History of the Crabmill Inn at Oldswinford in the county of Worcestershire. 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.


Crabmill Inn
Crabmill Inn

Some History of this Pub
The story of the Crabmill Inn is a tale of two buildings. When the ancient hostelry was closed and demolished in September 1970, the licence was transferred to a neighbouring property formerly known as Thornleigh. There was even a name change in the 1990's but the pub has reverted to its old sign.

The Crabmill at Oldswinford [c.1960]

The original pub can be seen here in a photograph taken around 1960. Two enamel badges are mounted on either side of the entrance and are advertising that both Worthington E and M&B Mild was on sale inside the pub. Mitchell's and Butler's had taken over the estate of William Butler's by this time so, although the livery of the Wolverhampton brewery is still visible on the frontage, the beers being sold at the servery had been changed. A notice in a window advertises "Bed and Breakfast Accommodation," a legacy of the building's inn status.

The original pub stood on the corner of Rectory Road, a thoroughfare that was once named Crab Mill Road. The Old Rectory dates from the early 18th century, possibly as early as 1700, replacing an earlier house shown on a map dated 1699. There is a sun-dial in the garden dating from 1538 but it is doubtful that it was placed in the garden of the old property. Another mystery is the rectory's association with the religious prophetess Joanna Southcott. Moreover, it is claimed that the house once contained her sealed wooden box of prophecies, usually known as "Joanna Southcott's Box" or "The Panacea." The Devon-born prophet left instructions that the box should only be opened during a national crisis. The authorities resisted the temptation to open the box during both the Crimea War and the First World War.

The construction of the rectory was administered by Reverend William Hallifax who was later a clergyman at Salwarpe near Droitwich. He once served as a chaplain to the Levant Company during which period he visited the Temple of Ba'al at Palmyra, documented in his book "Philosophical Transactions" published in 1695.

Returning to the photograph above, the buildings that would later become the 'new' Crabmill can be seen on the right-hand side of the image. As this property forms part of the Crabmill's history, I have included some details of former residents of this house.

The Crabmill at Oldswinford [2009]

The Crabmill was possibly named after the cider mill that once stood in nearby Farlands Road, the produce of which was possibly sold on these premises. The cider mill was once owned by George Edward. The latter's family did however operate a cider house in Oldswinford called, appropriately enough, The Cider Mill. Another possibility is a reference to a crabmill, a kind of winch known as a crab because of the way its arms project. A pub of the same name exists in Preston Bagot, Warwickshire which was previously a cider mill. The crab would have been used to haul up the pulp and allow it to drain off.

An early reference to the Crabmill Inn is the listing of Edward Hartle at Upper Swinford in Pigot's Directory published in 1827. Three years earlier, in March 1824, the builder had married Martha Perkes at St. Peter's Church in Birmingham. She was recorded as the daughter of W. Perkes of the Crabmill Inn at Oldswinford.

Bentley's trade directory for 1841 lists James Pagett as the licensee of the Crabmill Inn, though the census enumerator only recorded his wife Elizabeth at the premises, along with two young children named Ellen and Daniel.

Joseph Bailey [sometimes recorded as Bayley] was in charge of the Crab Mill Inn by 1843. The family would remain at the helm for a generation.

The Crabmill Inn enjoyed a prominent position on the old turnpike road into Stourbridge which no doubt boosted trade. The pub also served the local community and became something of a focus for sporting and social events. For example, in July 1846 the Crabmill Inn was used as the venue for a Floral and Horticultural Exhibition in which prizes were awarded for both flowers and fruit. The stand of carnations was singled out for praise in the local press which stated that the quality was particularly high. The different species of Fuchsias exhibited by Mr. Godfrey, a Stourbridge nurseryman, was "very fine and highly commended."

Joseph Bailey also staged popular pigeon shooting matches next to the Crabmill Inn, after which competitors retired to the pub for a hearty dinner.

The Bailey family may have originated from Blynhill in Staffordshire. Certainly, John Bailey was born in the village in 1805. He was running the Crabmill Inn during the 1850's but died at the age of 66 on March 7th 1861 at Alma Place in Kingswinford. His wife Ann succeeded him as licensee. Unlike her husband she was born locally at Pedmore. She continued to live at the Crabmill Inn after she handed over the reins to her son John. He kept the pub with his Cradley-born wife Maria. The couple employed two servants, including an ostler name Martin Scott.

