History of the Darlington Arms at Wolverhampton in the county of Staffordshire


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Some history of the Darlington Arms at Wolverhampton

The site of the Darlington Arms is now occupied by a large car park. The building once stood on the south side of Darlington Street, several doors down from the Methodist Church. The narrow lane seen here was named Darlington Passage and, as the signboard states, led to a garage and covered car park.

The Darlington Arms at Wolverhampton [c.1933]

The garage was one of the unique selling points of the Atkinson's-operated Darlington Arms as it offered motoring facilities to those visiting the town. The pub was always linked to transportation; during the 19th century many carriers operated services from the Darlington Arms to outlying towns such as Bridgnorth, Shifnal and Pattingham. Gaining hotel status in later years, the Darlington Arms started its life as a beer house.

George Ward was an early publican of the Darlington Arms. He was also a builder and retail brewer. Indeed, the lane once led to two malt houses, no doubt the site of his brewing in the early 1830's. Whilst one of the malt houses fell into ruin, the second property was later converted into an engineering works.

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Joseph Lowe continued the tradition of home-brewing at the Darlington Arms. In January 1850 he placed an advertisement in the Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser when seeking a maltster to work for him. His advert stated that he required an experienced person and that "none but a steady man need apply." He may have been the publican as early as 1841 as he is listed at Darlington Street when the surroundings were recorded as Ward's Buildings, presumably constructed and owned by the previous builder and publican.

Joseph Lowe was born around 1794 in the Staffordshire village of Ashley, midway between Stoke and Market Drayton. He kept the Darlington Arms with his wife Anne who hailed from Willenhall. The pub had been upgraded to a fully licensed establishment during their time at Darlington Street. The couple would later move to the Wheatsheaf Inn on Market Street where, after a short illness, Joseph Lowe died on December 2nd, 1861. He was 67 years-old.

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The advertisement [below] appeared in the Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser on April 6th, 1859. The advert was for a new tenant to take on the "old established and well-frequented business." The advertisement shows that the stabling for the Darlington Arms was extensive and could accommodate up to fifty horses.

Sale of the Darlington Arms at Wolverhampton [April 1859]

Presumably responding to the above advertisement, Lewis and Catherine Leach were running the Darlington Arms in the early 1860's. The couple had previously lived in Tettenhall where Lewis Leach worked as a groom whilst his wife earned money as a laundress. Lewis was originally from Newport in Shropshire. The Leach's would later move to the Oakley Arms at Kiddemore Green between Brewood and Bishop's Wood.

Thomas Cartwright was another publican of the Darlington Arms to originate from the Shropshire town of Newport. He would later move to the Duke of York in Princess Street.

Most of the people who kept the licence of the pub were tenants and, in later years, managers for a brewery. I stumbled upon a bankruptcy case dated July 1904 which may identify the owner of the building in the Edwardian period. Tom Tabeiner, an ale and porter bottler and licensed victualler of Bolton, was recorded as having a receiving order against him. In addition to being listed owner of two addresses in the Lancashire town, he was also listed at the Darlington Arms in Wolverhampton.

Newspaper Articles

"At the Wolverhampton Police Court, James Lee, a stranger to the town, pleaded guilty to stealing three billiard balls from the Darlington Arms, Darlington Street, Wolverhampton. The prisoner tried to pawn the balls at the shop of Mr. Teare, Salop Street, but they were recognised as stolen property, and a policeman was sent for. The prisoner then bolted, but was followed by Mr. Teare, and captured. The accused was sent to prison for a month with hard labour, and Mr. Teare was complimented by the Bench, and given 10s. in recognition of his services."
"Theft of Billiard Balls"
Licensed Trade News : January 4th 1902

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Licensees of this pub

1835 - George Ward
1842 - Joseph Lowe
1858 - R. Green
1860 - Lewis Leach
1868 - Thomas Cartwright
1874 - Thomas Cartwright
1882 - Thomas Davies
1896 - Archibald R. James
1912 - Mrs. Alice Bedford
1916 - Alfred Howell
1921 - Arthur Lamsdale
1932 - William T. Mears
1940 - Leonard C. M. Davis

Genealogy Connections

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

Atkinson's Ales


Map Showing the Darlington Arms at Wolverhampton [1886]

This detailed plan of Darlington Street dates from 1886 and shows the location of the Darlington Arms. There are two malt houses to the rear of the public house. The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is shown but this is the older building dating from 1826. This was pulled down in 1900 and replaced by an imposing edifice, the foundation stone being laid by Sir Henry Fowler in 1900. The twin towers and dome of the Methodist Church can be seen in the photograph below which also features the Darlington Arms. Laid out in 1821, Darlington Street takes its name from the former landowner Lord Darlington. You can find more images of Darlington Street on Bev Parker's web pages devoted to the images of David Clare.

Darlington Street at Wolverhampton [c.1908]

Related Websites

Black Country Bugle
Black Country Gob
Black Country Society
David Clare's Images of Wolverhampton
History of Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton CAMRA
Wolverhampton City Archives
Wolverhampton History and Heritage

Have Your Say

If you would like to share any further information on this pub - perhaps you drank here in the past? Or maybe knew a previous publican? Whatever the reason it would be great to hear of your stories or gossip. Simply send a message and I'll post it here.

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George Stephenson

"I am glad to learn that the Parliament Bill has been passed for the Darlington Railway. I am much obliged by the favourable sentiments you express towards me, and shall be happy if I can be of service in carrying into execution your plans."
George Stephenson

Newspaper Articles

"On Wednesday an inquest was opened at the Darlington Arms Inn, Wolverhampton, before Mr. W. H. Phillips, deputy coroner, on the body of Dr. Thomas Norman, a physician, practising surgeon, who died suddenly, as is supposed from the effects of hydrocianic acid. Ann Rochell said she lived as domestic servant with Miss Riley, of Darlington Street, where Dr. Norman lodged. She heard him vomiting, and took him some water. She found him in bed, and held the glass containing the water to his mouth. He drank, but did not swallow any of the water. He was insensible, and she went for Mr. Puddicombe and Mr. Thomas, surgeons. Mr. Puddicombe arrived first, but Dr. Norman was then dead. Mr. Alfred Puddicombe, surgeon, said he knew the deceased. On arriving at his lodgings on Sunday evening he found him in bed on his back, with his head on the right side and his legs doubled up. The body presented all the appearance of poisoning by hydrocianic acid. Witness saw on the dressing table a letter addressed to the deceased's father. The following is the letter : "My dear father, I am not worthy of you. If you receive this in time do not have a post mortem. There are few debts; they are not heavy, but I find I was going beyond - give my love to all at home." The inquest adjourned to admit of a post mortem examination on the body being made."
"Supposed Suicide of a Surgeon by Poison"
Shrewsbury Chronicle : March 21st 1862 Page 5.

"At Wednesday's Police Court, John Heath, landlord of the Royal Oak Inn, Church Eaton, Salop, was charged with perjury. On March 24th the defendant was sued in the County Court for £6. 4s. 6d. by Mr. John Eccleston, of the Darlington Arms, Darlington Street, Wolverhampton. He swore that he had never borrowed the money, and stated that he was at Newport fair on the day of the alleged borrowing - December 20th. Witnesses were brought forward to prove that Newport fair did not take place on December 20th. As the County Court official could not positively recall the administration of the alleged oath, the charge was dismissed."
"Alleged Purjury by a Publican"
Birmingham Daily Post : April 25th 1884 Page 3.