Some history of the Royal Oak on Ashted Row at Duddeston in Birmingham in the County of Warwickshire


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The Royal Oak was located on the southern side of Ashted Row, a few doors away from the junction of Lawley Street.

The sign of the Royal Oak is not that common in Birmingham. Given the city's defiance to Prince Rupert this is hardly surprising. However, with over 500 examples around the country, the Royal Oak was once the second most popular pub name in the UK. Its origin goes back to the days of Charles II who, along with Colonel Carless, avoided capture by Roundhead soldiers pursuing him after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

Birmingham : Map extract showing the Clock Tavern at Ashted Row at Duddeston and Vauxhall [1888]

The address of the beer house was No.29 Ashted Row. An early reference to this boozer can be found in the Post Office Directory for Birmingham published in 1845 in which William Chattaway is recorded as both beer retailer and spoon polisher. I know which one of those two jobs I would prefer! I can remember the ritual of cleaning the 'best' cutlery as a child. The cutlery set would be housed in a felt-lined wooden box which was reserved for special occasions. Actually, William Chattaway was a master spoon polisher and in later years was recorded at New John Street West where he employed 34 men. That enterprise must have gone pear-shaped as he and his wife Rachel moved back to Lawley Street as they had been forced to cut their cloth accordingly. In August 1865 the poor chap was attacked by three men in Prospect Row, one of whom used a garotte on him. The men took his watch before running off.

At the time of the 1851 census George and Sarah Davis were running the Royal Oak. Born in Westminster in London, the 36 year-old beer retailer combined his duties as licensee along with that of rule maker. He would later concentrate on the latter trade when he and his family moved the short distance to Upper Windsor Street.

Publican of the Royal Oak in the late 1850s, Frederick Crompton was listed as a retail brewer. Advertisements for the property in subsequent years do show a brewery was situated behind the tavern. He is probably the same Frederick Crompton who later kept the Fox and Dogs on Lionel Street.

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Birmingham : Notice for the sale of the Royal Oak on Ashted Row at Duddeston [1864]

This notice for the sale of the lease of the Royal Oak in 1864 provides a good description of the premises which sounds larger than I anticipated. I have marked the entrance to the coal yard on the 1888 map extract.

John Mould was running the Royal Oak in 1866 when he, along with his sons Charles and John, were charged with stealing a promissory note that belonged to the Bloomsbury maltster John Slater. It sounded as if the publican had not paid for brewing malt supplied to him. When John Woodward, an agent for the maltster, called into the pub for money owed, the family went through some charade that they were going upstairs to fetch the cash. However, Charles Mould did a runner with the promissory note which he had snatched. At first the agent thought it was some sort of joke but when payment was not forthcoming he called the police. Constable William Bishop entered the premises and, on hearing of the fiasco, arrested John Mould and his son John. A warrant was issued for Charles Mould who had disappeared. The publican and his son denied ever seeing the promissory note but the magistrates were having none of it and committed them both for trial at the Sessions.

Birmingham : Notice for the sale of the Royal Oak on Ashted Row at Duddeston [1867]

This advertisement from 1867 shows that the tavern now had a bowling alley. This was not mentioned in the sale notice of 1864. William Arnold's stay at the Royal Oak was brief. He moved on to the Globe Tavern in Hope Street where he also traded as a cab proprietor.

Birmingham : Notice for the sale of the Royal Oak on Ashted Row at Duddeston [1870]

The licence of the Royal Oak was transferred from Charles Prince to Thomas Harrison in January 1871. However, he was gone in a jiffy as Worcester-born William Robinson was the retail brewer occupying the house when the census enumerator called later in the year. He kept the beer house with his wife Elizabeth. A carpenter and joiner by trade, William Robinson had previously worked from the family home on Nova Scotia Street.

The licence of the Royal Oak was transferred from William Robinson to William Timmins in October 1871. He had previously traded as a beer retailer in Northfield but he was another to move quickly from the Royal Oak, a place where it would seem nobody could settle - or make a go of it.

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In the 1881 census beer house keeper Benjamin Waldron was also recorded as a whitesmith. Born in Wednesbury in 1842 he had married Emma, a local girl. The workshop behind the Royal Oak was also used by William Honywood during his seven-year spell as publican. It would seem that he changed the name of the pub to the Globe Tavern at some stage. He is listed as the occupier of the Globe Tavern in the 1891 ratebook in which Thomas Terry was documented as the leaseholder of the Retail Beer House, Brewhouse, Maltroom, Coal Yard, Stable and Premises. The annual ground rent was estimated at £24. 0s. 0d. William Honywood paid his rates of 19s. 2d. He had moved here from the Ashted Tavern on the corner of Henry Street.

William Honywood was charged with assaulting Emma Ricketts, wife of the engine-driver George Ricketts, in September 1890. He knocked the woman down which caused her to break her wrist. The couple attempted to bring a civil action against the publican as she had been unable to do any work in the months after the incident. She only tried to obtain £5 in damages but the uncharitable publican got his solicitor to weedle out of it. Emma Ricketts probably didn't shed any tears when the metal dealer and beer retailer died on February 24th 1894, leaving the sizeable will of £1,333. 10s. 5d. to his wife Mary.

The name of the Royal Oak had been restored by the Edwardian period when the tavern was operated by Holder's Brewery Ltd. The licensee at this time was Ernest Roberts. The Smethwick-born beer retailer kept the Royal Oak with his wife Louisa. They seem to be the last couple to run the Royal Oak which disappears from listings in 1910. The couple had moved to the nearby Acorn Tavern by 1909.

Licensees of the Royal Oak

1845 - William Chattaway
1855 - John Plimer
1858 - Frederick Crompton
1860 - Henry Green
1861 - Joseph Yerrington
1863 - Walter Smallman
1865 - William Neal
1866 - John Mould
1867 - William Arnold
1868 - William Wright
1869 - Herbert Dodd
1870 - Charles Prince
1871 - Thomas Harrison
1871 - William Timmins
1873 - Albert Green
1881 - Benjamin Waldron
1887 - William Samuel Honywood
1894 - Mary Honywood
1895 - John Illife
1896 - Albert Howen
1897 - Ernest T. Roberts
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

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Holder's Ales & Stout

Related Newspaper Articles

"Walter Ridgway [24], shoemaker, was charged with having burglariously entered the dwelling house of Benjamin Waldron, of 29, Ashted Row, and stolen there from a watch and chain. In a second count the prisoner was charged with receiving the watch well knowing it to have been stolen. Mr. Hugo Young prosecuted, and Mr. Harold Wright defended. The prosecutor keeps the Royal Oak, Ashted Row. On the night of the 28th of February last the prosecutor retired to rest, his premises being at the time safely secured. Next morning it was found the premises had been entered, and a watch and four or five pounds stolen from the bedroom. It was shown that the prisoner was subsequently seen dealing with a watch which it was alleged was the stolen article, but the prisoner denied this, and when asked to account for the watch which had been seen in his possession, he produced a Geneva watch which was not the missing watch. The missing watch was not recovered. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and the prisoner pleaded guilty to a previous conviction for housebreaking. Sentence was deferred."
Birmingham Daily Post : May 18th 1881 Page 5

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