Genealogy Forum for Pubs, Inns, Taverns and Breweries of Birmingham - Help and Information for Local Historians and Genealogists with photographs, details of licensees, census data, newspaper articles for those studying their family history.

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Big Bull's Head : Digbeth

I came across your web page for the Big Bull's Head at Digbeth and the list of landlords. Charles McCarte is listed and I am fairly certain he is my grandfather. In fact I don't think there's any doubt it is. Would have any more info on him? Would have any more info on him? Do you know if the pub has old photographs on the walls or anything like that? I am in Glasgow but would perhaps visit. I believe he moved on to the Sir Charles Napier before passing away in 1957.
Gerry McCarte
Glasgow, January 9th 2020
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The pub does have some historical material on the walls but it is best to check with the licensee if you are looking for an image related to your grandfather. I just checked the licence register for the Sir Charles Napier and he did indeed run that pub from 1955 to 1957. I do not know much about this publican apart from the fact he was running the Big Bull's Head with his wife Jean. By the way, both the Big Bull's Head and Sir Charles Napier were operated by Atkinson's Brewery in the period your grandfather was running the houses so it is likely that he worked for the brewery. Kieron


Edgbaston Street

I am researching a family of taylor's who lived and worked in Smallbrook Street 1730-1780s, named Withers/Whythers. Which pubs were nearby the corner of Smallbrook and Edgbaston Street, or else around St Martin's Church?
David Rathgen
January 10th 2020
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Birmingham : Junction of Smallbrook Street and Edgbaston Street [1808]

This map of the junction of Smallbrook Street and Edgbaston Street dates from 1808 and is the closest I have to the dates you are referencing. As far as I know there was no pub on the corner at this time though in later years, following redevelopment, a public house was constructed on the corner of Edgbaston Street and Pershore Street. Returning to older pubs of Edgbaston Street, the main houses were the Waggon and Horses, York Hotel, Saracen's Head and Golden Fleece. I have not researched the origins of these public-houses. However, the latter was on the same side of the street as the shop of Robert Withers who traded as a taylor at No.52 during the 1770s. At this time, following the same trade, were Joseph Withers at No.7 St. Martin's Lane and Samuel Withers at No.26 Worcester Street. Good luck with your research. Kieron


Guildford Arms : Farm Street

I have been researching my family tree and there are a lot of links which I hope you can add to. Bear with me, I have tried to put them in order! 1841 Census : Sarah Ann Heron [née Barnett] is my paternal 2nd great grandmother. Father was James Barnett age 35 innkeeper. 1861 census : William Heron paternal 2nd great grandfather age 35 publican back of Farm Street 152, St George's, Birmingham [Beer house?]. 1881 census : William Heron licensed victualler Guildford Arms, age 53, St George's, Birmingham. 1891 census : William Heron age 65 retired licensed victualler. 1891 census : William Rushton age 48 publican. 57 Grosvenor Street West, White Swan Inn, Ladywood. Father to Florence Rushton [later Florence Heron]. 1901 census : William Rushton [son of William] age 27 brewer. Florence Rushton [daughter of William Rushton] barmaid. Betsy Rushton [daughter of William Rushton] barmaid. 57 & 59 Grosvenor Street West. 1901 census : John Howard Heron paternal great grandfather age 33 publican. Sarah Ann Heron age 71 widow, of 276 Burbury Street. 1911 census : John Howard Heron age 45 retired publican. Florence Heron [née Rushton]. 1911 census : William Rushton age 68 publican. 1912 rate book : rates paid to John Howard Heron for Artillery Street Ansell's Brewery, off licence, shops and houses. I have got more info but have tried to keep this brewery/pub related. It would be great to hear back from you if you have any more information.
Louise Cox [née Heron]
Stourbridge, November 21st 2017
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Your message gave me a reason to upload the small amount I have on the Heron family. I can only deal with that for now, though the Rushton family are interesting in terms of brewing. Rather than repeat stuff here, I will simply place a link to the Guildford Arms in Farm Street which has some information on the Heron family, along with some newspaper articles featuring William Heron, a publican who once wielded a poker at his customers! Good luck with your continued research. Kieron

