History of the Albion Inn at Wall Heath in the county of Staffordshire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.


Albion Inn
Albion Inn

Some History of this Pub
The Albion Inn is tucked away in a thoroughfare that is lined with Victorian and Edwardian houses. The building dates from the mid-19th century when the thoroughfare was laid out for housing.

The Albion Inn during the Edwardian Era

The Albion Inn is tucked away in a thoroughfare that is lined with Victorian and Edwardian houses. The building dates from the mid-19th century when the thoroughfare was laid out for housing.

This wonderful photograph shows the Albion Inn during the Edwardian era. Eli Bird was the publican at the time and no doubt is featured in the photograph. He took over the licence not long after Queen Victoria's death and remained until the end of the First World War.

When housing around the Albion Inn was constructed in the mid-19th century, the development attracted migrants from the surrounding area and it was one such family that arrived in the late 1840's. Trysull-born tailor John Munday moved into the property with his family. He was recorded as John Mundy in a trade directory published in 1850. Nearby Albion Terrace [see top-right gallery photograph above] is dated 1845, suggesting that the pub itself originates from the late 1840's. However, the earliest record traced to the property is for John Munday in 1850.

Sale Advertisement for Household Furniture at Albion Terrace in 1856

This advertisement for the sale of household furniture was placed in the Brierley Hill Advertiser in March 1856. Note the sale of hogshead barrels, perhaps a connection to the Albion Inn or the Board Inn.

John Munday applied for, and was granted, an alehouse licence in 1858. The success of the neighbouring beer house trading as the Board, later the Drillman's Arms, may have inspired John Munday and his wife Elizabeth [nee Wall] to open their doors to the public. The locale comprised of colliers, scythesmiths and nailers, all of whom worked up a good thirst at work. Living in such a tight-knit community, they would have mainly patronised both the Albion Inn and The Board. The latter closed in 1908 but The Albion Inn survived into the 21st century and served as an important reminder of the halcyon years of Wall Heath's industrial age.

John Munday continued in the cloth business; trade directories record him as both a tailor and licensed victualler. He and his Kingswinford-born wife had three children. The couple also employed Stephen Law, a 19 year-old apprentice. Son Charles also trained as a tailor. Probably learning her skills from her parents, daughter Francis also worked as a dressmaker.

John Munday died in 1878 and the licence of the Albion Inn passed to his wife Elizabeth. She later moved to the Cottage Spring, a beer house in Hill Top, Wednesbury. She re-married in 1881 to Thomas Timmins; the couple would later operate a number of public houses in the Black Country. Son Charles also entered the licensed trade when he move to Trysull to take over the Plough Inn.

Wall Heath - Albion Inn with Wem Livery [c.1990]

Enoch and Eliza Bennett were running the Albion Inn during the mid-late 1880's. The son of a clockmaker, Enoch hailed from Gornal. He had worked in the iron trade before entering the licensed trade. He and his wife would later run the Vine Inn at Wombourne.

Also originating from Gornal, Eli and Mary Bird took over the Albion Inn towards the end of the Victorian period. A former bricklayer, Eli was a successful entrepreneur and eventually acquired the freehold of the property. In trade directories he was also recorded as a builder. The first photograph above was taken in the Edwardian period when Eli was the licensee, a position he held until 1919. He sold the Albion Inn to the Kinsey family who kept the tavern until the Second World War.

It was in April 1953 that the Albion Inn was purchased by the Simpkiss Brewery at Brettell Lane, Silver End. So, for many years, the lucky residents of the locality enjoyed the legendary Simpkiss Bitter. Sadly however, the brewery was controversially sold to Greenall Whitley in 1985 and they promptly closed brewing operations at Silver End. Greenall Whitley had also bought the Shropshire and Wem Breweries Co. Ltd. and their beers were sold in the Albion Inn for a number of years. The earlier photograph of the pub's inn sign features Wem Ales on the signboard. The Albion Inn later formed part of the Enterprise Inns estate.

Wall Heath - Bar of the Albion Inn [2001]

The pub's millennium celebrations were hosted by Martin and Sharon McGrath, a couple who moved into the Albion Inn during 1999. They put a lot of work into the pub and made it a really popular local. They created a mini-farm in the back garden and set up a hi-tech games room in a shed so that children could occupy themselves whilst their parents enjoyed a drink.

Martin was born in Hampstead and raised in Kilburn. He met Rowley Regis-born Sharon when they both worked at the Halesowen office of the Automobile Association. Martin was an inspector and Sharon a centre specialist. The couple had two sons, Sam and Ben, living at the pub. Another member of the family to work at the Albion Inn was nephew Terry Barton.

Martin and Sharon were married in a remarkable location. They were visiting a cousin in Green Bay, Wisconsin for his daughter's wedding and decided to tie the knot themselves at one of the most famous picture postcard locations on the shore of Lake Michigan at Eagle Harbour near to Ephraim, Door County. They took over The Albion Inn on September 29th 1999. Indeed, they had looked at a few other places such as the Elm Tree in Kinver, The Old Bush in Hinksford, and the Dodford Inn near Bromsgrove. However, they spotted a good measure of potential in The Albion Inn so moved to Wall Heath.

