Some history of the Spotted Dog in Bordesley Street at Digbeth in Birmingham in the County of Warwickshire


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I have filed this public-house in Bordesley Street as it was listed in that thoroughfare for most of the 20th century. However, the building was listed at No.1 Meriden Street during the 19th century. The Spotted Dog is located on the south side of Bordesley Street, on the west corner of Meriden Street. With so much redevelopment, from Victorian to modern times, the Spotted Dog is one of the more senior houses in the locality and one of Birmingham's oldest licensed properties.

The Dog, as it was originally known, is typical of buildings erected during the reign of King George III. The area was once packed with public-houses during the 19th century but most have either vanished or been rebuilt. Somehow the Spotted Dog avoided the architect's eraser in the late Victorian period and the old building remained on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street.

Birmingham : Gooch Estate Plan showing the Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street [1875]

The Spotted Dog can be traced back to a deed dated July 12th 1786 when Birmingham-born publican Joseph Osbourne acquired a lease for the corner plot of Meriden Street and Bordesley Street from agents representing Sir Thomas Sherlock Gooch of Benacre Hall, Suffolk. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Joseph Osbourne acquired the lease because it was at this time the Birmingham Canal Act was passed to construct the Digbeth Branch Canal. Joseph Osbourne possibly speculated that a profit was to be made by serving the needs of the boatmen and canal-side workers who would soon make this a hub of Birmingham. I suspect that Joseph Osbourne was part of the family operating other running public-houses in the town though this purchase was for the whole plot numbered 543 on the above extract from an 1875 plan of the Gooch Estate. The buyer would then develop the plot and sub-let the properties to tenants, pocketing the surplus of rent.

Birmingham : Digbeth Branch Canal by Phyllis Nicklin [1968]

The canal was completed in 1799 and extended to a wharf a short distance from the Spotted Dog. Connecting to both the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and the Warwick and Birmingham Canal, the Digbeth Branch was a key route for importing raw materials and distributing finished goods. Consequently, the Spotted Dog had no shortage of workers with a thirst to quench. However, competition in the licensed trade was fierce during the early 19th century. In 1796 the relatively small town of Birmingham had 1,703 public-houses.

An 1810 rate book for St. Martin's shows that Samuel Barnes was the licensee of the Spotted Dog. A plater and victualler, he moved here from Coleshill Street. It is likely that he continued working in both occupations because, in the 19th century, it was difficult for many victuallers to make a living solely from the profits of the public-house and most had a second trade. Little wonder that their life expectancy was short!

Birmingham : The Spotted Dog in Rate Book of Birmingham [1816]

Samuel Barnes can be seen here in the 1816 rate book in which the house, wash and brew house was valued at £15. 10s. Interestingly, it would seem that the public-house had been divided from the rest of Plot 543 and the owner was named Whittingham whereas the remainder was owned by an individual named Hope. The Whittingham shown in the rate book may have been one half of Whittingham and Gold who were recorded as merchants at Bordesley Street in Wrightson's Triennial Directory of Birmingham published in 1815.

In the same rate book Samuel Barnes is listed as the owner of a malthouse in Canal Street so it would appear that during the 19 years that he kept the Spotted Dog the house was selling homebrewed ales. Following his spell in charge, son Thomas Barnes took over the Spotted Dog. He followed in his father's footsteps as a maltster. Tragedy struck in April 1834 when his young wife Amelia died at the age of 19. A newspaper notice stated that she was "highly respected by a circle of friends." Thomas Barnes late moved to the Three Tuns on Digbeth, a public-house he kept for many years.

Birmingham : Reform Dinner at the Spotted Dog in Bordesley Street [1837]

Thomas Barnes was succeeded by Henry Ingram. However, his stay was brief and on May 12th, 1836, the licence of the Spotted Dog was transferred to John Johnson. The retail brewer moved from 47 Charlotte Street. This was probably the Warwick Arms that was later listed at No.50. There is an earlier listing for a victualler named John Johnson at Little Charles Street.

Birmingham : Sale of the Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street [1839]

Responding and acting upon an advertisement for the Spotted Dog, John Johnson was attracted to the merits of the Spotted Dog. The above sale notice emphasised the strengths of the tavern, most notably the number of patrons belonging to clubs that met or held functions at the Spotted Dog. These clubs, first fostered by Samuel Barnes, formed an important part of the tavern's revenue. John Johnson's stay was, however. short lived as was his successor Charles Tidman.

Birmingham : Auction of the lease for the Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street [1841]

In February 1841 another auction was held for the Spotted Dog. However, this was not simply for the public-house. Nor was it a short term lease. The auction was for the tavern plus several other properties erected on the original parcel of land, comprising of four houses fronting the street and five dwellings in the yard. A 40-year lease would have required a fair amount of capital, along with the incoming. It would appear that Joseph Knowles had made enough money trading as a jeweller in Union Street to invest in the Spotted Dog. He became the new incumbent and the licence was transferred to him during March 1841. Although working as a jeweller, he was no stranger to the licensed trade for his father, also named Joseph Knowles, was a brewer. No doubt the Spotted Dog was to become an outlet for the family's ales.

