Some history of the Waggon and Horses at Darlaston in Staffordshire


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The Waggon and Horses was one of the oldest and important of Darlaston's public-houses. It stood in King Street near to the Bull Stake. The pub has been listed and even adorned with two spellings - sometimes with one 'G' and, at other times a double 'G.' For most of its life the tavern had the double version so I will use the Waggon and Horses.

Darlaston : King Street from the Bull Stake [c.1928]

I used this photograph as a 'Picture Puzzle' within the Virtual Pub and asked the question: "What is missing from the scene from the late 1920s?" The answer is the Waggon and Horses - it's not there! The building would have been next to the branch of Melia's. I will have to contact Walsall Archives as I cannot seem to find a date for the reconstruction of the building [at the time of writing, during Covid-19 Lockdown, I am unable to visit the archives myself]. The brick and terracotta pub was erected to replace the 'broken' Waggon and Horses which was apparently hit by a tram which had left the rails.

Darlaston : The Bull Stake [c.1935]

This view of the Bull Stake was captured a few years later, around 1935, and in this photograph the rebuilt Waggon and Horses can be seen next to Melia's. The new public-house was set back a little from the building line. The Melia grocery chain had branches in many other parts of the country. In the local area they had shops at High Street at Walsall, Market Street at Lichfield and Market Street in Hednesford. The business eventually amalgamated with the Home and Colonial Stores. The premises seen here in King Street amazingly made it into the 21st century. I say amazingly because most of the adjacent buildings, including the Waggon and Horses, have long gone.

On the corner of Bull Stake in both photographs was the retail outlet of the outfitter Henry Huse. Well, that is what he instructed the signwriter to paint above the shop. His actual name was Albert Henry Huse. Born in Staines, Middlesex, the tailor operated a couple of outlets in the region. I believe he focused on the shop on Queen Street in Wolverhampton and this store in Darlaston's was run by his son Ronald. Albert did pretty good in the trade and bought a fine residence at Albrighton.

Darlaston : The Waggon and Horses on King Street [c.1922]

This shows the old Waggon and Horses being shored up by timbers. There are cracks in the building in a number of places and the windows have been replaced. The entrance was particularly nice. A shame that the tavern had to go. The pub was leased to Ind Coope and Allsopp Ltd. At the time of this photograph, the name of the licensee above the door was William George France who, according to the licence register, was in charge of the house from 1920 until his death on November 30th 1923. The place of his death was given as Wallow's Lane at Pleck. The publican was born at Wednesbury in 1866. His parents William and Phoebe France kept the George Inn on Church Street during the late Victorian era. He married Miriam Hampton in September 1889 and the couple settled at King's Hill from where William worked as a joiner. However, by 1891 they were running the Borough Arms on Dudley Street in Wednesbury, where William was documented as publican and brewer. In the Edwardian period William and Miriam France were hosts of the Scott Arms on the corner of Darlaston Road and Platt Street.

Darlaston : King Street featuring the Waggon and Horses [c.1909]

This Edwardian view of King Street shows the Waggon and Horses having its foundations shook by the speed of the woman cycling towards the Bull Stake. The licensee at this time was Charles Mansfield who was possibly the same publican who kept a couple of pubs in Bloxwich, including the Plough Inn on Cemetery Road. Note the gap between the pub and shop. This access to the rear yard would disappear when the enlarged replacement pub was constructed. The shop that would later form part of the Melia empire, can be seen here occupied by the draper Donald MacMillan. He also had premises at Market Place in Willenhall. As his name suggests, he hailed from Scotland. He was assisted in the business by his sisters Flora and Nelly. He was no doubt advised by his father who was also a draper by trade.

Darlaston : Waggon and Horses and Shops of King Street [c.1909]

This closer look at the Waggon and Horses shows that the large gas lantern above the entrance has just the single 'G'. This was supported by a decorative wrought-iron bracket which, combined with the lantern itself, must have weighed a fair bit and required secure fastenings in the brickwork. If this had dropped onto the head of a pedestrian it would have killed them! The pilasters of the entrance have the appearance of Trompe l'Oeil Marble, providing a touch of elegance to the tavern's frontage. The windows were surprisingly plain with no etched or stained-glass. At this time the Waggon and Horses was leased by Showell's Brewery. It was in 1914 that this brewery was sold to Allsopp's of Burton-on-Trent. In 1935 the company merged with the neighbouring Ind Coope & Co. Ltd. to form Ind Coope & Allsopp Ltd. Ownership of the Waggon and Horses followed this route.