Martin and Sharon remembered the first night they opened the pub - they had just seven customers. However, with a lot of hard work, they built up trade at the Albion Inn. They retained much of the pub's traditional character whilst stamping their own identity on the place. With parents from County Clare and Wexford, Martin spruced the lounge up with quite a Celtic collection of prints, photographs, poetry and maps. The room was subsequently named McGra's Bar.

Wall Heath - Albion Inn Closed and To Let [2012]

When I cycled down Albion Street in 2012 I was saddened to see the place closed and boarded up. The large plot occupied by the pub, outbuildings, garden and car park would no doubt make the site attractive to a developer.
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Licensees of this Pub
1858 - John Munday
1878 - 1881 Elizabeth Munday
1881 - 1884 Joseph Bate
1884 - 1894 Enoch Bennett
1894 - 1898 Matthew Bartlett
1898 - 1901 Sarah Bartlett
1901 - 1918 Eli Bird
1918 - 1919 Mary Bird
1919 - 1920 Alfred Albert Kinsey
1920 - 1932 Walter Alt Kinsey
1932 - 1935 Florence Annie Kinsey
1935 - 1939 Alfred Alt Kinsey
1939 - 1940 Elizabeth Kinsey
1940 - 1952 John Davis
1952 - 1955 Lawrence Walton
1955 - 1968 William Ball
1968 - 1975 George Scarrett
1975 - 1986 Gwendoline Pardoe
1986 - 1992 Peter Cluett
1992 - 1996 Barrie Hickman
1996 - 1999 Carol Gittins
1999 - Martin McGrath

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Simpkiss Traditional Ales

Odysseus and the Sirens

Genealogy Connections
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Albion Inn you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Staffordshire Genealogy.

"Firstly may I thank and congratulate you for your website. I am really pleased I found it as it has not only opened new doors for my family tree research, but it has added heaps of colour to what I had was quite a dull image of my Black Country ancestors. The people you have shone light on are my direct descendants, John and Elizabeth Munday who ran The Plough in Trysull and then the Albion Inn. As we know, John died and Elizabeth remarried Tom Timmins after her daughter Mary Ellen [my great-grandmother] married in 1881. You mentioned they went on to run many Black Country pubs. Do you have the details of which pubs and when?"
Abi ~ Willemstad, Curaçao
18th March 2014

"Thank-you for your kind comments. I did see a reference to Elizabeth Munday owning the Bridge Inn at Dawley Brook and the Three Crowns at Hill Top near West Bromwich. However, I would need to do further research to confirm this." Kieron

Map Showing Location of the Albion Inn in 1900
Taken from a survey of 1900, this map underlines how sparsely populated this locale was in the late Victorian period. This would change in the Edwardian era when many more houses were constructed, infilling the spaces you can see here. Albion Street can be seen running north-west from the centre of Wall Heath. There was a cluster of cottages around the area of Maiden's Bridge. The track that crossed Holbeach Brook and running off the northern edge of the map was an old route to Himley. Dubbed the Mad Brook by locals, Holbeach Brook originates in the Cooper's Bank area and flows down to Hinksford to join the Smestow. A number of forges were built along its route and there was a mill at Holbeach which was still in use at the time of this map.

Inn Sign
Inn Sign of the Albion Inn [c.1990]

Inn Sign of the Albion Inn [2008]
Click here for more information on the sign of The Albion. Given the location of the Albion Inn there may be a Roman influence here. The pub and street are located a short distance from the old Roman camp at Greensforge. It is pure conjecture of course but, did John Mundy consider this when choosing a name for his public house?

Links to other Websites
Wall Heath Website
Black Country Bugle
Black Country Gob
Black Country Society
Cradley Heath Speedway

E. M. Forster
"The Germans are called brutal, the Spanish cruel, and the Americans superficial, and so on; but we are perfide Albion, the island of hypocrites, the people who have built up an Empire with a Bible in one hand, a pistol in the other, and financial concessions in both pockets.”
E. M. Forster

The Bayeux Tapestry shows the Normans enjoying a drink

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Simpkiss JPS Extra Special Bitter

Simpkiss Nut Brown Ale

Simpkiss JPS No.1 Old Ale

Simpkiss Special Home Brewed Ale

Simpkiss No.1 Old Ale

Shrewsbury and Wem Brewery No.1 Strong Ale [c.1940's]

Shrewsbury and Wem Brewery Nut Brown Ale [c.1940's]

Greenall Whitley Local Bitter [Beer Mat]
This beer mat is a bit rich considering Greenall's bought the local brewery in order to expand their tied estate and then promptly stocked beers from elsewhere and have the cheek to use the slogan "The beer that really belongs here."

Comic Postcard - Church Sermon

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Work in Progress

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Beer and Pipe Smoker

Bar Parlour Stained Glass

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Public Bar Stained Glass

Woman Serving Beer

Brewery Buildings