Some history of the Elms Inn at Aldridge in the County of Staffordshire
This photograph was taken around the late 1930s and shows the Elms Hotel with the livery of Ansell's Brewery Ltd. of Aston. An earlier image shows the hostelry being operated by the Holt Brewery Company. I imagine that the hostelry was part of the tied-estate taken over by Ansell's when they acquired Holt's in 1934. The Elms Hotel was possibly operated by Frank Myatt Limited, a Wolverhampton-based firm taken over by the Holt Brewery Company in 1927. Certainly, Aldridge Urban Council bought three pieces of land for £2,000 from Frank Myatt Limited in 1942, the year that they bought the defunct Elms Hotel. It was stated that the original Elms Hotel, which had closed two years earlier when a new hotel had been built, had been acquired by Aldridge Urban Council as offices for war-time staffing, including Fire Prevention, Fuel Control and Women's Voluntary Services, and the Home Guard. The Council confirmed a recommendation of the General Purposes Committee that arrangements be made with the brewery company who own the property, for the immediate acquisition of the premises under an agreement May 13th 1942.
I stumbled across a 1939 article on the golden anniversary of Frederick and Emma Adkins and I reproduce it here as the couple kept the Elms Hotel for a couple of years .... "Bootmaker's apprentice, village postman, insurance agent, licensed victualler, bootmaker and agent for a travel club - those are just a few of the many interesting jobs which have made up the life of Frederick Adie Adkins, of 42, Earl Street, Palfrey, who on Tuesday of this week celebrated with his wife the anniversary of their golden wedding. It was in 1889 that Mr. and Mrs. Adkins [née Miss Emma Letts] were married at St. George's Church by the Rev. R. R. Wynn Griffith, and if it be true that smiling keeps one young then indeed their lives must have been one long smile, for when a Rugeley Times reporter called round to see them this week he found it extremely difficult to believe that Mr. Adkins was 74 years of age and his wife two years his junior. In fact Mr. Adkins was busy in his little garden while his wife, without the aid of glasses, was reading about the international situation. Born and bred in Aldridge, Mr. Adkins left school at eleven years of age to learn the bootmaking trade under his father, but when he attained his fifteenth birthday he took over the onerous duty of village postman. Young Freddie - as he was known throughout the village - continued to deliver letters until he was 24 years of age, when he decided to devote the whole of his time to an agency he had built-up under the Prudential Insurance Company. With the exception of a break of two years, when be became host of the Elms Hotel, Mr. Adkins retained his connection with the insurance company for forty years, attaining the rank of assistant superintendent for ten years, and he received many handsome testimonials when he retired in March 1928. But for an active man a complete retirement from work was going to be too extreme a change, and a few years ago Mr. Adkins took over the local agency for the Midland Travel Club. A life-long Conservative by politics, Mr. Adkins has also a life-time of bowling experience, being one of the pioneer-members of the old Aldridge bowling Club sixty years ago and still retaining his interest. It is small wonder that his married sons - William, Frederick, Arthur and Leslie [resident in Walsall] have all proved above the ordinary bowlers. All are members of the Caldmore Conservative, Paddock and Victoria ["Malt Shovel"[ bowling clubs and they have a remarkable record of successes. At Caldmore, the "Sir Richard Cooper" Cup has been won by Frederick, Arthur and Leslie, and as the former is still in the last a eight of this season's competition for the trophy he stands a fair chance of establishing a club record of winning the coveted trophy twice, something which has never previously been done. The same son also established a record some years ago when he won both the Shield and Cup at the "Victoria" Club, and for a period of five years either he and his other brother, William, held one of the trophies. Mr. Adkins, senr., still has a remarkable memory, and he recalled to our reporter in detail how he had watched the first sod being cut prior to the sinking of the Leighswood Colliery which has recently been closed down. Mrs. Adkins was a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Letts, a well-known Birchills family, who for a quarter of a century kept the Birchills Tavern. Her uncle was "Grandpa" Letts - one of the outstanding characters of Walsall history. He also was a keen bowler and played up to six months of his death at the age of 97 years. There are two married daughters - Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Taylor - and seven grandchildren. When the Rugeley Times man was about to take his departure Mr. and Mrs. Adkins both expressed the hope that he would come round to see them again when they were celebrating their diamond jubilee!
