The Market Vaults was established in the Georgian period and could be a little older. From the street the Market Vaults looks a typical 18th century building with a 19th century bricked frontage. However, it is possible to walk up the entry on the west side of the building and examine the timber frames that held together the original structure. A better view of the historic building and its timber-framed rear wing can be achieved from the pub's beer garden. From there one can distinguish a 17th century building erected on a narrow plot similar to those allocated to burgesses in medieval times.
There is little evidence to suggest that the pub had a name in the late 18th and early 19th centuries but this was a common practice for what was a wine and spirit vaults. Indeed, Tamworth had numerous in the Georgian period and often the houses went by the name of the owner. Nearby alehouses in the Market Place included the Staffordshire Yeoman and the Tamworth Arms but this drinking establishment specialised in wines and spirits.
The production and sale of spirits was boosted in 1690 when King William III dissolved the existing distiller's monopoly thus allowing the widespread proliferation of gin shops. Sourcing of wine was a little more complex, largely because of war. Imports from France were prohibited until 1831. Consequently, the vast majority of wines sold in England originated from Portugal and Spain. Wine from French vineyards did make it to the marketplace but this was through the extensive smuggling network.
The largest of the wine and spirit merchants in the Market Place was Thomas Cox.
However, Samuel Wileman did his level best to catch up once he established
himself at these premises. He and his wife Hannah were both Tammies and kept the
vaults with their son William. Following Samuel Wileman's death in 1870 [see
newspaper article below], William took
over the licence and continued the trade with his mother. They employed two
servants including Charles Cast, a London-born waiter.
By the end of the 1870's the pub was trading as the Market Vaults. A weekly market held close to the Town Hall had been established in Anglo-Saxon times. Tamworth is quite unique in that it was granted a charter for two markets. The Staffordshire half of the town staged their market near the Stone Cross public house on the junction of Church Street and Colehill, whilst the Warwickshire market was held here in Market Street. In medieval times it was considered a serious offence to sell short measures at market so stocks and a pillory were positioned in the market place for offenders. Records for Tamworth show that, in 1294, Nicholas Alcus was found guilty of selling underweight loaves and, not being his first offence, he was shackled at the pillory where he was whipped.
The licence of the Market Vaults was transferred on June 13th 1883 from William
Wileman to William Eastland. He and his wife Emma had run the Albert Hotel in
the previous decade. William Eastland hailed from the Kent and came to
to work as an assistant chemist at Frederick Ruff's pharmacy in George Street.
He later moved his family to
Stafford where he
worked as a commercial traveller but it would seem that he was happier when
behind the servery of a tavern so returned to the town to run the Market Vaults.
He died in
The 1890's was seemingly a good decade for Charles Cast. He moved from the Market Vaults to take over at the prestigious Castle Hotel further up Market Street and was later elected Mayor of Tamworth. He was eldest son of Mr. Charles Cast, of Great Warley, Essex, and his wife Mary Anne, daughter Mr. John High, of Fakenham, Norfolk. He was in the parish of St. John's Hackney, London, on August 21st, 1856, and was educated at the National Schools, in Paradise Fields, Hackney. He came, with his parents, to Tamworth, in October 1865, and was an errand boy at the establishment of Messrs. Abel Clarson and Son's, a draper's in Market Street. For a time he was also engaged at the "Herald" printing works.
Charles Cast later entered the service of Mr. John Floyer, at Hints Hall, where he remained for two and a half years. Subsequently he became an assistant at the stationers' shop in Market street, conducted by Mr. J. Thompson, who later became a Roman Catholic priest at Oldbury.
Charles Cast left to take a responsible and confidential position in the service of George Harry Grey, seventh Earl of Stamford and Warrington, in which position he remained for nine years. He then became secretary to Mr. Leo Frank Schuster, with whom he travelled for nearly six years. During that period Charles Cast had the advantage of becoming acquainted with Italy, Austria, Germany, and some parts of Spain, and he had the unique experience of an earthquake, a railway accident in which eighteen lives were lost, and of escaping from drowning twice.
Charles Cast was elected Mayor of Tamworth in 1904 and 1907. After a successful business and political career he settled in West Haddon, Rugby, where he died in July 1943 aged 87.
In the mid-1890's the Market Vaults was kept by Thomas Withnall who later managed the Red Lion Hotel at Atherstone.
