Some history of the Woodman Inn at Amblecote
The Woodman Inn was located in King William Street on the corner of Hill Street opposite the infants school. In the early 19th century this was located within the area known as Dennis Park. The school on the other corner of Hill Street was erected in 1846 and the pub would date from this period. The school was designated Infants-only in 1880. Prior to this the building provided education for boys and girls who paid 2d or 1½d per week, the sum being determined by the number of children in the household.
Whilst King William Street is named after the clay-master William King, resident of Amblecote Hall until his death on March 16th 1850, Hill Street is named after Thomas Hill who inherited Dennis Park in 1762 and who later built Dennis Hall. He owned the original bank that stood on the corner of Stourbridge's High Street and Coventry Street. It was named the Hill and Waldron Bank. Thomas Hill was the son of Waldron Hill of the Tiled House in Pensnett. In partnership with William Waldron, he operated a blade mill on the River Stour close to the Coalbournbrook Glasshouse.
Crate manufacturer John Hill was the licensee of the Woodman Inn during the 1850's. Born in 1803 in Redditch, he kept the pub with his locally-born wife Lucy. The couple's six children lived above the pub and the Hill's employed Ann Perks as a servant. Was the Woodman named after John Hill who clearly worked with timber to produce crates behind the pub? This is highly plausible and adds some romance to the pub's signboard. John Hill had earlier plied his trade as a crate manufacturer at nearby Tobacco Box Hill.
The Woodman Inn was the venue for auctions of newly-built houses in Dennis Park during the 1850's. These sales were held by Messrs. Oates and Perrens. At the age of 65, John Hill died suddenly at the Woodman Inn on March 16th 1868, after which the licence of the pub passed to his wife Lucy. She remained at the Woodman Inn until 1872 and died five years later.
Samuel Clempson, the Netherton brewer and licensee of the Hope Tavern, was the owner of the property by 1872. His step-son Richard had two spells running the fully licensed alehouse. The son of a brewery employee John Stroyd and Ann Shaw, he was born in Kate's Hill in 1853. Following the death of his father in 1861, his mother re-married to Samuel Clempson. In 1871 his step-father was recorded as a brewer's clerk living and working on Cinder Bank in Netherton. He was employed by William Smith, a grocer and tea dealer who also owned the Hope Tavern. The adjacent brewery is thought to have opened in 1852. It was here that Richard Stroyd learned the art of brewing. Changing his name to Stroyd-Clempson, he married Sarah Jane Garratt at St. Mary's Church, Kingswinford in 1874. His wife was the daughter of Solomon Garratt, publican of the Old Bell Inn at Netherton. Following their first spell at the Woodman Inn, Richard and Sarah Clempson spent a few years living in West Bromwich whilst he worked as a maltster, probably for one of the town's brewers.
The Clempson family returned to the Woodman Inn for a brief spell during the mid-1880's. The pub had been run by a succession of tenants with mixed fortunes. In 1883 William Bridgens was declared bankrupt. Richard Stroyd-Clempson's career as a maltster saw him and his family move to Abergavenny, possibly to work at Facey's Market Street Brewery. He did make a return to the Midlands before re-locating to Pembrokeshire where he worked for a malting firm in Fishguard. It was on the Welsh coast that he died in 1918. His second spell at the Woodman Inn seems to correlate with the death of his step-father Samuel Clempson in 1884 [see genealogy connections], possibly part of an inheritance though, licensing records indicate that it was his mother Ann Clempson who owned the Woodman Inn. She sold the property to Quarry Bank brewer Jesse Billingham which would have resulted in some interesting beers being sold in King William Street.
When widow Martha Gorman took over the licence she soon found herself on the wrong side of the law. She was hauled in front of the bench on November 17th 1890 for selling liquor during prohibited hours and fined 40 shillings and costs. Manchester-born Martha Gorman had moved to Amblecote with her husband James who worked in the glass industry. Following his death, Martha Gorman took over the licence for a spell before handing over to her son John.
John Gorman was succeeded by Thomas Woolvin who had previously run a grocer's shop in Stourbridge's High Street with his wife Eleanor. He died not long after making the move to Amblecote. The high turnover of licensees in the late 19th century suggests a problematic house. Many of the publicans had day jobs and only worked in the pub during the evening. Alfred George was such an example - he was a glassmaker by trade.
Just before the end of the 19th century the pub was acquired by the Aston-based Atkinson's Brewery. On March 4th 1907 an order was granted for the removal of this pub's full licence to the Cottage Spring Inn at Brierley Hill. The order was confirmed by the County Licensing Committee on March 23rd 1907.
Licensees of this pub
1851 - 1868 John Hill
1868 - 1872 Mrs. Lucy Hill
1872 - 1873 George Maund
1873 - 1876 Richard S. Clempson
1876 - 1878 Thomas Adey
1878 - 1878 Edwin Attwood
1878 - 1883 William Bridgens
1883 - 1885 James Henry Stafford
1885 - 1887 Richard S. Clempson
1887 - 1890 James Gorman
1890 - 1892 Martha Gorman
1892 - 1893 John William Gorman
1893 - 1896 Thomas James Woolvin
1896 - 1899 John Hill
1899 - 1900 Joseph Chance
1900 - 1900 Jacob Watts
1900 - 1902 Alfred George
1902 - 1902 Samuel Nightingale
1902 - 1904 George Guy Jnr.
1904 - 1907 William Alfred Smith
There are still a fair number of pubs named after The Woodman which serves to remind us of the former importance of this tradesman. Apart from chopping down trees, the woodman would have been charged with maintenance of the wood or forestry. In this particular case an early publican was a crate-maker and this may have been the reason for this name.
Dating from 1903 the location of the Woodman Inn has been marked on this map extract. The pub was on the corner of King William Street and Hill Street..
"Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends
to trust, and old authors to read."
"John Hill, of Dennis Park, and Samuel Robinson, Brettell Lane, two overseers for the hamlet of Amblecote, were charged with being deficient
in their accounts, as certified by Mr. Simkiss, auditor, to the amount of £20. 10s. 8d. Mr. Holloway, clerk to the guardians, proved the audit. For the defence, Mr.
Hill said that he had attended at the auditing on three different occasions on one the deficiency was £21, on another it was £12; and now it was £20. 10s. 8d.
He then stated that in the first instance he had no office, never saw the rate nook, nor had any money, and he considered it a very hard case to be be called upon to pay
the money. A distress warrant was issued."
Worcester Journal : November 6th 1858 Page 3.