In 1841 Joseph Knowles was 45 and kept the pub with his wife Sarah. The couple were married at nearby St. Martin's Church in June 1823. Moving from Union Street, he and Sarah lived at the Spotted Dog with two children - George, a 19 year-old watchmaker and Thomas, who was aged 9. Joseph Knowles employed Mary Ann James as a servant. By this time competition for trade had reached new heights. The controversial Duke of Wellington's Beer House Act of 1830 spawned a vast number of drinking dens. The streets of Digbeth literally became awash with beer as more and more entrepreneurs opted to open their doors to the public.

Birmingham : Auction of remaining lease of the Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street [1848]

In December 1844, at the age of 52, Sarah Knowles passed away at the Spotted Dog. Thomas Knowles re-married to the widow Catherine Howitt at Bishop Ryder's Church in October 1846. Less than two years later the publican decided to sell the remainder of the lease on the corner plot. Interestingly, the Spotted Dog was advertised as a wine and dram shop. The sale notice provides some information on the house at this time. The pub comprised of a spirit-shop, tap-room, parlour, kitchen with a large yard and stabling.

Following the sale, Joseph Knowles handed over the keys to Thomas White. Three years later, in the 1851 census, he is recorded as a 51 year-old innkeeper. He lived here with his wife Esther, 44, and their two children - James, an 18 year-old toolmaker and Charles, 14. Again, the family employed a servant - 20 year-old Margaret Carney. Former Japanner, Thomas White was born at Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire but Esther was a Brummie. After running the pub for eight years Thomas decided to leave the licensed trade and he put the Spotted Dog up for sale. However, it was not sold until the Spring of 1857. The property was due to be sold at auction but a sale by private treaty was agreed in April. Thomas White later worked as a steel toy maker.

And so April 1857 marked the beginning of the long association between the Reeves family and The Spotted Dog. Alexander Reeves was the first to take over as publican. He hailed from King's Heath which was then in Worcestershire. He kept the Spotted Dog with his wife Sarah. The couple employed Elizabeth Fell as a general servant. Alexander Reeves was hauled before The Bench at the Public Office in June 1860 charged with keeping his house open during improper hours on a Sunday morning.

Thomas Reeves had become the publican in 1862 because, in August of that year, he was applying for a music and dancing licence for the Spotted Dog. Although young, he was an experienced pub landlord. However, he had problems from the start of his tenure at Bordesley Street. In May 1863 a serious quarrel started in the tap-room of the pub just before closing time. The press described the patrons as 'a number of labouring classes, amongst whom the Hibernian element strongly preponderated.' Reeves was, at least, successful in getting the unruly mob out of the house. However, a mass brawl started in the street, during which John Palmer, a wire-drawer living in Fazeley Street, was stabbed in the neck by Henry Yates, a sword-mounter residing at Jennens Row. Yates was notorious and was known for using a knife. Palmer was conveyed to the General Hospital and it was some time before he was well enough to appear in court following the arrest of Henry Yates by Detective Sergeant Seal. He was remanded to appear at the assizes.

Thomas Reeves not only had trouble keeping an orderly house, he had problems with his staff. In October 1864 one of his servants, Emma Hamer, was charged with stealing two dresses, a skirt, two sheets, and a cloak from Elizabeth Reeves. The publican's wife found pledge tickets for the articles under the servant's bed. She informed the police who subsequently found the items in a pawn shop. Emma Hamer pleaded guilty and, with a previous conviction being proved against her, she was sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

Birmingham : The Spotted Dog shown as Old Tom on a Gooch Estate plan [1875]

Born locally in 1833, Thomas Reeves had worked as a fender maker in his early career. He was the son of the fender maker William Reeves. He remained in contact with the trade and the Spotted Dog was the venue for meetings of the Fender Makers' Association, an organisation of which he was a honorary member. At 21 years of age Thomas Reeves married Elizabeth Truman. One year younger, her father was also a fender maker. With all this fender-making it is a wonder how the pub's name was not changed and an inn sign erected featuring a boat with fender ropes. These are knotted ropes that are coiled to make a protective bumper to prevent damage to the boat when mooring or on impact with a lock gate. Fender ropes were made to be durable and resistant to water damage. A Gooch Plan did curiously show the Spotted Dog as "Old Tom" in 1875 so the pub did have another name, if perhaps only colloquially. Perhaps a reference to the gaffer it may also be a legacy of the gin craze as Old Tom was a popular drink in earlier times. The tavern was described as a dram shop in the 1840s so there could be a link?

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Birmingham : Fake News at The Spotted Dog [1870]

The Spotted Dog certainly had a few ding-dongs in the 19th century but the above letter sent by Thomas Reeves to the editor of the Birmingham Post suggests that the house had something of an unjustified reputation as a rough-hole. The article to which the publican referred had stated that a quarrel had started at one o'clock in the morning when a slater named Thomas Daley had to be taken to the General Hospital, suffering from a compound fracture of the skull. It was stated that he had been at the Spotted Dog when a quarrel arose between him and another man who threw a brick at him causing serious injury. Daley was reportedly one of nine men and women who had to be treated at the General Hospital after the melee in which pokers, sticks, stones and fists were freely used. Clearly, with so many people attending the hospital, there was a serious disturbance but it was wrongly attributed to the Spotted Dog.

