Some history of the Old Dial Inn at Amblecote in the County of Staffordshire


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The Old Dial Inn was located on Amblecote's High Street, where the road met Audnam. The building still stands in the 21st century but has been converted into a restaurant. From around 2014 it was trading as Indiluxe.

Amblecote : The Old Dial Inn [2007]

The building had recently been repainted before I took this photograph in July 2007. It is a fine-looking building that has changed slightly over the years. For example, there was once a parapet across the frontage - once a popular feature on public houses. However, the old building still features a classical style-influenced pediment over the front door. This has been replicated over some of the windows [the bay is a later addition] with characteristic support brackets.

The inn sign of the former public-house is an important reminder of Amblecote's industrial heritage for it is named after the Old Dial Glass House that once stood on the opposite side of the road. Today, this site is occupied by a LIDL supermarket. A 1774 plan for the Stourbridge Navigation drawn up by Robert Whitworth highlights the site of the old Dial Glassworks along with a building on which the former Old Dial Inn now stands.

Amblecote : A Plan for a Navigable Canal from Stourbridge surveyed by Robert Whitworth [1774]

As an alehouse, the Dial Inn is thought to date from the second quarter of the 19th century. William Wall was seemingly the first recorded landlord in the mid-1830s. Documented in the first detailed census of 1841 William Wall was 27, his wife Isabella was 25. They had no children but employed one servant.

Notice for an auction of the Dial Glass and Bottle Works at Audman [1853]

The Dial Glass Works was by now operating close to the Stourbridge Canal to the west of the pub. Part of the cone can still be seen today. The Dial Iron Works was also based next to the canal. The road called Stewkins led down to this heavily industrialised area. The workers who toiled in this area, including those of Henry Robinson's Foundry would have found welcome liquid relief at the Dial Inn.

Glass manufacturer Edwin Deeley opened an outlet in Birmingham's Easy Row. Born in The Lye in 1801, Edwin first worked as an apprentice at the Dial Glassworks. After rising to manage the factory, he was appointed a partner in 1844. Edwin and his son Richard were astute, some say ruthless, business men and the company prospered under their leadership. The Dial Glass Works concentrated on functional items, particularly in bottles for the vinegar and soft drinks trade.

Amblecote : Notice for an auction of the Dial Inn at Audnam [1864]

Moving from Wollaston, Samuel Robinson became the tenant in 1854. Born in Oldbury, the 33 year-old combined the jobs of publican and pattern-maker. He employed a servant to help with the general duties of the pub and to look after his four children, Elizabeth, Jane, Lucy and George. After running the house until the early 1860s he moved a short distance to works as an ironfounder. He remained in this line of work after moving to Kinver. The above notice shows that the freehold of the house was auctioned in 1864. As can be seen Samuel Robinson, who had been here for the 1861 census, had moved on and the public-house was occupied by Walter Wall.

The first reference I have seen for the "Old" prefix was in a newspaper article dated May 1863.

The Old Dial Inn was once the property of the Earl of Stamford of Enville Hall. The estate later sold the pub to Wordsley glassmaker Edward Webb.

In March 1869, when William Whitworth was the licensee, about 120 glassmakers of Stourbridge dined at the Old Dial Inn, the occasion being the presentation to Mr. W. H. Packwood of a testimonial for his services as local secretary of the Glassmakers' Trade Society during the previous six years.

Amblecote : Advertisement for the tenancy of The Dial [1870]

The licence of the Old Dial Inn was transferred from William Whitworth to George Palmer in July 1870. George and his wife Sarah had previously kept the Greyhound Inn located in nearby King William Street. Born in Birmingham, George Palmer also worked as a glass-cutter. His wife was listed as the landlady rather than George who held the licence. In the census of 1871 the enumerator recorded that 24 year-old son, George, and 13 year-old daughter, Sarah Jane, also lived on the premises.

Amblecote : Advertisement for a Grand Ball held at the Old Dial Inn [1870]

It was thought that George Palmer added the "Old" prefix to the inn sign during 1873 but, as previously mentioned, I have seen a reference to the "Old" Dial Inn ten years earlier. The prefix is also evident here in this advertisement dated 1870.