Robert Yates was publican during the final years of the 19th century. He was a very popular publican and well-known figure around Tamworth. He was a native of Leigh, Lancashire, and was a mechanical engineer. He had held situations in various parts of the country, and in 1879, he came from Uttoxeter to Tamworth to take the position of engineer at Messrs. Fisher's paper mills, a post he held for eighteen years.
Robert Yates was exceedingly popular with his fellow employees, and on his resignation in 1897, when he became the tenant of the Market Vaults, they made him a presentation of a handsome timepiece and ornaments. For six years the publican was a member of the Glascote School Board. When the Local Government Act came into force in December, 1894, he was elected representative of Bolehall and Glascote on the Tamworth Board of Guardians and Rural District Council. He represented the Council on the Joint Weirs Committee, and the Joint Waterworks Committee.
Robert Yates died in 1900. On July 11th he was playing in a bowling match for the Tamworth Club at Aston, when, owing to the intense heat, he had slight stroke, but under medical treatment he regained his usual health, and was able to attend to his business and his public duties. On the following Friday night, however, about seven o'clock, he had another seizure, and though able to speak a few minutes afterwards, he relapsed into unconsciousness and died about one o'clock on Saturday morning. Along with his widow, five sons, three daughters and close family, the funeral was attended by representatives of the Tamworth Board of Guardians and Rural District Council, the Tamworth School Board, Tamworth and District Licensed Victuallers' Association, Tamworth Bowling Club, the Athletic Football Club, Tamworth Volunteers, and the Tamworth Amateur Swimming and Bowling Club.
Following the death of Robert Yates, his wife Sarah was allowed to remain as licensee for a short period before the family moved to Dent Street. Andrew and Christine Robertson took over in December 1900. The Scottish couple had moved south from Strickland Roger in Westmorland where Andrew Robertson worked as a steam engine fitter. Like his predecessor, the engineer worked at Messrs. Fisher & Co., Ltd., though only for three years. However, he made quite an impression at the company and, on his departure, was the recipient of a marble clock, with a suitable inscription, which had been subscribed for by fellow employees. Andrew and Christine Robertson moved into the Market Vaults with their four sons and two daughters which also accommodated two servants - barmaid Helen Hession and domestic Ethel Stock.
William Fern took over the helm in the mid-Edwardian period. He was a popular landlord as he had gained notoriety on the football field as a player for Tamworth Athletic Football Club. In October 1903, at a social event held by the club at the Jolly Sailor, he was presented with a gold medal and pipe in appreciation of his past services to the club. At the meeting, Mr. Woodcock alluded to Fern's transfer to West Bromwich Albion, and also to the "honourable manner which he had treated the Athletic." Fern's health was drunk with musical honours.
The Market Vaults has another 'Alderman' connection. After a spell running the Globe Hotel, William Dormer spent the World War One years in charge of the pub before moving to the Tweeddale Arms close to the town's railway station. He was a highly respected gentleman of the town. Indeed, he was a councillor for Tamworth and became Mayor in 1925.
On his election as Mayor of the Borough, William Dormer had been member of the Council for seventeen years, and there was a general consensus of opinion, both inside and outside the Council, that he had brought to bear on the work of the town a practical and experienced knowledge of affairs, especially in relation to building and kindred trades, which had operated to the benefit of the ratepayers.
William Dormer was the youngest of six sons of Mr. Henry Dormer, of Caversham, Oxfordshire. Like his father and two brothers, Mr. Dormer took a keen interest in local government. He entered the public life of Tamworth in November, 1908, when he was returned to the Town Council. He was elevated to the Aldermanic Bench in March, 1915, and retained his position until January, 1942, when he retired owing to continued ill-health. He died in the Spring of 1943.
From the mid-World War One period Hamlet Yates was the licensee of the Market Vaults. He kept the pub with his wife Sarah. In 1923 the couple moved to the Park Inn at Kettlebrook from where Hamlet Yates also traded as a haulage contractor. They were succeeded by Francis and Ethel Knight. The latter was in fact the daughter of Hamlet and Sarah Yates. She had married Francis Knight at St. Editha's Church in September 1921. The bride, who was "tastefully attired in a brown costume and carrying a bouquet of white roses, was given away by Hamlet Yates before the couple embarked on a honeymoon in North Wales.
Archibald Biddle held the licence of the Market Vaults for a brief spell during the mid-1930's. He later worked the bar of the refreshment rooms at Tamworth's Cattle Market before running the Empire Vaults during World War Two.
