Some history of the Red Lion Inn on Brettell Lane at Amblecote in the County of Staffordshire
The Red Lion Inn is regarded as an Amblecote pub but, historically, the north side of Brettell Lane formed part of Wordsley and, in earlier times, Kingswinford. The pub forms part of a relatively-unspoilt terraced section of Brettell Lane. Up until recent years the Red Lion had retained some of its old interior layout but in 2014 the building was completely refurbished as part of a re-opening programme. I did take some photographs of the place before it was altered so I will dig those out and add them to this page in the near future.
The Red Lion is part of an engaging row of buildings - the cottage next door [pictured above], though originally designed as a utilitarian dwelling, acquired a quaint character over time. It has been modernised somewhat since I took this photograph. This was the home of Lily Edwards for over 80 years, a formidable yet sociable woman with whom I chewed the cud on a few occasions when calling into the Red Lion Inn. She would often be in the front garden considering the changes that were taking place around her property. She was one of the residents on this side of the road who liked to remind folks that she lived in Audnam rather than being part of Amblecote, such is the strong sense of local identity in the Black Country.
Despite the carnage of the wrecking ball and the development of a German supermarket, a few old properties have survived at the 'bottom' end of Brettell Lane, down the road from the Red Lion Inn. The photograph above shows how the locale appeared during the late Victorian era. Although the photograph was used on picture postcards in later years, it appears to show the row of shops that once stood where the supermarket is in the 21st century. A later view of the same row shows that the shop premises were altered to include extended shop space with windows forming a new line along Brettell Lane. On the left of the photograph, and featuring a massive barber's pole, is the hairdressing salon of William Hazledine. In the census of 1901 the premises next door were vacant. Rather frustrating as I wanted to tie it all together neatly. The next premises has a signboard for E. M. Darby. A key element of the image is the entry next to this. I believe that this is the same entry seen in the Edwardian photograph below.
Taken a few years later, here one can see how the shop frontages were extended. The entry, however, can still be seen next to the shop of Ellen Darby who traded as a milliner. To the left of the photograph is the improved shop frontage of William Hazledine. However, although William spent his days in the barber's shop seen here, his son Edwin traded as a grocer next door [to the left out of shot]. Next to the barber's shop was a clothing and hat emporium run by Thomas and Sarah Good. That is almost certainly Thomas Stephen West Good stood proudly on the threshold of the shop. This probably dates the photograph to 1905, the year in which he and his wife Sarah moved across the road to manage the Acorn Inn. The shop they had operated here was later occupied by Ida Timmins, who traded as a fish and fruit retailer.
Whilst we are here, we may as well take a closer look at the barber's shop of William Hazledine. I better kick-off by saying this is not William stood at the entrance to the premises. By the time this photograph was taken William Hazledine was middle-aged. This could be his son Edwin who has taken a break from his grocery shop to pose for this photograph. Or, it could even be an assistant that worked in this salon. However, my money is on Sydney Hazledine who followed his father in the business of snipping curly locks. In addition, to offering hair cuts, there was a wide range of goods that could be purchased in this shop. In addition to being a tobacconist, William Hazledine offered women's purses, jewellery, all manner of knick-knacks, many of which had biblical references. Picture postcards were also sold from these premises.
In this view, one can see the grocery store run by Edwin Hazledine, although it his father's name above the shop window. No doubt his mother played an important role in both businesses. On the left is the butcher's shop belonging to Edwin and Bertha Moody. He had learned the trade from his parents, Charles and Lydia, who operated a butcher's shop on the opposite side of the road.
Moving up Brettell Lane from the cluster of shops, there was more housing than commercial activity. I have marked the Red Lion Inn a little further up the road. Despite being part of an old terrace, the Red Lion has been partially rebuilt, the reconstruction being necessary after a disastrous fire in February 1849. The original inn dated back to at least the 1820s when James Pagett held a full alehouse licence. He was already living on the north side of Brettell Lane and, choosing the sign of the Red Lion, was probably the first person to open the doors to a growing number of people working in the local glasshouses, all of whom worked up a good thirst during the day.
