Some history of the Anchor Hotel at Cradley Heath in the County of Staffordshire


Click or tap here

Located in St. Anne's Road a few yards from the Five Ways, this pub was simply called The Anchor towards the end of its life though it was earlier known as the Anchor Hotel. However, the pub was originally called the Royal Exchange. The thoroughfare on which the pub stood used to be called Dudley Wood Road. Going back further in time before the Edwardian period the thoroughfare was called Scholding Green Road. The address of the Anchor Hotel was No.1 in both street names. A tiny settlement recorded in the 16th century, Scholding Green was a short distance away on the road out towards Mousesweet Brook.

Cradley Heath : The Anchor Hotel on St. Anne's Road [c.1947]

This photograph of the Anchor Hotel was taken around 1947. The publican at this time was James Newton. He held the licence from August 1940 until August 1961 when he was succeeded by Stanley Hay. Banks's Ales and Spirits are advertised on the pub's wall. The other painted advert in the distance is for G. H. Viner and Sons, a family business in the decorating and plumbing trade, based in a property almost opposite the Bell Inn.

Cradley Heath : Smoke Room Etched Glass at the Anchor Hotel [c.1947]

The windows of the Anchor Hotel featured etched-glass panes and these revealed that, in earlier days, the left-hand room was a liquor vaults and the room to the right was a smoke-room. There was another smoke-room towards the back of the building but the liquor vaults, later known as the bar was a considerably larger room. I can remember this being packed when the factory hooters sounded. A dense fog of cigarette smoke hung in the air and there was a general industrial smell from the men who sunk beers like they were going out of fashion. Just down the road from the Anchor Hotel was the foundry of Dudley & Dowell Ltd. where the blokes toiled making cast-iron drain covers so they were thirsty at the end of a shift.

Cradley Heath : Bas Relief at the Anchor Hotel [c.1947]

There was an anchor in bas-relief in the stuccoed gable of the building. The gable itself was a later addition to the structure - the original roofline however is still pronounced with the hood moulding above the first floor windows. The pitch of the roof extended quite a way and, as you can see from the side window in the first photograph, there was an additional floor that was used either for hotel accommodation or acted as the living quarters of the publican's family.

Cradley Heath : Christ Church at Five Ways [c.1908]

The Anchor Hotel was adjacent to Christ Church on Five Ways. After the structure closed as a place of worship it was used as a second-hand furniture shop, an ex-catalogue store and even a weightlifting gymnasium. The Anchor and all surrounding buildings were demolished when the new by-pass for Cradley Heath was created in the mid-2000s. In truth, the Anchor's best days had long gone and it was a sad affair towards the end. Most of the regular customers had seemingly abandoned a traditional pub environment in favour of cheaper beer at Wetherspoon's in the High Street.

Cradley Heath : Possible Former Malthouse near the Five Ways [2004]

There was an interesting building behind the Anchor Hotel, though on the other side of a dividing wall. It does look as though it was used as a malthouse at some point in its history. If this is the case however I suspect it was more likely to have been related to the Bell Inn across the road as the Billingham family were involved in brewing. I have not seen any evidence to suggest that beers were produced on the site of the Anchor Hotel or the Royal Exchange.

Thomas and Mary Robinson were running this pub in the early 1860s when it was known as the Royal Exchange. Thomas Robinson originated from Herefordshire but Mary hailed from Dudley. She was the daughter of Thomas and Phoebe Cook and grew up in Woodside where her father worked as a puddler. She was widowed by the end of the decade but remained at the Royal Exchange as licensee and was helped by her mother and niece, the latter working as a cook.

The man behind the pub's new name and remodelling in the early 1880s was George Chatham. Along with nearby Netherton, Cradley Heath was once a major chain manufacturing town. Many of the chains were produced for the shipping industry. In the late 19th century almost every man living in Newtown Lane, Providence Street and Foxoak Street was employed as a chainmaker, though many worked forging anchors. The decision to change the pub's name no doubt celebrated this. This not only helped to foster a local identity but encouraged customer loyalty from the local residents - a sound economic decision for many a publican.

