Some history of the Junction Inn at Netherton
The Junction Inn, sometimes known as the Junction Vaults during the 19th century, traded on the apex of the road junction of Halesowen Road and Cradley Road. The building still stands and features the date 1905 on the gable. This refers to a modification and partial rebuilding rather than the original construction date. The original Junction Inn dated from around 1865. It was in this year that the druggist Richard Mainwaring applied for a beer seller's licence at the Annual Licensing Session held in August. Mr. E. Warmington represented Richard Mainwaring and told the Bench that the property was new and was owned by the druggist. The application was opposed by Mr. Joseph Stokes, and the Bench declined to grant the licence. He managed to obtain his licence prior to the legislation changes of 1869 and started to trade as both druggist and licensed victualler.
Richard Mainwaring had been trading as a druggist in Netherton for a good many years prior to his involvement at the Junction Inn. Born in the local area around 1821 he and his Coseley-born wife Sarah occupied a chemist's shop next to the Old Swan Inn on the opposite side of Halesowen Road. His decision to enter the licensed trade may have been the result of his second marriage. Sarah Mainwaring died in 1863 and Richard re-married to Mary Onslow whose husband had died in 1862. Her first husband was the brewer and maltster Jabez Onslow of the Primrose Hill Brewery. He grew up at the Bird in Hand on Chapel Street which was owned by his father William and Mary Ann Onslow. And so the brewing connection was established when Richard Mainwaring married Mary Onslow. She and her son William Onslow moved into the newly-opened Junction Inn which became a fully-licensed house.
In trade directories published in the early-mid 1870's Richard Mainwaring was listed as a chemist and licensed victualler of The Junction. His background in chemistry would have proved useful when it came to brewing ales. However, not all of his practices were on the straight and narrow. In July 1876 the brewer and chemist was hauled before the local magistrates on a charge of having a larger quantity of sugar on the premises than was necessary for the use of his family. He was found guilty and fined £50. He was possibly using the sugar to produce higher strength beers but not making a full declaration when paying duties. This was at a time when the authorities were cracking down on such practices and Richard Mainwaring's heavy fine was seen as setting an example to publicans. His defence was that he was an agent for the Patent Sugar Grape Company, and that the sugar had been placed in an outhouse without his knowledge. The Bench were having none of it and imposed the high penalty upon the publican.
This photograph shows the Junction Inn on the corner of Halesowen Road and Cradley Road in 1961 - note that there is only one car in the photograph! Today, this road junction is mayhem and there are constant angry exchanges between motorists. Note also that the properties along Halesowen Road lean one way or another as they have virtually all suffered from mining subsidence over the years. A few of these properties have survived into the 21st century. The high wall to the right of the photograph was the boundary of the school rebuilt in 1907 but first established around 1836. The school closed towards the end of 1988 and the building was later converted into a furniture showroom.
Following the death of Richard Mainwaring, the licence of the Junction Inn passed to his wife Mary Ann who was landlady throughout much of the 1880's. Her son William Onslow would eventually become owner-publican. He had married Mary Talbot in the summer of 1875. At the time of the 1891 census the couple's three daughters, Alice, Victoria and Grace, were living on the premises, along with son Harry. The Onslow's employed Francis Ridge and Annie Hill as domestic servants, suggesting a busy house.
It may have been the death of William Onslow's wife that influenced his decision to quit the Junction Inn and start afresh. Samuel Davies was appointed licensee of the Junction Inn. Within a few years William Onslow sold the Junction Inn to North Worcestershire Breweries Ltd. In fact, the pub formed part of a larger sale on June 18th 1896 in which William Onslow received £6,500 for the Junction Inn, the Bird in Hand, Vauxhall Inn and the Primrose Brewery. William Onslow signed a covenant that, for a period of three years, he would not carry on the business of licensed victualler, beer house keeper, or innkeeper. It is possible, indeed probable, that the Junction Inn was sub-divided at this point for it would appear that William Onslow remained in the part of the building fronting Halesowen Road whilst the other section fronting Cradley Road formed the Junction Inn. Certainly, the building plan shows an odd jigsaw-patterned property that would prove to be problematical for future owners when attempting to improve the layout or make alterations to meet the changing legislation enforced by local authorities. At the time of the sale the Junction Inn was still in the occupation of Samuel Davies.
