Rachel Garratt was the licensee of the Beehive Inn when this photograph was taken around 1940. The white card in the left bay window states that the pub has "No Beer", suggesting that the image was captured during the war when shortages could suddenly turn a pub dry.
It would appear that the pub was extended into the neighbouring cottage at some point in its early life. The cottage is significantly smaller than the corner building, suggesting that the pub was constructed first and the terrace followed later. You can just see a grocer's store next door to the Beehive Inn. The bay windows are probably a later addition.
The Beehive Inn may look like it was a fairly ordinary public house but when it was kept by John and Sarah Perks during the Victorian period it was a place of high repute. Despite its relatively small size, the couple hosted a wide range of gatherings and meetings. For example, on Easter Monday in 1850 members of the "Industry" Lodge of the Wolverhampton order of Odd Fellows, met at the Beehive Inn, in which they partook in their annual feast. Sarah Perks had to cater for more than fifty members but the evening was a tremendous success. Mrs. Perks was a dab hand at staging such functions and, as a result, two clubs with about 120 members, held their meetings and events at the Beehive Inn.
The Beehive Inn had a liquor vault, club room and brewhouse. Although, the building plan of the Beehive Inn dates from 1903, little had changed from the days when John and Sarah Perks operated the business. The couple also owned a piece of land opposite the pub. There was a quoits bed for the entertainment of customers and no doubt the Beehive Inn had a team in a local league. The plot of land also featured piggeries and fowl pens.
The core of the Beehive's trade was the community living in and around Beehive Street and Cokeland Place. Many of the residents worked in the nearby Corngreaves Works and Collieries of the New British Iron Company. There were a number of other factories close to the pub so the jug department would have been busy when the furnaces were blazing. Another key element of the pub's location was the Theatre Royal which stood on the opposite side of Grainger's Lane. I believe this building evolved from a travelling theatre that used some of the open land across from the Beehive Inn.
Licensed victualler of the Beehive Inn, John Perks was born in Brierley Hill. He and his wife were running the pub in the early 1850's. Succeeding her husband as licensee, Sarah Perks was born in Tipton in 1826. In the 1881 census she was recorded as Licensed Victualler whilst her 33 year-old son James was documented as manager of the pub. When Sarah retired they moved to Caroline Street in Kate's Hill. James worked as a commercial traveller.
By the time Jeremiah and Priscilla Westwood took over the licence of the Beehive Inn they were very experienced in the licensed trade. They had previously run a pub in Corngreaves and, before that, the Jolly Collier at the bottom of Cradley Road.
It was during the period of the Westwood's that the Beehive Inn was badly affected by mining subsidence. Full details of this are featured in the newspaper article to the right. The property had to be shored up but, despite the cracks in the walls, customers could still come in for a pint of ale. No disaster, it would seem, was going to stop the men of Cradley Heath from enjoying their beer.
Jeremiah Westwood was busy in his back yard when not serving behind the counter of the Beehive Inn. He had another income as a Beer Finings Maker. The traditional finings used for beer is Isinglass. This comprises of shredded, freeze dried, powdered swim bladder of sturgeon dissolved in liquid suspension. A positively charged fining agent and extremely gentle, they are dissolve into water and then stirred thoroughly into the beer. The finings have a positive charge which attract negatively charged particles that cause cloudiness in the beer. It also helps to clear the haziness caused by tannin in grain husks. When the particles bind with the finings they become too heavy to float and sink to the bottom of the cask leaving a beer that should be clear and polished in the glass.
Business didn't go too well for Jeremiah Westwood and the licensed victualler was declared bankrupt in 1895. He later lived in Southall's Lane, Dudley, but ended up residing at the neighbouring Railway Tavern, after a spell of working as a fish and fruit dealer. I suspect it was the latter business that failed rather than his dealings at the Beehive Inn. Jeremiah and Priscilla Westwood died within a short space of each other in the late 1890's.
It was in the last years of the 19th century that the Beehive Inn formed part of the tied estate of the North Worcestershire Breweries before it was transferred to Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd. in 1910. The pub would remain an outlet for Banks's ales for the rest of its days.
