History of the Belgrave Hotel on Moseley Road in Balsall Heath in Birmingham in the county of Warwickshire.


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Some history of the Belgrave Hotel on Moseley Road

The Belgrave Hotel was a lovely old building on the busy road junction of Belgrave Road and Moseley Road. You only have to glance at the photograph below to appreciate the building's splendour. It was such a loss when the boozer closed in November 1968. Though the Joseph Chamberlain College stands close to the pub's former site, only a stretch of grass occupies the actual corner position. Dating from the end of World War Two, the photograph shows the three-storey public house owned by Mitchell's and Butler's and adjoining shops on Moseley Road. In fact, at this time the shop next to the pub was also owned by Mitchell's and Butler's. It was formerly an off-licence with a full seven-day licence. Paying £2,000, the Cape Hill brewery had purchased the shop from John Shufflebotham in March 1916. The off-licence was closed as licensed premises in March 1936, the brewery moving the licence to a new outdoor near the junction of King's Road and Shady Lane.

The former off-licence next to the Belgrave Hotel continued to be leased out - here in 1945 the premises were occupied by the lamp-makers C. P. Grimley and Sons, a firm also offering canteen equipment, ventilation ducts and sheet metal work of every description. The shop was a showroom for a factory behind. There was once a row of houses on this site next to the Belgrave Hotel but these were cleared for redevelopment. Next to the shop there was a cinema operated by the Moseley Picture House Ltd., and operated by the managing director A. E. Parry. Screening "Oedipus Rex." the cinema opened on May 12th, 1913. The projector rolled until the building was badly damaged by fire during the summer of 1958. The cinema was however renovated and opened its doors again a few months later. It was one of the earliest picture houses in Brum to screen Bollywood films. The business eventually closed in the 1970's and the building was demolished around 1978. The combination of a thriller in the flea-pit and a quick pint in the Belgrave Hotel must have been a welcome treat for many residents of Balsall Heath.

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The Belgrave Hotel was a few feet from the border with Birmingham and, until 1891, was part of King's Norton in Worcestershire. The hotel was sometimes listed as the Belgrave Arms but is not to be confused with the beer house and brewery of the same name situated further down Belgrave Road, also once known as Belgrave Street - all very confusing to the first-time browser of directories and maps no doubt! This building was a 'new-build' erected on a large plot forming the junction of Belgrave Road and Moseley Road. The site was formerly occupied by Balsall Heath House, the residence of James Reynolds Boyce, a brassfounder who employed 245 people in his factory. He lived here at a time when most of the houses were occupied by wealthy industrialists and professionals. Across the road for example was the Belgrave House, a fine residence built and occupied by the architect Frederick Empson. James Reynolds Boyce later moved to The Grove on Wake Green Road, no doubt escaping the growth of Highgate and Balsall Heath as it was transformed into a suburban development of working-class housing. Indeed, it was the man who built the Belgrave Hotel who helped to shape Highgate and Balsall Heath during the late 19th century.

The Belgrave Hotel on Moseley Road and Belgrave Road [1945]

The Belgrave Hotel was completed in 1878 as part of a large development by William Charley. He was one of Birmingham's larger-than-life characters who was in every sense a self-made man. His remarkable life story began in Gloucestershire. He was born in Berkeley in 1825 and later spent some of his childhood at Cheltenham. It was in his eighteenth year that, with just 3s. 6d. in his pockets, he tramped to London to make his fortune. There was to be no fairytale ending to his journey and he found life difficult in the capital city. After two years of struggle, he made his way north to Birmingham where he served an apprenticeship as a plasterer. There was plenty of work to be found in the growing town but it was a tough slog making enough money to go it alone. However, after several years of hard work and saving money, William Charley set up his own plastering firm. In the early 1850's he was employing twelve men. Again, it took a number of years before he accumulated enough capital to start up as a builder and developer.

