Some history of the Greet Inn on Warwick Road and Manor Farm Road near Tyseley in Birmingham in Warwickshire
I have included the Greet Inn within the Warwick Road section of the website though, technically, the house originally had an address in Manor Farm Road. Mitchell's and Butler's, the brewery that erected the building seen below, listed it under Manor Farm Road within their records.
A bit of etymology .... Greet is derived from Old English greot, or gravel, a reference to the composition of the top layers of soil in this locality. Today, most people gliding across the road bridge spanning the River Cole in their plush SUVs barely give a thought to what an obstacle this presented to waggoners and those hauling goods on a cart in days of old. That Old English name however provided a small clue to the type of crossing at this location. Gravel and stone was much better than squishy mud so the crossing would be relatively easier and there was less risk of getting any wheels stuck. A modest two-arch bridge was erected when the road was turnpiked in the 18th century. To alleviate flooding this was improved in later years.
As can be seen on the map extract above, there was little development here in the late 19th century. Overcrowding in Birmingham, combined with improved transport links, resulted in a rush of development, particularly when Yardley, including Acock's Green, were absorbed into Birmingham in 1911.
Some of the people fled in terror of the Brummie invasion but others saw opportunities and considered it would bring a boost to the local economy. Rows of houses sprung up, largely of artisan dwellings from where skilled labour found work in the local industries that developed. The map shows that the greot, along with clay, was being exploited at two brickworks near Greetmill Bridge, a name evoking the ancient mill that once stood nearby.
The brick works to the left of the map extract was that of the Burbury Brick Company which operated until the clay deposits were exhausted after the Second World War. South of Manor Farm House was the Greet Brick Works which was operated by Herbert Leamon. He lived at the adjacent Greet House with his wife Emma. At the time of the map's publication Highfield House was the residence of John Atkins Parry. Closer to the future site of the Greet Inn, the fish and game dealer Frederick Pope occupied Norland House with his wife Ann.
As for the site of the Greet Inn, the building was erected on the site of Manor Farm House. There was a timber-framed hall here in the 16th century. The moated house and manor was acquired by the Greswolde family who are thought to have rebuilt the property. Around the late 18th century or early 19th century this was replaced by another house which stood until the public-house was erected in the mid-1920s.
As development of the area continued, coupled with pub reform in the centre of Birmingham, it became viable for a large public-house to be constructed near Greet Bridge. Surrendering the licences of four properties, Mitchell's and Butler's were granted permission to construct a new house on the junction of Manor Farm Road. In February 1920 the Cape Hill brewery paid E. S. Lowe the sum of £1,441.10s. for the land only, presumably the remains of any property that stood on the site had little or no value.
Combining neat brick and stone work, a mix-and-match confection with elements of mock-Tudor was constructed on the junction and opened to the public on December 14th, 1923. The Greet Inn had a full licence with a six-day music licence for the assembly room.
The Greet Inn, complete with extensive bowling green, can be seen here four years after it was completed. One of the factories on the opposite bank of the river was that of Brooke Tool Manufacturing Company, a firm based at Highgate that moved out to this site. The oval track in the distance was once used by the Birmingham Motorcycle Club, a hardy bunch who staged motorcycle football, sidecar polo matches, five lap scratch races, surf riding and a Grand National event.
Harry Worth was installed as manager of the Greet Inn. The publican made a splash in the newspapers with his pet, a black-and-tan Alsatian dog that could undertake many of the tasks around the house. The newspaper clipping, published in December 1924, offers a tantalising glimpse of the servery. A rather sketchy photograph but still of considerable historic value.
Harry Worth was only 39 years-old when, whilst holding the licence of the Greet Inn, he died from his injuries when he collided with a Midland Red bus while riding a motorcycle combination just a short distance away near the junction of Colebrook Road in September 1930. At the inquest it was stated that the publican "was going shopping when the accident occurred. The driver of the bus said Worth turned out from behind two stationary vehicles. In taking too wide a sweep on a wet road the publican fouled the points in the tram lines and the collision resulted." The bus driver stated that he was stationary when the Harry Worth hit his off-side panel. The driver added that "when he got his bus into the garage he found three teeth in the panel of the bus." At the inquest the bus driver was exonerated from blame.
Clarence Wilding had the difficult task of taking over from Harry Worth. He moved into the premises with his wife Beatrice. He was working as a barman when the couple married in November 1915 at St. John's Church at Ladywood. Beatrice was the daughter of the butcher Henry Beardes. After a couple of years, Clarence and Beatrice moved to The Star on Dale End. By the outbreak of World War 2 they were running the Coach and Horses on Snow Hill.