James Pagett was born in 1791 as was his wife Sarah. They had two children - Joseph and Henry. He was listed at the Red Lion in Pigot's Directory for 1828-9, by which time the tavern was already trading. I am not sure exactly when it opened. James Pagett was a member of the Stourbridge Independent Order of Oddfellows and the No.7 Lodge used to hold meetings at the Red Lion Inn during the 1840s.
James Pagett was a law-breaker turned hero in the mid-1840s. In reality, his misdemeanor was of a trivial matter. In April 1845 the publican was fined 2s.6d. and costs for leaving an empty cart parked on Brettell Lane turnpike road. With his horse, he may have been pulling the same cart, early one morning in September of the following year, when he spotted Harriet Davis, a young woman about 20, throw herself into the Stourbridge Canal at Wollaston Bridge. As it was between five and six o'clock in the morning, with few people around, she may have succeeded in drowning herself but for the timely arrival of James Pagett. The publican succeeded in rescuing her from her perilous situation in a state of great exhaustion.
Of Joseph and Sarah Pagett's children, Joseph went into the glass trade but Henry followed in his father's footsteps as a publican. He was in his mid-20s when he succeeded his father as licensee of the Red Lion Inn. He combined this with his trade as a cooper, a business in which he employed one man. He was also married by this time. Hailing from Stourbridge his wife Mary Ann was also born in 1831. The young couple had two children, Elizabeth and Harry. The household also included James Lavender and Emma Bishop who were employed as servants.
Disaster struck the Red Lion Inn in February 1849 when a fire broke out on the premises. The property was almost entirely destroyed by the flames. Henry Pagett managed to escape down the stairs but his wife, together with a servant girl who had raised the alarm, had to leap from the windows of their bedrooms in order to escape with their lives. The house, and all it contained, together with around £100 in money, were consumed. The local press reported that "the disaster seems to have resulted from the dangerous practice of leaving clothes before the fire to dry." Although the house had been insured three years prior to the fire, Henry Pagett, from motives of economy, had discontinued his payments and was therefore uninsured. Friends and colleagues rallied to help him and his family rebuild their lives. A fund, managed by the Reverend R. Hickman, was raised. Contributions quickly amounted to around £187 with James Foster, Esq., heading the list of donations with £10. Henry Pagett's former employer, Mr. E. Smith, builder, of Oldswinford, rebuilt the house, charging only his for men's nett wages and materials. Mr. Smith's men also donated five shillings to the collection fund.
Around this time the owner of the land on which the property was erected was William Webb of Audnam. His business was recorded in Bentley's Directory of Worcestershire in 1841 where William and Edward Webb appear as farmers, corn millers and maltsters. The seed complex also extended across Mill Street where the last warehouse was built in 1895 but sadly demolished in 1992. A few remaining coach houses and stables were occupied on Plant Street. The Webb family tomb is in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church at Holloway End.
Henry Pagett clearly extended his skills over the next decade for the census enumerator in 1861 recorded him as a carpenter employing two men and one boy. He had also established a small building firm that operated from the Red Lion yard. In 1869 the Pagett's moved across to the other side of Brettell Lane to run the Acorn Inn. The family later moved to Angel Inn in Stourbridge where Henry died in 1877. Hannah Pagett, a descendant of James Pagett, would later own the Turk's Head on Audnam up until its closure in the mid-1950s.
Flint glass-maker James Hillman was appointed licensee of the Red Lion Inn during 1869. Born in Kingswinford in 1830, the licensed victualler kept the pub with his wife May. The couple had two daughters, Jane and Annie, living on the premises.