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There was another draper's store next to the Waggon and Horses. These premises were occupied by Charles Deeming who operated it as a lock-up unit. He lived at Garfield in Rectory Avenue.

Darlaston : King Street featuring the Waggon and Horses [c.1907]

I have another Edwardian view of King Street that shows the Waggon and Horses. Well, only a little as the clothing display of MacMillan's is obscuring much of the property. The lantern is visible. I like the view as it is very animated and features a couple of carts in the street. A member of the team running the draper's store is using some ladders to update the display of clothing or perhaps retrieving something for a customer. The shop in the foreground appears to be boarded up at this point. The image could have been captured on a Saturday as the street is quite busy.

The Waggon and Horses is featured in the Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory published in 1818. This recorded Nancy Bailey as the victualler in charge of the house. She was also listed as a maltster so no doubt the brewster was producing her homebrewed ales.

Darlaston : The Waggon and Horses in the Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory [1818]

James Bayley was the publican of the Waggon and Horses by the end of the 1820s. He kept the pub with his wife Mary and, in the census of 1841, the couple were employing Elizabeth Fox and Selina Hampson as servants. James Bayley was also recorded as a maltster. Part of the back yard was also dedicated to his other trade as a saddler, harness maker and bridle cutter. At this time George Bayley, almost certainly a close relative, a coach proprietor and carrier, was operating a service from Birmingham to Wolverhampton that called at the Waggon and Horses. The name of the house suggests that a carrier had operated a service from here in earlier times.

Following the death of James Bayley, the licence of the Waggon and Horses was transferred to widow Mary. Her sons Samuel and Joseph had grown up on the premises and both learned a trade from their father. Samuel was listed as a maltster, though he was seemingly receiving some help or assistance from Joseph Emery who was living at the pub in 1851. Joseph became a saddler and probably continued in his father's workshop. Mary's other son, John, became a mine agent. Mary Bayley was also recorded as a maltster during the 1850s so the family brewing tradition was upheld by both her and Samuel.

Darlaston : The Waggon and Horses in White's Directory [1854]

This extract from White's Directory of 1854 shows that different strands of the Bayley clan had a finger in many of the pies of Darlaston, including a number of the public-houses. However, by 1860 the licensee of the Waggon and Horses was James Watson. The locally-born gun lock maker kept the tavern with his wife Charlotte. He would later concentrate on his trade within the gun-making industry.

Nehemiah Harper was the licensee of the Waggon and Horses in the early 1870s. The former butcher was born in Darlaston in 1839. He spent some of his childhood in Derbyshire. He married Harriet Doughty in June 1862. He was still recorded at the Waggon and Horses in a directory published in 1879. However, the census conducted two years later has the widow Rebecca Guy as the victualler in charge of the premises. Hailing from Shropshire, she had moved to the Black Country with her husband, the charter master Benjamin Guy. In 1861 they were running the Red Lion on Brick Kiln Street at Willenhall. Between 1870-4 they were running the George and Crown on Bilston Road at Mabbs Bank.

Liverpool-born Frederick Kirkham, along with his wife Martha, had earlier kept The Eagle on Bilston Road at Monmore Green. I think Frederick died in 1893, the licence passing to widow Martha. She re-married in January 1898 to Richard Lloyd, licensee of the George on the High Street at Bloxwich. Martha seems to have remained at the Waggon and Horses. Certainly, she was recorded here during the 1901 census by which time she was a widow again. Her second husband died in September 1900. By the end of the Edwardian period she was living with her younger children at Pleck where she worked as a dressmaker. However, her eldest daughter, Beatrice, remained in the licensed trade and worked as a barmaid at the Globe on Darlaston Road at Pleck.

Listed in a 1904 trade directory, George Shave was recorded as a manager of the Waggon and Horses for Showell's Brewery. Thomas Tranter had the same status when the directory of 1908 was published. Thomas Salt was the licensee at the time of the 1911 census. At the turn of the 20th century he and his London-born wife Louisa had kept the Bull's Head at Coseley, though they were not married at that time. Perhaps love blossomed behind the servery!