Taking over in July 1932, the next couple to manage the Greet Inn were Roland and Rosina Wilden. They were in charge of the house when this photograph was taken in the mid-1930s. Born in 1889 at Wolverhampton, Roland Wilden had grown up in Aston after his father moved for work as an edge tool machinist. He may have started work at the same factory but as a polisher. He served as a corporal with the Gloucestershire Regiment during World War One. After being injured he was discharged in December 1916. In July of the following year he married Rosina Pearson. After the war the couple kept the White Hart Inn on Cromwell Street. Unlike some pub managers, they did not chop and change and remained at the White Hart throughout the 1920s. They remained here at the Greet Inn for two decades, Roland dying in July 1952. Rosina lived until she was 95 years-old, passing away in October 1980.
Roland and Rosina Pearson were hosts of the Greet Inn when the coronation celebrations of King George VI took place in May 1937. I have a few photographs of this day and will post some here. These were the local residents and, amongst these people, there were no doubt a few regular patrons of the Greet Inn. Clearly, there was a tremendous community spirit within the street. This photograph shows a tea party with many of the women and children, plus a few of the men whose family values were stronger than the lure of a beer in the pub. The engine shed of the Tyseley railway works of the Great Western Railway can be seen at the end of the street. This was just beyond the junction of Roma Road. Many local people worked at this site that has become the Tyseley Locomotive Works museum.
In addition to the tea party or bun fight, the residents of Manor Farm Road seemingly had a float for the coronation celebrations. Perhaps there was a local procession akin to a carnival? The horse and cart may have been provided by one of the local businesses. There were a couple of firms operating in Manor Farm Road. The building contractors Alfred Langley Ltd. had a yard here, close to the factory of Dudley & Lowe who produced screw bottle tops. The Acme Rubber Goods Ltd. were based towards the bottom of the street next to the shop of Robert Reynolds. The shop can be seen here on the junction of Roma Road.
This corner property still stands in the 21st century and is now a private house. Here, along with her young son Robert is May Reynolds. Her husband Robert Reynolds held the licence for the sale of tobacco. The general store also sold groceries, sweets and milk. The family were still here in the mid-1960s, an amazing period of serving goods to the local community. The terraced row was evidently a planned development with corner shops offset at each end. A mirror image shop was located at the other end on the corner of Morcom Road. That former shop still stands, as does the former off-licence on the western corner of Morcom Road, a building that has latterly housed the Misbah Ul Quran mosque. At the time of the 1937 celebrations the off-licence was run by William Moore.
Nellie Harris also ran a corner shop at No.1 Manor Farm Road, which stood opposite the premises kept by the Reynolds family. Other shops in the street during the coronation were Mrs. Nellie Donald at No.60, almost opposite Cowley Road, and a greengrocery at No.97 run by James Elvins.
I have zoomed in on some of the men seen here with a horse posing for the camera. Unless they were teetotallers, most of these men would have enjoyed a beer in the Greet Inn, perhaps playing a game of bowls on the green which had a reputation for being immaculate.
Brandishing a small banner with "God Save Our King," most of these residents of Manor Farm Road are in the cart, along with an accordion player. I am fairly certain that the photographer was stood outside No.45 and that the roofline seen is that of the former off-licence on the corner of Morcom Road. Perhaps William and Sarah Moore, managers of the offie for many years, are featured in this photograph.
Some of the houses on the south side of Manor Farm Road were hit by a bomb in 1940 and Nos.109-115 were subsequently cleared. Four houses were later built on the site and their more recent construction date is clearly discernible.
Other customers of the Greet Inn may have been nipping in for a quick drink before attending the Tyseley Cinema just a few metres along Warwick Road on the opposite side of the thoroughfare. The cinema pre-dated the Greet Inn as it was opened in 1916. Serving other commercial interests in the 21st century, the building was designed by Archibald Hurley Robinson. The capacity of the cinema was increased in time for the 'talkies.' At the outbreak of World War 2 the cinema was acquired by the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. The cinema was hit by a bomb in December 1940 and, following repairs, was used as a storage facility for much of the war. The Tyseley Cinema was something of a pioneer by showing Asian films in the 1950s. The films, arranged by the Commonwealth Film Society, had been screened here on Sundays. Sadly, the last film to be screened here was "Six Bridges To Cross," a noir crime film starring Tony Curtis and Julie Adams. The cinema was closed in November 1959.
