History of the Hare and Hounds at Marsh Hill in Erdington in Birmingham in the county of Warwickshire.


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Some history of the Hare and Hounds

The Hare and Hounds, an inter-war building that stood on Marsh Hill, close to the junction of Ivyfield Road, was demolished in 2017. Many folks, even local residents, may have presumed it was a contemporary pub built for what was a developing suburban area which, in part, is true. However, the pub replaced a much older Hare and Hounds serving the inhabitants of Upper Witton and some passing trade that used the old road to Sutton Coldfield during the 19th century.

Birmingham : The Hare and Hounds on Marsh Hill at Erdington [2013]

The name of the main road here provides a clue to the drainage around the valley, along which the brook flowed into the River Tame. In the early 18th century Witton had more than twenty farms and this serves to illustrate the rural character of the locality in former times. Witton Hall, a building erected around 1730 stands a short distance to the south of where the old pub was located. The boggy ground would have facilitated an excellent moat around this old manor house but no such earthworks was dug out. The three-storey red-house is thought to have been built by William Allestree of Yardley. It became a private school in the mid-19th century and later converted into a home for the elderly by the Aston Board of Guardians.

The river was a source of power for mills and there was some early industry. Indeed, Joseph Kesterman, an early publican of the Hare and Hounds, had worked as a roller in one of the mills. However, it was the Cutler family that kept the Hare and Hounds for much of the Victorian era. Linneus Cutler, or Linnaeus Cutler in some records, was born in 1810 at Halesowen. He married Harriet Day at Saint Mary's Church at Handsworth in April 1832. The couple were running the Hare and Hounds by 1850. Linnaeus Cutler was a prominent figure in the locality, having been appointed as headborough for Witton at the Court Leet held in August 1842.

Linnaeus Cutler engaged his nephew Charles as a brewer so the pub once sold homebrewed ales during his tenure. He and his wife Harriet built up trade and were able to employ two servants at the Hare and Hounds which later had inn status. Linnaeus also developed another business as a market gardener. He died in July 1875 and Harriet continued as publican of the Hare and Hounds Inn. She was still serving homebrewed ales, these being produced by her nephew Thomas.

Jeremiah and Linnaeus, the two sons of Linnaeus and Harriet Cutler became publicans themselves. Jeremiah briefly held the licence of the Hare and Hounds Inn before moving the short distance to the Golden Cross at Short Heath. Linnaeus meanwhile was at the Greyhound Inn before taking over at the Irish Harp at Mill Green, Aldridge where he was also a farmer. Following the death of Harriet Cutler in 1889, the family dynasty continued as Emma Cutler became the licensee of the Hare and Hounds Inn. She was succeeded by her son George.

The farming tradition of the Hare and Hounds Inn was continued in the Edwardian period by Frank Moore who combined his agricultural business with that of publican. He kept the Hare and Hounds Inn with his wife Louisa. The couple's daughter Dorothy helped in the pub and they employed William Butler as a gardener, suggesting that, like the Cutler family, it was a market gardening enterprise conducted here at Marsh Hill. I am not certain but I think this Dolly Moore may have appeared regularly at the Gaiety Theatre as a male impersonator.

The farming link was probably broken before the First World War when Henry Melhuish took over the licence. Having said that, he and his second wife Elizabeth were used to a pub surrounded by farmland as they had previously kept Ye Olde Barley Mow at Ward End. So, Henry and Elizabeth were involved in two pubs that were demolished and rebuilt as Birmingham spread outwards to consume former rural areas. Henry and Elizabeth clearly liked their new location and remained at the Hare and Hounds until the early 1930s. Elizabeth died in March 1932 by which time Henry, who had been involved with a number of pubs over his career, hung up his apron for the final time. However, together with his daughter Marion, he was recorded as a wine and spirits merchant at Gravelly Lane.