William Charley's early developments included a couple of public houses in Nelson Street South and Gooch Street. In fact, he and his wife Julia once kept the Star Inn on Gooch Street. It was from his profits that he was able to complete a sourcing strategy by acquiring Harrison's Brickyard at Vaughton's Hole. His business then started to build properties with his own bricks. He is credited with erecting whole streets of housing in Balsall Heath with bricks produced at Vaughton's Hole. Indeed, he foresaw the growth of a large suburban district in and around Highgate and he capitalised on this expansion of Birmingham.

William Charley's increased revenue stream enabled him to buy a plot of freehold land at the corner of Brighton Road and Ladypool Road, where in the late 1860's he built the Brighton Hotel. He lived there for about a dozen Years. He then acquired the large plot of freehold land at the top of Belgrave Road, forming the junction with Moseley Road, on which stood the residence of the aforementioned brassfounder James Reynolds Boyce. On this plot he built the Belgrave Hotel, nine shops above, and fifty-five freehold cottages to the rear. Here again he was most fortunate, for he came upon such a fruitful bed of clay as sufficed for his own building purposes, and for all the requirements of the neighbourhood.

Obtaining and maintaining the licence for the Belgrave Hotel was not straightforward. The first application for a licence was successful in 1879. However, things got a bit messy five years later when the renewal was being considered at the Northfield Licensing Sessions held at the King's Heath Police Court. The problem was that it was deemed that William Charley had made an unsanctioned alteration to the premises. It was proved on behalf of the police that the room at the corner of Belgrave Road and Moseley Road had been converted from a coffee-room into a bar. A counter had also been erected in the room. In addition, a window in Belgrave Road had been made into a door leading into the new bar. Mr. Swinburn, sitting on the Bench said he remembered that, upon the draft application for a licence, the magistrates granted it on the condition that the corner room should not be a bar, but a coffee-room and that a bar would only be allowed in a room on Belgrave Road. A key issue was that, in 1879, the Midland Railway Company had opposed the licence on the grounds that they were going to erect refreshment rooms at Camp Hill Railway Station, a short distance from the Belgrave Hotel. Consequently, the Bench had awarded a licence to the hotel providing the bar was not within the corner of the building. However, it was disclosed that the railway company had failed to provide refreshment rooms so William Charley's legal representative said that the renewal should be regarded as per the original application. The Bench were not happy that William Charley had proceeded with the alterations beforehand with Mr. Swinburn in particular stating that it had "changed the character of the place from that of a hotel to that of a mere drinking palace." When William Charley was called to speak, he told the Bench that the bar in question was used as a refreshment room, and was greatly frequented by passengers from Camp Hill Station. A memorial in favour of the application, signed by the vicar and churchwardens of the parish, the members of the Local Board, and a large number of inhabitants, was handed to the Bench. After deliberation, the Bench granted the application on the assurance by William Charley that the bar in question should be conducted simply as a first-class railway refreshment room. There was applause within the Police Court.

William Charley operated the Belgrave Hotel for ten years. eventually selling the business to Messrs. Flower and Sons. From active management of the Brighton Hotel he retired some years later, and sold that property to Mitchell's and Butler's for £25,250. William Charley was for many years a member of the King's Norton Board of Guardians, and the Balsall Heath Local Board. The immediate cause of his death in January 1900 was chronic bronchitis, followed by dropsy. He left a widow, two sons and two daughters.

Mitchell's and Butler's acquired the Belgrave Hotel from Flower's on July 11th, 1919. The Cape Hill brewery paid £12,00 for the hotel, plus £1,300 for the fittings. To ensure that their investment was not wasted they brought in one of their best management couples to run the hotel. Charles and Rachel Walton  had kept the Gothic Inn on Great Hampton Street throughout the First World War. The couple had married at Birchfield Holy Trinity Church in April 1903. They had three children by the time they moved to the Gothic Inn. Charles Walton had previously worked as a barman for Mitchell's and Butler's whilst he and his wife lived in Handsworth at the end of the Edwardian period. The move to Great Hampton Street possibly marked a promotion within M&B for Charles Walton. During their time at the Gothic Inn, the Walton's were dedicated to raising money for the war effort, particularly for Christmas boxes sent to troops on the front line. The couple remained at the Belgrave Hotel until the mid-1930's. I think they went on to run an off-licence at No.2 Dyas Road in Kingstanding.

