Some history of the Warwick Arms on Dudley Road at Winson Green in Birmingham in Warwickshire


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The Warwick Arms was located on the southern side of Dudley Road, the beer house looked across to the old workhouse on the opposite side of the former turnpike road that connected Birmingham and Dudley. Not that patrons of the Warwick Arms witnessed the glory days of this important route because the beer house was not built until the mid-19th century.

Birmingham : Piggot Smith Plan showing the Old Windmill Inn on Dudley Road at Winson Green [1855]

There is nothing like a map for clarifying things. This is a section of a plan by John Piggot Smith for Dudley Road drawn in 1855. On this plan the Old Windmill can be seen opposite the entrance to the Birmingham Union Workhouse. To the west of the Old Windmill Inn there is a single property on what was a relatively isolated position on Birmingham Heath. I suspect that this house was Laurel Cottage which, in 1851, was occupied by the agent Joseph Elliott and his wife Amelia, along with two servants. Joseph Elliott died at his residence in November 1851. Looking at the later map below, it appears that Laurel Cottage would become the Presbytery of St. Patrick's Church. The vacant land between Laurel Cottage and the Old Windmill Inn would be developed with the Victoria Buildings, with one of the properties becoming the Warwick Arms.

Birmingham : Piggot Smith Plan showing the Old Windmill Inn on Dudley Road at Winson Green [1855]

On this map extract dating from 1886 the Victoria Buildings can be seen fronting Dudley Road. The individual properties were numbered 92-104 [all even numbers] with the Warwick Arms being No.96. It is important to note however if you are searching for ancestors in this locality, the numbering was different in earlier years with the Warwick Arms being at No.29. Featuring front gardens, the line of back-to-back houses to the rear formed Willoughby Cottages. Note also that the Old Windmill Inn had a bowling green. Despite the noise of the surrounding factories, this would seem to be a fairly pleasant place to have lived before the growth of heavy industry in the locality.

Birmingham : Interior of Saint Patrick's Church on Dudley Road at Winson Green [c.1910]

The Roman Catholic church shown on the 1886 map extract was an iron building that served the local congregation from 1876 to 1895 when a new building was opened. Dedicated to Saint Patrick, the church was built in the French Gothic style of the 12th century using Birmingham red bricks, Codsall stone with red stone columns. The belfry contained a bell presented by Rear Admiral Arthur Tinklar who, at the time, was Governor of Winson Green Prison. Designed by Messrs. Dempster and Heaton, the church was built by Mr. John Bowen at a cost of around £5,000. Bishop Ilsley laid the foundation stone in May 1894 and the church was opened in October of the following year. It is an attractive building with its gabled entrance fronting Dudley Road. This features moulded brick Gothic decoration, flanked by buttresses and, above, there is a statue of Saint Patrick.

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Businesses within Victoria Buildings were first let on September 29th 1866 and these appeared in a trade directory published in the following year. However, the Warwick Arms was seemingly not listed until 1869. The licensee was Alfred Hill who almost certainly occupied the premises in 1868. The other businesses trading next to the beer house were the haberdasher George Midgely, furniture dealer William Brown, shopkeeper Thomas Lloyd and hairdresser Bestow T. Warden. The button maker Thomas Banks was trading from one of the Willoughby Cottages. These properties were also rented out for the first time during 1866.

Birmingham : Sale Notice for the lease of Willoughby Cottages on Dudley Road at Winson Green [1869]

For some reason the lease for Willoughby Cottages, having run for only three years, was advertised in May 1869. At first glance it would seem like a sensible investment but one wonders why they came back onto the market in such a short space of time. The Warwick Arms also had a very odd start. Alfred Hill left in no time and the licence changed hands several times in no time at all. The house was very small, rather like a 21st century micropub in a retail shop environment, and sold ales bought in from common brewers or wholesalers. Perhaps local residents preferred the homebrewed ales a few doors away at the Old Windmill Inn.

In April 1871 the licence of the Warwick Arms was transferred from John Taylor to Edward Wilson. The Gateshead-born Engine Smith kept the beer house with his wife Sarah who originated further north at Stannington in Northumberland. The family had moved around before taking over the Warwick Arms. They did not settle and when the sub-lease was advertised in the autumn of 1871, only months after they had moved in, it was stated that they were leaving Birmingham. Paying just £50 to take over the premises, the licence of the Warwick Arms was transferred to Henry Pinfield in October 1871.

The Mason family have a strong relationship with the Warwick Arms. Titus Mason was the first of the clan to run the beer house. He was recorded here in the census of 1881 living with his wife Annie and four children - Ada, Henry, Titus and Lily. The couple employed Julia Richards as a general servant so trade must have picked up at the Warwick Arms. However, Titus left the running of the pub to Annie during the day as he also worked as an engine fitter. He was a skilled engineer and prior to taking over this public-house applied for a patent on an "improvement to machinery for the tapping of screw units."

The son of James and Phoebe Mason, Titus was born at nearby Cape Hill, across the county boundary in Smethwick. As part of a large family he grew up in a house next to the Cape of Good Hope Inn, a public-house that his parents would later run. Working as an engine fitter, he married Anne Millward in 1868 and settled in Heath Street, a short distance from the Warwick Arms. He remained as a fitter whilst honing his skills as a publican, influenced no doubt by his parents who were running the Cape of Good Hope Inn.