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Henry and Elizabeth Melhuish were running the Hare and Hounds when a new branch of the British Legion based their headquarters at the pub. It was in June 1926 that No.1 Brookvale branch was formally opened at the Hare and Hounds by locally-born Alfred Wilcox. Serving as a Lance Corporal in the 2/4th Battalion, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, he led an attack on several enemy gun placements during an offensive in September 1918 near Laventie in France. Using German weapons that he picked up on his mission into enemy trenches, he destroyed four gun positions, an action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

In the early 1930s Charles and Dorothy Maybury took over at the helm of the Hare and Hounds. The couple had earlier run the London Tavern on Saltley High Street. Charles Maybury had grown up in pubs for his parents, William and Sarah, kept the Roebuck in Old Meeting Street at West Bromwich, along with the Great Western in Chapel Street at Carter's Green. Along with Dorothy, he would move back to West Bromwich in 1936 to take over the New Inn on Newton Road. Many years later, in 1961, the couple moved to the Wharf Inn on the Stratford Road at Hockley Heath. In November 1963 Charles Maybury was found dead with a shotgun by his side. Solihull police issued a statement in which they said they were were satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. He was found at the foot of a flight of stairs in the living quarters of the Wharf Inn. She also found, by his side, a discharged 12-bore shotgun which had been fired only shortly before.

I am not sure what date the Hare and Hound was rebuilt by Ansell's Brewery Ltd. However, at a special sessions of the Birmingham licensing justices, held in September 1934, plans for alterations of the Hare and Hounds were presented for their consideration, along with those for the Rose and Crown on Gravelly Lane and the Horse Shoe on Stratford Road at Hall Green. However, in all three cases the decision was adjourned until the transfer sessions.

Charles Maybury was succeeded at the Hare and Hounds by Henry Stokes who kept the pub with his wife Gladys. The couple had previously run The Dog on Alcester Street and The Glebe at Stechford.

In 1977 the Hare and Hounds was one of the public houses involved in a major transfer deal that followed a Government report. In total 437 pubs were 'swapped' following a Monopolies Commission report in 1970 which claimed that breweries had too much of a stranglehold in certain towns and cities. This deal involved Ansell's, owned by Allied Breweries, Mitchell's and Butler's, owned by Bass Charrington, and Courage. Under the deal, which involved no money, Courage were to get its first real foothold in the Midlands whilst Ansell's and Mitchell's and Butler's would increase their public house holdings in Bristol, Avon, Thames Valley and the Chilterns. The deal, which was due to take until April 1978, saw Courage taking over 90 Allied houses and 78 from Bass Charrington. Bass took over 91 Courage and 73 Ansell's pubs, whilst Ansell's would take control of 91 Courage and 44 Bass public houses. Tenants and managers were given the opportunity to stay at their pubs under new terms or change to another house within their respective brewery. Alternatively, they could opt for voluntary redundancy. As for customers, it was claimed that patrons could either enjoy a new tipple in their local or make a short trip to another house to stick with their favourite beer. Along with the nearby Yew Tree Inn on Brookvale Road, Ansell's relinquished the Hare and Hounds to Courage.

Of course, this exchange would have long-term implications for the Hare and Hounds. In other takeovers and sales, the property was subsequently transferred to Grand Metropolitan Estates Ltd., Inntrepreneur Estates Ltd. and Chrysalis Taverns.

Ansell's Newcrest Stout

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Licensees of this pub

1845 - Joseph Kesterman
1850 - Linneus Cutler
1875 - Mrs. Harriet Cutler
1894 - Mrs. Emma Cutler
1895 - George Cutler
1901 - Frank Moore
1911 - Frank Moore
1913 - Henry James Melhuish
1932 - Charles Austin Maybury
1936 - 1947 Henry William Stokes
1947 - 1957 Albert Mason
1957 - 1958 Victor John Lee
1958 - 1965 William Henry Lee
1965 - 1968 Daniel Hadyn Lane
1968 - 1970 John Peter Lowe
1970 - 1972 Patrick Joseph Shorthall
1972 - 1974 Michael Joseph O'Mull
1974 - 1978 Thomas Kearney
1978 - 1980 James Joseph Gilmagh
1980 - 1982 Ian Baxter
1982 - 1993 Brian Wellsbury
1993 - 1994 Lynne Sanders
1994 - 1995 Phillip George Bright
1995 - 1996 Roy Kenneth Lloyd
1996 - 1997 Christopher Donald Lloyd
1997 - 1997 Colin Peter Head
1997 - 1999 Mark Lloyd Conway
1999 - 2000 Stephen Robert Hughes
2000 - 2001 David Sloan
2001 - 2002 Selwyn Frederick Cooke
2002 - 2002 Alvin Mighty
2002 - Hugh Jeffers
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

Ansell's - The Better Beer


Map showing the location of the Hare and Hounds at Marsh Hill in Erdington [1888]

This map extract from 1902 shows the location of the Hare and Hounds at Upper Witton. Just off the map extract to the south is Witton Hall. Other notable buildings were The Grove farmhouse, Brook Farm and Laburnum Lodge.