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The Old Dial Inn made the newspapers in 1875 when, on January 30th, the County Express reported an incident in which Sarah Palmer was assaulted. Joseph Compson was charged with being drunk and refusing to quit the Old Dial Inn on January 18th 1875. He was also charged with assault. Sarah Palmer told the magistrates that Compson had entered the pub and behaved in a disorderly manner. The landlady ordered him to leave and when she went to turn him out Compson "pushed her down." Her son, George, corroborated her story. However, Joseph Compson denied assault. He told the bench that, although Mrs. Palmer had fallen down, it only happened as she was dragging him along the room. The magistrates had little sympathy for Compson who was fined 2s.6d. and costs, or in default of payment, seven days' imprisonment with hard labour for refusing to quit. The charge of assault was dismissed.

Map extract showing the Old Dial Inn on the boundary between Amblecote and Wordsley [1884]

The Old Dial Inn was generally referred to as being part of Audnam but, as can be seen in this map extract dated 1884, the boundary between Amblecote and Wordsley ran along the middle of Brettell Lane, north along the old turnpike road, and then along the boundary wall of the pub itself. Consequently, the Old Dial Inn was the last building in Amblecote before people crossed the boundary into Audnam.

Following George Palmer's death in 1881 widow Sarah took over the licence and was assisted by her daughter Sarah Jane. The pair later moved to Brettell Lane to run a refreshment house. When Sarah Jane married Cornishman William Holland and moved to Harrow in Middlesex she took her mother with her. They must have had fond memories of the Old Dial Inn as they named their home in Harrow's Headstone Road, "Audnam."

William Hobson took over the licence of the Old Dial Inn during 1890. Like his father before him, William had worked as a puddler and lived most of his life in Brettell Lane. He kept the pub with his wife Fanny. Living next to the pub in Dial Lane was Alios Horn, a 36 year-old glass engraver from Bohemia, Austria.

Between 1897 and 1913 the Old Dial Inn was leased to the Worcestershire Brewing and Malting Company Ltd. of Kidderminster. Brewing ceased at the Blackwell Street site in 1914, a year after the company was acquired by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd.

In 1901 the licensee of the Old Dial Inn was George Thomason. The son of a farm labourer, he was born in the Worcestershire village of Hartlebury in 1854. His wife Emily was however from Kingswinford. They had five children, the eldest of which, James Richard, worked as a glasscutter.

Hanson's Famous Dudley Ales

It was in 1934 that Julia Hanson and Sons Ltd. acquired the Old Dial Inn for £1,521.0s.0d. This was nine years before the company was bought by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries. Following the Second World War Hanson's initiated some alterations to the pub. The plans were prepared by Messrs. Jennings and Homer who were based at Church Street in Brierley Hill. Planning permission was granted on May 24th by H. Piper, the Surveyor for Amblecote UDC. It is not clear if these were implemented though the bar was certainly altered in 1951. In this year the pub was selling 276 barrels of beer per annum.

Amblecote : The Old Dial Inn on Audnam [2004]

The frontage of the building changed slightly in the summer of 1955 when more renovations and repairs included the removal of the front parapet and the formation of new overhanging eaves when the roof was re-tiled. Benjamin Breakwell signed an agreement to become the pub's manager on October 20th 1955. He remained at the Old Dial until the early 1970s. He died in November 1973 not long after he left the pub.

The brewery were concerned about the state of the pub in May 1962, particularly as the 'new' Gladstone Arms was close to completion - and only a few hundred metres away. Consequently, the building was spruced up a little. I think that Thomas Evans was known as Ray because that was the name used by the Express and Star in June 1976 when they reported a theft at the Old Dial Inn. Playing in the car park, the manager's son had left the back door open whilst the pub was closed for business. An opportunist man entered the premises and took the takings from the till. As the bank was closed for the Bank Holiday Monday, the entire weekend's take was left in the cash register.

Amblecote : Charlie Babbs at The Old Dial Inn on Audnam [1976]

There was a much nicer story later in 1962 because the Old Dial Inn came under the spotlight when Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries organised a competition to find their longest serving regular. It turned out to be Charlie Babbs, a former Round Oak steelman, who had been enjoying a pint at the Old Dial for 73 years. Licensee Ray Evans and many of the pub's regulars organised a party at the Old Dial Inn to coincide with the 90th birthday of Charlie Babbs who lived around the corner at No.5 Stewkins. A representative of the brewery made a presentation to Charlie who told a local reporter that he still drank about four pints a night. He added "I always drink halves - a pint seems to linger on too long."