Cradley Heath : Anchor Forge following its relocation to the Black Country Museum [1992]

Not too far away from the pub was an Anchor Forge at Isaiah Preston's factory in Wood's Lane. A steam hammer was used here to forge parts for anchors along with other heavy metal goods. This was removed to the Black Country Museum and later housed in a building once used at Johnson's Rolling Mill in West Bromwich. Some of the world's most famous anchors were of local origin. Whilst the main anchor for the ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic was partly produced at Noah Hingley's in Netherton, the anchor for the Britannic, sister ship of the Titanic, was manufactured at the Railway Works of Richard Sykes and Son located close to Cradley Heath's railway station.

H.M.H.S. Britannic as a Hospital Ship in World War One

The Britannic ocean liner was the third and largest Olympic-class ship of the White Star Line. With the outbreak of World War One coinciding with the ship's launch, the liner was put into service as a hospital ship. In November 1916 the ship struck an underwater mine off the Greek island of Kea, and the liner sank within an hour with the loss of 30 lives.

Click or tap here

George Chatham was born around 1852 in Farlow, not too far from Oreton in Shropshire. He was the son of a agricultural labourer but arrived in Cradley Heath when his mother re-married. She was wed to the scrap iron dealer Richard Shaw. The family lived nearby in a substantial property called Whitehall. This building, and arguably the nearby coal pit of the same name, is commemorated in the street name off Lower High Street in a locality that was once called Lomey Town. Well they say that "where there's muck, there's brass" so I presume Richard Shaw made a few quid and that this was the source of capital for George Chatham when he took over at the Royal Exchange.

George Chatham had recently married Sarah Radford, a Quarry Bank woman. Trading under the new name of the Anchor Hotel, the couple employed Old Hill-born Sarah Cooper as a barmaid and also hired Netherton lass, Rachel Cotton, as a general servant. The Chatham's had two daughters and remained at the pub until the early 1890s. However, George decided to rediscover the agricultural roots of his ancestors and went back into farming. He didn't do too bad for himself and managed to retire at a relatively early age. During the Edwardian period the Chatham family lived in Clifton Street at Heath on the edge of Stourbridge in what is now known as The Old Quarter.

Cradley Heath : Wall Lettering advertising Banks's Ales at the Anchor Hotel [c.1947]

A glass painter by trade, James Rowlands took over the Anchor Hotel towards the end of Queen Victoria's reign. He originated from West Bromwich and his wife Emma hailed from Birmingham. However, it would appear that the couple had tried their luck in Australia for their two eldest children, Francis and Dorothy, were born on the other side of the globe. I bet they had fun attending a school in Lomey Town with an Australian accent. After making the voyage back to Blighty the family first settled in Smethwick but relocated to Cradley Heath when the opportunity to run the pub arose. I imagine this couple were the first to run the Anchor Hotel for Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd. It would seem logical that the company purchased this outlet from George Chatham, allowing him to start up his farming enterprise. It could however have been another brewery later acquired by W&D, such as North Worcestershire Breweries Ltd.

Boer War

James and Emma Rowlands knew how to lay on a spread. In October 1899 they were praised for a first-class repast they served for the first annual dinner of Cradley Heath Cricket Club. It was noted by the members how well the tables were laid out and that "their charming appearance, evidently involving a considerable amount of labour."

