History of the Bush Inn at Wednesbury 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.



 

Bush Inn
Bush Inn

Some History of this Pub
Having travelled along Leabrook Road many times in recent years, I had developed some sort of affectionate bond with the Bush Inn - simply because I kept hoping it would survive in the most unlikely of circumstances. The building had fallen into some decay by the mid-2000's and it closed down for a long period. I used to pass by at dusk and there would be a single light bulb burning, a beacon of hope that somebody would come to the rescue and save the building from the bulldozers.

The Bush Inn did re-open for a very brief spell but it would appear that the takings in the till could not sustain the overheads and, despite a little work being undertaken on the building, the pub closed down again. The property was on the market for what appeared to be an extremely low price. I seem to remember a figure of 85,000 at a time when you couldn't get a flat for such a price. However, a scrap metal yard was operating next door and the outlook and smell for any potential buyer was not likely to be pleasant. And despite the fact that the pub backed onto a canal, a beer garden was unrealistic as customers would have to listen to the sound of metal being crushed. There were no takers and, I cannot recall if it was late 2012 or early 2013, but the Bush Inn was finally pulled down. The pub had endured for around 200 years.

Of course, in days of old the sound of metal bashing and the associated aroma of heavy industry came with the territory at Lea Brook. In a different part of the Black Country, I grew up in such an environment and we didn't notice such trivia. People still hung out their washing despite the fact the clothes and sheets would probably be more contaminated at the end of the day. The noise of hammers and drop stamping formed the soundtrack of our lives.

The Bush Inn at Leabrook in Wednesbury [c.1935]

Here we can see the Bush Inn during the inter-war years when the pub was operated by Mitchell's and Butler's and it was surrounded by housing to the south-west of the building. On the other side of the Bush Inn was, of course, the bridge over the Walsall Canal, part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. The origins of this canal can be traced to 1785 when it was known as the Broadwaters Extension to the Wednesbury Canal. The Bush Inn would have served the needs of thirsty boatmen who hauled coal along this waterway in addition to those who toiled in the nearby factories between Doe Bank and Wednesbury. The property next door once housed a beer house called the Britannia Inn.

There were a couple of small basins close to the pub and there were some old mine shafts just yards from building. It is something of a marvel that the Bush Inn did not suffer from a severe pit pull rather than just some slight leaning. Another basin served some kilns that may have been a brick-making enterprise. All thirsty work from which the Bush Inn would have benefited. The chimneys that can be seen behind the Bush Inn were part of the Lea Brook Iron Works which operated on the opposite side of the canal from the Lea Brook Tube Works. In earlier times the Eagle Tube Works stood on the other side of the canal bridge fronting Leabrook Road.

The Bush Inn at Leabrook in Wednesbury [1968]

This photograph of the Bush Inn was taken in November 1968 and shows that the housing next to the pub, including the former Britannia Inn, had recently been demolished. For the rest of its life, the Bush Inn would stand in splendid isolation.

Although standing on Leabrook Road and within sight of Wednesbury's parish church, the pub was technically part of Tipton. The boundary was close to the Lea Brook, a short distance to the north-east of the building. The pub was also listed as the Old Bush in the early 19th century, suggesting perhaps that the building was already of some antiquity and maybe a canalside hostelry from the period when the waterway was dug out.

The Bush Inn at Leabrook in Wednesbury [2003]

Josiah Gibbons was the publican of the Old Bush for many years during the early-19th century. He kept the pub with his wife Ann. Their neighbours worked as miners, brick makers and forge labourers.

When John Savage took over as licensee he brought a flavour of Gloucestershire with him for he hailed from the village of Coaley near Slimbridge. In 1831 he married Eliza Collins at Wolverhampton and the couple eventually had ten children. The Savage family later moved to the Old Cross Keys on Holyhead Road.

The Bush Inn at Leabrook in Wednesbury [2003]

In the 2003 photographs note how the pub, operated by Enterprise Inns, looks lower to Leabrook Road. The height of the bridge was raised when it was reconstructed. Note also the interesting collection of outbuildings to the rear of the Bush Inn, perhaps stabling facilities for bargemen in days of old.

During the 20th century, the Bush Inn was operated by Mitchell's and Butler's. The property was acquired some years before the merger of these two firms. The Bush Inn was purchased from J. A. Thompson on January 6th 1890 for the sum of 1,150.0s.0d.

The company installed tenants rather than managers. Kate Jenkins took over the running of the Bush Inn on January 29th 1908. She paid the Cape Hill Brewery an annual rental of 117.0s.0d.

Kate Jenkins had succeeded Solomon Beesley as licensee of the Bush Inn. He had grown up along the road as his parents Edwin and Ann had kept the Royal Exchange Inn when he was a teenager. At the end of the Edwardian period when he was running the Bush Inn, the neighbouring Britannia Inn was kept by Annie and George Bray.
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Licensees of this Pub
1828 - Josiah Gibbons
1842 - Josiah Gibbons
1861 - John Savage
1872 - Benjamin Rowley
1880 - Benjamin Rowley
1896 - Benjamin Smith
1900 - Benjamin Smith
1921 - Mrs Kate Jenkins
1940 - Samuel Jenkins

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Mitchell's and Butler's Plate

Mitchell's and Butler's Logo

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

Map
Map Showing the Bush Inn on Leabrook Road at Wednesbury [1890]
This map extract 1890 shows the Bush Inn on the south-west end of Lea Brook Bridge over the Walsall Canal. Note the canal basins serving local industries.

Mitchell's and Butler's Family Ale

Links to other Websites
Black Country Bugle
Black Country Gob
Black Country History in Old Photos
Black Country Society
Wednesbury History Society

Work in Progress

Mitchell's and Butler's Traditional Cask Ales

Mitchell's and Butler's Brew XI Beer Mat

1950 Advertisement for Mitchell's & Butler's

Quotation
Maya Angelou
"The thorn from the bush one has planted, nourished and pruned pricks more deeply and draws more blood.
Maya Angelou

Inn Sign
The Inn Sign of The Bush Inn at Wednesbury [2003]
This signboard dates from 2003 by which time the Bush Inn was operated by Enterprise Inns. Click here for more information on the inn sign of The Bush Inn.

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Mitchell's and Butler's Special Ale Beer Label

Mitchell's and Butler's Black Satin Stout Beer Label

Mitchell's and Butler's Celebration Strong Dark Mild

Mitchell's and Butler's Deer's Leap

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Beer and Pipe Smoker

Bar Parlour Stained Glass

Tap Room Etched Glass

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Best Room and Snug

The Young Barmaid by Charles Sillem Lidderdale

Bar Etched Glass

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Publican

Public Bar Stained Glass
 

Woman Serving Beer

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