History of the Queen's Head on Gooch Street in Birmingham in the county of Warwickshire.


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Some history of the Queen's Head

The Queen's Head stood on the western side of Gooch Street and was a few doors down from the junction of Wrentham Street. The address was originally at No.41 but, following re-numbering of the street, it was changed to No.89. Having said that, a trade directory dated 1854 lists Michael O'Hare as a beer retailer at No.40. Interestingly, the Cheshire-born builder John Ravenscroft was listed at No.41 and the Queen's Head would later be kept by his brother. The trade directory was out-of-date by the time of publication as a rate book compiled in 1853 has the name of Michael O'Hare crossed out and the name of Francis Mayfield inserted.

Birmingham : Extract from Gooch Estate Plan showing the Queen's Head on Gooch Street in Highgate [1875]

These were the earliest occupiers of the building which had been recently erected. The 1853 rate book details a house, brewhouse, malt room and premises, suggesting that the Queen's Head sold homebrewed ales from the outset.

George Ravenscroft is listed at No.41 Gooch Street in White's trade directory published in 1855. Four years previously, as a widower, he had previously lived in Lease Lane with his young daughter Betsey. By the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Tims in January 1853 the builder was a resident of Pershore Street. In 1868 George Ravenscroft suffered the loss of his young daughter. She may have been sick for some time as the builder-publican donated money to the Queen's Hospital in the mid-1860s.

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George Ravenscroft may have held the licence of the Queen's Head during the 1860s but he seemed to concentrate on his activities as a builder. This was a period in which vast numbers of properties were erected and there was good money to be made in the construction business. He was one of around fifty master builders of Birmingham to agree and sign up to the trade rules drawn up for labourers and bricklayers in 1865. Around this time he was employing 8 men in his business. He also employed a retail brewer. This was probably James Starr who was lodging in the neighbouring property. The Queen's Head was being run by his wife Elizabeth and two teenage daughters.

The status of the Queen's Head was upgraded by George Ravenscroft when the former beer house was granted a full licence. The builder also owned the property, along with a cluster of cottages erected on the plot which were listed at No.41½. These properties can be seen on the Gooch Estate plan on which the plot is shaded in yellow. The tailor John Jones traded from here in the early 1870s.

I am not sure how many other public-houses were owned by George Ravenscroft. However, he certainly rented out the Lion Inn on Sherborne Road at Balsall Heath to John Pardoe. He died at Gooch Street in April 1879. His success as a builder can be measured by his estate which amounted to almost £14,000, a considerable sum in the late 1870s. His son John had followed in his footsteps as a builder but George Jr. studied architecture.

John Ravenscroft remained on part of the premises which contained an office and builder's yard. James Crosswell was brought in to run the Queen's Head. Born in Witney in Oxfordshire, he had grown up in The Plough & Shuttle kept by his parents James and Priscilla. He would later move to the Royal Oak Hotel at Dudley Port where he died in 1891.

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The licence of the Queen's Head was transferred to Elizabeth Holt on April 3rd 1890. I believe she may have been a tenant of Mann, Crossman & Paulin Ltd., a London company that built the Albion Brewery at Shobnall near Burton-on-Trent. Whatever, the Queen's Head was controlled by the Holt Brewery Company within a few years.

Walter Powell may have been the last owner-publican of the Queen's Head though the beers sold at the house were still supplied by the Holt Brewery Company. By the Edwardian period the brewery were recorded as owners of the property. Running the public-house for Holt's was Harry and Rose Dickens.

There was a high turnover of publicans during the early years of the 20th century. It was not until Charles Marsh took over the pub that things settled down somewhat. He remained at the helm until the pub was closed in the mid-1920s.

Licensees of this pub

1853 - Michael O'Hare
1855 - George Ravenscroft
1880 - James Robert Crosswell
1889 - George Henry Reece
1890 - Elizabeth Holt
1892 - Charles Johnson
1893 - Alexandria McGregor
1894 - Walter Powell
1896 - Charles Cyril Naden
1897 - William Henry Wood
1898 - Mrs. Emily Waldron
1899 - Harry Dickens
1903 - Thomas Coley
1906 - George Williams
1907 - William Downes
1909 - Isaac William Lunn
1910 - William Burnett
1912 - Edward Howell Owen
1913 - Charles Marsh
1926 - Charles Marsh
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

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Genealogy Connections

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