This page attempts to explain the significance and meaning behind the Why Not Inn Sign. Research is augmented with photographs of pub signs

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Information on the Why Not Inn Sign

The first sign used to hang from the Why Not Inn at Cradley. The sign was commissioned by licensee Juliet Trimble who denied the speculation that it was her seated in the armchair in the painting. The sign had quite a few mysterious elements including a genie emerging above the pub. The distorted image did however encapsulate the 'crazy' character of the pub during the 1990's.

The Why Not Inn at Cradley was shortened from "Why Not Call and See" to the Why Not when a racehorse of that name won the Grand National in 1894. The horse was there or thereabouts at Aintree for a few years. For example, in 1889 Why Not finished runner-up to a horse called "Frigate." It was perhaps amazing that Frigate won the race as, in the paddock before the start, another horse reared up and struck the old mare. In fright, she bolted and scattered the crowd, knocking down one woman. It took a while for the jockey to pull up the horse who, before the race, was completely spooked by the incident.

Painted Wall Sign of the Why Not Inn at Cradley [2004]

Owned by Captain C. H. Fenwick, Why Not did go on to win the Grand National in 1894 and this was celebrated over a century later when the end wall of the Cradley pub was painted with a mural of the horse. The painted sign also features jockey Arthur Nightingall in the saddle.

Why Not was well backed and, starting joint favourite at 5/1, went off quickly from the flag before settling down. The horse was well placed when the field jumped the Canal Turn, where Lady Ellen II took up the running. However, it was a horse called Aesop that led at the water jump with a circuit to go. Lady Ellen II took up the lead again after the second jump over Beecher's Brook but Why Not was, at this stage of the race, lying in a good position. A late challenge from an outsider called "Wild Man of Borneo" threatened to overturn the form book but Why Not took control of the race at the final fence, finishing 1½ lengths from Lady Ellen II who just pipped Wild Man of Borneo to second place in the final few strides.

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The sign of the Why Not is not unique to Cradley for there were a number of taverns in the Black Country that traded under this sign board. The M&B example here is from Darlaston. There were at least four pubs called the Why Not in Birmingham. Indeed, the inn sign was prevalent around the Midlands, Some locations, such as Essington and Astwood Bank, still have pubs named the Why Not. What is unusual about the Cradley boozer is that it was once known as the "Why Not Call and See?"

Pub Signs

Featured Inn Signs

Click here for a list of other inn signs featured on the website, along with an overview of British pub signs.

Why Not Inn Signs

Inn Sign of The Why Not at Cradley [2001]

Inn Sign of The Why Not at Astwood Bank [1973]

Inn Sign of The Why Not at Essington [2011]

Related Websites

The Inn Sign Society

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George Bernard Shaw

"You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?"
George Bernard Shaw

Inn Sign of The Why Not at Astwood Bank [2009]

Inn Sign of The Why Not at Darlaston [1991]