Newspaper Articles

"The adjourned inquest into the circumstances connected with the death of Thomas Beddoes Mapp [40], a commercial traveller, of North California Avenue, Chicago, U.S.A., was resumed yesterday, at the Victoria Courts, before Mr. O. Pemberton [Coroner]. Mr. Tanner appeared for a witness, and Detective Inspector Baker and Inspector Collings were present on behalf of the police. Mary Ann Jane Hall, of Rhyl, a sister of the deceased, who gave evidence on Friday last, added that her brother wore a gold ring on his left little finger, bearing the word 'Aadore.' Mr. Frost, Acock's Green, chemist, stated that he had known the deceased for eighteen years, and on the 4th October he visited the witness at his house. He was then under the influence of liquor, and remained the night. When he left the following morning he borrowed £2. from witness. At that time the deceased was wearing a watch and chain, and to the latter was attached a token bearing a reference to the Chicago Exhibition. The deceased wore a ring on his little finger on the left hand, and the witness drew attention to the fact that it was very tight. The Coroner said that they had to account for deceased's whereabouts between the Thursday and the Saturday, and he had received a telegram from Mr. Barnes, of the Angel Inn, Pershore, headed "Sparkbrook Mystery. T. B. Mapp stayed with me from Thursday, 5th, till Saturday morning 7th. Left here for Birmingham." That, added the Coroner, would account for the deceased's whereabouts between the time he left Acock's Green and the Saturday. Charles Andrew Bradley, manager of the Saracen's Head, Edgbaston Street, stated that the deceased came to his house on the 7th October, and was the worse for drink. He went to bed, and did not get up till the following morning. He then went out to church, and took with him a quantity of whisky in a bottle. In the evening he again attended church, and on that occasion also took some whisky with him. The next morning he had two glasses of brandy and soda, and some tea with whisky, but nothing to eat. Witness noticed when the deceased left the house that he was wearing a large medallion on his watch-chain, and advised him not to show it so much, because there were some peculiar people about Birmingham. The Coroner stated "I quite agree with you there." Charles Hall, and his wife, Ida Hall, 280, Balsall Heath Road, spoke to seeing the deceased on Monday morning under the influence of drink. Elizabeth Brant, waitress at the Belgrave Hotel, Moseley Road, said that the deceased visited the hotel about twenty minutes to eleven on Monday morning, and asked to be allowed to have a bed, because he was very tired. He seemed strange in his manner, but he was accommodated with a bed. About half-past four a woman came to the hotel and asked for a Mr. Walters. Witness and the boots went to the room where deceased was, and found he was lying in bed with his clothes and boots on. He was informed that a Mr. Walters was being enquired for, and replied that it was not him; his name was Thomas B. Mapp. The deceased was ordered to get up, and he came downstairs. He denied all knowledge of the woman, and said she had made a mistake. After a little obstinacy the deceased paid his bill, and started to leave the house. Just before he went, a woman witness identified as Emma Cheeseman, who was present in court, called witness to the door and said, "That man's mad. Fancy, he won't pay, and he's got plenty of money in his pocket. He's a cousin of mine, and has been drinking for the last five months." Witness told the woman that if the deceased was her relative she had better take him home. The woman went outside, and, tapping deceased on the shoulder, said, "Now, don't you know me?" Deceased replied "No, who are you?" The woman took the deceased by the arm, and walked with him along Moseley Road in the direction of the city. At the time deceased was wearing a watch-guard, on which there was a medal. Coroner : "Do you wish to ask the witness any questions?" Mrs. Cheeseman : Yes, sir. [To witness] : "Can you swear that I was the person that was in the Belgrave Hotel?" Witness : "Yes, I can." Mrs. Cheeseman : "That's a lie." Witness : "No, it's not." The Coroner : "If you do that again Mrs. Cheeseman - "I beg your pardon." Coroner : "Well, I will accept that this time." Mrs. Cheeseman : "Can you swear that I was the person that came in and asked for the name you have said?" Witness : "Yes, you did. Mr. Walters you asked for." Mrs. Cheeseman : "I don't know anyone of that name." Witness : "Not only me, but four more heard you." Mrs. Cheeseman : "What time was I at the Belgrave?" Witness : "Nearly five o'clock." Mrs. Cheeseman : "I don't wish to ask any more, because I can prove my innocence." Sydney George, boots, said Mrs. Phillips, landlady of the Belgrave Hotel, gave corroborative evidence, each positively identifying Mrs. Cheeseman as the woman who enquired for the deceased. Emma Cheeseman, 7, Paradise Terrace, Darwin Street, married woman, said that on Monday afternoon, the 9th October, she visited a cousin in Lease Lane, and remained there till nearly six o'clock, when she left, and travelled to the corner of Leopold Street by the Moseley tram. She entered a shop and purchased some sweets. Immediately she left the shop a perfectly strange gentleman came up to her and asked if she could recommend him to a place where he could get a bed for the night, because he felt very ill. She recommended him to the Ship Hotel, and told him which way to go. Coroner : "Did you go with him?" Witness : "No, Sir."  Did he ask you anything? "He walked by my side to the cabstand, near the Plough and Harrow, and then asked me if I would have a drink. Witness said that they went into the public house, and the deceased paid for some whisky for her, but what he had himself she did not notice. Witness left the deceased in the house about half-past seven or a quarter to eight. Mr. Badger, a cab proprietor, came into the house, and the deceased treated him to a drink. Witness left the deceased with Mr. Badger. The Coroner : "You have heard what the three witnesses have said - all say you were with the deceased at the Belgrave Hotel. Now, were you, or were you not, at the Belgrave Hotel?" Witness : "No, sir, and I can prove my innocence. Then if these three witnesses state you were there, and identify you as the person, they make a mistake? "Yes, sir, they have made a grand mistake." By a Juryman : She had not seen deceased's body. She could not say how long she was with the man, or whether she had more than one glass of whisky. Felix Badger, cab proprietor, 99, Moseley Road, was called. The Coroner : "You have made to the officers of the court one or more statements, and I am going to ask you whether you adhere to your final statement?" Witness : "Yes sir." Witness stated that he went into the Plough and Harrow about a quarter to eight on Monday night, and saw Mrs. Cheeseman with the deceased and several others. He did not know Mrs. Cheeseman previously. She said, "Here's the cabman, he will drive you." The deceased caught hold of witness's badge, and asked him to have a drink. Deceased said to Mrs. Cheeseman "I want you to go with me," and she replied, "Oh, what would my husband say?" Witness left the public-house for a time, and on his return had some whisky at the deceased's expense. At that time deceased and Mrs. Cheeseman were in conversation. After consuming the whisky witness again left the house, and when he returned to ask deceased if he was ready Mrs. Cheeseman had left the place. Deceased said that he wanted to be driven to Kendal Road, and gave witness 2s. for the fare. Before they left the Plough and Harrow deceased wanted to have another drink, but the landlord refused to serve him. Deceased was drunk, and witness, with the help of the landlord, put him in the car. Witness asked a man named Harry Atkins to accompany him on the box, and Atkins did so. In Kyrwick's Lane deceased wanted to have more drink at the Railway Inn, but the landlord refused to serve him. Witness drove deceased up Kyott's Lake Road, and at two points the deceased put his umbrella out of the window and witness stopped the car. Ultimately, when near Sampson Road, witness got down and assisted the deceased out of the car. Deceased stood on the pavement for a moment or so, then swerved round and fell on to the back of his head. Atkins and witness helped deceased up, and placed him against the wall. Witness returned home with his car, because he had had "quite enough to drink." When deceased was in the Plough and Harrow he had his watch-guard and medal on. A Juryman : "Did you leave him standing on the footpath in Kyott's Lake Road?" Witness : Yes, standing on the footpath against the wall." Did he make any attempt to go into any house? "No." Another Juryman : What time did Mrs. Cheeseman leave the Plough and Harrow? Witness : "After eight o'clock I am sure."  