Some history of the Dudley Arms at Cape Hill in Smethwick in the county of Staffordshire.
More information on the Dudley Arms at Smethwick to follow. I probably created the page as I had a link to the Dudley Arms from another page. When building the site it is easier to place links as they crop up rather than go back later on. I realise this is frustrating if you were specifically looking for information on the Dudley Arms. There is information on Smethwick and Staffordshire dotted around the website - click here for a suitable starting place.
"If a postage stamp is placed upside down on a letter what does it signify? A local man looked upon it as an insult, and this was
the primary cause of his appearance before the Magistrates to answer a summons for assault. He was Fred Steward, a Cape Hill man, and the complainant, for
whom Mr. Willison appeared [acting on the instructions of Messrs. Mitchell's and Butler's] was Ernest Reeve, one of their employees. Defendant
pleaded guilty, but added that he committed the assault under great provocation. Mr. Willison, at the outset, commented upon defendant's plea, and said he was
going to ask the Bench to say there was but one way in which a brute of defendant's description could he dealt with, and that was by making him suffer, by
imprisonment, because of the intense suffering he had inflicted upon the prosecutor. It appeared that the defendant had been employed in the bottling department of
Messrs. Mitchell's and Butler's, the prosecutor being in a senior position, but he had so badly knocked about two men at the works that it became necessary
for Reeve to discharge him; that being in accordance with his bounden duty. That was some five months ago and since then defendant had been endeavouring to get
re-instated, and had an interview with Mr. Harry Butler. The brewery were not in a position to reinstate him owing to the fact that there was no vacancy at the
time and defendant was informed of this fact. In the course of his duty Reeve had occasion, on the 17th inst., to go into the Dudley Arms at Cape Hill, and while
there defendant came in. He showed by his attitude that he was out for trouble. He went to Reeve with a letter he had received from the firm, but his complaint was
not that he was unable to be re-instated, but that the stamp on the envelope was upside down. He started to abuse him, but Reeve told him he had no justification
whatever for doing this, and almost immediately defendant dealt him a savage blow in the mouth, with such a terrific force that it split his lip in two and he had to
be taken to Dr. Bradshaw, who deemed it necessary to put in two stitches. Mr. Reeve then walked out of the house, but defendant followed him and threatened what he
would do, at the same time taking hold of his walking stick. Complainant then went in march of a policeman, but when they returned the man had cleared off. Mr.
Willison observed that Messrs. Mitchell's and Butler's had asked him to particularly call the Magistrates' attention to the fact that everything Reeve
did was strictly in accordance with his duties. Reeve, who said he was in charge of the draymen employed by Messrs. Mitchell's and Butler's, gave evidence
bearing out Mr. Willison's statement, as did a man named Hope who was with Reeve at the time of the assault. Dr. Bradshaw said it would require rather excessive
violence to inflict such an injury as Reeve had, and owing to the fact that it was lacerated he thought defendant must have been wearing a ring when the blow was
struck. Complainant would probably always have a scar on his lip. Defendant, who gave evidence on his own behalf, said he met one or two friends, who asked him if
he had any work to go to. He told them he hadn't and mentioned the letter to them. One of them observed "Look at the stamp, it's upside down. It's
an insult to your King and Country." On the date in question he went into the Dudley Arms and seeing Reeve there, went up and asked him what he meant by the
stamp on the letter. He replied that it was only some frivolous little thing, and defendant said he was preparing to leave the public-house when complainant
said things which caused everybody to start laughing. "They made me the laughing stock of the whole room," he said, "and I was practically goaded into
hitting him." Mr. Williams pointed out that the stamping of the firm's envelopes had nothing at all to do with Reeve, and to defendant he observed:
"I suppose if there hadn't been any stamp at all on the letter you would have pretty nearly killed him." Defendant said he took it as an insult for a
stamp to be upside down on a letter to him. Mr. Willison: "How on earth does a stamp fixed upside down on a letter affect you?" Defendant:
"It is an insult and means that all further communications must cease." Mr. Willison: "Who told you all that silly twaddle concerning stamps -
and on a business letter, too." Mr. H. Morgan [Deputy Magistrates Clerk]: "He is evidently thinking of love letters." [Laughter.]
Defendant, who said he had been a soldier, was about to make observations concerning his career, when Mr. Willison interposed with the remark "because you
have been a soldier gives you no special prerogative in England." Alderman Pinkney [Chairman] said defendant had been guilty of a very brutal assault,
and they did not intend to take his probably good Army character into consideration. It was lawful for him to fight for his country, but it was most unlawful to
assault complainant as he had done. He commented upon the seriousness of the affair taking place on licensed premises, and inflicted a fine of £5, or in
default 21 days' imprisonment."
"Assault in a Public-House"
Smethwick Telephone : July 31st 1920 Page 3