Darlaston : King Street featuring the Wagon and Horses [c.1913]

The Waggon and Horses looked like this around this period. Note that there is only one 'G' used on the signage. Walter and Jane Iliff were hosts of the pub during the First World War. This was another couple with previous experience in the licensed trade. At the start of the century they were running the Spread Eagle in Victoria Street at Wolverhampton. Walter Iliff hailed from the brewing town of Burton-on-Trent. At the end of the Edwardian period he and his wife were running the Grapes Inn on the High Street at Wednesbury.

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Darlaston : Bull Stake and King Street [c.1928]

It is worth looking across the road to see what the junction of Bull Stake and King Street looked like in the late 1920s. Like the area around the Waggon and Horses, the buildings seen here on this side of the street have all vanished. The public library now stands on the site. Collins Boot Store can be seen on the corner. A florist's shop separated the 'The Peoples' Boot Shop' from the premises of the Empire Tailoring Company, the address of which was No.5 King Street. At No.7, almost opposite the Waggon and Horses, was the butcher William Holt.

Horace and Elsie Jarvis were running the Waggon and Horses at the outbreak of World War 2. Born in Birmingham in 1891, Horace started his career as an electro plate worker, a field in which his father and brother were also engaged. The family lived at Albert Road near Aston Park. He served in the Royal Air Force towards the end of the First World War. The couple lived at the Waggon and Horses with their daughter Lola who worked as a clerk in a welfare office. Horace Jarvis died at an early age in November 1940. The licence passed to his widow who managed the house until the end of the war. She re-married to Edmund Jones in February 1945. She would marry again in later years. Her daughter Lola was also married on three occasions.

Licensees of the Waggon and Horses

1818 - Nancy Bailey
1830 - James Bayley
1851 - Mary Bayley
1860 - James Watson
1868 - John Middleton
1870 - Nehemiah Harper
1881 - Rebecca Guy
1888 - Richard Cotterell
1891 - Frederick William Kirkham
1893 - Martha Jane Kirkham
1898 - Martha Jane Lloyd
1904 - George H. Shave
1908 - Thomas Tranter
1911 - Thomas Salt
1916 - Walter Iliff
1919 - 1920 Robert Rigby
1920 - 1923 William George France
1923 - 1924 Miriam France
1924 - 1925 Richard Henry Steel
1925 - 1927 Charles James Udall
1927 - 1930 William Bradshaw
1930 - 1931 George William Newbould
1931 - 1932 Arthur Gifford
1932 - 1936 Harry Thomas Brooks
1936 - 1941 Horace George Jarvis
1941 - 1945 Elsie Jarvis
1945 - 1951 George Rowe
1951 - 1952 William Stafford Shorthouse
1952 - Walter Frederick Miers
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

Burton-on-Trent : Ind Coope Brewery & Co. Limited

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Related Newspaper Articles

"On Friday and Saturday last, an inquest was held by G. Hinchcliffe, Esq., coroner, at the Waggon and Horses Inn, Darlaston, on the body of Francis Taylor who died from the effect of injuries received by quantity of bricks falling upon him down the shaft of a pit where he had been engaged at work. It appeared in evidence that the accident occurred entirely through the negligence or carelessness of the engineer and banksman, who were employed at the time of the accident in raising a skip-full of bricks from the bottom of the shaft, which, by their mismanagement, capsized, precipitating the contents on the head of the unfortunate deceased, who was standing underneath. The jury, after a lengthened inquiry, returned a verdict of "manslaughter" against Benjamin Cooper, [banksman,] and John Ratcliffe, [engineer." The former is in custody, and a warrant has been issued for the apprehension of the latter, who absconded immediately after the accident occurred."
Staffordshire Advertiser : March 6th 1847 Page 5