Thank you so much for your reply, the information is so much more personal than trawling through census records. My 76 year-old Auntie can remember great-nan Florence, every day of her later years apparently consisted of her servant making her breakfast, playing golf in the morning, and getting blind drunk every night. No wonder I enjoy a pint, it's in the genes.
Louise Cox [née Heron]
Stourbridge, November 30th 2017
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I have read with interest the information you have posted about the Guildhall Arms on Farm Street. I am researching my family tree, initially maternal, Grindrod family. From the information you have provided I can see that my maternal great grandparents managed the pub, it appears twice, in 1901 and again in 1910. My grandfather, John James Grindrod died at the Guildford Arms in 1911 and in the census of 1911 his wife, Fanny Grindrod is listed as head of household at the pub with a number of children, including my grandfather Leonard. As you noted they had 12 children [actually 13 as there was an infant death] so family research is taking some time! I did visit the area last year to see if the pub still existed but, as you say, it has been demolished, though I did find the Queen's Head nearby and, having been brought up in the licensed trade in Blackpool, I spent some pleasant time in there sampling the local brew and chatting to the locals. I was also very interested in the information you provided about the Heron family, particularly the link with Dumfries. It is possibly a long shot but as a 17 year-old young woman, my mother spent some of the war years at a Dumfries farm before returning to Brum as an ambulance driver. If you or any of your readers can provide any further information I would be very grateful.
Barry Lloyd
Lancaster, February 4th 2018
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Hi again, having seen your posts I would just like to say that I would be happy to buy you some beers next time I'm in Brum! Also to add that I have now learned that John and Fanny Grindrod [My maternal great-grandparents] were also licensees of the Grand Junction Inn, Dartmouth Street in 1907. I presume they continued to manage for Atkinson's brewery? I have come across a news article where my great aunt is awarded damages after being knocked off her bike on corner of Dartmouth Street and Ashted Row, as far as I can see there is no Dartmouth Street in Birmingham and Ashted Row is highlighted as Ashted Circus so I presume it is now demolished. I am finding this part of my research fascinating because my parents managed pubs in Blackpool for Dutton's Brewery [taken over by Whitbread] but I had no idea that mum's father was also brought up in the licensed trade. My mother rarely talked about her upbringing in Brum and I have already discovered some 'skeleton's' in that a great uncle, James Grindrod is recorded as being one of the leaders of an Aston Slogging gang and is featured in the book "The Gangs of Birmingham." Finally, how did you come about the information on John [known as Jack] Grindrod who incidentally ended up as a Chelsea Pensioner. If you are interested I have a number of photographs of his army career, many in Tibet.
Barry Lloyd
Lancaster, February 4th 2018
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Hyde Arms : Clark Street

My great great grandfather Titus Griffin owned and ran the Herefordshire House which was eventually renamed as the Hyde Arms from about 1862 until his death in 1885. I assume it was sold after his death. His widow Eliza and son Charles Frederick briefly managed the Victoria Inn in Guest Street [from the 1891 Census] but were not there in 1901.
Peter Faulkner
Aldermaston, October 14th 2009
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The Herefordshire House and the Hyde Arms were separate buildings so there is no re-naming of a public house in this case. With Clark Street being laid out in the 1850s, the Herefordshire House was probably one of the first buildings to be erected in the thoroughfare. As you have mentioned, Titus Griffin was an early publican of this beer house where homebrewed ales were produced by his wife Eliza. You are right that it was about 1862 but I have several references to Titus Griffin being at the house in the previous year. The family kept the Herefordshire House until the late 1860s when Titus Griffin raised the finances to acquire the newly-built Hyde Arms on the corner of Hyde Road. This pub can be seen here in a photograph dating from 1946. Operated by Mitchell's and Butler's, the Hyde Arms closed seven years later. Kieron


King's Arms : Howe Street

I lived at 1/28 Howe Street at Ashted until I was 15 years-old in 1958. I am looking for photographs of the King's Arms and the Railway Hotel pubs, both were in Howe Street. My father worked in The Railway around 1950 and I had more than a few drinks in both pubs in the years after we left Howe Street but sadly never took any photos. I do have however four photos of Howe Street including the actual house that I lived in.
Brian Clayton
February 2nd 2020
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Unfortunately I do not have images of these public-houses. Photographs of that pocket of Birmingham seem to quite scarce. The Railway was officially on Curzon Street though, of course, was on the corner of Howe Street. I only have a photograph of the replacement building. It may be worth asking on the Birmingham History Forum as one of the members may be able to help you. If it helps to jog your memory, the last three licensees of the Railway Hotel were Walter Moore, Eileen O'Keefe and William Jones. Around this time the King's Arms was kept by Albert Parton and Florence Lucas. Kieron

Birmingham : The Railway Hotel on the corner of Curzon Street and Howe Street [c.1935]

UPDATE : I have sourced and acquired a photograph of the Railway Hotel on the corner of Curzon Street and Howe Street. Kieron


