Some history of the Hyde Arms
I had not looked into the history of the Hyde Arms on Clark Street until I received a genealogy message from Peter Faulkner who suggested that the Hyde Arms was originally called the Herefordshire House. However, after a bit of digging, I found that they were completely different public houses. As you will see when reading this page, the two pubs are so inter-linked I have posted information for both houses on one page. I think this will make the story of both taverns a lot clearer. I hope!
The above advertisement, dated August 1858, for the sale of the lease of the Herefordshire House is one of the early references I have found for this beer house in Clark Street. Whether the sale was unsuccessful I do not know but similar advertisements appeared two months later. It may have been the case that a fixed price did not attract a buyer and an auction was possibly instigated. The sale notices of October 1858 advised on the lease and incoming capital, along with details of the household and public house furniture and also the brewing plant, evidence that the pub was a homebrew house.
The advertisement from August 1858 states that the retail tavern was "doing a good trade." Consequently, it is clear that the beer house was already up-and-running by this date. The Herefordshire House was possibly one of the first buildings to be erected in Clark Street. The name is unusual but not unique to Birmingham. For example, at this time there was a Herefordshire House on the corner of Bull Street and Pitt Street.
Francis Reece was the publican of this particular Herefordshire House in the mid-1850s and was possibly the first licensee. The Reece clan had built a number of properties in Icknield Port Road, though two of the family were bankrupted. Mr. and Mrs. Williams were at the Herefordshire House in January 1859. It was on a Saturday night in that month that a dangerous character named William Isaac Shaw came into the pub around half-past ten in the evening. Mrs. Williams, the landlady, saw him come into the kitchen and afterwards into the parlour. She went into the parlour herself but Shaw, a former convict who had been previously transported, left the room. Mrs. Williams later told the police that she heard a noise in the bar but thought it was her daughter cleaning up. It was only later that she went into the bar and found that some money that had been in the till, along with a piece of cheese, had been stolen. He was later taken into custody and brought before the Police Court in April. He was found guilty and, having a previous conviction against him, he was sentenced to five years' penal servitude.
Titus Griffin was the licensee of the Herefordshire House by May 1861. It was following the path of this publican that led me to the conclusion that this building did not evolve into the Hyde Arms. It was in September 1869 that Titus Griffin appointed Mr. J. W. Cutler to apply for a beer house licence for the Hyde Arms. A key resource was a newspaper article dated 30th September 1870 in which the same legal representative applied for a licence to sell beer to be drunk off the premises [outdoor sales]. In this application, the magistrates were told that Titus Griffin had held a licence for premises on the opposite side of the street, and he simply wanted to transfer it. This revealed that the Hyde Arms was a different property and on the opposite side of Clark Street.
A further application two years later provided more information on the Hyde Arms. It was in September 1872 that Titus Griffin was seeking a spirits licence for the pub. His solicitor, Mr. Buller, told the magistrates that the house was "commodious and had been built for use as a public house." He told the bench that Titus Griffin had "been in the trade for twelve years, and there was nothing against him." The solicitor added that "some two hundred houses had been erected in the neighbourhood." Titus Griffin was sworn in and he told the magistrates that "the house was his own. He gave £800 for it and it was rated at £45." The courts finally granted a full licence during the following year. So, armed with this knowledge, I went looking for the location of the Herefordshire House. I found the building on a rating plan for Clark Street dated 1871. I have transposed this onto a plan dated twenty years later which shows the Hyde Arms on the corner of Hyde Street - please note, however, that the Herefordshire House was not trading in this year, I have simply marked the location in order to show its proximity to the Hyde Arms. Looking at neighbouring properties fronting Clark Street, the building would later be No.83. When it was trading as a beer house, it would have been possible for customers to take a short cut through Court 29 and emerge at the Why Not in Osler Street.
Those licence applications provided good information on the Hyde Arms. It is clear that Titus Griffin paid for the purpose-built public house and moved his business across the road. One can only assume that he had been successful during the previous decade and that he was able to finance the new public house with the profits from the Herefordshire House. He did not own the older property but was a subtenant. The building once belonged to the Harborne Institute who offered a 91-year lease on several properties, including the Herefordshire House, in May 1861. This included adjoining houses occupied by the horse dealer Joseph Strickley, the cordwainer Edmund Iliffe, along with ten houses and outbuildings in the court at the back.
The son of William Griffin and Nancy Dauncey, Titus was born in 1821 in the Gloucestershire village of Coaley to the north of Dursley. He married Aston-born Eliza Lavender in 1844 and the couple established a home for themselves in a back-to-back house in Ryland Street from where Titus worked as an edge tool maker. Indeed, he continued in this trade when living at the Herefordshire House where his wife Eliza was recorded as a brewster. She was responsible for the homebrewed ales sold at the pub. Her son George helped in the production of beer to the rear of the premises. Between them, they must have produced a popular brew as the Herefordshire House was a beer house that prospered.