"Yesterday [Friday], at the Wolverhampton Public Office, the case of the Excise officers against Mr. James Bailey, maltster, of the Waggon and Horses, Darlaston, was proceeded with, before John Leigh, Esq., and G. B. Thorneycroft, Esq. Mr. Holland appeared for the defendant, and Dr. Bateman for the Excise. The information contained six counts and rider, the penalties sought to be recovered being upwards of £1,000; the offence was alleged being commuted on the 19th or 20th of February. Mr. W. Coomber, supervisor of excise, deposed to having, on several occasions, noticed that fresh grain had been added to the cistern, and had also observed an undue increase in one of the floors. On the 20th of February, the witness found that fresh grain had been added to the cistern, and a portion from the cistern apparently mixed with the young floor. He took samples of the grain, which were sealed up his house. John Taylor, excise officer, corroborated Mr. Coomber's testimony, with the exception of stating that the samples taken were scaled up in his house instead of Mr. Coomber's. Two other witnesses were also called by the Excise. No evidence, however, was adduced to show that Mr. Bailey was at all cognizant of the irregularity, and it will be remembered that he took proceedings against his man for the offence, the case, however, being postponed to allow of the hearing of the present information. On the close of the evidence for the Excise, the Bench esteeming Mr. Bailey himself had no knowledge whatever of the offences, suggested the withdrawal of the information on the payment of £40. Dr. Bateman refused to accede to this proposition, and the Bench then decided upon convicting on one count only, and reducing the penalty [£100] to the lowest amount, namely, one-fourth, or £25. The Bench observed they were unanimously of opinion Mr. Bailey had no guilty knowledge whatever of the fact, and expressed hope the Excise would not increase any expense Mr. Bailey would be put to through the misconduct of others. Dr. Bateman then gave notice of his intention to appeal against the conviction, when Mr. Bailey, who was in a very ill state of health, and it seems has been so for some time, offered, to prevent further proceedings, to pay £40, and forfeit the barley seized. This the Excise agreed to, and the conviction was accordingly taken on the third count, and mitigated to £40. The proceedings lasted four hours and a half."
Staffordshire Advertiser : March 17th 1849 Page 5

"At the Police Court, on Wednesday, before Messrs E. C. Keay, and D. Hipkins, George Yates [22], brewer and son of the licensee of the Sir Robert Peel Inn, New Street, was charged with assaulting Thomas Tranter, of the Waggon and Horses Inn, King Street, and also with being drunk and refusing to quit the premises. Mr. Sargent [Wednesbury] appeared to prosecute, and Mr. A. J. Glover defended. Mr. Sargent said that at 10.40 on the night of Monday, the 8th inst., the defendant entered the house under the influence of drink, and the barman Price refused to serve him. An effort was then made by the defendant to get drink from Mrs. Tranter. At this time the complainant's attention was called to defendant, and Price was requested to ask him to leave. The piano player also asked him to go, but instead of leaving the house, Yates sat himself on the piano stool and commenced thumping the instrument. The complainant then went round the counter with the intention of putting him out, but the defendant stood up on the platform on which the piano stood and struck him. Yates was eventually got out of the house, but he twice rushed into the place again, and was not got rid of until the police had been summoned. On the following Wednesday evening he went and saw the complainant and expressed his sorrow for what had happened, at the same time intimating that he should have been there earlier, but remembered nothing the occurrence. Mr. Tranter bore out this statement in evidence, and was cross-examined by Mr. Glover to whether an effort was not made to withdraw the summons, and whether visits paid to the prosecuting solicitor and to the police by Mrs. Tranter were not with this intention. The witness agreed that his wife was willing to withdraw the summonses, if it were possible, but he was not. At the request of the Bench, Mr. Sargent consulted his client to whether he was now willing to accept the defendant's apology. Ultimately an agreement was arrived at for the charges to be withdrawn on payment of the costs [£1. 19s.], which included one guinea for the prosecuting solicitor. Mr. Glover mentioned that he had seven witnesses to call, and a complete answer to the charges. He also made allusion to the defendant's previous good character."
"Assault Summons Against Brewer Withdrawn"
Walsall Advertiser : March 20th 1909 Page 2

"Trouble at a Darlaston public-house on Saturday night led to the appearance at the Darlaston Police Court on Wednesday, of Charles Vernon, [42], 10, Blockall, Darlaston, charged with being drunk on licensed premises. Mr. A. J. Glover watched the case on behalf of the owners and licence concerned. Police-Constable Phillips stated that at 9.25 on Saturday night, October 31st, he was called to the Wagon and Horses, King Street, Darlaston, and in the bar saw the defendant drunk. One of the barmaids asked him to put the defendant out, and he arrested him and brought him to Darlaston Police Station. He was very rough on the way and kept threatening to strike him. The licensee, Charles Udall, stated that defendant went to his premises at about 8.30, and was then drunk. Witness refused to serve him, and ordered him to leave. He returned twice after being turned out. Vernon, who pleaded guilty and whose first offence it was, was fined 10s."
"Thrice Ejected From Inn"
Walsall Observer & South Staffordshire Chronicle
November 7th 1925 Page 13

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