Mitchells's and Butler's

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Titus and Annie Mason moved to pastures new and handed over the reins of the Warwick Arms to younger brother Octavius. The licence was transferred to him in December 1885. He had formerly worked as a turner in an iron works but he and his wife Elizabeth did a good job of running the pub. The couple remained at the Warwick Arms for the remainder of the 19th century. By the time of King Edward's coronation they had six children living with them on the premises. The pub, by this time, was owned by Mitchell's and Butler's.

Titus Mason and family outside the Waterloo Stores at Smethwick in Staffordshire [c.1904]

After leaving the Warwick Arms, Titus Mason went on to greater things. He spent six years running the Windmill Inn at Smethwick, a Mitchell's house. Titus evidently possessed entrepreneurial flair for he established a very successful soft drinks operation. Mason's Pop became a household name in Birmingham and the Black Country. The business was established at the Waterloo Stores when it was principally an off-licence. When this was demolished and rebuilt by Mitchell's and Butler's, Titus Mason moved to the Wigorn Stores in Bearwood. He died in 1934 but left a lasting legacy. A manufacturing, bottling and wholesale facility was opened in Grantham Road in Smethwick. The business continued until being acquired by Purity in the early 1990s. The old Mason's unit was demolished in 1999 but the name lives on because Purity produce a number of soft drinks under the Mason banner.

Handing over to their son Albert in 1903, Octavius and Elizabeth Mason moved to a house in Dorset Road but Octavius died three years later. His will however reveals that he and his wife had been successful at the Warwick Arms. Son Albert continued to run the Warwick Arms in the family tradition. He and his wife Emily were as popular as their parents and grandparents before them. However, in February 1914 the beer house was one of a long list of boozers that the magistrates wished to make redundant in the pub reforms. When the case for the Warwick Arms was read out by Mr. Willison, the solicitor representing tenant Albert Mason, he pointed out that "the house had been in the Mason family for thirty years, and two of them rejoiced in the names of Titus and Octavius. The present tenant had been there eleven years, his father Octavius was there seventeen, and the father of Octavius - Titus between six and seven. Evidence was given that hot dinners were provided for a large number of customers, and that the West End Angling Society met there." I have transcribed that as it was printed but it should have read brother of Octavius not father. The Warwick Arms survived this legal battle but lost in the following decade. When the Warwick Arms closed as a public house the premises were converted into a shop. In the early 1930s the premises were occupied by the tobacconist Joseph Silver.

Licensees of the Warwick Arms

1868 - Alfred Hill
1870 - 1871 John Taylor
1871 - 1871 Edward Wilson
1871 - Henry Pinfield
1878 - John Bird
1881 - 1885 Titus Mason
1885 - 1903 Octavius Mason
1903 - 1916 Albert Mason
1916 - 1921 Emily Elizabeth Mason
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

Birmingham : Saint Patrick's Church on Dudley Road at Winson Green [2002]

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Related Newspaper Articles

"Thomas Welch [22], bricklayer, 18 Court, 12, Northwood Street; Thomas Finn [24], labourer, no address; James Cain [25], labourer, Ingleby Street; and Michael Cassidy [22], labourer, Ingleby Street, were charged with violently assaulting Police Constable Daniels [57C]. The constable, whose face was a mass of bruises, stated that he entered the Warwick Arms public-house, Dudley Road, on Monday afternoon, and directly afterwards the prisoners followed. Witness was off duty and in plain clothes, but they knew he was a policeman because he heard one of them remark, "That's the bastard who had me." A few minutes later Welch darted at him and struck him in the right eye. With another blow he made his nose bleed, and Finn then joined in the affray, and commenced by blackening witness's left eye. Welch again hit him on the nose, which caused Daniels to stagger through the doorway and into the street. Cain attacked the officer from behind, and did his utmost to drag him to the ground. Welch and Finn continued the assault, and eventually Daniels fell to the ground in an exhausted and semi-conscious condition. He was then kicked severely about the body. Prisoners tried to escape, but they were chased, captured, and handed over to the police. Three or four witnesses gave corroborative evidence, and spoke to Cassidy assisting his companions in the assault. Welch, against whom twenty-one previous convictions were recorded, principally for offences of violence, was sentenced to two months' imprisonment, with hard labour. The Stipendiary remarked that it was the heaviest punishment he could inflict, but it was too lenient, Finn was also sent to gaol for two mouths, and the other two prisoners were fined 20s. and costs; in default, one month's imprisonment, with hard labour."
"Savage Attack Upon a Policeman"
Birmingham Daily Post : August 31st 1887 Page 7

"Elizabeth Mason, landlady of the Warwick Arms, 96, Dudley Road, was summoned under section 126 of the Public Health Act that being in charge of Maria Pearson, a girl who was suffering from smallpox, she exposed her in the public streets without due precaution against the spread of the disorder. Defendant admitted the offence. The prosecution was conducted by Mr. Bell, of the Town Clerk's office, who said Pearson was a girl of 16, who had been employed by the defendant as a servant. On the 14th July she was pronounced by two medical men to be suffering from smallpox, and they gave her a notice addressed to Dr. Hill, at the same time instructing her to tell her mistress she must send her at once to the Infectious Hospital. They also told her that she must remain in her bedroom till she was removed to the hospital. The girl informed her mistress of what the doctors said, but defendant said she should not send her to the hospital, because she had just had her house papered, and would have to get the work done over again if Pearson went to the Infectious Hospital. Defendant paid the girl her wages, and told her to take a tram to Smethwick Junction, and go by train from there to Cradley in order to reach her home at Dudley Wood, Netherton. Evidence in support of the opening statement was given, and a fine of 10s. and costs was imposed."
"Smallpox Abroad"
Birmingham Daily Post : October 21st 1893 Page 7

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