Lionel Street Public Houses

My name is Philip Boyce and I live in Perth, Western Australia. I have been searching my family history and have found many forebears who lived, worked and died in Birmingham, some of whom are buried in the grounds of St. Philip's Cathedral and others at Aston. My grandfather, Francis Joseph Boyce, was a stained-glass artist and embosser and in the 1920s rented a former public house at 27 Lionel Street. The premises at that time were owned by F. H. Warden, Steel Merchants. I can well recall visiting 27 Lionel Street as a young boy and found it a most interesting building. It had a cellar and a ramp for rolling beer barrels and outside on the pavement were steel doors which opened for the purpose of offloading the barrels. Inside it had a wooden spiral staircase leading to the upper floor level. It was dark on the ground floor with very little natural light. My research has revealed three pubs in Lionel Street : Fox and Dog, Golden Lion and Welsh Harper, but I do not know which of them was originally at number 27. Are you able to help me on this one and do you know where I might obtain photos of old Lionel Street and the pubs which were there? Any other relevant information would be most appreciated.
Philip Boyce
Perth, Australia, June 24th 2019
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I do not have any evidence of a public house at No.27 Lionel Street. From looking at old maps and trade directories, the property was on the north-western side of the thoroughfare, a few doors from the corner of Ludgate Hill. I have not seen a public house marked on any of the maps that I have consulted. The iron merchants you mention were listed at No.28 and were at this address for many decades. For example, Francis Hollins Warden was listed at No.28 in 1890. In the late 1860s his father Thomas Warden was recorded as an iron and steel merchant at this address, though the family lived in leafy Edgbaston. By the way, the Golden Lion was almost opposite to your grandfather's premises. Sadly, I have no photographs of any public houses in this thoroughfare. Kieron


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Pelican Inn : Great King Street

Birmingham : Albert Thorne and customers outside the Pelican Inn on the corner of Great King Street and Unett Street in Hockley [c.1920s]

I am submitting a photo of my grandfather [seated on the far left next to the barman] outside an Ansell's pub called 'The Albert Thorne' which I am trying to identify and have so far been unsuccessful. I remember the pub as a young boy and whilst memory can deceive [I'm well into my seventies] I believe it could have been in Unit/Unett/Unet street, Aston - near Hockley Brook - I was born and spent my youth in Lozells. A little background info: my real grandfather died young and was never really spoken of [villain] and my step-grandfather was named Charlie Massey, I remember that he had his 'office' in that pub - he was a bookmaker and a brute of a man. I believe the big bloke in the picture was Joe Kimber - who was later my uncle's business partner. My uncle's name was Eddie Cutler - he owned the White Swan in Newhall street [where I worked as a kid] and The Packhorse at Hollywood. They are all deceased now. Since I was terrified of staying in Brum and ending up either working at Lucas's or in the pub with the family [all pugilists] I left Brum and England at seventeen and landed in Australia when I was twenty two - where I have stayed. It is therefore very difficult for me to do any 'in-situ' research. Old blokes get curious about these sort of things and any help you could give me would be very much appreciated.
Bobby Lees
Australia, December 1st 2019
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Thank-you for sharing this wonderful photograph. The men are outside the Pelican Inn, a beer house on the corner of Unett Street. At this time Albert J. Thorne was the licensee of the pub with the address of No.37 Great King Street. He kept the tavern with his wife Mary Janere. Kieron

I am engaged in the typical pastime of an old codger 'where did I come from?' Well, I know where I came from but my family is a bit of a mystery. Previous family names were [nee] Roberts, Moss and Aston [grandmothers]. And they all lived in the ward of Aston. I know that there were a couple of villains [including my grandfather] amongst them and generally speaking Birmingham was always too cold and too tough for me and I guess that was why I starting walking [literally] aged 17 and ended up in Australia via India and South East Asia, where it was just as bad except they were they were all shooting at each other during the 1960s... I will attach a photograph of the pub that they [the family] were going to give me, trying to lure me back into the fold but having seen paradise there was no way I was going back. Uncle Eddie [Cutler] ran the pubs, restaurants. cafés, betting shops and the pub they were going to give me was The Packhorse on the Alcester Road, in Hollywood. The quest continues and I thank you for this contact and keeping me in the loop.
Bobby Lees
Australia, December 6th 2019
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Queen's Head : Aberdeen Street

Birmingham : The Queen's Head in Aberdeen Street at Winson Green [c.1956]