During this period the Oddfellows friendly society met at the Crabmill Inn. Indeed, during Whitsun 1872 the men from this lodge marched through Stourbridge, headed by the Cradley Heath Brass Band, before returning to the pub for a large dinner party.

Joseph Bailey later worked as a travelling salesman for a brewery before he and his family moved to Aston, from where his wife Maria launched her own career as a music teacher.

John and Sarah Wilcox kept the Crabmill Inn during the 1880's. John was born in Amblecote and Sarah hailed from Quarry Bank. The couple employed Clara Davis as a servant and Hannah Heathcote as a nurse, probably to their young son Sidney. The couple later moved to the Barley Mow at Wollaston before a spell at the Raven Tavern in Wordsley.

The Wilcox family were succeeded by George and Sarah Ann Stockley who had recently married. George hailed from the Worcestershire village of Crowle whilst Sarah Ann was the daughter of a local grocer Eliza Ledbury. As a widow she would later move to a house in Hall Street.

The Oldswinford [2001]

Thornleigh, the house that would later become The Crabmill, is recorded in the 1891 census when it was occupied by Charles Albert Baxter, a corn merchant and maltster from Coseley. He lived in the property with his Pensnett-born wife Beatrice and four children: Madeline, Edward, Nina and Eric. The household was maintained by three live-in servants. The Baxter family later moved to Ivy Cottage at Hartlebury.

Thornleigh was occupied for a brief period by the Audnam glass manufacturer William W. Boulton. The Feckenham-born industrialist once employed over 100 men in his factory. Jane Boulton continued to live at Thornleigh as a widow, along with her daughter Laura. They employed a cook, a housemaid and a coachman.

In the late Victorian period and early Edwardian era the Crabmill Inn was run by William Ward. Born in Bridgnorth in 1852, he kept the pub with his wife Susan who hailed from the village of Rowberrow in Somerset. The couple had earlier lived in a cottage at Shenstone near Lichfield from where William worked as a gardener at Aston Hall Gardens.

In the mid-Edwardian era Thornleigh had new arrivals in the form of William Kirkpatrick, a doctor who hailed from Castlepollard in the county of Westmeath, Ireland. His wife Helen Agnes however was a local woman, the daughter of Charles King who resided at Oakleigh, another large house nearby. The couple lived in the house with their daughter Norah. The Kirkpatrick's also employed a cook, nurse and housemaid. During the First World War Dr. Kirkpatrick was in charge of the Military Hospital at Wordsley [see newspaper article below]. Helen Agnes Kirkpatrick took an active part in the social and religious life in Oldswinford. She was a member of the Ladies' Hospital Committee, and was instrumental in starting the Stourbridge Nursing Association, and was its first hon. secretary. During the First World War she worked at Studley Court Red Cross Hospital as assistant commandant under Lady Grey, and was a devout supporter of St. Mary's Church, and took a leading part in all parish organisations. Following the war, the Kirkpatrick's moved to Sherborne in Dorset.

The Crabmill later formed part of the tied estate of Frederick Smith Ltd. This may have been after the Crabmill Inn was sold at auction in the autumn of 1932. The auction catalogue described the pub as "fully licensed and standing on an important corner position on the main road between Stourbridge and Hagley within a short distance of Stourbridge Junction Station. The accommodation comprised of an entrance passage, front vaults with serving windows, bar, smoke room with an outdoor department. The kitchen had a modern range, along with a scullery and pantry. The cellars were described as being extensive and arched. There was a club room on the first floor with three bedrooms. There were two additional bedrooms on a second floor. The pub also featured a side yard with a double gateway, and a garden to the rear. The pub's car park was on the opposite side of Hagley Road. The property was held under a quarterly tenancy, at a rental of 50 per annum, with the tenant paying all outgoings.

Frederick Smith Ltd. was acquired by William Butler's Springfield Brewery of Wolverhampton in 1955 who, in turn, were bought by Mitchell's and Butler's in 1960. The pub was closed on August 31st 1970 and was demolished in early September. The licence was transferred to the neighbouring Thornleigh. The work converting the house into a pub cost some 3,000 and, trading as The Mill, the pub opened on October 2nd 1970.