For most of the 20th century the Market Vaults was an outlet for Worthington's ales. Signs for this company can be seen in these pre and post-war photographs. This brewery was founded in 1744 and brewed on a large site in Burton-on-Trent until 1967 despite having merged with Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton forty years earlier.
The Market Vaults once had a very good team that competed in local competitions. Indeed, in June 1915, they were Champions of Tamworth and District Air Rifle League. The pub was also a meeting place for the Robin Hood Lodge of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. Dedicated by the Provincial Grand Primo, Bro. Mr. M. G. Brown, K.O.M., a 'new' lodge room was opened for the lodge in January 1937.
During the mid-late 1930's the Market Vaults was run by Thomas Maycock. A native of Lichfield, he had enjoyed a long military career and was well-known soldier. Serving for 21 years, he rose to the rank of Regimental Sergeant-Major of the North Staffordshire Regiment. He saw active service in the Boer War and the Great War, and had seen a considerable amount of foreign service. He was member of the Licensed Victuallers' Association, the Robin Hood Lodge of R.A.0.B., the Territorials' Club, and Tamworth British Legion, in which he took a great interest. The soldier died at the Market Vaults in July 1939. He was survived by a widow and seven children.
By the time of the above photograph the Market Vaults was operated by
Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd., probably taken over during the
industry shake-up of the 1990's. However, in more recent years the pub has been
taken over by Joule's Brewery.
"John Gannon, Church Street, was charged with being drunk and disorderly on
Saturday night last and causing a disturbance in Market Street. P.C. O'Brien
said that about 8.20 p.m., on the 1st inst., he was called into Eastland's
Spirit Vaults to eject the defendant, who was very drunk and refused to go away
at the solicitations of the witness. Whilst in the street he dared the policeman
to lock him up and swore and caused a crowd to congregate. The policeman had
cautioned him three times previously the same night. He was fined 5s. and
"John Milner, Church Street, was charged with being drunk and disorderly in
Market Street, on Saturday night last. P.C. O'Brien said that about 11.20 on the
night in question he saw the defendant in Market Street very drunk and wanting
to fight with a soldier. Several respectable persons wanted to lead him away,
but he broke loose from them all and he was taken to the Police Station. Since
his last conviction six weeks ago he had been teetotal and had only broken the
pledge at eight o'clock that night. It was his sixth appearance and he was fined
5s. and costs.
"The inmates of the Market Vaults were aroused by the continuous barking of a
fox terrier dog between twelve and one o'clock Monday morning. Going downstairs,
armed with a poker, the landlord, Mr. William Fern, found that the door in the
entry leading to the smoke room had been forced open, and before he arrived, two
men were seen, from an upstairs window, to bolt up the yard. The Fazeley Charity
Cup and the Tamworth Nursing Cup being on the premises may have tempted the men
to gain access to the house, but it is very doubtful whether they would have got
possession of these trophies, because the landlord sees that they are secure
each night. The dogs seems to have been roughly treated, having a cut on the
"The first annual supper of the Market Street Vaults Darts Club, Tamworth, took
place on Monday. About forty players and friends sat down to a capital cold
meal, catered for by Host and Hostess Maycock and lady helpers. There followed
community singing, and vocal items by Mr. F. Vale [chairman of the club] and Mr.
T. Rudd. The Secretary of the Darts League [Mr. A. Claridge] congratulated the
club on their first season's playing, and the sportsmanship shown.
A couple of doors away from the pub, on the other side of the ironmongery
business of the Butler family, there was Allton's Stores. This retail business
was started by Frederick Allton around 1886. He had spent his apprenticeship in
the bakery trade before taking over the business of Messrs.Pimm in Market
Street. Enjoying considerable success, he extended into the premises next to the
ironmongers and offered a combination of groceries, provisions and
confectionary. Advertisements in his shop windows promoted Danish Butter, Cured
Bacon, Eiffel Tower Lemonade, Ginger Punch and Sockeye Salmon. Frederick George
Allton became a prominent figure in public life and twice served as Tamworth's
mayor in addition to being one of the longest serving members of the Town
Council. Aged 91, he attended his last council meeting two months before his
death in March 1956. Alderman Alton had a pub connection himself for he was born
in the Acorn Inn at Lichfield. However, he was a lifelong teetotaller and a
staunch supporter of the Band of Hope Union, a temperance organisation
established in 1847. Many Tammies who bought cakes and buns in Allton's Stores
during the 1950's may remember the smiling face of Dolly Redfern. She had
married Alderman Alton's son Fred and worked in the shop alongside Joan Stubbs.