Thomas Reeves was 38 year-old when the census enumerator called again in 1871. By this time the publican and his wife Elizabeth had nine children living on the premises - a good job there were six bedrooms! The couple employed 25 year-old Martha Rickets as a general servant. There wasn't much room for any more staff. Besides, they had their own small army to help with the chores around the house.

Birmingham : Clearout Sale by Thomas Reeves at the Spotted Dog [1886]

Elizabeth Reeves had passed away by the time of the next census in 1881. Daughter Caroline had taken on much of the management of the house. The census shows that son Thomas lived next door and was recorded as a 24 year-old brewer. This was still the age of the homebrew house and many houses in the Digbeth area produced their own beer. Thomas Reeves also lost his 21 year-old son James in May 1885. His time as publican was also nearing an end as his lease was due to expire. The above notice shows that he held a clearout sale at the tavern in March 1886.

The clearout sale included all the brewing equipment. This would not be required by the new leaseholders as the Spotted Dog was added to the tied estate of Atkinson's Brewery Ltd. The Aston-based brewery acquired a 99-year lease on the Spotted Dog on March 25th, 1886. The ground rent was set at £60. 0s. 0d per annum.

Atkinson's appointed Tom Bird as the manager of the Spotted Dog. He moved from the Lion Inn at Lawley Street, a Duddeston public-house also operated by the brewery. Running the Spotted Dog almost to the end of the Victorian period, Tom Bird seems to have endeavoured to establish his own business in 1891. Whilst trying to get a refreshment house off the ground in Icknield Street, he handed over the reins of the Spotted Dog to his sisters Ellen O'Hare and Elizabeth Jenkins. They were the children of John and Sarah Bird who kept the Old Abbey Inn on Lodge Road at Hockley. Indeed, their mother was involved in the licensed trade in the years when John Bird was a jeweller at Key Hill. Tom and his elder sisters Ellen and Elizabeth all helped to run the Old Abbey Inn.

Following the death of John Bird, Sarah and her children kept the Cup Inn on Key Hill. Ellen married Francis O'Hare in 1877. Nellie and Emma, two daughters from this marriage, were living at the Spotted Dog in the early 1890s. At this time the housing further up Bordesley Street formed part of the Italian quarter of Birmingham. An amusing newspaper story I stumbled upon was that of two youths named William Morris and George Phillips. They were hired by Antonio Frezza who sent them out with a piano to earn some money. Antonio was the son of Luigi and Lucia Frezza who kept a lodging house along the street. Anyway, the two lads were playing a tune outside the Spotted Dog and "found it would not do as it was not right in pitch." And, according to the report, they returned it, and took another street piano belonging to the Italian organ-grinder Amicenzie Baroldin who reported it stolen. The two lads set out for West Bromwich, and carried on going. The pair got as far as Uttoxeter before they were apprehended by the police. That is a fair old walk with a street piano! The youths were brought back to Birmingham by Detective Sergeant Sibson. They were sentenced to two months, with hard labour.

Birmingham : The Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [c.1930]

Tom Bird was still involved with his refreshment house at Icknield Street in December 1894 because he was featured in a newspaper story in which he tried to help Florence Hood who was killed in a fire at a neighbouring shop. However, he was still the licensee of the Spotted Dog. It was Tom Bird who had to apply for a new victualler's licence in August 1892 as a result of a new adjoining building to be erected on the frontage to Bordesley Street. Although the above photograph dates from around 1930, I have slotted it in here because it shows the one-storey addition to the right of the original structure.

Birmingham : Date Stone on the former pig market in Bordesley Street

The additional shop building was to adjoin the newly-erected pig market. The tall wall to the right of the above photograph is part of the three-gabled brick building. A stone laid on February 16th 1892 by Joseph Horton Esq. can be seen on the Bordesley Street frontage. He was the man appointed to source a suitable site for a pig market. A large number of properties fronting the street and houses in courts behind were swept away to accommodate this structure designed by Owen & Ward. Of course, the Spotted Dog was ideally positioned to benefit from the additional trade that the market traders would bring. However, this boost in sale would only last a few years as the market was opposed by the Corporation who had erected another pig market in Montague Street. In the Edwardian period the building was used as a bottling stores by Showell's Brewery Company Limited.

Birmingham : Building Plan of the Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [1895]

It would seem that work on the additional shop did not happen until later work was conducted on the Spotted Dog. In November 1895 Atkinson's Brewery commissioned Francis Bristow, a surveyor based in Temple Street, to draw up plans to improve the existing building. Ansell's had already committed themselves to re-building many of their public-houses but thankfully Atkinson's opted to retain the old Spotted Dog. Francis Bristow worked quickly and the plans were approved by William Hill, City Surveyor on December 10th, 1895.

Birmingham : Floor Plan of the Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [1895]

The proposals for the Spotted Dog included an expansion of the kitchen space, the provision of a jug department with a serving-hatch to the bar. The men working in local factories would send a "runner" to the pub to fetch essential liquid refreshment. The yard was also adapted to incorporate a "new-fangled" pub facility - the toilet. The plans also showed the addition of the shop that would face onto Bordesley Street. Interestingly, the plans seem to show a parapet rather than a standard pitched roof that has endured.