The Herefordshire House made the local newspapers in 1861 when Mary Reynolds, a French polisher, living on Bristol Road, was drinking in the parlour with her son John Reynolds, a brassfounder living in Hurst Street. The pair took a parasol and shawl from the house when they left and John Reynolds later tried to sell the parasol to a Mrs. Mann who returned the items to the Herefordshire House. Detective Spokes later apprehended Mary and John Reynolds and they were committed to the Sessions for trial. Having been previously convicted, John Reynolds was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment.
Titus Griffin himself had to dig into his pockets to pay fines imposed upon him during his early days as a publican. In November 1861 the magistrates fined him 2s. 6d. for allowing cards to be played in the Herefordshire House one Monday evening. The local authorities took a dim view of cards being played for money in Victorian times. He was also hauled in front of the magistrates on a charge of selling short measures in October of the following year. His fine of ten shillings probably didn't hurt him as much as the dent to his reputation which he would have had to restore.
This photograph was taken around 1946 and shows the Hyde Arms and part of Hyde Road to the left. Maintained to a good standard by Mitchell's and Butler's, the Hyde Arms is looking very tidy in this photograph. The ground floor had benefited from the addition of faience tiles, a feature probably applied during the inter-war years. There is a record of property improvements in 1935 so this feature was possibly included with that work. The corner doorway of the Hyde Arms was used for access to the main bar. Featuring a little boy just poking his head around the corner, the centre door fronting Clark Street was the entrance to the pub's outdoor. Also fronting Clark Street, the door to the right allowed access to the smoke room. There is also a door fronting Hyde Road and the pub did in fact have another address in this thoroughfare. The Cape Hill brewery used some sort of material to cover the corner on the first floor but this seems to have had large lettering in the past. Even when zooming in on the original photograph, I cannot determine what this was - maybe it boasted of the pub's homebrewed ales of the past.
As can be seen from the extract of Archibald Fullarton's map of Birmingham published in 1866, Hyde Road formed part of a later infill development. From the front doorstep of the Herefordshire House, Titus Griffin would have identified a corner location on the opposite side of Clark Street as a good opportunity to expand the business. He probably also wished to own the freehold of his pub rather than paying £21 per annum to the leaseholder of the Herefordshire House. He applied for a licence for the corner building in October 1870 when his solicitor told the magistrates that his existing "premises were so small that he wished to transfer his business to more roomy premises." Titus Griffin quickly established the Hyde Arms as a respectable and well-regarded establishment. The local Liberal Party held a meeting of the supporters of Mr. S. Tonks in September 1873 when choosing a candidate for the elections in the Rotton Park ward.
I have included a close-up of the shop next to the Hyde Arms, a property that was once bundled with the public house. Owners of the Hyde Arms also held the freehold of some of the neighbouring properties. Mitchell's and Butler's were the owners of the retail outlet when Birmingham Corporation purchased the property in 1952.
Photographed around six years earlier, the shop can be seen here with lots of enamel advertising screwed to the brickwork. These are sought-after items of advertising memorabilia these days. This shop had enamel signs for Lyon's Tea, Colman's Starch, Nestle's Milk and Sanpic. Three women are having a natter in front of the shop - I assume that the woman leaning up against the wall of the entry is the shopkeeper. The blur is the movement of a child during the slow shutter speed used by the photographer. A trade directory published in 1945 records Mrs. Agnes E. Powell as the shopkeeper and newsagent at No.78 Hyde Road. She lived on her own at the shop, though before the war she was with her husband John who worked in a local factory. The other women could be Jane Simpson or Kathleen Jones who both lived in a court beind No.76 Hyde Road. Other local houses were occupied by Irene Lambert, Beatrice Coley and Ada Bennett.
Much as it is nice to see the old shop, my eyes are drawn to the first floor doors above the yard entrance between the pub and the shop. This was possibly the loading point for malt and hops used in the brewery that once served the Hyde Arms. At the time of this photograph Harry Pitty was the licensee of the Hyde Arms. The son of a railway clerk, the publican was born in Ardwick at Manchester in 1897. The family had moved to Leicester by the year he started work at the age of 14. His first job was running as a printer's errand boy. He married Gladys May Meads in 1924. At the outbreak of World War Two the couple were running the Lord Byron in Gravel Street at Leicester. Harry and Gladys kept the Hyde Arms until Harry's death in 1959. Gladys later moved back to Leicester where she died ten years later.
