Frontage of the Anchor Hotel [c.1947]
Anchor Hotel from Five Ways 
Frontage of the Anchor Hotel 
Frontage of the Anchor Hotel 
Possible Former Malthouse 
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Shop and Housing in St Anne's Road 
Iron Foundry of Dudley and Dowell Limited [c.1970]
This photograph of the Anchor Hotel was taken around 1947. The publican at this time was James Newton. He held the licence from August 1940 until August 1961 when he was succeeded by Stanley Hay. Banks's Ales and Spirits are advertised on the pub's wall. The other painted advert in the distance is for G. H. Viner and Sons, a family business in the decorating and plumbing trade, based in a property almost opposite the Bell Inn. The windows of the Anchor Hotel feature etched glass panes and these reveal that, in earlier days, the left-hand room was a liquor vaults and the room to the right was a smoke room. There is an anchor in bas-relief in the stuccoed gable of the building. The gable itself is a later addition to the building - the original roofline however is still pronounced with the hood moulding above the first floor windows. The pitch of the roof extended quite a way and, as you can see from the side window, there was an additional floor which was used either for hotel accommodation or acted as the living quarters of the publican's family.
The Anchor Hotel was adjacent to Christ Church on Five Ways. After the structure closed as a place of worship it was used as a second-hand furniture shop, an ex-catalogue store and even a weightlifting gymnasium. The Anchor and all surrounding buildings were demolished when the new by-pass for Cradley Heath was created in the mid-2000's. In truth, the Anchor's best days had long gone and it was a sad affair towards the end. Most of the regular customers had seemingly abandoned a traditional pub environment in favour of cheaper beer at Wetherspoon's in the High Street.
There was an interesting building behind the Anchor Hotel, though on the other side of a dividing wall. I have included a photograph in the gallery above. It does look as though it was used as a malthouse at some point in its history. If this is the case however I suspect it was more likely to have been related to the Bell Inn across the road as the Billingham family were involved in brewing. I have not seen any evidence to suggest that beers were produced on the site of the Anchor Hotel or the Royal Exchange.
Thomas and Mary Robinson were running this pub in the early 1860's when it was known as the Royal Exchange. Thomas Robinson originated from Herefordshire but Mary hailed from Dudley. She was the daughter of Thomas and Phoebe Cook and grew up in Woodside where her father worked as a puddler. She was widowed by the end of the decade but remained at the Royal Exchange as licensee and was helped by her mother and niece, the latter working as a cook.
The man behind the pub's new name and remodelling in the early 1880's was George Chatham. Along with nearby Netherton, Cradley Heath was once a major chain manufacturing town. Many of the chains were produced for the shipping industry. In the late 19th century almost every man living in Newtown Lane, Providence Street and Foxoak Street was employed as a chainmaker, though many worked forging anchors. The decision to change the pub's name no doubt celebrated this. This not only helped to foster a local identity but encouraged customer loyalty from the local residents - a sound economic decision for many a publican.
Not too far away from the pub was an Anchor Forge at Isaiah Preston's factory in Wood's Lane. A steam hammer was used here to forge parts for anchors along with other heavy metal goods. This was removed to the Black Country Museum and later housed in a building once used at Johnson's Rolling Mill in West Bromwich. Some of the world's most famous anchors were of local origin. Whilst the anchor for the ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic was produced at Noah Hingley’s in Netherton, the anchor for the H.M.H.S. Britannic, sister ship of the Titanic, was manufactured at the Railway Works of Richard Sykes and Son close to the town's railway station.
George Chatham was born around 1852 in Farlow, not too far from Oreton in Shropshire. He was the son of a agricultural labourer but arrived in Cradley Heath when his mother re-married. She was wed to the scrap iron dealer Richard Shaw. The family lived nearby in a substantial property called Whitehall. This building, and arguably the nearby coal pit of the same name, is commemorated in the street name off Lower High Street in a locality that was once called Lomey Town. Well they say that "where there's muck, there's brass" so I presume Richard Shaw made a few quid and that this is the source of capital for George Chatham when he took over at the Royal Exchange.
George Chatham had recently married a Quarry Bank woman named Sarah. Trading under the new name of the Anchor Hotel, the couple employed Old Hill-born Sarah Cooper as a barmaid and also hired Netherton lass, Rachel Cotton, as a general servant. The Chatham's had two daughters and remained at the pub until the early 1890's. However, George decided to rediscover the agricultural roots of his ancestors and went back into farming. He didn't do too bad for himself and managed to retire at a relatively early age. During the Edwardian period the Chatham family lived in Clifton Street at Heath on the edge of Stourbridge in what is now known as The Old Quarter.
A glass painter by trade, James Rowlands took over the Anchor Hotel towards the end of Queen Victoria's reign. He originated from West Bromwich and his wife Emma hailed from Birmingham. However, it would appear that the couple had tried their luck in Australia for their two eldest children, Francis and Dorothy, were born on the other side of the globe. I bet they had fun attending a school in Lomey Town with an Australian accent. After making the voyage back to Blighty the family first settled in Smethwick but relocated to Cradley Heath when the opportunity to run the pub arose. I imagine this couple were the first to run the Anchor Hotel for Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd. It would seem logical that the company purchased this outlet from George Chatham, allowing him to start up his farming enterprise. It could however have been another brewery later acquired by W&DB, such as North Worcestershire Breweries Ltd.