James Hillman had not been licensee for long when he landed himself in a bit of bother. One Monday evening in April 1866 the police were refused entry into the Red Lion Inn. At the subsequent court case Police-Constable Freeman deposed that he was on duty at about half-past eleven o'clock at night, and when near the tavern he heard a noise so rapped on the door. It was not opened to him. When he came around again the door was open so he tried to enter the house but claimed that, Joseph Hillman, brother of the landlord, manhandled him into the street. Joseph Hillman, however, told the magistrates that this was not true and that, conversely, the policeman was acting in an arrogant manner and threatened to kick the door in. Fanny Hillman said that he had even took the paint off the door with his actions. Glassblowers Thomas Russell and Samuel Stevens, patrons at the time of the incident, stated that the policeman was being overly aggressive. It was suggested that he had earlier been refused a free glass of ale and was vexed. After hearing the evidence, The Bench concluded that the policeman had exceeded his duty and, consequently, dismissed the case.
The Hillman family became adept at hosting dinners for wide range of social gatherings. For example, in April 1871 the workmen employed by Benjamin Wood, at Brettell Lane Iron Works, held their annual dinner at the Red Lion Inn. It was stated that "after doing ample justice to the fare provided, which was served up in the usual excellent style of the host, the cloth being drawn, their worthy employer was voted to the chair amid much applause, and was supported by the secretary, managers, and J. Thomson, Esq., of the East Indian Railway. The usual loyal toasts, after being heartily responded to, were followed by "Success to the South Staffordshire Iron Trade."
The 1870s and 1880s was a bad time for the Hillman family lineage. Daughter Jane married but lost her husband and moved back to the Red Lion Inn. Her mother died around the same time and publican James Hillman died on July 31st 1881. He left a personal estate of £327.2s.0d. to his daughter Jane who took over the licence of the Red Lion Inn during October 1881. She lived on the premises with her young son James Adey. Also living at the Red Lion Inn was William Fritsche, a glass engraver born in Austria in 1853. Living and working next to the pub at this time was basket-maker James Knowles, butcher Benjamin Moreton, stonemason Frederick Rollason and glassmaker Thomas Haden.
Living together on the premises, William and Jane must have hit it off - or come to some sort of amicable agreement because they were quickly married in 1881 and he became the licensee later in the year. Jane probably remained in charge of the pub because William pursued his career as a glass engraver for Thomas Webb, a company with which he helped pioneer a style known as Rock Crystal. He remained in this profession when he and his wife later moved to a house in nearby Collis Street. William Fritsche left a rich legacy in his work. Many glass connoisseurs claim that he was the finest copper wheel engraver that worked in England.
Jane and William Fritsche were succeeded at the Red Lion Inn by Charles Rolinson but his stay was brief. Indeed, a number of licensees came and went in the 1890s before Walter Madeley arrived in 1896. A former clerk at the Round Oak steelworks, he was the first manager for the Worcestershire Brewing and Malting Company Ltd., a newly-formed company that acquired the Red Lion Inn during 1896. The company bought the Red Lion Inn from the trustees of William Webb.
Cookley-born Edgar Randle was the third manager to run the pub for the Kidderminster-based company. The Red Lion Inn would have sold beers produced at the brewery in Blackwell Street up until its closure in 1914, a year after the company was acquired by Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries Ltd.. Edgar Randle kept the Red Lion Inn with his wife Eliza. In 1904 the couple moved to the Woodman at Brockmoor.
During the mid-Edwardian period George and Ada Adey were running the Red Lion Inn. The couple made quite a splash in the papers when the publican was charged with permitting drunkenness to take place on his licensed premises in May 1907. The court case came about following a visit to the house by Police-Constables Robinson and Harrison. They saw a man named Charles Dunn in a drunken state. George Adey was not at home so they called his wife to explain Dunn's condition. She ordered him to leave and he was assisted home by a man named Simpson. Having reported the incident Police Sergeant Beddoes called at the house the following day. Police Sergeant Myatt, formerly stationed at Brettell Lane knew Charles Dunn and Ada Adey very well. He claimed that, on the 1st of May, as he was passing the Red Lion whilst sitting on the upper deck of a tram, he saw, through the window, Dunn in the bar, and Ada Adey had her arm round Dunn's neck. In a statement, Police-Constables Robinson and Harrison said that when they visited the Red Lion and spoke to the landlady Dunn's wife came into the pub and said, pointing to her husband, "That's the man, he is drunk. He had been drinking here all day. I saw him dancing with the woman." Mrs. Adey said it was the barmaid doing the "cake walk." When questioned in court, Arthur Simpson, of Cottage Street in Brierley Hill, said Dunn was "not drunk and that the only reason he walked up the road with him was to prevent his wife coming back to the house and having any more "interferations." This caused much amusement in the magistrate's court. The Bench were unable to decide what had exactly taken place in the Red Lion so dismissed the case. However, I imagine that George Adey had some words with his wife about the incident, including her having her arms around Charlie Dunn.