Genealogy Connections

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Related Newspaper Articles

"About one o'clock on Thursday, information was received at the Police Station that a man was drowned in the New Canal, at Witton. On the constable proceeding there, he found the body had been got out, and was taken to the Hare and Hounds public house, Witton. The deceased was named Breedon, and has for some time been employed by Mr. J. Short, farmer, Witton, as milk salesman. He was formerly well-known to the sporting men of Birmingham from his having ridden the celebrated trotting mare of Mr. Taylor's in her various matches. An inquest was held on the body last evening, and a verdict of "Found Drowned" was returned."
"Death by Drowning at Witton"
Birmingham Journal : May 27th 1848 Page 8

"An Inquest was held yesterday afternoon, before the Borough Coroner, at the Grand Turk, Ludgate Hill, on the body of Patrick Gerraghty, twenty-five years of age, farm labourer, Great Barr. On Monday morning, the deceased, with eight other Irishmen, went to the Hare and Hounds, at Witton, to get their dinner. They drove in a cart, and after staying a short time, during which they consumed about fourteen quarts of ale, started back to their work. They drove at a rapid pace, and in going round a corner overturned the cart, throwing all the men out. The deceased fell on the ground, the cart resting upon him, and when he was released he was quite insensible. Three of the others were hurt, but not seriously. He was placed in the cart for the purpose of being conveyed to the General Hospital, but died before he reached that institution. Verdict : "Accidental death."
"Fatal Accident at Great Barr"
Birmingham Daily Post : August 24th 1864 Page 2

"Before Mr. S. Rawlins, at the Aston Police Court, on Wednesday, Charles Hemming, Henry Walker, and William Ball were charged with prize fighting. Mr. Hemmant defended Hemming and Walker, who, it will be remembered, were brought up at Erdington on the previous Wednesday and remanded until yesterday, in order that Charles Ball, one of the principals in the fight, might be apprehended. William Ball, his father, was now charged with the other prisoners, but his son had not been apprehended. On Sunday morning, Mr. T. B. Smith, of Saltley, saw a crowd of several hundred persons in the Nine Fields, and going there, found a ring formed, and Walker and the younger Ball stripped and fighting. Mr. Smith sent for the police, but before their arrival saw the two men fight eight rounds. The defendant Ball was assisting his son, wiping his face between the rounds, and "egging" on. The crowd dispersed on the arrival of the police, of which they were informed by a man stationed on the bridge. Mr. Smith heard several men in the crowd threaten to stone the police, and he saw some stones picked up, but, so far as he could see, none were thrown. In the afternoon the men met again in Slade Lane, Gravelly Hill, a ring formed, and the men stripped. Police Sergeant and Police Constables Gascoigne and Simmons went to the place, and saw Hemming leaving the lane, and helping Walker on with his coat. The elder Ball was also with them. The officers followed the defendants to the Hare and Hounds Inn, Witton, where Walker and Hemming were apprehended. Walker did not deny that he had been fighting, and Hemming admitted having "been fetched out of the house to second Walker." Stones were thrown at the police, and Simmons was cut on the head and the face. The defence was reserved, the defendants being committed to the Sessions, Mr. Rawlins remarking that it was a most disgraceful scene; and, as these fights were becoming very frequent in the neighbourhood, the police were determined to put a stop to them, and the Magistracy would support the police. The defendants were admitted to bail"
"Prize Fighting Nuisance at Aston."
Birmingham Journal : October 27th 1866