James Rowlands landed himself in trouble when he and his customers celebrated the signing of the peace treaty ending the Boer War in South Africa. He was hauled before the magistrates on charges of opening during prohibited hours and keeping open on Sunday May 31st, 1902. At 11.15pm on that Saturday night Police Constables Kent and Macey spotted two people leaving the hotel so they went inside to investigate. They found eleven men eating and drinking in the pub and asked James Rowlands why he was still open for business. The publican told the policemen that everyone was a guest of a Mr. Cave who was staying at the hotel. James Rowlands had earlier spoken to Police Constable Pitcher and had asked "what latitude he was going to give the publicans that night." The police told him they had no power to grant late opening and reminded the licensee that if he did the same thing as he did on Mafeking night he would be reported. When he appeared in court James Rowlands told the bench that he had "closed the pub at ten o'clock but owing to the proclamation of peace there was general rejoicing and a semi-torchlight procession." Mrs. Rowlands was called and she told the court that she only supplied Mr. Cave's guests with refreshments but no money was passed. Although Mr. Guest, a resident at the Anchor Hotel for seven months, told the magistrates that he was responsible for the men being in the pub, the Bench, consisting of Walter Bassano, J. H. Smith and J. Billingham, decided that an offence had been committed. However, because of the declaration of peace they were lenient in their sentence. James Rowlands had to pay a total fine of £2.2s.

Cradley Heath : Cigar Sale at the Anchor Hotel [1901]

James and Emma Rowlands did not stay too long after this incident. Perhaps they felt the local constabulary were a little unsympathetic to them. They subsequently left Cradley Heath and went on to bigger things. Much bigger things. In the census of 1911 they are recorded at the helm of the Market Hotel in Station Street, Birmingham where they were in charge of a small army of staff.

Cradley Heath : Plan of the Anchor Hotel on St. Anne's Road [1903]

In 1903 a building plan of the Anchor Hotel was drawn up for the licensing section of local government. The plot comprised of four main buildings: the public-house, a kitchen, a coach house, and a stable block with toilets. The main building had a central spine corridor with a bar to the left and a smoke-room to the right. There was another smoke-room to the rear of the building. Located next to the landlord's sitting room, this was probably used by the more refined patrons. Customers in this room would have been served by a waiter. In the corridor there was a hatch window to the servery which facilitated off sales, usually called a jug counter.

In the old days it was a bit of a trudge to the toilets. Patrons would have to walk up the yard, past the kitchen and commercial room to access the water closet in the stable block. Customers using the commercial room had their own indoor lavatory as did those using the club room on the first floor of this block. Across the yard there was a coach house for carriages and wagons. The Anchor Hotel had five bedrooms for visitors or lodgers with one shared bathroom close to the top of the stairs. The pub's pantry was located beneath this shared facility.

Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd. improved the Anchor Hotel in 1941. The interior layout of the drinking areas remained pretty much the same. The key changes were to the rear. In the space previously used for a veranda the brewery constructed a small hall and men's indoor toilets that could be accessed from a new door at the back of the bar. The kitchen was converted into a women's and children's room with an exclusive entrance from the yard. This new room had an adjoining toilet facility so no more traipsing up the yard in the cold. The former commercial room was converted into a store. A new kitchen was installed in the former sitting room on the ground floor; the licensee's accommodation was now exclusively on the first floor with a new sitting room created in one of the former bedrooms.

At the end of the Edwardian period the Anchor Hotel was kept by Victor and Mabel Dingley. The publican was a local man but Mabel was born in London's Maida Vale. The couple had two sons named, like his father, Victor Percival. The first died from meningitis whilst the family were still living at the Anchor Hotel. However, the second was born in Oshawa as the Dingley's had emigrated to Canada in 1922. During his time in Cradley Heath Victor Dingley spent much of this time in public-houses for his parents, Henry and Sarah Dingley had kept the Talbot Hotel for many years. The circumstances with which Victor Dingley met Mabel Walker is a curiosity - she was a domestic servant working in London at the time of the 1901 census yet the couple were married soon after this date.

Click or tap here

Victor Dingley was succeeded by Robert Botfield, the head of a family who did the rounds in Cradley Heath. He and his wife Phoebe had previously kept the Beehive Inn in Grainger's Lane. They later managed the Bell Hotel during the 1920s, a time when their son George was in charge of the Salutation Inn. The Botfield clan were also involved with the Jolly Collier Inn and the Round of Beef before the Second World War.