Tom Bird was succeeded by Thomas Edkins as licensee of the Spotted Dog, though the 1901 census shows that the house was being managed by William and Edith Ault. Born in January 1868, William was the son of John Ault, a moderately successful pocket-book and purse-maker who employed three young women. William, however, went his own way and before dabbling in the licensed trade was working as an East India Merchant's Clerk. He married Edith Mary Knight at in February 1894. The couple may have been standing in for Thomas Edkins who was involved with the Custard House at Little Bromwich, another part of the Atkinson's tied estate. He was also granted the licence of the Guildford Arms so I think he may have worked for the brewery in some other capacity such as an area manager.

For the majority of the Edwardian period the Spotted Dog was kept by William and Ada Ashton. William was born and raised in the locality. Like his father he worked as a caster from his teenage years. Following his marriage he moved slightly out of town from Deritend to Bordesley. At the turn of the 20th century he combined his work with that of a beer retailer in Baker Street at Greet. This was probably the Atkinson's-operated Nelson Inn, the move to the Spotted Dog being an in-house move. William Ashton was a pigeon-fancier and kept birds in the yard of the Spotted Dog. This must have been interesting for those trudging across the yard to use the toilets. It was an incident involving the pigeons that landed the publican in hot water with the magistrates. His conviction created a problem when his licence was due for renewal in February 1910 with the chairman stating that the case "had caused the magistrates great anxiety, and was of great seriousness, but the licence would be renewed."

By the end of the Edwardian period William and Ada Ashton's eldest sons, Harry and Sidney, were working as wood machinist's. They were possibly employed at the timber yard next to the canal basin operated by Tailby & Co. Ltd. The family later moved to Butler Street in Small Heath. Sidney Ashton was featured in the local newspapers during October 1914 when, as a Private in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, he was reported missing since August 24th at Wasmes, in the Belgian province of Hainaut. However, on October 25th he sent a postcard to his parents to say he was safe and sound. His younger brother Albert served with 2/4 Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

Moving from the Globe, an Ansell's house in Vauxhall Road, Samuel and Annie Messenger took over at the Spotted Dog in 1912. Four years later his son, also named Samuel George Messenger, married a woman name Annie Maria Cain, the same first names of his mother. This couple would later have a son also named Samuel George Messenger! When they all got together it must have been confusing at the dinner table! Prior to running The Globe, Samuel and Annie Messenger had kept the Seven Stars in Lawley Street. Samuel, a former omnibus driver, was born in January 1870 and married Annie Maria Jackson in July 1888. The couple would run the Spotted Dog for over a quarter of a century.

The Messenger's had a shocking experience in January 1920. Samuel Messenger, was just closing up at 14.00hrs when seven men entered the bar and demanded 'bitters.' The publican duly supplied them with their ales. However, when they asked for whiskey he refused to serve them as it was 'after time.' Suddenly, William Church, a resident of Fazeley Street, jumped onto the counter and snatched a bottle of whiskey whilst another man demanded money. Picking up a mineral water box, James Plumley, a hawker living in Glover Street, threatened the licensee. Samuel Messenger was then struck in the face by another of the men. His wife Annie came into the room to help but was knocked down in the process. When Police Constable Westbury later tried to arrest William Church he was assaulted by the others who struck him several times after they had knocked him to the ground. Subsequently, Church and Plumley were arrested and sentenced to two months' hard labour for stealing the whiskey and one month for assaulting the constable.

Samuel and Annie Messenger saw an increase in trade during the mid-1920s when Typhoo moved to a former timber factory across the road in Bordesley Street. The pub became a favourite haunt of many a tea worker. The company remained for over fifty years before the plant's closure in 1978.

As a widower Samuel was still running the Spotted Dog at the age of 70. He was assisted by his daughter Rose. She had married Charles Trueman in January 1916 but was a widow when helping her old dad run the public-house. She moved with her father to Meriden where he died in 1943. Rose re-married after the Second World War to Mark Huckle.

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John, a.k.a. Jack, and Annie Crompton were charged with following the Messenger's at the Spotted Dog. I do not need to detail too much about them because their daughter Vera has sent a lovely account of their time at the pub. They had two spells running the place, between which they kept the Birmingham Arms on Dudley Road.

Birmingham : Bomb Damage at the Typhoo Factory in Bordesley Street [1941] Photo by F. Parkin

Vera describes the terrifying experience of witnessing the bombing of the Typhoo Factory. Her family had moved from their house and shop at Sparkhill which was completely destroyed in 1940. It was in the early hours of April 10th 1941 that an incendiary bomb landed directly on the factory. The explosion put paid to the sprinkler system and, consequently, the resulting fire destroyed most of the buildings. I have looked for information on the air raids and found that the former pig market was also hit. The Spotted Dog was more fortunate as a bomb that landed on the road junction in front of the building did not explode and was disabled by bomb disposal experts.

Birmingham : The Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [c.1985]

George and Clara Evans kept the Spotted Dog for over a decade in the 1950s and 1960s. As employees of Atkinson's, they would have been transferred to the payroll of Mitchell's and Butler's when the Cape Hill company took over the Aston-based brewery in 1959. Like the treatment of Annie Crompton in 1954, M&B did not allow Clara to remain as manager following the death of her husband. She was succeeded by Michael Lohan and his wife Cicely.