My Great-Grandparents were Lily Ella and George Billingsley and were the licensees of the Queen's Head. My Gt Gt Grandfather had pubs in Birmingham. Herbert Rea, his daughter who was Lily Ella was left a pub we believe in Hospital Street. She was unable to be the licensee due to her being a female so she married George Billingsley. I have lots of information but have just moved so it's in boxes. The Queen's Head was a small thatched building which was demolished in about 1933 and, according to my Mom, they built that monstrosity. I am trying to find a photograph of the original pub. My Mom is 90 and keeps talking about it, can you help me?
Ann Smith
December 4th 2019
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I am afraid I do not have a photograph of the older Queen's Head Ann. Indeed, I have never seen an image of the old place and did not know it had a thatched roof. I would be quite surprised as the building was not so old. The pub to which you refer was one of those with two addresses. The White Hart did have an address of 82 Hospital Street but was more commonly listed at No.1 Buckingham Street. George and Lily Billingsley were running the place at the time of the 1911 census. In the census conducted ten years earlier the couple were running the Anchor Inn on Sheep Street. They were married on July 4th 1897. George and his father were involved with a number of public-houses in Birmingham, though they were tenants for the brewers rather than owners. For example, the White Hart was owned by Holder's Brewery. The family were running another Queen's Head on Camden Street for Rushton's Brewery in the late Edwardian period. George and Lily were running the Queen's Head at Winson Green for Mitchell's & Butler's. Kieron


John Simpson : William Edward Street

I wonder if you might be able to help pin down a bit of information. In a diary kept on his emigration voyage to New Zealand in 1874/75, my great-great grandfather mentions: "I would reather have been at Cirleys with my belley full of good things and a long pipe in my mouth listening to the vocal powers of my old mates Mr. Foster and Mold." His spelling is pretty random so it may be Curleys or something even further removed. However, I wondered if the name rang any bells for you? My ancestor lived in Balsall Heath before he left the UK, and before that in King's Norton. Later in the diary, he mentions Mr. Ravenscroft Senior and I was delighted to discover that one George Ravenscroft was likely not only to be his employer but also owned another business, the Queen's Head at 41 Gooch Street, Birmingham. The 1861 census shows that, as well as being a builder employing others, Ravenscroft was also a 'retail brewer.' So, reading on your website about how publicans were commonly also brewers helped colour in some background.
Sandra Simpson
New Zealand, February 5th 2020
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Thank-you for your message. However, you have not included the name of your great-great grandfather which will help in this enquiry. Please forward this so some sort of search can proceed. Kieron


Ryland Street Back-to-Backs

My mother-in-law's birth certificate states that she was born at 6 back 94 Ryland Street, at Ladywood in 1915. What is 6 back 94? Also is there any way to find out who was living there then?
John Riches
Birmingham, October 29th 2020
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6 back 94 means that the property was No.6 in a court at the rear of No.94. I have marked the location of the house on an old map extract to make this clear. The passage to the court, marked as 10 Court on some later maps, was to the right of No.94. This entry can be seen in the photgraph of the newsagent's shop. Here is the map .....

Birmingham : Location of No.6 10 Court in Ryland Street at Ladywood [1890]

I am not sure if it possible to search online for the occupants of No.6 in 1915. Certainly, there would be some records in Birmingham Library. Of course, the house would be included in the 1911 census. Some rate books are online but not for every year. Only those conducting a business in their property would be included in trade directories. A rate book compiled in 1911 seems to show that the court was also known as Ryland Place. In that year No.6 was marked as void but had been occupied by Albert Clarke.
Kieron.


My great-great grandfather was John Simpson, a carpenter, who probably worked for the building side of George Ravenscroft's business. He had nothing to do with the brewing trade apart from being a consumer! It was the 'Cirley's' that I was hoping to track down, just adding a bit of 'home' colour to his life. Where was it? Who owned it? Does the building still exist? That sort of thing. Before his emigration John lived at 8 Court William Edward Street, Birmingham, which I've been able to find on old maps [and have even seen a photo of[ and know that it was lost during the slum clearances after WW2. If this seems like too much of a needle in a haystack, please just say so and there'll be no hard feelings.
Sandra Simpson
New Zealand, February 6th 2020
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It is a bit of a needle in a haystack. John Simpson, as you mention, lived in William Edward Street. This thoroughfare started at a five-ways junction with Charles Henry Street, Vaughton Street, Vaughton Street South and Angelina Street. The road ran south to Conybere Street. It is likely that he drank in a local pub but the problem for you is that this densely-populated area had many public-houses and beer houses. Court No.8 was on the eastern side of William Edward Street and adjacent to the Vaughton Works, a bedstead manufactory. In the late 1860s there was only one beer house in William Edward Street and it was close to your ancestor's address. The Rose Tavern was however run by Reuben Beddows in the late 1860s. A quick search of the electoral roll does not throw up anything close. There is a Henry Carlos running a public house in Conybere Street, though your ancestor's spelling would have to be really out for this to be considered. Incidentally, Curley was not a rare name in Birmingham during the Victorian period. Mostly of Irish origin, there are several listed in the town during the 19th century. In 1872 a Thomas Culley was running another Rose Tavern at Sherborne Street but that was in Islington so a bit of a walk for John Simpson. At this time there was a beer house around the corner in Vaughton Street South run by William Coley. Was his spelling a corruption of this? Kieron



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