Cradley Heath : Lantern and Licensee's Plate at the Anchor Hotel [c.1947]

A lot of licensees came and went during the 1920s and 1930s, suggesting that trading conditions were difficult. However the Anchor Hotel went through a great period of stability when James Newton took over as manager. Taking charge just after the start of the Second World War, he remained mine host until 1961, the year in which Yuri Gagarin became the first man to journey into outer space. Notwithstanding global matters, the publican must have seen many changes in Cradley Heath during his time at the pub.

Dennis Priest was the publican during the 1960s. I believe he moved from here to the Bull Terrier at Surfeit Hill.

Cradley Heath : Anchor Hotel [2004]

I only drank in this pub on a couple of occasions in the late 1970s. I tended to drink across the road in the Bell Hotel because, at the time, I was partial to the Ansell's beer. However, I do remember seeing this place packed to the hilt during early doors every Friday as men from the neighbouring factories nipped in for a pint on the way home or, in some cases, until last orders were called. As mentioned, the Whitehall Foundry of Dudley and Dowell Ltd. was just down the road and the men who worked in the heavy business of drain-casting would have slaked their thirst in the pub. Of course, by the time I was of drinking age the firm had been taken over and were trading as the Brickhouse Foundry Group but everyone still called it by the older name.

It is sad that the Anchor Hotel was demolished. Did it really have to be removed from Cradley Heath's landscape? In 2012 the site was occupied by a manual car wash set-up. What the heck is going on in the world?

Cradley Heath : Anchor Hotel and part of Christ Church [2004]

Licensees of the Anchor Hotel

Royal Exchange
1868 - Thomas Robinson
1872 - Mrs. Mary Robinson
1880 - George R. Chatham
Anchor Hotel
1888 - George R. Chatham
1900 - James Rowlands
1903 - William Jones
1904 - Joseph Lowe
1911 - Victor Percival Dingley
1914 - Robert William Botfield
1915 - John Denning
1919 - William Thomas Walker
1920 - 1920 Henrietta Walker
1920 - 1926 William Tromans
1926 - 1930 Major Allport
1930 - 1931 William Thomas Hickman
1931 - 1932 Jeston Victor Hall
1932 - 1937 Harry Langton
1937 - 1938 Frederick Nelson Raybould
1938 - 1940 George Pearson
1940 - 1961 James Thomas Newton
1961 - 1963 Stanley Hay
1963 - 1969 Dennis Priest
1969 - 1969 David John Price
1969 - 1969 Peter John Tibbetts
1969 - 1971 Gladys Cole
1971 - 1972 Graham Cole
1972 - 1973 John Derek Martin
1973 - 1975 Bert Raymond Priest
1975 - 1977 Leslie Walter Nicol
1977 - 1978 Raymond Whittaker
1978 - 1982 Kenneth Millman
1982 - 1985 David Michael Muggleston
1985 - 1986 John Cousins
1986 - 1988 Christine Smith
1988 - 1989 Graham Leonard Lane
1989 - 1991 Richard Turner
1991 - 1992 Philip Anthony Ranford
1992 - 1995 Linda Josephine Ranford
1995 - 1996 Claire Joanne Tilt
1996 - 1996 Desmond Joseph Williams
1996 - 1997 Helena Sayers
1997 Martin Wayne Kendrick
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

Banks's Brewery Poster Advertisement

Cradley Heath : Map of Public-Houses around the Five Ways [1884]

This 1884 map extract shows the area around the Five Ways with the location of the Anchor Hotel marked. Other nearby pubs are marked in red and includes the Bell Inn, Crown Hotel, Five Ways Hotel, Old Cross Guns Inn, Railway Hotel, Red Lion and the Salutation Inn. The earthworks of the Whitehall Colliery can just be seen on the left-hand edge of this map extract. This land was transformed into a public park in the 20th century. Note the open space on the corner of Five Ways where Christ Church would later be constructed. The Bethel Chapel, serving the town's Methodist New Connexion congregation, was just off the top of this map at the 'top' end of Scholding Green. The chapel was thought to date from at least 1836 but moved when the new church was erected on Five Ways.