The Interior of The Oldswinford [2001]

The pub's name was changed to the Oldswinford Lodge in 1993 and four years later it was shortened to The Oldswinford. This was the period when the building was part of Yate's Wine Lodges. The pub used to have a large frame with a portrait of Peter Yates [1854-1944], the founder and driving force of this company. His formative years were influenced by his aunt, Mrs. Addison. Peter Yates, along with his brother Simon, under the supervision of their kindly aunt, developed a leaning towards the Wine Trade. Indeed, Peter was sent to Oporto, Portugal to study Port Wine. The first business was opened in 1884 at the Angel in Oldham's High Street with the aim of selling good quality wines. Following the death of Peter Yates, his wife Sarah took over the chair of the Management Board assisted by their two daughters, Mildred Martin Bird and Kathleen Dickson. Between 1920 and 1930 Charles Peter Yates, a nephew, and Alfred Eric Dickson, a son-in-law of Peter Yates, joined the company and carried it forward until the 1960's.

The Interior of The Oldswinford [2001]

Mr. and Mrs. Richard B. Fry were recorded as owner-publicans so I assume it was they who sold the pub to Yate's. In 2001 The Oldswinford was acquired by Hardy's and Hanson's of Kimberley in Nottinghamshire. The Oldswinford then became one of the few pubs in this part of the Midlands where people could buy this firm's ales. The photographs of the pub's interior date from this period when the place was managed by Simon and Caroline Broadbridge. Simon had been involved in pubs since his schooldays and, between him and his partner Caroline, they had 30 years experience in the trade before taking over at The Oldswinford. At this time the pub had no traditional bar or lounge but was divided into five sections around a large wooden-panelled U-shaped bar - The Red Room, The Conservatory, The Blue Room, The Snug and The Range; all of which had quite a distinct character. These photographs show the pub before it was refurbished in 2002. Five years later the pub became part of Greene King PLC when they acquired the Kimberley brewery.
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Related Newspaper Articles
"Dr. W. Kirkpatrick, of Stourbridge, has been selected to take charge of the Stourbridge Military Hospital, the institution for the reception of some 500 wounded soldiers which is be established as soon as possible at the Stourbridge Union Workhouse, Wordsley.
"News in Brief"
Birmingham Gazette : May 31st 1915 Page 5.

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Licensees of this Pub
1824 - W. Perkes
1827 - Edward Hartle
1841 - James Pagett
1843 - Joseph Bailey
1855 - John Bailey
1867 - Mrs Ann Bailey
1872 - Joseph Bailey
1875 - Joseph Bayley
1880 - John Wilcox
1892 - George Stockley
1900 - William Ward
1916 - Mrs. Sarah C. Bosley
1924 - William Henry Ives
1932 - George Frederick Hodson
1936 - James Ashford
1980 - 1986 David Robert Sperring
1986 - 1989 Susan Lynne Harding
1989 - 1991 Neil Harding
1991 - 1992 Graham John Bennett
1992 - 1997 Richard B. Fry
1997 - 1997 Julian Brooke
1997 - 1998 Michael Stephen Beattie
1998 - Steven Barrie Parker
2001 - Simon Broadbridge
2006 - Marie Watton

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Frederick Smith's Star-Bright Ale [c.1950's]

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

Brewery Poster for William Butler's Springfield Brewery [c.1900]

Town Plan showing the Crabmill Inn [1884]
This extract from a plan drawn up in 1884 shows the Crabmill Inn on the corner of Rectory Road, along with Thornleigh, the residence that would later take the licence of the old inn.

Inn Sign
Inn Sign of The Crabmill at Oldswinford [2007]

Inn Sign of The Oldswinford [2001]
The second sign shows the sign used during 2001 when the pub traded as The Oldswinford. This made the sign rather unique to the region. The elaborate sign illustrated the crossing of a river but today it is hard to imagine the watercourse here being so wide. Certainly, the crossing would have been much wider in Norman or Saxon times when it was first forded but the building in the picture is relatively modern. A painting, which formed the inspiration for the design, used to hang inside the pub.

Links to other Websites
Old Maps of Oldswinford
Old Swinford Hospital
Saint Mary's Parish Church
Welcome to Stourbridge

Charles Lamb by Henry Hoppner Meyer
"If I ever marry a wife, I'll marry a landlord's daughter, For then I may sit in the bar And drink cold brandy and water.
Charles Lamb

Butler's Amber Ale [1935]

Butler's Bitter Ale [c.1920's]

Work in Progress

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Drinkers by Adriaen Brouwer

Butler's Pale Ale [1957]

Butler's Pride of the Midlands Playing Card [c.1950's]

Butler's All Malt Stout Poster [c.1953]

