 map just about covers the area of Bristnel's Farm to the north-east. Hill Top Farm was just to the north of Heathfield which is marked to the north-west. An older map of 1833 showed the Old Farm at Lozells which stood close to the junction of Lozells Road and Lozells Street. You'll notice that the latter thoroughfare is not laid out on this 1860 map. However, the site of the farmhouse was just a short distance from where the beer house known as the Old Farm once traded. Perhaps the pub was named to commemorate the farm when it was pulled down for redevelopment. Or maybe the name was to mark the passing of the rural nature of the vicinity as urban sprawl enveloped Lozells.
Bridgnorth-born Robert Packer was running the Old Farm in the late 1860's. He kept the beer house with his wife Fanny who originated from Ireland. The couple had previously lived in Burbury Street where Robert Packer was recorded as a gold cutter and stationer. He and Fanny almost certainly lived above a shop for she was documented as a tobacconist.
Robert Packer was hauled before the local magistrates in 1871 for a transgression described as an "offence against the tenour of his licence," for which he was fined 20 shillings and costs. This resulted in the publican being placed on a black list and this affected his application for a licence renewal in September 1871. His licence was eventually renewed on the provision that he was "much more particular in the conduct of his house."
Robert Packer died in January 1874 and he was succeeded at the Old Farm by Edward Thomas. The census of 1881 records him as a retail brewer so it is highly likely that the Old Farm, like many pubs of the period, sold homebrewed ales. Edward Thomas was a Brummie and kept the Old Farm with his Coventry-born wife Ann. The couple lived on the premises with their four children and two servants, suggesting the Old Farm was now a busy public house. Mary Hopkins worked as a barmaid whilst Emily Piggot was hired as a general servant.
Robert and Ann Packer had previously kept the Queen's Head on the corner of Burbury Street and Bridge Street West. The couple had married in June 1866; the daughter of a Coventry hairdresser, Ann's maiden name was Everitt. Edward Thomas died in 1887, three years after leaving the Old Farm.
The licence of the Old Farm was transferred to Edward Copeland in November 1884. He was the first licensee of the house to work for Mitchell's and Butler's though, of course, this was for Henry Mitchell as the Cape Hill brewery had not joined forces with William Butler's brewery by this point. The brewery acquired the goodwill, lease, fixture and fittings on September 29th 1884. The company paid the sum of £340 for a term of 14 years.
Daniel and Mary Greening were running the Old Farm by the end of the 1880's. Born in Dudley, Daniel Greening had spent his early years in Birmingham before leaving for India where he married in 1871. The 1891 census records him as the publican at No.99 Lozells Road. He lived here with his wife Mary and three sons, the two eldest having been born in India. Also living on the premises was Ann Atkins, a general servant, along with Mary's mother Louisa Scanlan. The latter died in 1894 aged 59. Daniel himself died in April 1913 - he and his wife having run the Old Farm for over twenty years.
I do not have a record of when the Old Farm closed its doors
to the public. I suspect it was a victim of the pub reform movement in
Birmingham and the licence surrendered in favour of a rebuild or new house
erected in the suburbs of the city.
The building certainly was called the Old Farm in 1884. I have a
document that records the brewery acquiring the goodwill, lease, fixture and
fittings on September 29th 1884. The company paid the sum of £340 for a term of
14 years. Your ancestor would therefore have been a manager working for the
brewery or a tenant tied to the company. The pub was located on the north side
of Lozells Road between Hartington Road and Archibald Road. Born in Dudley,
Daniel Greening had spent his early years in Birmingham. As you have probably
researched, the 1891 records him as the publican at No.99 Lozells Road. He lived
here with his second wife and three sons. Also living on the premises was Ann
Atkins, a general servant, along with Mary's mother Louisa Scanlan. The Old Farm
was a beer house rather than a fully licensed public house. Unfortunately, the
records for Birmingham's beer houses were destroyed so I cannot determine an
exact date of Daniel Greening taking over the licence. He appears in a trade
directory published in 1890 but not in 1888. I do not have a copy of the 1889
directory - one of the few I do not possess. He appears in each subsequent year
until 1913 and, as you have indicated, he died in April 1913. I do
not have a record of any member of the family succeeding him. By the way, in the
1888 trade directory there is a Mrs. Mary Greening listed as a beer retailer at
No.55 White Road but I do not know if this is Daniel's wife.
Many thanks for posting the query. Daniel Greening, beer retailer, died in 1913
when son Stanley kept the pub going for a year, but emigrated to Canada. I do
have the Canadian Army papers on Donald, Stanley and Albert and have found
Daniel Greening's brother in the 19th century as a brass founder and gun
finisher; typical Brummie work. Stanley, one of the sons born in India to
Daniel, was a jeweller when he came back in circa. 1890, no doubt employed in
the Jewellery Quarter. Stanley emigrated to Canada in 1913, perhaps with his
brother Alfred. In 1915 he returned to enlist during World War One and was
stationed at Folkestone. His brothers Donald and Albert joined up with with him
from Birmingham. Stanley had a son Victor locally and went back to Canada. The
other two went back to Brum.