Cradley Heath : Inn Sign of the Anchor Hotel [2004]

The sign of the Anchor was a feature of the building's gable and I took this picture of the bas-relief in 2004. George Chatham changed the name of the pub from the Royal Exchange to the Anchor Hotel in the late 1880s. This was to celebrate the manufacturing achievements of nearby factories and local men engaged in the forging of boat and ship anchors. More generally the sign is thought to have emerged there when either ex-sailors took over a pub or they wanted to attract sailors to use the pub. However, the emergence of the canal network in the early days of the industrial revolution led to a growth of Anchor pubs close to canals. However, in this case the name is industry specific.

Click or tap here

Related Newspaper Articles

"At the Petty Sessions, on Wednesday, before Messrs. Barrs, Mathews, and Kendrick, Joseph Priest, miner, was charged with assaulting Police Constable Turner and Police Constable Pointon, on March 31st, at the Five Ways, Cradley Heath. From the evidence it appeared there was a disturbance in the streets, and the above named officers were called to quell it. The officers then went to apprehend the defendant, and a general scuffle ensued, in which the outside crowd pelted the police with stones. Defendant, as a ringleader, was committed to prison for two months; and Elijah Stokes was fined 2s. 6d., John Jones and George Jeptha were ordered to pay costs, and two brothers, named Samuel and Timothy Priest, were ordered to find sureties of the peace."
"The Penalty of Assaulting the Police"
Birmingham Daily Post : November 11th 1862

"A new chapel, for the use of the Methodist New Connexion congregation at Cradley Heath, was opened on Monday evening, the event being celebrated with a tea meeting. The total cost, including the value of the site [£800], is about £3,000., and the building will accommodate 500 persons. Mr. J. Whitley has advanced the money necessary for the building, on the condition that it is repaid in ten yearly instalments."
"Opening of a New Chapel"
Birmingham Daily Post : October 29th 1884

"At Old Hill, yesterday, Henry Alfred Ashwin [37], no home, was charged with obtaining, food and lodgings by false pretences, from George R. Chatwin, landlord of the Anchor Hotel, Cradley Heath, between November 13th and 27th. Proseoutor said that prisoner visited his house on the evening of the 13th ult. and applied for lodgings. He said he represented the Midland Educational Company, Birmingham. He told witness about the commission he was getting, and said he had received orders from several persons in that locality for advertisements in the company's diary. He obtained lodgings, food, and drink to the value of £2.7s.4d. Prisoner went out every morning with a parcel, and appeared to be doing considerable business. Police Sergeant Newman, on the 27th, visited the Holly Bush Inn, Cradley Heath, and questioned the prisoner about leaving the Anchor without paying what he owed. Prisoner said that he could pay his debts, and witness requested that he should accompany him to the prosecutor's house. Immediately the prisoner got outside he bolted, and witness and Police Constable Winn, after a good chase, caught him. When charged he said, "I always represented to Mr. Chatwin that I was employed by the Midland Educational Company. I am employed indirectly at the rate of 25 per cent." Witness searched prisoner, and found upon him 4s. 2d. in money, two filled-up receipt books, whilst in a parcel which he carried with him he found 460 billheads belonging to various firms and trades people in the neighbourhood, upon whom he had called. Further evidence showed that prisoner was neither employed by the Midland Educational Company nor authorised to canvass. He was further charged with obtaining 2s. 6d. by false pretences from Messrs. Holt and Willetts, pulley-block manufacturers, Cradley Heath, and 12s. 6d. from Edgar Silvers Bloomer, It was stated that there were altogether about twenty charges against prisoner. The magistrates committed him to the Staffordshire Quarter Sessions."
"Alleged False Pretences in the Black Country"
Birmingham Daily Post : December 5th 1895 Page 7