Did you notice when deceased was paying for drinks whether he had a large sum of money in his hand? "He had a small portion of silver and some coppers." Mr. Tanner : "When you left him standing up against the wall in Kyott's Lake Road how many people where there?" Witness : "A dozen, a crowd had gathered. Henry Atkins, 185, Darwin Street, in reply to the Coroner, said that no one rode in the car with deceased. Edith Mary King, Sampson Road, Henry Taylor, 38, South Road, and Mary Betteridge, South Road, spoke to seeing the deceased fall, and saw the car driver and another man afterwards assisted deceased, who was unconscious. Arthur Cooper, a youth, living at 13, Montgomery Street, also deposed to seeing deceased get out of the car. According to witness deceased seemed to be thrust out of the vehicle. At that time deceased had some kind of jewellery attached to his watch-guard, but this was missing some time afterwards, when the car had driven away. Police Constable Side [83E] stated that he was called to deceased at five minutes past ten. He was sitting on a chair on the pavement in Kyott's Lake Road, and was unconscious. He appeared to have been drinking, and with assistance witness removed him to Moseley Street on an ambulance. He rallied a little, and gave his proper name. Police Sergeant Harding, however, directed that the man should be taken to the Queen's Hospital. Before this witness noticed a small wound on the back of the deceased's head. At the hospital the surgeon examined deceased and said that it was obvious he was suffering from the effects of drink. Witness took deceased back to the station on the ambulance, and a charge of being drunk and incapable was entered against him. He was searched, and in his trousers pocket ninepence in coppers was found. He had also a small penknife, a pair of scissors, and sundry papers. Police Sergeaot Harding said that he visited deceased in the cell four times during the night, and on each occasion he was lying on his back breathing heavily. Police Sergeant Sheppard said that when he visited deceased in the morning he was unable to awaken him, and therefore he sent him to the hospital. Mr. R. B. James, house-surgeon, said that when the deceased was brought to the hospital at midnight he was decidedly the worse for drink. He had a small abrasion on the head, but it was of no moment. Witness aroused deceased, and he was then returned to the station. He was brought to the hospital again about half-past eight. His was quite unconscious, and died three hours later. The post-mortem revealed the fact that there was a fracture of the base of the skull on the left side, and that the brain was torn. These injuries, which. were fatal from the first, were the immediate cause of death. By the Jury : The fracture was not near where the abrasion was. The Coroner said that they were at the end of a story, complete in all its painful revelations, of a drunken expedition. They had, however, nothing to do with any loss the man had sustained by the robbery, or the removal of his watch and chain; they had only to do with the cause of death. Sad as the case was, there was no evidence before them which would incriminate anyone, but at the same time it would be wise to record a verdict that might still leave the enquiry open in case anything else came to the attention of the police. He suggested they should return a verdict that the cause of death was a facture of the base of the skull producing laceration of the brain and haemorrhage, and that the same was due to a fall whilst getting out of a car. He wished to say that they were greatly indebted to the officers who had made the enquiries in the case, and unquestionably Sergeants Harding and Sheppard displayed great intelligence in their treatment of the man committed to their charge. He was bound to say the conduct of the cabman was very unsatisfactory, and no doubt it would be brought to the attention of the proper authorities. The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the coroner's suggestion, and hoped some steps would be taken to trace the perpetrators of the robbery. The Coroner : "I trust the evidence given by Emma Cheeseman will be taken notice of by the authorities, and also the conduct of Felix Badger. I disallow the expenses of both Badger and Cheeseman."
"The Mysterious Affair at Sparkbrook"
Birmingham Daily Post : October 18th 1893.