The Second World War saw a significant increase in sales at the Greet Inn. Roland and Rosina Wilden, along with their brewery employee Madge Allaway, were busier than ever. Officially listed as barmaid, Madge Allaway lived on the premises throughout the war. She had worked with the Wilden's at the White Hart Inn on Cromwell Street and transferred to the Greet Inn - a loyal member of staff, perhaps like one of the family.
During the mid-1930s the average weekly takings at the Greet Inn was around the £200 mark. In 1939 this rose to £280 and in the following year it was £363. The residents of Greet, busy in the factories with the war effort, were intent on drinking the pub dry - Roland and Rosina were getting through almost 1,100 barrels per annum.
Following the death of Roland Wilden, the licence of the Greet Inn was transferred to William Stephens who, together with his wife Claribel, had managed the Exchange Restaurant at Stephenson Place in the city centre since July 1932. Claribel died in March 1952 so the Greet Inn represented something of a new start for William Stephens.
Derek and Shirley Oliver were mine hosts from the days of rock'n'roll until the first screening of Batman on television. By the time England had won the World Cup in 1966 the Greet Inn had only had five managers. The fortunes of the pub would never be as good and a succession of licensees came and went in the latter half of the 20th century. Some of them enjoyed their time here and have fond memories of the place so it was not all downhill.
Ivor and Margaret Lenton kept the Greet Inn during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The couple had married in July 1953. They probably had the moon landing on the telly in 1969. They handed over to John and June Arrow, the last of the couples to work for Mitchell's and Butler's for the whole of their term.
It was following a Monopolies Commission report in which it was claimed that "breweries had too much of a strangle in certain towns and cities," a scheme was drawn up whereby several large companies swapped their public-houses with others. Both Mitchell's and Butler's and Ansell's Brewery Ltd. swapped some of their houses in Birmingham with properties operated by Courage. They were hardly going to give away their crown jewels so probably selected public-houses that were on a downward spiral. The Greet Inn was one such house so in early 1978 ownership of the fine building built by M&B was presented to Courage. Philip Peters was the licensee at the time so he would have signed a new contract with Courage.
Some local people welcomed the change but many drinkers loyal to the Cape Hill brands voted with their feet. Following the takeover of Grand Metropolitan by Courage the Greet Inn became part of that estate. The building was later operated by Spring Inns Limited of Elland near Leeds, before being taken over by London Inns Limited of Kent. The operators were changing almost as fast as the licensees who came and left in rapid succession. The inevitable closure came in the new millennium, a sad ending to a once honourable public-house. I am not sure why the lovely building was demolished, little of note was put up in its place. Surely some form of new use could have been found for the once-proud edifice.
"William Albert Beals, aged 21, of 9, Roma Road. Tyseley, and John Charles Wood, aged 19, of 15 Beach Road, Sparkhill,
pleaded guilty at Birmingham yesterday to the theft of a handbag containing over £4 and a small bottle of whiskey from Flora Daisy Burbridge, of 39,
Showell Green Lane, Sparkhill, and were placed on probation. Mrs. Burbridge told how, on leaving the Greet Inn, Tyseley, shortly before 10 p.m. on Tuesday, 21st
August, a number of young men gathered around her. "I went to a telephone kiosk to get out of the way as I was afraid," said witness. When she came out
the two prisoners, she alleged, followed her to Reddings Lane, pushed her against some railings, snatched her bag and then ran away. Mr. Arthur Hall-Wright,
for the defence, suggested that all the parties were under the influence of drink and the chairman observed that no doubt the prosecutrix was partly to blame."
"Theft from a Woman"
Birmingham Daily Gazette : August 30th 1928 Page 5
"An alibi which proved adequate and sufficient for an acquittal was produced at Birmingham Quarter Sessions yesterday by
Thomas Peter Marklow, aged 32, and Percy Edward Rice, aged 39, both labourers, who were charged with breaking into the dwelling-house
of Edwin Henry Spink, 96 Manor Park Road, Greet, and stealing various sums of money. May Gardiner, whose house is opposite the rear of 96,
Manor Park Road, said that on Saturday, 9th November, she saw through a window of her house Marklow and Rice enter the house through the back door. She
was able to identify them although her house was 33 yards away. A barman and customers at the Greet Inn said they were positive that Marklow was in the
hotel not only at the time the offence was alleged to have been committed, about 7.30, but was there from 6.20 until after 9 p.m. Rice was also there
until after 8 p.m. and another witness said that subsequently he was in his company at the "Waggon," another hotel. After a short retirement
the Jury found the prisoners not guilty."
Birmingham Daily Gazette : November 27th 1929 Page 7