But back to the 19th century .... The Griffin family remained at the Hyde Arms until late 1882 when they moved to the White Swan in Grosvenor Street West. Titus died in 1885 aged 64. Son Charles Griffin later moved to the Victoria Inn at Guest Street, a fully licensed house that he kept with his wife Kate. His mother Eliza also moved to the Victoria Inn where no doubt she helped to bring her long experience in the trade. She died in 1896. Charles lived only another five years himself and died in 1901.
The licence for the Hyde Arms was transferred to John Morgan on December 7th 1882 at a Special Licensing Session held at the Public Office in Moor Street. John Morgan almost certainly signed a long lease for the Hyde Arms because there was the consideration of the freehold ground rent and the reversion-in-fee. This was held by William Middlemore who owned a large estate and a considerable number of properties around Birmingham. It was following his death that the freehold ground rent of the Hyde Arms and Nos.68-74, along with four houses at the rear, were offered at auction in 1887. The combined rent on the land produced about £180 per annum.
Licensed victualler John Morgan was born in Llanfihangel in Radnorshire around 1827. He had earlier worked as a locomotive engine stoker when living next to the Ship Tavern in Ledsam Street. By the 1870s he had moved to Duddeston with his wife Mary who hailed from Brigstock in Northamptonshire. By this time John Morgan had worked his way up to the position of engine driver. The census of 1891 records John Morgan as a widower; he was running the Hyde Arms with his daughter Catherine. The Morgan's employed a barmaid and two general servants.
Ownership of the lease for the Hyde Arms passed to Thomas Morgan of the Barrow Arms in Barrow-in-Furness but was acquired by Mitchell's and Butler's on February 27th 1902. The Cape Hill brewery paid the sum of £5,500.0s.0d. with a freehold reversion later paid to Holder's Brewery, suggesting that the house was once being supplied with ales from the Midland Brewery. The purchase made by Mitchell's and Butler's in 1902 included ten other properties that were rented out by the brewery. More commonly known as let-offs, these included Nos. 68-78 Hyde Road. M&B installed Arthur Edge as manager of the Hyde Arms. He had been a long-serving employee of Henry Mitchell & Co. before the company's merger with William Butler's Crown Brewery. Arthur Edge had previously managed the ill-fated Queen's Head in Steelhouse Lane before a spell at the Anchor Inn on Islington Row. He was a well-known Birmingham Freemason and once held the post of Master of the Lodge of Freedom No.3,914. In his retirement years he lived at Poplar Avenue in Edgbaston where he died in May 1925. There was a very large gathering for his funeral at Key Hill where the chief mourner was his daughter Miss Arlene Edge.
Frederick Powis was the licensee from the early Edwardian period until just after the First World War. A former steam engine maker, he was the son of William and Catherine Powis who once kept the Heath Street Tavern at Winson Green. Following Frederick's death in 1919, Elizabeth Powis succeeded him as licensee of the Hyde Arms.
Alexander and Matilda Binger kept the Hyde Arms for during the 1920s. Alexander's father, Frederick Binger, was born in Poltava in the Ukraine. I suspect that he worked on the railways but I am not sure. When moving to Birmingham he worked as an engineer. Alexander married Matilda Tyrrell at Aston in July 1915. Born in Old Hill in the Black Country, she had worked as a bar maid at the Earl Grey on the Pershore Road. Alexander served in the Royal Engineers during World War One. The couple briefly lived at Mays Lane at Alcester Lane's End before taking over at the Hyde Arms. Alexander died in 1927 after which Matilda moved to Saltley where she kept an off licence in Malthouse Lane.
Frank Sweatman succeeded Alexander Binger as licensee of the Hyde Arms. The West Bromwich-born publican married Eliza Turner in July 1911. The couple kept the Hyde Arms for twelve years before they moved to Alston Street. Relief manager Alfred Niblett held the fort briefly before the long period of the aforementioned Harry Pitty was ushered in. He was the gaffer during the Second World War. Taking over as manager in November 1939, he kept the pub with his wife Gladys and remained at the helm until his death in 1959. If anyone has any memories of this long-serving couple then please get in touch. Having seen the trade figures for this house, it is clear that Harry knew how to run a pub. When he took as manager the Hyde Arms was selling less than 500 barrels of beer per annum. However, in 1942 and despite the fact that there was a war on, he sold 825 barrels of beer - a dramatic increase in trade.
The Hyde Arms had quite a number of games, sports and social events. Before the Second World War, the pub fared well in the Edgbaston and Ladywood Domino League. In January 1939 the pub was sitting on top of the league table. During the Edwardian period, W. King represented the Hyde Arms and finished runner-up in a competition staged by the National Air Rifle Association. The pub fielded a team in the Ladywood Bowling League in which they competed against the Reservoir Tavern, Nag's Head, Acorn, Mitre Inn and What Cheer. There was also a Hyde Arms Angling Society that competed around the Midlands. In June 1907 they held their annual fishing contest at Upton-on-Severn.
