Some history of the Adderley Arms on High Street Saltley at Birmingham in Warwickshire

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The Adderley Arms stood on the northern side of High Street Saltley, a few metres from the junction of Metropolitan Street. Well, that is the Adderley Arms pictured on this page. The location of the original tavern may have been in a slightly different place. It was an old licensed house dating back to at least 1801 when Samuel Standley was the publican. He died at the age of 85 in January 1835.

Birmingham : Adderley Arms on High Street Saltley [c.1908]

The Adderley Arms was built on land owned by the Adderley family. Charles Adderley, who would later become the first Lord Norton, owned much of Duddeston and Vauxhall. It was here that he donated the land for Birmingham's first public park in August 1856. The ancestral home of the Adderley family was Hams Hall near Coleshill. The first Charles Adderley, an equerry to King Charles I, bought the original hall. Following a major fire in 1890, the hall was demolished and rebuilt in the village of Coates in Gloucestershire at the whim of the shipping magnate, Oswald Harrison.

The Adderley Arms would become a Mitchell's and Butler's house in later years. Before the two breweries merged, the lease of the property was acquired from Lord Norton and Edward Wigginton in March 1891. The Cape Hill brewery eventually acquired the freehold by paying £2,500 to Lord Norton in September 1925.

Birmingham : Poor Relief Fund Volunteers outside the Adderley Arms on High Street Saltley [c.1913]

This photograph was taken around 1908 when Robert East was the licensee. He was mine host in the latter half of the Edwardian period. Measuring 6ft 1½ inches, he was a fairly big bloke weighing over 91kg, and had formerly served in the Coldstream Guards before marrying widow Emma Fowler at St. Cuthbert's Church in 1901. She was running an ironmonger's shop on Summer Row with her father William Murray. A busy house, Robert and Emma East had two servants to help keep the Adderley Arms ticking over.

Emma East had three children from her previous marriage and had three more with Robert East. Odd therefore that, at the age of 38, the publican signed up for active service in September 1914. I cannot imagine that he was still serving with the colours as a reservist from his time in the army during the 19th century. So, leaving Emma to run the Adderley Arms and bring up six children, off he went to war. After being injured he left hospital and served in Egypt with the Military Police. On his return to England in July 1919 he had to move to a new address because, in 1917, Emma East had moved from the Adderley Arms to the Golden Lion in Lionel Street. The couple remained in the licensed trade, moving a couple of times during the 1920s. In 1930 Robert and Emma East were running the Clarendon Arms on Upper Webster Street.

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Birmingham : Volunteers collecting for a Strike Fund outside the Adderley Arms on High Street Saltley [c.1913]

Birmingham : Distress Committee Members and Volunteers during the Metropolitan Works Strike outside the Adderley Arms on High Street Saltley [c.1913]

Many thanks to Clare Wichbold MBE, a writer, researcher and fundraiser, who has written a book featuring Reverend George Davis of Saltley where his wife Ethel was a suffragette. She suggests that the above images are of volunteers collecting for the poor relief fund in which Ethel Davis was actively involved. Some of the women are holding collection boxes. Note that it is ONLY women holding the boxes. From a couple of reports I have looked at, it would seem that the Saltley Distress Fund held their meetings at the Adderley Arms Inn, the secretary of which was James William Bee in 1913. Hailing from Lincolnshire and living with his family at Nansen Road, he worked for the Corporation on the tramways. He later became a stationer with premises at Nos.1-3 Gowan Road, not too far from the Adderley Arms. Although I have the original photograph I cannot quite make out the lettering on the boxes. I think they may be for a strike fund at the Wagon Works but I am not 100% on the lettering. There had been some industrial disputes over wages at the works in February 1906. However, I suspect that this photograph may have been captured in 1913, a time when the people of Saltley were suffering extreme hardship during a strike.

The Birmingham Gazette sent a journalist, accompanied by members of the Distress Committee, to see the conditions of the working classes during June 1913. He wrote that "poverty in its most acute form was making life extremely difficult for the families in the immediate vicinity of the Metropolitan Works. He and the committee members found that many households had sold their furniture to pay for rent and food. However, there was reportedly an unwavering resolve amid the community. Difficult decisions were being made by the committee who had turned away some applicants for bread, soup and groceries - there was seemingly not enough for every household. Not all of the men out of work were members of trade unions and, consequently, received no financial support. Some Union members did share some of their strike allowance. When visiting Devon Street and Great Brook Street, the journalist found several families sharing the same house to lessen their expense. The Distress Committee raised money from appeals and collections in order to distribute help to the community. It was reported that the Adderley Arms Musical Society had donated £5. 5s. collected from a series of concerts in July 1913. The treasurer of the committee at this time was Robert East, licensee of the Adderley Arms.

Birmingham : Destruction of the Adderley Arms following bombing at Saltley [1941]

The Adderley Arms was destroyed by enemy action on the night of 16th/17th May 1941. German bombers targetted Metropolitan-Cammell and the Wolseley plant but on that evening three incediary bombs landed on or close to the High Street causing the total destruction of the Adderley Arms.

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Licensees of the Adderley Arms

1801 - Samuel Standley
1827 - John Grimley
1835 - Henry Brown
1868 - Henry Brown
1872 - Mary Ann Brown
1890 - Edward Wigginton
1904 - Henry Helms
1908 - Robert Edward East
1914 - Emma East
1917 - George Stockley
1930 - Frederick Arthur Slater
1940 - William Thomas Peakman
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.


"Henry Brown snr. was my gggggrandfather - his daughter Sarah was transported to Tasmania when she was 17 for receiving stolen goods. She was the eldest child and Henry jnr. and Mary Ann were her siblings. She married Charles Kerslake in Launceston Tasmania in 1844. Interesting to note that a number of her children and grandchildren became publicans in Tasmania.

Helen Watling, Tasmania

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Related Newspaper Articles

"Dr. Wynter, coroner for Central Warwickshire, held an inquest at the Adderley Arms, Saltley, yesterday, on the body of Harriet Fell [53], wife of Mr. Thomas Philip Fell, landlord of the Angel Hotel, Stratford Road. Sparkbrook. On Sunday morning last Mr. Fell and the deceased went for a drive in a phaeton to Whitacre, to visit some friends. They remained to dinner and tea, and started for home at seven o'clock. All went well until they were about a mile from the Bradford Arms, on the Castle Bromwich Road, where one of the pins of the trace worked itself out. The pony became restive, and took fright. Mr. Fell did all in his power bring the animal to a standstill; but his efforts were futile, and his wife, becoming alarmed, jumped out of the vehicle into the road, sustaining fatal injuries. The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."
"The Fatal Trap Accident"
Birmingham Daily Post : May 1st 1889 Page 7

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