Some history of the the Bell Inn
This large public-house stood on the corner of Bristol Street and Bell Barn Road in an area where Lee Bank and Highgate collide with central Birmingham. The building was lost to a road-widening scheme in which Bristol Street became a dual-carriageway.
This is not the original Bell Inn - the building plans for this structure were drawn up in 1886 in order to replace the original tavern.
Dating from April 1844, this notice shows that the Bell Inn was deemed an important house in which the rents of the Gooch Estate were collected on Ladyday.
The original Bell Inn can be seen here on a plan of the Gooch Estate drawn up in 1875.
For more than twenty years the Bell Inn was run by Edward Reynolds from around 1845. Born at Brampton in Hertfordshire, I believe he was working as a veterinary surgeon when he married Jane Taylor in January 1839 at St. George's Church. She was the daughter of Joseph Taylor, licensee of the Coach and Horses on New Meeting Street. Edward's father, John Reynolds, was also a publican and in 1839 was recorded at New John Street West, though Robson's Directory published in the same year lists John Reynolds as a beer retailer at Prospect Row. As it happens, I had already encountered John Reynolds at A. B. Row in the mid-1840s where he was running a beer house.
The 1841 census shows Edward and Jane Reynolds living in a court off Bull Street with a young daughter called Jane. I think he may have re-married before the next census collected in 1851 as the age difference between him and his wife is much less than that recorded at the time of their marriage and on the census of 1841. The sheet does show that he employed a live-in servant and barmaid. In the mid-1850s the publican was involved in an incident during which he shot a burglar [see newspaper article].
More information on the Bell Inn to follow.
Licensees of this pub
1804 - Edward Bolton
1826 - Henry Cattell
1835 - James Mushen
1837 - Mr. Reeves
1839 - Henry Bolton
1845 - Edward Reynolds
1949 - 1959 Chris Troman
1959 - 1961 Charles Gordon Lewis
1961 - 1965 Frederick Jesse Payne
1965 - 1965 James Prentice
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Bell Inn on Bristol Street you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Birmingham Genealogy.
Related Newspaper Articles
"Yesterday morning another of those daring burglaries which have been of late of such frequent occurrence in this town was attempted in
Bristol Street, but with results to the burglar which may prove serious. It appears that Mr. Edward Reynolds, landlord the Bell Inn, and his family, retired to rest
at an early hour on Saturday night, the doors and windows of the house having been previously secured. About two o'clock in the morning, Mr. Reynolds, who slept
in a back room, was awakened by the barking of a dog in the yard, on which he arose from his bed and looked out of the window, but could not see any one. Presently
a drunken man passed the gate of the yard in Bristol Street, and believing that it was the approach of this man which aroused the dog, Mr. Reynolds closed the window
and returned to bed, but could not sleep, being still under the impression that some improper person was on the premises. In this state of suspense he remained about
three quarters of an hour, when he heard something falling in the yard like tiles or mortar, and feeling satisfied that the house was being attacked, again got out
of bed, put on some clothing, and having armed himself with a revolver, which he kept loaded in the room, went quietly down stairs and proceeded to the back door,
where he distinctly heard some person unroofing the pent-house immediately over where he stood, and through which entrance could be obtained to the bar and other
parts of the premises. He suddenly unbolted the door, and while doing so heard some person jump to the ground and run up the yard, on which Mr. Reynolds rushed out
and followed the retreating person, calling out to him to stop or he would shoot him. The robber, for such he proved to be, instantly redoubled his speed, and Mr.
Reynolds fired at but missed him. He then fired again, but with no better result; on discharging the pistol a third time, however, the contents took effect and
wounded the fellow in the head, on which he became desperate, and rushing at Mr. Reynolds, swore that he would "do for him." Mr. Reynolds, instantly seized
him, and a fearful struggle ensued, in which the robber had the worst of it, and was eventually knocked down and kept on the ground until a police officer, who was
attracted by the reports of the pistol and the alarm raised by Mr. Reynolds, came and seized him. The prisoner was once recognised as a notorious character named
Charles Davis, who had on two previous occasions broken into Mr. Reynolds's premises. On being secured by the officer, it was found that he was severely injured
about the head, and as he was bleeding profusely he was immediately conveyed to the Queen's Hospital, and placed under the care of a constable. On the wounds
being dressed, it was ascertained that from fifteen to twenty shots had entered his head so to render it difficult to extract them. In the scuffle in the yard Mr.
Reynolds received several blows on the nose and face, was knocked down, and rolled in the gutter, and on the arrival of the police officer he presented a frightful
appearance. On examining the premises it was discovered that Davis had broken a pane of glass in the bar window looking into the yard, and that he had also removed
about twenty tiles from the pent-house. A quantity of lucifer matches were found on the ground near the place where an entrance was endeavoured to be effected,
and there can be no doubt but in few minutes the robber must have succeeded had be not been interrupted. About five years ago Davis entered the cellar of the same
house, but escaped; and at the Warwickshire March Assizes he was tried and found guilty of having again broken into Mr. Reynolds's house, and was sentenced
to only nine months' imprisonment, although a previous conviction and sentence of seven years' transportation for a burglary at Walsall was put in and proved
"Daring Burglary in Bristol Street"
Aris's Birmingham Gazette : December 25th 1854 Page 3
The Birmingham Journal also covered this incident but with editorial comments that reflected the attitudes or sentiments during this period. The article begins with "An excellent example of intrepidity and daring has just been set by Mr. Edward Reynolds ...... which, besides showing how burglars should be treated, will it is to be hoped, have a salutary effect in deterring the rascals with whom we have been lately troubled from placing too much confidence in that want of public protection...." This report ended by stating that Charles Davis had been employed by Edward Reynolds above the stables.
Have Your Say
If you would like to share any further information on this pub - perhaps your ancestors 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 will post it here.