On May 24th 1944 an application was made to Birmingham City Council for the registration of "The Hyde Arms [Smoke Room] Forces Fund," the aim of which was to raise funds by customers for those in the forces and prisoners-of-war. The administrative centre for this was in the smoke room of the Hyde Arms with Mr. G. Bradshaw being the Honorary Secretary. One man who was a returned prisoner-of-war was Arthur Harper, an employee at Dennison Watch Case Company at Handsworth, who received a reception at the Hyde Arms in November 1943.
Subsequent licensees probably found that Harry Pitty was a tough act to follow. A number of them came and went in quick succession. The local regulars probably moaned that they couldn't keep the beer as well or the bon viveur was not as good. Some lasted a year, others even less. At the time of the photograph taken in August 1961 the name above the door was John William Brain who did at least remain for three years.
When taking a photograph of the Hyde Arms, many photographers may have waited for a 'clear' shot but it is to the credit of this particular photographer that he captured some of the people of the neighbourhood and it makes for a more interesting image. The photograph was taken during the school holidays so there are plenty of urchins messing around in front of the Hyde Arms. Clutching a young child, a woman is stood on the corner in her slippers. I wonder if she was the wife of the publican? And what is that on the face of the boy sat on the step#63; Is it a face-painted mask or some sort of medical application? Perhaps somebody out there recognises some of the people featured in this photograph - or perhaps YOU are in the photograph yourself as you read this! Please share any memories or stories you may have.
I have zoomed in on this saloon car and displayed it for fans of old metal. Parked outside the Hyde Arms, registration number YOX 997 was a Ford Consul and it looks in great condition in this image. Mind you, it was only a few years old! There is a badge for the RAC screwed to the radiator grille. The driver of what looks a bit like a gangster's set of wheels is possibly having a drink in the Hyde Arms.
The writing was on the wall for the Hyde Arms in December 1967 when the Birmingham Daily Post reported that the death-knell had been sounded for 12 of Birmingham's older public houses" with buildings in Nechells Green, Newtown, Lee Bank and Ladywood to be demolished. The newspaper remarked that "it will be farewell to the Adelaide Arms in Vauxhall Road, the White Hart in Nechells Park Road, the Woolpack, the Cross Guns in Summer Lane, the Crown Inn at Villa Street and the Manor Tavern in Clifford Street. The others are the Acorn in Wheeler Street, the Nag's Head in Monument Road, the Hyde Arms in Clark Street. the Glassblowers' Arms in Icknield Port Road and the Bowling Green in Holloway Head.
The last licensee of the Hyde Arms was Joseph McCullough when the house closed on November 3rd 1968.
I have zoomed in to show two cheeky boys in front of the Hyde Arms. One of the boys seems to be shouting at the photographer whilst two dogs are play-fighting on the pavement. Again, if somebody out there recognises the people featured in this photograph please share any memories or stories you may have. I have uploaded another segment of the photograph below.
Related Newspaper Articles
"The sons, daughters and relatives of the late John Hartland, of Beach Street, Ladywood, wish to thank the manager, staff and employees of
Rotton Park Salvage Department, friends and neighbours and managements and customers of the Hyde Arms and Stour Valley for kindness shown in their sad loss."
Birmingham Mail : February 5th 1941 Page 1
"The family of the late Alfred Luckman thank relatives, friends, neighbours, customers and the Hyde Arms for their sympathy and floral
tributes in their sad loss."
Birmingham Mail : September 26th 1944 Page 2
Licensees of the Herefordshire House
1856 - Francis Reece
1858 - Mr. Williams
1870 - Titus Griffin
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.
Licensees of the Hyde Arms
1870 - 1882 Titus Griffin
1882 - 1902 John Morgan
1902 - Arthur Wade Edge
1904 - Walter James Keesey
1905 - 1919 Frederick George Powis
1920 - 1922 Mrs. Elizabeth Powis
1922 - 1927 Alexander Frederick Binger
1927 - 1939 Frank Thomas Sweatman
1939 - 1939 Alfred O. Niblett
1939 - 1959 Harry Pitty
1959 - 1960 Lawrence Henry Ferris
1960 - 1960 Douglas Brian Cope
1960 - 1961 John Kendall Cook
1961 - 1964 John William Brain
1964 - 1964 Ronald Stevens
1964 - 1966 Daniel Patrick Hanlon
1966 - 1967 Herbert Arthur Leeson
1967 - 1968 John David Hopley
1968 - Joseph Patrick McCullough
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub. Between 1902 and 1927 the dates are taken from trade directories etc. The inter-war and post-war list is, however, completely accurate having been transcribed from licensing records and M&B property files.
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.