Birmingham : The Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [2001]

Birmingham : The Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [2001]

At the turn of the millennium the Spotted Dog was being run by Bunny Johnson, former British and Commonwealth Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion. He took over the licence on January 16th 2000. Described as "a quiet, cool stylist from Jamaica," Bunny embarked on a professional boxing career in 1968 and quickly established a reputation by winning fight after fight. Despite giving away 23lbs to Richard Dunn, he won an exciting eliminator for the heavyweight title in 1973. He took the title in January 1975 when he knocked out Danny McAlinden. Known for his powerful left hook, Bunny enjoyed much success in the light-heavyweight division and won the much-coveted Lonsdale belt outright.

Birmingham : The Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [2008]

Birmingham : The Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [2010]

In its latter days as a public-house the Spotted Dog went the same route as many old taverns in that it was passed from pillar to post. Bass off-loaded the building to the Centric Pub Company Limited in the 1990s, though the freeholders were Benacre Estates Company. The building can be seen 'to let' in the above photograph from 2010. Not long afterwards it was converted into a club called 'suki10c' [suck it and see]. The building, complete with colourful painting and grafitti, can be seen in this guise in a photograph from 2018 [below]. The venue is reportedly powered by wind farm generated electricity and the operators strive to make sure nothing from the venue goes to a landfill site.

Birmingham : Former Spotted Dog on the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street in Digbeth [2018]

Licensees of the Spotted Dog

1810 - 1834 Samuel Barnes
1834 - 1836 Thomas Barnes
1836 - 1837 Henry Ingram
1837 - 1839 John Johnson
1839 - 1841 Charles Tidman
1841 - 1848 Joseph Knowles
1848 - 1857 Thomas White
1857 - 1862 Alexander Reeves
1862 - 1886 Thomas Reeves
1886 - 1899 Tom Bird
1901 - 1903 Thomas Edkins
1903 - 1912 William Ashton
1912 - 1940 Samuel George Messenger
1940 - 1943 John William Crompton
1943 - 1944 John Kenneth Little
1944 - 1947 George Owen Kindon
1947 - 1954 John William Crompton
1954 - 1965 George James Evans
1966 - 1967 Clara Evans
1967 - 1968 Michael Joseph Lohan
1968 - 1969 Leonard William Biggs
1969 - 1973 Frederick Sansom
1973 - 1981 John Edward Douglas
1981 - 1987 Emilio Chincotta
1987 - 1991 Anita Margaret Looker
1991 - 1992 Pauline Elizabeth O'Rourk
1992 - 1993 June Christine Finn
1993 - 1994 Carl Anthony Burgess
1994 - 1996 Pamela Anne Sanderson
1996 - 1997 Paul McGrath
1997 - 1999 Sean Martin McGrath
1999 - 1999 Michelle Marshall
1999 - 2000 Natalie Knight
2000 - Fitzroy Dexter Johnson
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub. The dates of early licensees are sourced from trade directories, census data, electoral rolls, rate books and newspaper articles. Names taken from trade directories may be slightly inaccurate as there is some slippage from publication dates and the actual movement of people. The listing for 1947 to 2000 is complete and accurate as these names are sourced from licensing records and brewery property books. These records are hand-written and I have done my best to transcribe them accurately, though some scribbles of the clerks can be hard to determine.

Atkinson's Ales - Held Up as The Best!

Genealogy Connections & Memories

Birmingham : Annie and 'Jack' Crompton, former managers of the Spotted Dog

"I was most interested to come across this history of the Spotted Dog. It brought back many memories to me. I used to live there back in 1940 for a time after our house/shop was completely destroyed in Sparkhill. One of my brothers was also killed at the time. My mother had always wanted to be the "Manageress" of a pub and both she and my father had been training for this for some time. It was of course the ideal opportunity for them when we were without a home and sleeping in shelters to apply for a licence. It was quite a cosy little pub with a snug at the side where a very old lady used to sit with her cap on smoking a clay pipe. I remember it well although only ten years old at the time. I can also remember the night the Typhoo Tea factory was bombed. It was quite terrifying. We watched it burning away and next morning there was a terrible mess in the road from all the tea. I remember opposite the pub in Meriden Street there was a small Post Office kept by a lovely couple called Payne. Alongside this was a number of terraced houses with entries, down one of which the bookie used to ply his trade. I remember so well they used to sail up this entry in their beautiful fur coats and hats - oh so elegant - and get into their big car when they heard the police were about. I did actually go to their house to keep their daughter company once or twice when I was about 10 or 11. It was a beautiful big place in Moseley - the houses in Moseley were wonderful at that time and a long way removed from the old Spotted Dog. On the corner diagonally opposite the pub was what used to be known as a Transport Café owned by the Jelfs family. I have not visited the area for many years so I am sure it is quite different now. We moved back there again in 1947 for a few more years when I used to help out at weekends and evenings when I came home from work. I am the only one left in my family now so it was quite interesting to see the place where I spent quite a few of my younger days, although my mother wouldn't ever let me out to play as she thought it wasn't a particularly 'good' area, so it was quite a lonely time. My father John William Crompton was the licensee, as I don't think women were encouraged in those days to take over public houses. The living quarters weren't up to much when we lived there the first time, but at the age I was then I found it quite exciting as we had a toilet indoors - what luxury!! I remember there used to be Pattison's Bakery next door. The smell of the baking was really good. I wonder if they still have the stove in the middle of the bar which was a dreadful thing to clear out and the nice little 'smoke room' with a lovely log fire. The outside yard was a bit grim where the ladies used to come out for the toilet and could see straight into the kitchen. I hated the kitchen which had a longish hall leading into a very small area. We had a very good darts team to which I belonged and the men used to love playing crib during their lunch breaks. I remember the kindness of the people when my father died and my mother used to go out and leave me in charge [I was then about 20]. There was one particular person who was a bit of a villain and had been in prison a few times but he would always stay until everyone had left the pub, make sure everything was secure and then bid me a very polite 'goodnight.' He always told me 'any trouble just let me know' which was quite comforting! When we left the Spotted Dog we then went to live in the Birmingham Arms on Dudley Road [opposite Western Road] but, unfortunately my father really wasn't very good at the business and so eventually we had to move back to the Spotted Dog. We lived there until my father died when I took over a lot of the work, rushing home every lunch time to help my mother and then in the evenings as well. Although my mother wanted to keep on the business she was told she couldn't as she was a widow - the brewery then was Atkinson's. We had to move out as they said they would evict us otherwise. That was the end of my mother's business career. As far as I remember it was then taken over by tenants. I think the man was ex-RAF and his wife was an extremely elegant blonde lady - I always wonder how long they lasted there."
Vera Crompton, Worcester