"Warwick Plant, fishmonger, High Street, Cradley, was charged with assaulting Hezekiah Bills on the 6th inst. Mr. G. Williams [Wright and Williams] defended. Complainant said he was a chainmaker living at Quarry Bank. On the 6th inst., about 8.30pm he went into the Anchor Hotel, Cradley Heath, and took his musical box with him, and there set it to work. The defendant, who was in the house, commenced insulting witness, and wanted to fight, but witness refused, saying he was no fighter. Defendant then struck witness a blow on the head, and he fell backwards. The landlord came in, and they left the premises. Witness did not touch the defendant at all. Cross-examined : Witness did not beg for money after he had played the instrument. He did not go to the defendant in a threatening manner. John Smith corroborated, with the exception of saying that the complainant was struck on the face, not the head. Mr. Williams said that on the date named the complainant went on to the licensed premises with a musical box and started it to work, afterwards going round for money from the customers. A man named Mallen gave complainant a penny. When complainant went to defendant he refused to give him anything, saying that a man who could earn £3 a week ought not to cadge. Complainant then threatened defendant, and went up to him as if to strike him. The defendant pushed him away, and complainant pushed defendant and another man down. This was all that took place, and there was so assault whatever. Defendant, Harry Stevens, and George Mallen, all gave evidence in the above sense. The Bench dismissed the case."
"Charge of Assault in a Public-House"
County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire
March 16th 1901 Page 2

"On Saturday morning last a meeting of the dollied chainmakers who are out on strike in the Cradley Heath and surrounding districts for an advance of 10 per cent. in wages was held at the Anchor Hotel, Cradley Heath. The Secretary [Mr. J. H. Smith], who presided over a large attendance, in the course of a few remarks, said there were new developments in the strike since the previous Tuesday. There were more men now out on strike than at the beginning of the previous week. He was pleased to state that some of the men had commenced to work at the advanced rates, in addition to those of the operatives who started early in the week. Whilst some had commenced to work, others had finished up the remaining iron or were finishing up, so that their numbers had considerably swelled. He pointed out that there were no large stocks of any description in the district, and it was necessary, under the most normal conditions, for the employers in the block chain trade to keep a fair amount of stock. He mentioned that three of the largest employers in the trade - Tankers, Mr. Rowland Priest, and Mr. Charles Willetts - had started their men at the advanced prices, and altogether the outlook was very rosy. He knew that some of the employers would argue that they would start their men as soon as ever they had sufficient orders in, but it was moat remarkable that up till the previous Saturday they had very few men upon the out-of-work fund. It seemed strange that the orders should have fallen off so suddenly. The protestations of some of the employers were not so genuine as they appeared. There were employers who did not love the society, and were only anxious to do what they could to break it up. He had been informed that some of them had said they had only to keep the men out on strike and then their funds would be depleted by the strike. The employers could have done this many years ago, when their organisations were not so strong; but now they were in a happier position, and they could not only draw upon their own funds, but the funds of the Midland Counties Trades Federation, with whom they were affiliated. They were not anxious to strike, because they did not like strikes; but it was rather remarkable that the operatives should have to take such a course in order to secure what was promised to them in November last. The strike would have to be continued, and no doubt many of the men would be out for some time; but he had no hesitation in saying that they would have something for their Sunday dinner each week, if the strike lasted the year out. [Applause.] It was the intention of the Chester Society to start an old-age pension fund, and the members were going to pay an extra 6d. per week. He thought a similar scheme could be commenced in their society, and if at present they were able to pay 1s. per week, he felt they could pay an additional 6d. Another thing he wished to refer to was the complaints made by some of the employers about the drinking habits of the men. He had noticed it himself, and he hoped that when the masters were anxious to get the orders executed that the operatives would do their best to assist them, and not go off drinking. A resolution to continue the strike until the whole of the employers had conceded the advance was carried unanimously. At the close a sum of £150 was distributed in strike pay."
"The Strike of Chainmakers at Cradley Heath"
Birmingham Daily Post : March 1st 1902 Page 8

Click or tap here for more information

Click here to visit the W3C Markup Validation Service