"At the Aston Police Court, yesterday - before Messrs, Avery and Baker - James Maloney, labourer, Moland Street, Birmingham, was charged, on remand, with stabbing Police Constable Hatwell with a knife, at Witton, on the 15th June. Hatwell deposed that on Sunday evening, the 15th June, he was on duty in Marsh Lane, Erdington. He was passing the Hare and Hounds public-house, when he saw Maloney drunk outside. He came to witness, and asked him to go into the house and drink. This he refused to do, and thereupon prisoner went back into the house. After the lapse of about five minutes, he came out again in company with five men and a woman, one of whom went towards Stockland Green, the others in the direction of Witton. When they had gone about fifty yards, hearing that they were using abusive language, he went up to them, and requested them to go home quietly. When they were near the Witton Cemetery prisoner was still using abusive language, and witness was about to arrest him, when he wheeled round and struck witness a blow under the ear with a knife which he had in his hand, causing a wouind which bled profusely. Witness then closed with him and threw prisoner down, but he was rescued by one of his companions. Prisoner then struck witness several other blows with the knife on the side of his coat, but none of these inflicted a wound. Witness, however, was struck in the mouth with a knife, and his lip cut through. Prisoner was on top of him, but with an effort he succeeded in regaining his feet and endeavoured to handcuff his assailant when he perceived that he had a knife in his hand. Two young men who were near came to his assistance. Prisoner called to his friends not to allow the officer to take him. The female thereupon commenced to beat witness about the head with her umbrella. Whilst this was going on one of Maloney's companions pulled witness backwards, and he was thrown to the ground. Prisoner then knelt over him, and threatened to gouge his eyes out. In his attempt to carry out the threat prisoner scratched witness severely about the face and forehead. In the struggle the prisoner bit the officer's ear. He was also kicked in the most brutal manner while on the ground, but having succeeded in getting his staff from his pocket witness commenced to strike the prisoner on the ankle. On regaining his feet Hatwell's staff was taken from him, and he was beaten in the mouth with it. Witness subsequently got possession of his staff, and was striking prisoner with it when he offered to go quietly, and was then locked up. Thomas Burton, carpenter, gave corroborative evidence of the assault, as also did a boy named Whitehouse. Police Constable Brant deposed to finding a clasp knife marked with blood near the scene of the assault. There were marks of a struggle on the ground. Mr. E. Bark, surgeon, said that he saw Police Constable Hatwell after the assault, and found him suffering from an incised punctured wound on the left cheek. His forehead and face were scratched, and the left ear was lacerated. Prisoner, who reserved his defence, was committed for trial at the Assizes.

Frederick Warwick, chimney-sweep, John Street, Birmingham, and Rebecca Chesshire, hinge- maker, Sheep Street, Birmingham, were also charged with assaulting Hatwell, at the same time and place. Warwick was sentenced to six weeks' hard labour, and Chesshire was fined 10s. and costs. Michael Carney, labourer, Perry Barr, was also sentenced to six weeks" hard labour for obstructing Police Constable Hatwell while in the execution of his duty.
"Murderous Assault on Constable at Witton."
Birmingham Daily Post : June 28th 1884 Page 7

"Punters at an Erdington pub have told how they discovered their favourite pub had closed "without warning." The Hare and Hounds public house called last orders less than 24 hours of April Fools' Day. But it is no laughing matter for locals at the public house at the corner of Marsh Hill and Ivyfield Road, which had included 'Britain's worst singer.' Owners of the historic pub have confirmed the building has been sold - with fears it could be bulldozed. One local told the Sutton Coldfield Observer no warnings were given and that the boozer had only been recently been refurbished. It is understood there are now plans to use the site to create a new retirement home, reports the Observer. Local resident Jeanette Spencer, who has lived nearby for 37 years and frequented the pub, said its sudden closure has left a bitter taste among the local community. "Emotions are running very high," she told the Observer. "It seems to have been done so secretly - and suddenly. I have lived close to the pub for many years; it's always been a pub for as long as I've lived here. "There were no signs up saying that the pub was going to close and all the signage has already been taken down. They only refurbished it a few years ago. "It was a great meeting place for families with children, older people and young people. It's such a shame." Arguably the pub's most famous local was Elaine Nicholson who claimed the title of Britain's worst singer in 1982. Now there are concerns the historic pub could be bulldozed to the ground. Stockland Green councillor Penny Holbrook said any plans to change the use of the building or to demolish it would be strongly opposed. "I am really sorry to lose it," she said. "It was a family-friendly place which was at the heart of the community." She added : "I was only made aware of the plans two weeks ago. If we had known earlier of the plans to sell it then we could have tried to save it. It's all been very underhand." Planners are trying to establish if there are plans to demolish the building. "We will strongly object to this or any change of use of the pub. It is important for the area to have leisure facilities - communities are not just made of homes." A spokesperson for the Hare and Hounds pub said : "Following the difficult decision taken to put the Hare and Hounds on the market, we can confirm that the pub has now been sold and it's last day of trading was April 2nd. "The team there have done a fantastic job and we are working with them to find alternative roles within our estate wherever possible."
"Erdington Pub Hare and Hounds Closes Down"
By Helen Draycott in Birmingham Mail : April 7th 2017

Brummagem Boozers

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