It was sad to read about Vera's brother being killed but this message is a real treasure as it provides a marvellous insight of the pub of yesteryear. Vera used to work for a secretarial agency which enabled her to go into quite a lot of firms. At the time of living at the Spotted Dog she was working at Lucas in Great Hampton Street. She lived in Harborne and Quinton before settling in Worcester, a city she loves. Her mum sadly suffered a stroke when she was 68 and, together with her sister, Vera looked after her until she died aged almost 84. The Evans couple took over the pub after Annie and Jack Crompton. The post office Vera mentions was at No.97 Meriden Street which, along with a small grocery shop, was run by George and Elsie Payne. The transport café she mentioned as being diagonally opposite the Spotted Dog was one of several operated by Ernest Jelf.

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

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Birmingham : Inn Sign of the Spotted Dog on Bordesley Street [2001]

In catering terms a "Spotted Dog" is another name for "Spotted Dick," a pudding traditionally made with suet and dried fruit and served with lashings of custard. However, the inn sign of this house has traditionally shown a Dalmation dog which was used as a carriage dog in earlier times. In this respect the breed is similar to the Talbot dog, a variety of hound which has a white coat and black spots. In addition to their prowess in tracking and hunting, they were run alongside coaches on Britain's ancient highways. Their use on the road could be one reason for the widespread use of the breed on pub signs.

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"On Tuesday afternoon last, whilst a boatman named Charles Buckingham was steering a boat along the Old Birmingham Canal, near its junction with the Warwick branch, he observed the body of man suddenly rise to the surface of the water. Instantly seizing a boat-hook, he managed to fix it in the clothes of the man, and by this means to hold him firmly, till having arrived in the lock, he could obtain assistance. When the body was got out, it appeared to have been in the water for upwards of a fortnight. It was conveyed to the Royal Oak, Fazeley Street, where he was soon identified as the son of Mr. Woodcock, silversmith, Sheffield. An inquest was held on his body, at the house in question, on the following day. It then appeared that the unfortunate man was a silversmith by trade, but from lack of work since he left Messrs. Elkington and Co., about three months ago, had been obliged to sell some Sheffield goods and other small articles on commission, to obtain a scanty subsistence. From the early part of September last the poor man had resided at the Spotted Dog, in Meriden Street; up to the latter end of December he had been unable to pay for his lodgings, but by the kindness and liberality of the landlord he had been suffered to remain. On December 28th, however, finding that there was no likelihood of being paid, the landlord gave the man notice to quit, in compliance with which he soon afterwards left. Penniless and houseless, and with only a few portable articles, he found a temporary asylum in the house of a friend, whom he had known for nearly thirty years, named Eels, residing in Garbett Street; but the family of the latter being numerous, he could not accommodate or support so heavy a burden. Woodcock, on the promise of every assistance from his kind friend, departed in search of apartments, and although sanguine that he should ultimately succeed in the world, it is more than probable that his misfortunes weighed heavily on his mind, and in a fit of despondency, terminated his existence by drowning. The Jury, however, returned a verdict of "Found Drowned."
"Singular Case"
Birmingham Journal : January 20th 1849 Page 8.

"Yesterday afternoon an inquest was held at the Spotted Dog, Bordesley Street, on the body of a little boy named John Kaveney, three years of age, whose parents reside in a court in Bordesley Street. It appears that on the afternoon of the 26th of February the deceased caught his head against a teapot containing boiling water, which a woman named Hogan was holding, and slightly scalded his neck, The wound was dressed, but in a fortnight afterwards it appeared to get worse, and some medicine was obtained from a druggist. The deceased continued in an ailing condition until the 23rd instant, when he got rapidly worse, and the assistance of Dr. Keyworth, one of the parish surgeons, was obtained. That gentleman found the deceased to be suffering from disease of the lungs. He prescribed for the child, but he gradually sank, and died from disease of the lungs and exhaustion, a result of the injury, on Monday. The Jury, in returning a verdict of "Accidental death," expressed their regret that the deceased's mother had been so neglectful in not obtaining medical assistance sooner, and cautioned her to be more careful for the future."
"Death From Burning"
Birmingham Daily Post : March 29th 1861 Page 2.