Sadly, Frederick Adkins fell ill during the following Christmas and died at his home, at 42 Earl Street, in February 1940.
"Mr. A. J. Pearson [coroner] held an inquest at the Elms Inn, Aldridge, on Monday, on the body of Mary Ann Reynolds
, wife of Mr. V. Reynolds, farmer. Mr. H. K. Beale, solicitor, Birmingham, and Inspector Bayley represented the company; and Mr. A. Maten [Messrs.
Marlow and Marten, solicitors, Walsall] attended on behalf of the relatives of the deceased. Evidence bore out the statement which has already been published viz.,
that Mrs. Reynolds went to the station with the intention of travelling to Walsall, and having taken her ticket walked to the end of the platform to pass over the
level crossing. A goods train came along at the time, and after it had passed she began to cross the line and stepped in front of the passenger train, which she had
gone to meet. The driver, Charles Hinnet, whistled twice, but before she could get out of the way she was struck on the head by the buffer of the engine and
hurled several yards along the line, the train passing over her and severing one of her legs from her body and mutilating her face. Death ensued almost immediately.
The stationmaster, Mr. Begley, in answer to Mr. Marten, said that during the nineteen years he had been in charge of the station there had not been a fatal accident
at the crossing. There had, however, been fatalities before this one in other parts of the station. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and stated that
in their opinion no blame attached to the driver, the stationmaster, or any other of the officials; but, the crossing being a very dangerous one, they considered
that a footbridge should be erected at that spot, and that a man should be specially stationed there when trains were approaching, especially when an up and down
train were due at about the same time. The representatives of the company promised that the opinion of the jury should be reported to the authorities."
"Dangerous Level Crossing"
Leominster News : April 22nd 1898 Page 6
"William Brown, miner, Stubber's Green, was summoned for assaulting Sarah Powell, servant, at the Elms Inn, Aldridge,
on the 30th ult. Complainant gave evidence that the defendant came to the public-house under the influence of beer, and while talking with another man used bad
language. She remonstrated with him, and he afterwards followed her into the passage and struck her. She called him a "mean cur," and he then pulled a bottle
out of his pocket and aimed a blow at her, striking her on the arm. Defendant did not appear, and he bore a very bad character, the Magistrates ordered him to be
imprisoned for 21 days' with hard labour."
"Assault in a Public-House"
Lichfield Mercury : August 12th 1898 Page 6
"For an unprovoked assault Frank Richard Featherbarrow, Beech Tree House, Leighswood Road, Aldridge, was fined 40s. with 7s. 6d.
special costs. It was alleged that at 9.55 on Saturday, March 20th defendant, was sitting in the Elms Hotel, Aldridge, and suddenly got up and struck another man.
Henry David Smith, of Leighswood Avenue, on the mouth, breaking his teeth, and splitting his lip, this being done without any apparent reason. John Howard
Sly stated that he had been sitting in the same room as defendant for three quarters of an hour, when he got up and struck Smith in the mouth, though there did
not appear to have been any exchange of words. Jessie Fouracres, 79, Walsall Road, Aldridge also stated that there was no argument between the two men before
the assault. Defendant said that he had struck Smith in self-defence, but later said: "He [complainant] had it coming to him." He added that
Smith had made up rumours about him and had tried break up his home, and had also tried to make trouble for him at his employment. Mr. A. W. Lester [the chairman
of the Bench] said defendant should realise that he could not take the law into his own hands, and should have obtained legal aid if thought he had any case of
grievance. The Magistrates' Clerk [Mr. Frank Cooper] said that it was no defence for Leatherbarrow to say that Smith was talking about him, and the Bench
wanted to know what was his defence for his action the on night in question, but defendant had nothing more to say. After Mr. Lester [(who sat with Messrs. C.
Rowley and D. T. Nicholas] had announced the decision of the Bench and a week's grace in which to pay, defendant pleaded for further time, stating that he
had nine children. The period was accordingly extended to fourteen days, the alternative of payment being fourteen days' imprisonment."
"Blow Without Words"
Walsall Observer : April 24th 1943 Page 6