Newspaper Articles
"On Monday last an inquest was held at the Three Stars, Chawn Hill, on the body of a boy, three years old, named Thomas Butler, who was burnt to death. The verdict was "Accidental death." While the jury were sitting information was brought to the Coroner that a man had hanged himself at Oldswinford, when the jury proceeded and held an inquest at the Crab Mill Inn, on the body Samuel Hill, scythe-smith, aged 43. It. appeared that the unfortunate man had rather strangled than hanged himself, for he was found lying on his bed at full length, his nose touching the pillow; he had put some small twine around his neck and fixed one end to the bed-post, and, having turned himself round, the pressure on his throat was sufficient to cause death. It was stated that he had been in a low desponding way for some time, and on Sunday had been particularly so. The verdict was "Hanged himself during a temporary fit of insanity."
"Stourbridge Inquest"
Worcestershire Chronicle : Dec 25th 1839 Page 3.

"On the night of Saturday last, between ten and one o'clock, about bushels of malt were stolen from the Crab Mill Inn, Swinford."
Worcestershire Chronicle : June 24th 1846 P.5.

"George Flowers and Joseph Wilkins, railway labourers, were charged with being drunk and assaulting the landlord of the Crab Mill Inn, Oldswinford. Mr. Bailey stated that the prisoners came to his house on Sunday evening and called for drink, but as they were drunk he refused. The prisoners then swore no one else should have any, and then placed themselves before the bar and would allow no-one to come to it or Mr. Bailey to leave it. After putting out the gas and playing other pranks they were ultimately lodged in the station house by Superintendent Burton; and this morning appearing quite different characters and expressing their sorrow for what they had done, they were discharged upon paying expenses."
Worcester Journal : September 29th 1847 Page 5.

"Benjamin Holloway, of Oldswinford, chainmaker, was charged by P.C. Kennedy with assaulting and wounding him on the night of Monday last. From the evidence of the officer, who attended with a frightful wound between the eyes, and his face much swollen, it appeared that about half-past ten on Monday night, just as he was preparing for night duty, the prisoner came to his station, and said he wanted him. Witness's wife came to the door, and asked him in to wait while her husband put on his great coat, but this the defendant declined to do, and pulled the door to, evidently trying to conceal his features. The officer on leaving his station was again requested by the defendant to "come on," and the latter took him in the direction of the Crab Mill. On turning down a dark lane, he struck the officer's hat off, and immediately upon Kennedy going towards him, he was struck by some instrument on the upper part of the nose, and fell to the ground insensible. He was afterwards assisted home, and the bleeding continued till five o'clock on the following morning" This morning the sight of the officer was so affected by the injury, that he was unable to sign his name. No cause but malice can be assigned for the committal of the outrage. Remanded till Friday."
"Dastardly Assault on a Police Officer"
Worcester Journal : November 17th 1855 Page 8.

"A fire occurred on Tuesday afternoon last, in an outbuilding adjoining some cottages at the quarry near this town. The fire-engine was immediately sent for, but the flames were luckily extinguished before the engine got there. A serious accident, however, occurred at Oldswinford, near the Crab Mill Inn. There is a narrow lane which leads to the outhouse that was on fire, and by taking too short a turn the engine was upset. Two men were thereby hurt, one of them very seriously. A car was obtained, and the man conveyed home. Mr. Freer, surgeon, was sent for, and we are glad to hear that the man is doing as well as can be expected."
"Stourbridge Fire"
Worcester Journal : April 5th 1856 Page 8.

Frederick Smith's East India Pale Ale [c.1930's]

Frederick Smith's Nut Brown Ale [c.1950's]

Butler's Strong Ale [c.1920's]

Butler's Light Pale Ale [c.1920's]

Butler's Extra Stout [c.1920's]

Butler's Bitter [1938]

Butler's All Malt Stout

Mitchell's and Butler's Nourishing Stout

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

Mitchell's and Butler's Brew XI Beer Mat

Mitchell's and Butler's Nourishing Stout

Bass - Our Finest Ale since 1777

Bass Pale Ale in a Bottle

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Bar Parlour Stained Glass

Tap Room Etched Glass


Pub Drinkers between the Wars

Rural Drinkers outside the Pub

The Young Barmaid by Charles Sillem Lidderdale

Drinking Celebrations

Le Bock by Picasso [1901]

Beer is Best

Best Room and Snug

Edwardian Barman

Bar Etched Glass

Drinking in the Snug


Wartime Drinkers

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Woman Serving Beer

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