This nice old photograph of the Junction Inn dates from the early-mid 1940's when George Horner was the licensee. I suspect that the white paint applied to the corners of the building were to assist people during the blackout regulations imposed during the Second World War. Much of the exterior improvements to the building, including the nice terracotta decoration was undertaken by the North Worcestershire Breweries Ltd. in 1905. The work was undertaken as a result of repairs and restoration following mining subsidence. The company had already sought permission to rebuild the Junction Inn when, on the night of August 29th 1905, a neighbouring property fronting Halesowen Road completely collapsed at about 1.40am. Richard Hughes, who was asleep in his bed on the first floor of the house, was injured during the incident. He was dug out of the collapsed brickwork relatively unharmed considering the sudden crumpling of the household. However, he died of pneumonia a few days later, apparently as a result of shock and exposure.
The publican of the Junction Inn at the time of the construction work was Enoch Eley in the first of two stints running the pub. Born in 1873 at Blackheath, his formative years were spent at his parents' butcher's shop in the High Street. He served an apprenticeship as a grocery retailer before he entered the licensed trade. He moved into the Junction Inn with his wife Blanche and employed Lily Brettell as a servant. Meanwhile, it would seem that William Onslow's career and personal life was revitalised in the latter half of the 1890's. The covenant he signed for the North Worcestershire Breweries Ltd. seems not to have included brewing beer and he was making plans for his future in 1897 when purchasing land next to a brewery in Hill Street. He married Sarah Massey in June 1899 and he and his family moved to the Old Pack Horse Inn where he was recorded as brewer and publican - his three year agreement was up and he was back in business running a pub!
When Enoch Eley returned for a second spell at the Junction Inn the pub had been acquired by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd. as part of their takeover of the North Worcestershire Breweries Ltd. in 1909-10. I am not sure if Enoch Eley produced tavern checks during his second term but he certainly offered them at the turn of the 20th century. So, what was the Junction Inn like back in the day? Well, the building plan shown here dates from 1955 but would be little changed from the Edwardian period. Featuring a servery, the bar was in the front corner of the building. Above this on the first floor was a club room for meetings and social events. Note the divider, probably similar to a snob screen that separated the bar from the off sales area. This small space was later used as a snug.
The Smoke Room was along the Cradley Road side of the building. The publican's family had to walk through the smoke room to access their living accommodation. Upstairs, there was no corridor connecting the bedrooms - one simply had to walk through each one to access the next. This building really was an awkward affair. One publican, Mr. D. Alderthay, found this to be unacceptable and wanted to make some alterations to the pub so that the club room was converted into the family living room. The brewery did look into the matter but came to the conclusion that "this was such an awkward site that it is virtually impossible to alter."
This plan was drawn up in 1955 following an inspection by Dudley's Public Health Services. They ruled that the brewery had to make some changes to comply with laws passed in 1938. The inspectors were unhappy that the gent's toilet communicated directly with the bar and so placed that "offensive odours could penetrate into the bar." A similar situation existed upstairs where the Ladies' toilet was in the corner of the club room. The alterations included a new bathroom upstairs with up-to-date facilities, along with an extra interior wall-cum-vestibule separating the drinking area from the toilets.
The Junction Inn suffered a gradual decline in trade during from the mid-1970's and Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd. started to review the pub's viability. One option was to sell the building to the Netherton Labour Club and Workers' Institute which was next door in Halesowen Road. In April 1985 Roy Lea, the club secretary, had enquired about purchasing the pub in order to expand their facilities. Stan Owen of the Bull's Head at Windmill End and the Saltwells Inn was also interested in purchasing the pub in the mid-1980's but this, along with the enquiry from the Labour Club, came to nothing. Finally, in 1990 the brewery disposed of the de-licensed pub via a 999 year lease to Helen Ashby and Graham Gingell, who converted the building into a café and guest house called The Junction 1905. I'm not sure how long this venture lasted but the former pub was later occupied by the charity Age Concern who used the building for offices and as an advice centre.