James Rowlands landed himself in trouble when he and his customers celebrated the signing of the peace treaty that ended the Boer War in South Africa. He was hauled before the magistrates on charges of opening during prohibited hours and keeping open on Sunday May 1st 1902. At 11.15pm on Saturday 31st May Police Constables Kent and Macey spotted two people leaving the hotel so they went inside to investigate. They found eleven men eating and drinking in the pub and asked James Rowlands why he was still open for business. The publican told the policemen that everyone was a guest of a Mr. Cave who was staying at the hotel. James Rowlands had earlier spoken to Police Constable Pitcher and had asked "what latitude he was going to give the publicans that night". The police told him they had no power to grant late opening and reminded the licensee that if he did the same thing as he did on Mafeking night he would be reported. When he appeared in court James Rowlands told the bench that he had "closed the pub at ten o'clock but owing to the proclamation of peace there was general rejoicing and a semi-torchlight procession." Mrs Rowlands was called and she told the court that she only supplied Mr. Cave's guests with refreshments but no money was passed. Although Mr. Guest, a resident at the Anchor Hotel for seven months, told the magistrates that he was responsible for the men being in the pub the bench, consisting of Walter Bassano, J. H. Smith and J. Billingham, decided that an offence had been committed. However, because of the declaration of peace they were lenient in their sentence. James Rowlands had to pay a total fine of £2.2s.
James and Emma Rowlands didn't stay too long after this incident. Perhaps they felt the local constabulary were a little unsympathetic to them. They subsequently left Cradley Heath and went on to bigger things. Much bigger things. In the census of 1911 they are recorded at the helm of the Market Hotel in Station Street, Birmingham where they were in charge of a small army of staff.
In 1903 a building plan of the Anchor Hotel was drawn up for the licensing section of local government. The plot comprised of four main buildings: the public house, a kitchen, a coach house, and a stable block with toilets. The main building had a central spine corridor with a bar to the left and a smoke room to the right. There was another smoke room to the rear of the building. Located next to the landlord's sitting room, this was probably used by the more refined patrons. Customers in this room would have been served by a waiter. In the corridor there was a hatch window to the servery which facilitated off sales, usually called a jug counter.
In the old days it was a bit of a trudge to the toilets. Patrons would have to walk up the yard, past the kitchen and commercial room to access the water closet in the stable block. Customers using the commercial room had their own indoor lavatory as did those using the club room on the first floor of this block. Across the yard there was a coach house for carriages and wagons. The Anchor Hotel had five bedrooms for visitors or lodgers with one shared bathroom close to the top of the stairs. The pub's pantry was located beneath this shared facility.
Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd. improved the Anchor Hotel in 1941. The interior layout of the drinking areas remained pretty much the same. The key changes were to the rear. In the space previously used for a veranda the brewery constructed a small hall and men's indoor toilets that could be accessed from a new door at the back of the bar. The kitchen was converted into a women's and children's room with an exclusive entrance from the yard. This new room had an adjoining toilet facility so no more traipsing up the yard in the cold. The former commercial room was converted into a store. A new kitchen was installed in the former sitting room on the ground floor; the licensee's accommodation was now exclusively on the first floor with a new sitting room created in one of the former bedrooms.
At the end of the Edwardian period the Anchor Hotel was kept by Victor and Mabel Dingley. The publican was a local man but Mabel was born in London's Maida Vale. The couple had two sons named, like his father, Victor Percival. The first died from meningitis whilst the family were still living at the Anchor Hotel. However, the second was born in Oshawa as the Dingley's had emigrated to Canada in 1922. During his time in Cradley Heath Victor Dingley spent much of this time in public houses for his parents, Henry and Sarah Dingley had kept the Talbot Hotel for many years. The circumstances with which Victor Dingley met Mabel Walker is a curiosity; she was a domestic servant working in London at the time of the 1901 census yet the couple were married soon after this date.
Victor Dingley was succeeded by Robert Botfield, the head of a family who did the rounds in Cradley Heath. He and his wife Phoebe had previously kept the Beehive Inn in Grainger's Lane. They later managed the Bell Hotel during the 1920's, a time when their son George was in charge of the Salutation Inn. The Botfield clan were also involved with the Jolly Collier Inn and the Round of Beef before the Second World War.
A lot of licensees came and went during the 1920's and 1930's, suggesting that trading conditions were difficult. However the Anchor Hotel went through a great period of stability when James Newton took over as manager. Taking charge just after the start of the Second World War, he remained mine host until 1961, the year in which Yuri Gagarin became the first man to journey into outer space. Notwithstanding global matters, the publican must have seen many changes in Cradley Heath during his time at the pub.
Dennis Priest was the publican during the 1960's. I believe he moved from here to the Bull Terrier at Surfeit Hill.
I only drank in this pub on a couple of occasions in the late 1970's. I tended to drink across the road in the Bell Hotel because, at the time, I was partial to the Ansell's beer. However, I do remember seeing this place packed to the hilt during early doors every Friday as men from the neighbouring factories nipped in for a pint on the way home or, in some cases, until last orders were called. The Whitehall Foundry of Dudley and Dowell Ltd. was just down the road and the men who worked in the heavy business of drain casting would have slaked their thirst in the pub. Of course, by the time I was of drinking age the firm had been taken over and were trading as the Brickhouse Foundry Group but everyone still called it by the older name.
It is sad that the Anchor Hotel was demolished. Did it really have to be removed
Cradley Heath's landscape? In 2012 the site was occupied by a manual car
wash set-up. What the heck is going on in the world?