Mitchell's and Butler's Cape Hill Brewery [c.1920]

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Licensees of this pub

1879 - William Charley
1890 - 1894 John Calcutt Phillips
1898 - John Dakin
1899 - James Dale
1900 - Hubert Harry Brown
1902 - 1903 H. Phillips
1903 - 1919 Joseph Astle
1919 - 1935 Charles Edward Walton
1936 - 1938 Albert Ireland
1938 - 1939 W. P. Pickin
1939 - 1946 Mrs. Lilian May Pickin
1946 - 1956 Arthur Deeley
1956 - 1969 Bertram Harold Coney
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

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Mitchell's and Butler's Traditional Cask Ales


Plan Showing Site of the Belgave Hotel on the Corner of Belgrave Street and Moseley Road in Birmingham [1889]

This plan dated 1889 shows the Belgrave Hotel on the corner of Belgrave Street [as it was then known] and Moseley Road.

Charles and Rachel Walton

Charles and Rachel Walton of the Belgrave Hotel on the corner of Moseley Road and Belgrave Road

Looking rather dapper, this is Charles and Rachel Walton, the couple drafted in by Mitchell's and Butler's to run their newly-acquired hotel in 1919. The couple who had previously kept the Gothic Stores on Great Hampton Street, would enjoy a long spell at the Belgrave Hotel.

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Newspaper Articles

"Mr. E. Docker, coroner, held an adjourned inquest at the Belgrave Hotel, Moseley Road, on Friday afternoon, touching the death of Fanny Pickering [22], the wife of John Pickering, packer, of Walter Place, Belgrave Street. The deceased died on the 29th July, from inflammation of the lungs and abdomen, the result of a miscarriage. Mr. J. W. Moore, surgeon, of Balsall Heath, who attended the deceased, and also made a post-mortem examination, said he found no mechanical injury on the body, or evidence of external violence. The inflammation was caused by blood-poisoning, which would be accounted for by the miscarriage. Eliza Nichols, of 1, Frank Street, Birmingham, a professional midwife, having given evidence, Joseph Ingram, a young man lodging in the house next to Pickering's, said that on the morning of Sunday, the 15th July, he was standing at the door between nine and ten o'clock, when he saw John Pickering come out of his house into the yard and strike his wife a blow on the forehead. The blow caused a swelling fully as large as a pigeon's egg. Mrs. Pickering fell upon her knees in a drain, near which she had been standing, and screamed. Her husband went away. Emma Taylor, wife of George Taylor, of 5, Walter Place, gave evidence to the effect that on the 14th of July she went into Pickering's, and saw the deceased and her husband quarrelling. Pickering rushed at his wife, and struck her several times about the upper part of the body. He had accused her of taking money out of his pocket, but Mrs. Pickering said she had not done so. The deceased fainted after being beaten. After she had recovered she went away, and staved somewhere else all night. Witness also saw the blow struck on the Sunday morning, and when Mrs. Pickering became ill during the Sunday she attributed it to the violence. She had seen Pickering beat his wife several times. At the request of Pickering, two witnesses were examined on his behalf. Mrs. A. Pickering, his sister-in-law, said the deceased had for several weeks been taking some mixture to procure an abortion. She had been told by the deceased that she took the mixture for that purpose, and she had also seen her take it. Witness did not think that the deceased's husband knew of this at the time. Mrs. Sophia Croton, of Longbridge Road, said the deceased told her that she was taking herbs in order to get out of her trouble. Dr. Moore gave medical evidence. Pickering did not offer to give evidence on oath, but made a statement to the effect that he admitted striking his wife on the Saturday night and Sunday morning. It was true, he added, that his wife picked his pocket. The Coroner, in summing up, said the jury must consider whether the deceased's illness was not brought on by her own action, the husband's violence simply happening to take place immediately before her illness. On the other hand, they should remember that it was immediately after the blow was struck on the Sunday that the woman became ill. The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of manslaughter against John Pickering, and the Coroner committed him for trial at the Assizes."
"Alleged Manslaughter at Balsall Heath"
Birmingham Daily Post : August 13th 1883.