Licensees of this pub
1870 - 1876 Richard Mainwaring
1880 - Mrs. Mary Ann Mainwaring
1891 - William Onslow
1892 - Samuel Davies
1896 - Samuel Davies
1900 - 1906 Enoch Eley
1906 - 1907 Thomas Round
1907 - 1908 George Perry
1908 - 1909 George Edwards
1909 - 1929 Enoch Eley
1929 - 1930 George Owen Homner
1930 - 1933 William Chilton
1933 - 1936 Albert Horner
1936 - 1937 John Darby
1937 - 1941 John William Kay
1956 - S. R. Aston
1961 - Wilfred Pain
1973 - 1976 Mr. D. Alderthay
1976 - 1977 K. J. Ralph
1977 - 1979 E. Goode
1979 - 1982 Miss K. Turley
1982 - 1983 Surinder Singh
1983 - Gurmit Singh
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Junction Inn you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Worcestershire Genealogy.
This building plan shows part of the floor plan of the Junction Inn. I have discussed this in detail within the main text for this pub.
The location of the Junction Inn can be seen on this map extract from 1905. The neighbouring school had not been rebuilt by this period so the shape is different.
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.
"The present moment is nice but it does not last.
Living in it is like waiting in a junction town for the morning limited; the
junction may be interesting but some day you will have to leave it and you do
not know where the limited will take you."
"The group of "happy go lucky" Netherton men who rallied round licensees Wilf and Gladys Pain, of the Junction Inn and decided to
have a White Monday brake outing to Kinver, set out on the journey early this morning. There were nine of them altogether, with the driver, Mr. Harry Round, suitably
attired in bowler hat and jodhpurs. A crowd of about 50 had risen early to see them off, and there were cheers as they set out in the direction of Stourbridge Road,
Dudley, to get on the main road which would take them through Brierley Hill and on to the Stewponey Hotel at Stourton for breakfast of bacon and eggs. They then planned
to go on to the White Hart at Kinver before returning home. The idea of the brake outing arose during a bar conversation at the Junction Inn a few weeks ago. Some remarked
that there was no mode of travel these days to compare with the good old-fashioned brake. So Mr. and Mrs. Pain accepted the challenge. With the help of the Express and
Star, a brake was obtained from Vann's Garage, Stourbridge, and the proprietor, Mr. P. A. Rogers, said he would also supply a horse if any money collected during the
outing was given to the spastics organisation. Today's trip meant an exceptionally early start for some of the party. They had to go to Stourbridge, catch the horse in
its field, hitch it to the brake, and then get back to Netherton to pick up the rest of their fellow travellers. When the outing eventually got under way there were
quite a number of collecting boxes to be seen. For the party was out to make a determined effort to collect as much money as possible and so honour Mr. Roger's generosity
by giving generously to the spastics."
Express and Star : May 22nd 1961.
"An outing with a difference took place on Whit Monday when nine Netherton men went to Kinver in a brake. The idea of the outing arose from a
bar conversation in the Junction Inn, Netherton, when someone remarked that is was hard to beat the good old-fashioned brake as a mean of transport. The licensee Mr. Wilf
Pain and his wife, Gladys, accepted the challenge, and the search for the brake began. Said Mrs. Pain "We began to think we were not going to find a brake, but we
would have made the trip to Kinver somehow - if only be horse and cart." Their efforts were rewarded, however, when a brake was located at Vann's Garage, Stourbridge.
Mr. P. A. Rogers, the proprietor offered to lend the vehicle and also a horse, if any money collected during the outing was given to the spastics organisation. On Whit
Monday, the party started out. There were nine of them altogether, including the driver, Mr. Harry Round, suitably attired in bowler hat and jodhpurs. They set off to the
accompaniment of loud cheers from a crowd of about 50 who had risen early to see the unusual spectacle. They travelled in the direction of Stourbridge Road, Dudley, to
get on the main road, which would taken them through Brierley Hill and on to the Stewponey Hotel at Stourton for a breakfast of bacon and eggs. They then planned to go
on to the White Hart at Kinver before returning home. The trip meant an extremely early start for some of the party. They had to go to Stourbridge, catch the horse in
the field, hitch it to the brake, and then get back to Netherton to pick up their fellow travellers. There were quite a lot of collection boxes to be seen on the brake,
for the party were determined to collect as much money as possible for r the spastics."
"Back to the Good Old Days"
Dudley Herald : May 26th 1961.