Rachel Cunningham was licensee of the Beehive Inn before the Second World War.
She married Ernest C. Garrett but remained as the pub's landlady. It is her name
above the door in the photograph at the top of the page. She remained at the
Beehive until the brewery decided to close the pub. In addition to the licence
Railway Tavern, this pub was sacrificed in order to open The Brickhouse at
Rowley Regis, a newly-built pub that opened in November 1956.
"Jeremiah Westwood, landlord of the Beehive Inn, Grainger's Lane, Cradley
Heath, was charged with selling liquors during prohibited hours on the 2nd inst
Mr. Waldron, who defended, said he did not dispute the facts of the case, but
contended that the person who fetched the spirits was ill, and handed in a
certificate from Dr. Thompson to that effect. The Bench imposed a fine of 5s.
"At the Rowley Regis Police Court yesterday Samuel Chatwin, chain
manufacturer, Grainger's Lane, was charged with stealing a cup, containing 11s.
6d., belonging to Jeremiah Westwood, landlord of the Bee Hive Inn. Mr. Waldron
defended. Louisa Jones, who described herself as a "barman" at the prosecutor's
house, said she saw the prisoner lean over the bar counter on the night of the
11th inst. and reach a cup, which contained a sum of money. The prisoner watched
her, and afterwards hurried out of the bar. Witness followed him, and found
under his apron the cup containing the money. She asked him to come back, and,
on arriving in the house, she said to those present, "Look what he has done."
Prisoner said, "Put it back and say nothing at all about it." She afterwards
told the prosecutor's wife, and the prisoner was taken into custody. In
cross-examination, witness said she was a "male impersonator," and it was a
matter of opinion whether she was an attraction or not. She sometimes waited in
the bar in male attire, and sometimes in female attire. She was not engaged as a
singer, but when she was requested to sing she usually did. She was engaged as a
"barman," and was prepared to do work in the house. It was true that she said to
the prisoner, "I might have been suspected of this." She was quite positive that
she found the cup containing the money under the prisoner's apron. She was known
as Louis St. George and Georgie. Detective Ballance stated that when he arrested
the accused he said, "I admit to reaching the cup down, but Georgie told me to
do so." Other evidence having been given, Mr. Waldron said his client strongly
denied that he reached down for the cup with any felonious intent, and stated
that it was done for a "lark," and in consequence of something the "male
impersonator" said. Prisoner was fined 20s. And [£2 6s. 6d.] costs, or in
default one month's hard labour.
"There has not been any important development of the mining subsidence at
Cradley Heath during the last two days, and the mischief that has been done up
to the present is attributable to what occurred on the two first days of the
settling of the ground. Some slight widening of the cracks in a few buildings
are pointed out, but for the most part there is nothing sufficiently marked for
the eye to detect. Actual measurements are the only things to depend upon where
the change is a small one, and it is so far satisfactory that things are not
practically worse than they were after the first two days' disturbance of the
strata. The wild flight of a large number of families from the afflicted area on
Sunday and Monday was perhaps natural under the circumstances, and people seemed
to anticipate far more mischief than has actually come. Now it is seen that
whatever else may happen, any fresh subsidence is likely to be a slow and
gradual one, there is a returning feeling of confidence. The families,
consequently, who did not see fit to remove when their neighbours did are still
continuing to hold their ground, and, so far as can be learned, they have not
any intention to migrate. Nothing has been done yet to replace the fallen
patches of plaster from the ceilings, or to stop up the cracks in the walls of
tile houses, but as it happens to be summer weather there is not the discomfort
there would be in a colder season of the year from this cause. The possibility
of further subsidence makes it doubtful what to do, but were it certain the
matter would stay at its present stages plenty of work could be found for the
bricklayers in putting the damaged property to rights. In many cases the repairs
required are only slight. A good number of strangers have been attracted to the
locality to see the houses affected by the subsidence, but externally there has
not been as much to gratify their curiosity as some of them expected. One woman
made her way to the neighbourhood, enquiring for the houses that had "gone down,
children and all," and she apparently expected to see a yawning chasm in the
earth. There is happily nothing of this for the sightseer, or anything
approaching it. The area that is really disturbed is, roughly speaking, about
four acres in extent, and it is something of a quadrilateral. In what may be
taken as the centre of the substance it is stated that the ground has sunk to
the extent of about five feet. This is an estimate only, but probably may be
accepted as substantially correct. From the four sides of the area referred to
there has been a pull of the ground towards the centre of the subsidence. It is
the wrench which has occurred in the direction of this centre that has cracked
and disturbed the buildings. These cover the ground rather thickly, and
altogether there are about 100 houses. Mr. Tibbets, of the New Inn, has
twenty-three houses besides the one he occupies, and he has been apparently the
principal sufferer in the matter. His malthouse floor has been puckered in one
part by the movement of the ground, and the quarries have been thrust upwards.