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It was as early as June 1979 that the brewery were notified that the Old Dial Inn might be lost under plans to widen the road at the junction with Brettell Lane. The company objected strenuously and informed the local authorities that they were not interested in building a new pub - there were plans to convert the old foundry site into a shopping and leisure complex. In the end they invested a further £23,940 improving the pub. The work was carried out in 1987 by R. Bennett and Company Ltd.

Amblecote : Proposed redevelopment of area between Platt's Road and Dial Lane [1984]

Here one can see the proposed plan for the area between Platt's Road and Dial Lane, work that did not materialise, though a later retail development of this area did go ahead, but without a public-house. Work on the road was delayed until 1990-1 but this did not result in the removal of the Old Dial Inn.

Amblecote : Licensee of the Old Dial Inn [2004]

Amblecote : Bar of the Old Dial Inn [2004]

Licensees of the Old Dial Inn

1840 - Walter Wall
1854 - Samuel Robinson
1864 - Walter Wall
1869 - William Whitworth
1870 - 1881 George Palmer
1881 - 1890 Sarah Palmer
1890 - 1890 Charles John Webb
1890 - 1894 William Hobson
1894 - 1896 Gregory Thomas Brooks
1896 - 1897 Lydia Kezia Webb
1897 - 1897 William Hobson
1897 - 1899 Thomas Edwin Beddard
1899 - 1900 Henry Augustus Withers
1900 - 1901 George Spencer Baylis
1901 - 1913 George Thomason
1913 - 1915 James William Herbert Green
1915 - 1917 Bertie William Bartlett
1917 - 1925 Bertie John William Hallam
1925 - 1933 George John Watson
1933 - 1934 Alfred Summerfield
1934 - 1936 Wesley Thomas Pearson
1936 - 1946 George John Watson
1946 - 1954 William Henry Taylor
1954 - 1955 John Cooper
1955 - 1973 Benjamin Breakwell
1973 - 1982 Thomas Raymond Evans
1982 - 1985 June Margaret Russell
1985 - 1986 Alexander Headridge Howe
1986 - 1987 Alan Robert Garbett
1987 - 1987 David James Davies
1987 - 1988 A. R. Griffiths
1988 - 1994 John Gormley-Carney
1994 - 1997 Anthony John Carney
1997 - 1999 Beverley Powell
1999 - 2002 Deborah Anne Shillingford
2002 - 2003 Georgina Diane Lyne
2003 - 2003 Paula Mason
2003 - 2004 Ellie Spicer-Gibbs
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub. The dates of early licensees are sourced from trade directories, census data, electoral rolls, rate books and newspaper articles. Names taken from trade directories may be slightly inaccurate as there is some slippage from publication dates and the actual movement of people. The listing for 1870 to 2004 is complete and accurate as these names are sourced from licensing records and brewery property books. These records are hand-written and I have done my best to transcribe them accurately, though some scribbles of the clerks can be hard to determine.

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Related Newspaper Articles

"A few evenings ago Mr. J. Lackland, sen., late manager of the Sheet Glass Works, at Brettell Lane, was entertained by the sheet glass makers to supper, at the Old Dial Inn, Audnam, to which about fifty sat down. After the repast Mr. J. Rhodes was appointed chairman, and Mr. B. Happleton, vice-chairman, and they were supported by Messrs. Richards, Nicholls, Round, Beard, Crompton, and others. After the usual toasts had been given and responded to, Mr. Williamson, in a suitable address, presented an elegant silver cup to the late manager. It bore the following inscription:- "Presented to Mr. J. Lackland, sen., by the sheet glass makers of Brettell Lane, as a mark of the respect and esteem in which he was held while manager among them. April, 29th, 1863." Mr. Lackland made a feeling and appropriate reply. During the evening Mr. G. Noble, of Bristol, despatched several handsome balloons surrounded in fireworks, from the green, and a most agreeable evening was spent."
Birmingham Daily Post : May 13th 1863 Page 4

"An inquiry was held yesterday, by Mr. W. H. Phillips, Coroner, at the Dial Inn, Amblecote, to inquire into the circumstances attending the death of Mr. John Gower, who committed suicide on Tuesday evening. The jury returned a verdict of "Temporary insanity."
"The Suicide Of A Tradesman"
Aris's Birmingham Gazette : April 15th 1871 Page 5

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