"William Fern, landlord of the Market Vaults, was summoned for permitting
drunkenness on his licensed premises on August 9th. Mr. Breton prosecuted, and
Mr. J. Matthews defended. The defendant pleaded not guilty. Harriett Wright said
she went to the inn at 8.10pm, with Miss Smith. Mr. Fern, supplied her with a
pint of ale. While she was at the counter her attention was directed to Seal,
who was the worse for drink. Seal subsequently cursed her, and the landlord told
him that would do. On her going to the counter for another pint Seal spoke to
her again and she told him to mind his own business. She and Miss Smith were the
at house for twenty minutes, and Seal was there all the time. While she was
there she saw Seal empty a pint cup, and push it along to be supplied again. He
was supplied with another pint, the cup being filled by the defendant, and Seal
paid 3d. for it. Cross-examined: She had brought a charge against Seal for an
offence, which was dismissed. She did not say then that Seal was drunk or that
he was supplied drink. Hettie Elizabeth Smith gave evidence of a corroborative
nature. P.C. Willetts said he accompanied the previous witnesses to Market
Street, where he saw Seal, who was very drunk and vomiting. Seal was being
supported by another man. Later in the evening he saw the landlord and told him
that two women had complained of a man named Seal being drunk on his premises.
The landlord replied that two women had been in, but Seal was not drunk, and was
not supplied with anything. Witness remarked. "Although you say he was net
drunk, you did not supply him." The landlord answered: "He did not ask for
anything." At four o'clock in the afternoon of the same day he saw Seal, who was
very drunk. Cross-examined: When the women made the statement to him he did not
take it down in writing at the time. Re-examined: The statement was written down
later in the evening. Mr. Matthews addressed the Bench, and said it was not
sufficient if a man was drunk to support a conviction in that case, unless it
could also be established that the landlord permitted him to remain on his
premises in that condition, without taking reasonable steps to get him out. It
was quite impossible for a landlord to prevent a drunken man entering his
premises, and the law allowed him reasonable time for getting such a man away.
He pointed out that the offence was alleged to have been committed on August 9th
but the summons was not taken out till August 26th. He submitted that the
landlord took all reasonable steps to keep his house clear of a charge of that
kind. The defendant said when Seal and Hatton came in, he was just going into
the smoke-room to deliver some drinks. The barman made a statement to him on his
return that he had refused to supply Hatton. He confirmed that action. Hatton
afterwards asked him for drink, and he told him Seal had had enough, and must
leave. Hatton said "we are barred here we'll go where we can get some." The men
then went out, not having been on the premises more than three minutes at the
outside. Cross-examined: He did not supply any drink to the men, but he served
Mrs. Wright with a pint of ale. John Southall, barman at the Market Vaults, said
he refused to supply Hatton with drink because in his opinion Seal had had
enough. Neither men were supplied with drink. Cross-examined : He supplied Mrs.
Wright and Miss Smith with a pint ale. They were in the house four or five
minutes. It was nearly nine o'clock when they came in. Mr. Breton: You will
surprised to hear they were at the Police Station at 8.40pm. Witness: I should
not be surprised at anything [laughter]. Samuel Proudman supported the statement
that Hatton and Seal were not supplied with drink. John Hatton corroborated.
After a brief consultation Mr. Arnold said: The majority of the Bench have
decided to dismiss the case, but with that opinion I do not concur in the least.
I think drunkenness was permitted, but the majority are against me."
"The Birmingham Football Association, consisting of Messrs. W. Hart, E. M.
Mitton, Campbell Orr, and E. A. Hatton, sat at the Market Vaults in Tamworth,
Friday evening, to consider football in the Tamworth district. It was decided to
form a minor association in connection with the Birmingham Association, to
consist of representatives of the various football competitions and clubs. All
disputes, etc., will dealt with the local association. The proceedings were
conducted in private. A further meeting was held at Market Vaults on Tuesday
evening, when rules of the new association were framed, and ordered to printed.
The radius over which the association has jurisdiction is within ten miles of
Tamworth. The association consist of one representative from each association or
league, one appointed by clubs affiliated to the Birmingham Association and not
in any of the competitions, and three representatives of the Birmingham
Association. Mr. W. Hart [Birmingham] was appointed chairman, Mr. E. A. Hatton
[Tamworth] vice-chairman, and Mr. J. G. A. Sharpe secretary.