"An inquest was held yesterday afternoon, at the Spotted Dog Inn, Meriden Street, on the body of a lad, six years of age, named Solomon Oakes, who resided with his parents in New Canal Street, and who met with his death by drowning on Sunday last. At about eight o'clock in the evening of the day in question, it appeared the deceased left home, and shortly afterwards while running along a plank by the side of the Old Birmingham Canal, near Fazeley Street Bridge, over-balanced, and fell into the water. The accident was witnessed by a little boy named Fodin, who was playing in a field near, and upon his raising an alarm, a youth named Cook, residing In Jennen's Row, came to the assistance of the deceased. Oakes by that time, however, had sunk to the bottom, but Cook at once took off some of his clothing, and courageously plunged into the canal. He dived three separate times before he got a good hold of the body, but at length he brought up the deceased by the foot. Oakes did not appear to be quite dead then, and was accordingly removed to the Royal Oak public-house, Fazeley Street, where some brandy was administered, but life proved to be extinct. The unfortunate youth was then conveyed to his parent's home. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death."
"Death By Drowning"
Birmingham Daily Post : July 10th 1863 Page 2.

"On Saturday afternoon, Dr. Birt Davies, the Borough Coroner, held an inquest at the Spotted Dog Inn, Meriden Street, touching the death of Cecilia Fenny, aged two years and nine months, whose parents reside at 1 court, 1 house, New Canal Street, About half-past five o'clock on Sunday afternoon last, a sister of the deceased was lifting her into a corner by the fireplace, when her dress accidentally caught the handle of saucepan containing scalding hot water, which had been just previously placed on the hob, and some of the contents went over and scalded deceased severely. Mr. Gibbs, surgeon, attended the deceased, but all efforts to save her were unavailing, and she expired about two o'clock Wednesday morning last. Verdict : "Accidental death."
"Death By Scalding"
Birmingham Daily Post : October 23rd 1865 Page 5.

"John Baker [37], fender fitter, living in 34 court, Bromsgrove Street, was charged on remand with stealing a book from the Spotted Dog Inn, Meriden Street, the property of the Fender Makers' Association. On Saturday last a man named Henry Whitmore was at the Spotted Dog Inn, when the prisoner showed him the book and asked him to go and burn it. Whitmore told him to go and put it he had it from, and not be foolish. The prisoner then left tbe house, and the book has not been seen since. Tbe accused was remanded until Wednesday next."
"Robbing the Fender Makers' Association"
Aris's Birmingham Gazette : March 9th 1867 Page 5.

"John Loveridge [20], slater, Court, Allison Street, and Thomas Campbell [21], metal-roller, Allison Street, were charged with assaulting Henry Shell, in the Spotted Dog, Meriden Street, and stealing his watch. On Tuesday night, the 7th inst., the prosecutor, who is a painter, residing in Macdonald Street, Summer Lane, was sitting in the Spotted Dog; the prisoners were there also. Seizing his watch-chain, the prisoners dragged him out into the street, where he fell down in the gutter. Police Constable Jeffries came up, and apprehended Loveridge, but Campbell got away. The next morning a strange man took the watch back to the prosecutor wrapped in paper. The prisoner Campbell pleaded not guilty, and called his father and mother to prove that he came home on the night in question at eleven o'clock, nearly an hour before the robbery took place. Loveridge wanted to be tried by the Bench, but both prisoners were committed for trial at the Sessions."
"Robbery From The Person"
Birmingham Daily Post : September 14th 1869 Page 4.

"George Burton, [20], was charged with stealing half-a-pint of brandy from the Spotted Dog public-house, Meriden Street, and was fined 40s. and costs."
"Theft of Brandy"
Birmingham Daily Post : December 29th 1880 Page 6.

"In the case of James Rowland West [3], of 18 Court, Bordesley Street, Sarah Ann West, mother of the deceased, said that on March 25th she went with her sister, Mary Ann Tye, to the Spotted Dog Tavern, Meriden Street, Mrs. Tye carrying the child. While they were in the public-house Tye and a woman named Margaret Callaghan quarrelled and fought. Tye was knocked down with the child in her arms. Deceased's head struck violently on the brick floor. The mother took deceased to the Queen's Hospital at once, where it was attended to, and she was told to bring it again on Wednesday. Deceased, however, appeared better, and the mother did not think it necessary to go again. A week afterwards deceased became worse, and the mother got a medical note from tbe parish offices, in compliance with which Mr. Barwise attended deceased. Death took place last Thursday from meningitis. Mr. Barwise, in his evidence, said that he could not connect the disease with the accident, owing to the time which elapsed before he was called in. A verdict of "Death from natural causes" was returned."
"Inquests in Birmingham"
Birmingham Daily Post : April 19th 1887 Page 8.