There has been a good deal of damage to the house he occupies, as well as
mischief to those he owns. There was yesterday only a few feet of water in his
well, which is thirty-two yards deep, and which used frequently to have
twenty-six yards of water in it. The wells around still supply water, though, if
tested, they would probably be found with a less supply than used to be the
case. The mains of the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company are laid along
Grainger's Lane, on which a number of the damaged properties abut, but they have
not been affected by the subsidence, though one supply service taken off them
was. In the case of the gas mains of the Cradley Heath Gas Company, there was an
escape of gas at first, but the main was put right as soon as could be. The
Primitive Methodist Chapel has been seen to dip from back to front by the
subsidence, and it was affected to the extent of 21 inches by the first two
days' sinking. From the length of the building this is not noticed so much as
might be supposed, and the effect is seen most by the flooring of the disused
schools underneath being lifted by the pressure bearing on the foundations. The
tower of the chapel, which is between 50ft. and 60ft. high, was quite out of the
perpendicular when tested with a plumb-line on Tuesday. It is stated that there
is no indication that it has gone further since then. Though as things are at
present there would be no danger in continuing to hold services at the chapel,
it has been deemed best to suspend them for the present, and it has been
arranged to hold the services at the Primitive Methodist Schools, a little
distance away. Near the side of the chapel are the works of Mr. Billingham, ship
tackle manufacturer, which have been strained by the subsidence, but nothing to
prevent the men going on working as usual. At the Beehive Inn, kept by Mr. J.
Westwood, the cellars have been propped, and the house has been a good deal
pulled and strained, leading to fissures in the wails and the fall of
plastering. The place, however, is frequented as usual, and in this, as in other
cases where the occupants have held their ground, the ordinary daily avocations
are going on. It may be hoped that this will continue to be possible, but time
alone can supply the answer as to whether this will be so. The rock that
intervenes between the surface and the mines below may possibly afford
resistance to further subsidence after the recent cracking and settling. It can
for the present, however, be only pure speculation as to whether this will prove
so or not. What the immediate cause of the subsidence is cannot be stated, but,
in the opinion of some people who are familiar with mining, it may have been due
to the pillars in the mines below proving unequal to the strain upon them. The
colliery from which the coal is drawn in the vicinity was formerly worked by the
Earl of Dudley, but of late years by Messrs. Parsons and Cooper. Subsidences
from the working of mines are, of course, a common occurrence in all districts
where coal is won, and near Cradley Station, half a mile away, a subsidence has
been going on for the last eight months, entailing constant ballasting of the
Great Western Railway, and extensive repairs in the works of Messrs. Wood-Aston
and Co. At one spot the Stour has been more than doubled in width by the sinking
of the bed of the river and of the ground near it. Near the side of the railway
the ground has gone down nearly 12 feet, and an enormous quantity at material
has been used in keeping up the line and sidings to the required level for their
purpose. Returning to the question of the subsidences in Grainger's Lane, a
meeting of property-owners and owners interested in the matter was held at the
Primitive Methodist Schools on Wednesday night, at which the Rev. Mr. Sheppard
presided. A resolution was passed as to the desirability of united action with
regard to any steps to obtain compensation for the damage that has been
occasioned. A deputation was appointed to wait on the colliery proprietors who
have been alleged to be responsible for the damage, and the meeting was
adjourned with the view of receiving their report. A hope was expressed that
some amicable understanding might be come to in regard to the matter.