"Patrick McCale, 28, Bordesley Street, was sentenced to a week's hard labour for assaulting Margaret Eales. The parties met in the Spotted Dog, Meriden Street, and complainant said that because she refused to give him money he struck her and knocked her down, and when on the floor he kicked her, inflicting a serious injury. Police Constable Clarke arrested the prisoner."
"A Rough"
Birmingham Daily Post : October 21st 1890 Page 7.

"Lawrence Moran [24], labourer, court, Bordesley Street, was sent to gaol for a month for being drunk and refusing to quit the Spotted Dog, in Meriden Street, and smashing a window there. He was also sentenced to a month for assaulting Police Sergeant Adolphus Frankish [8A], who arrested him."
"Refusing To Quit Licensed Premises"
Birmingham Daily Post : April 23rd 1895 Page 7.

"Charged at the Birmingham Police Court today with stealing a bicycle from the Spotted Dog public-house, Meriden Street, Samuel King, Northumberland Street, was committed for trial at the next Quarter Sessions. The machine was stolen on the 19th of May, and last Friday night it was discovered in a brewhouse at the back of the prisoner's home. On Saturday night King was arrested by Detective Sergeant Oldham and Detective Stonier when he was about to enter the Gaiety Theatre in Coleshill Street. Prisoner had nothing to say to the magistrates respecting the charge."
"Alleged Theft of a Bicycle"
Birmingham Mail : June 4th 1906 Page 2.

"Despite an elaborate yarn to how became possessed of it, the jury found Samuel King [23], a brass turner, guilty of stealing a bicycle belonging to Charles Davis from outside the Spotted Dog, Meriden Street, on May 19. Detective Stonier stated that since 1898 he had spent most of his time in prison, though lately "he had shown an inclination work." King was ordered nine months' imprisonment, followed by a year's supervision."
"Theft of Bicycles"
Birmingham Mail : June 26th 1906 Page 4.

"Before the Birmingham magistrates yesterday, William Ashton, the licensee of the Spotted Dog. Meriden Street, was summoned for allowing two police constables to remain on his premises and supplying them with intoxicants while they were on duty. Mr. J. E. Hill appeared to prosecute, and Mr. Philip Baker represented the defendant. Mr. Hill said that on December 19th, at 12.10 a.m., Acting-sergeant Taylor, who was on duty in the vicinity of the Spotted Dog, was looking for Constable Marsh, and as he passed by the public-house, he looked through the window, he saw two constables with their helmets off and with what appeared to be jugs of beer in front of them, but which the sergeant subsequently found had not been drunk from. Their worships would recognise the seriousness of the case - first of all, in the case of two constables being allowed on licensed premises and, in the second place, in such a district it was of the greatest importance that the constables should be on their duty. Police Constable Taylor said that on the night named he was on duty as acting-sergeant. He was expecting to see police-constable Marsh in Bordesley Street. When passing the Spotted Dog he spotted a shadow on the window. He looked in and saw the two constables with their helmets off, leaning against the counter. The constable with Police-constable Marsh was Police-constable Egan. Witness saw two pint jugs before the men. The landlord and his wife were both present. The landlady apparently saw witness, and then the officers put on their helmets and stood up behind a partition. In about a minute the door was unbolted and the constables came out. Police-constable Marsh told witness that defendant had called them in about some pigeons that had been stolen from him. Witness asked whether any had been stolen that night. He replied "No." Marsh afterwards said, "He did call us in to have a drink." Witness told the landlord he should report the matter. Cross-examined by Mr. Baker: There were no blinds to the window, which was stained up to a certain distance. Witness admitted that he had seen the defendant and his wife at about that time cleaning down the premises preparatory for the next morning's trade. Witness thought there had been no complaint against the defendant or the constables up to the present. Defendant asked witness to have a look at the pigeons, but inasmuch as he had told witness that no pigeons been stolen that night he did not do so. Police-constable Egan said he was on duty in Bordesley Street when he received a lamp signal from Police-constable Marsh to go to him. He went, and Marsh said the landlord at the Spotted Dog had complained of having his pigeons stolen that night. They went in, and defendant said he would be glad if they would look over the premises. They went into the yard, and found that the lock of the pigeon-pen was missing. They searched round the yard and found things all right. As they were leaving defendant said he thought under the circumstances he would not be doing wrong if he asked them to have a drink because of the service they had rendered him. Witness replied that he did not think so either. He disagreed with the evidence of Police-constable Taylor in one or two particulars. In his evidence the latter said he asked the defendant if he had any pigeons stolen that night, and the reply was "No." What defendant did reply was "I can't tell till the morning." In answer to the Chairman, witness afterwards rectified this answer to "I can't tell the number till the morning." Mr. Baker, in his speech for the defence, commented on Egan's contradiction of Police-constable Taylor with regard to the stolen pigeons. He said he thought the latter must have been mistaken on that one point. He submitted that in consequence of the gratitude his client felt for the services the officers rendered him he forgot for the time that he was a publican and became merely the aggrieved citizen. Defendant had many years' good character with firms, and he would ask their worships not to register a conviction against him now. The Chairman said they would make no conviction for allowing the constables on the premises owing to the robbery of defendant's pigeons, but he would be fined 10s. 11d. and 11s. 6d. costs in the case of each constable for supplying drink."
"Public-House Incident"
Birmingham Daily Gazette : January 7th 1909 Page 8.

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