Wolverhampton-born wood sawyer Thomas Ellis became the publican in 1911. A member of the Stourbridge Brotherhood, he was a well-regarded publican and gentleman. Sadly, after a long illness he passed away in his 47th year during February 1914. The licence briefly passed to his wife Elizabeth. However, she served a longer spell as landlady from 1915 to 1929. Her two spells as licensee was interupted by William Wright Burgess. For a long period he was a police inspector at Tipton and, following his retirement from the force, took over the management of the Victoria Hotel on Dudley Road in Tipton. He barely had time to settle in at the Red Lion Inn when he died at the age of 55.
William Arthur Poles was the publican of the Red Lion Inn when this photograph was taken around 1938. Born in 1873 at Brockmoor, he had also worked in the glass industry for much of his life. He married Mary Ann Nicholls at Kingswinford in August 1898. The couple lived in a cottage further along Brettell Lane. May Ann died aged 35 in June 1909 and, as a widower, William moved back to his mother's house, also on Brettell Lane. Whilst he was running the Red Lion Inn, the glassblower re-married to Clara Webster in July 1936. Customer probably knew the landlady by her preferred name of Elizabeth. The couple remained at the Red Lion until 1944 when they were succeeded by Walter and Mabel Jakeman. Another glassblower by trade, he had served in the Royal Field Artillery during World War One.
In the 21st century the pub formed part of the Innspired Group but continued to sell Banks's beer. Karen Foley had not long taken over the reins of the place in August 2001, a year in which the Red Lion had spent much of the year closed down. There was a lack of investment by the pub company and the pub offered little but darts and karaoke. The building started to deteriorate. The above photograph shows cardboard blocking up a broken window pane. The Red Lion hobbled on for a few years before being taken over by somebody involved at the Green Duck Brewery. I need to find out more information to bring the story of the Red Lion up to date. I took the photograph below when the interior was being altered. I do miss the separate rooms but at least the pub does seem to be very popular again.
The sign of the Red Lion was once easily the most common sign in the country. Indeed, as recent as 1986 there were over 600 Red Lions in Great Britain. However, the number has rapidly decreased as pubs close and others adopt more contemporary titles. The sign evolved because of John of Gaunt who, during the fourteenth century, was the most powerful man in the England. Born in Ghent in 1340, he was Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of Edward III. Gaunt is a corruption of his birthplace. In 1359 he married his cousin, Blanche of Lancaster, and was created duke in 1362. His wife died in 1369 and in 1372 he married Constance, daughter of Pedro the Cruel of Castile, and assumed the title King of Castile - though he failed by his expeditions to oust his rival, Henry of Trastamare. Before his father's death, he became the most influential personage in the realm and was thought to have ambitions for the crown. He opposed the clergy and protected Wycliffe. The young King, Richard II, distrusting him, sent him in 1386 on another attempt to secure a treaty for the marriage of his daughter Catherine to the future King of Castile. After his return to England in 1389 he reconciled Richard to his [John's] brother, the Duke of Gloucester, and by Richard was made Duke of Aquitane and sent on several embassies to France. On his second wife's death, he had married in 1396 his mistress, Catherine Swynford by whom he had three sons, legitimated in 1397. Henry VIII descended from the eldest of these. However, he was not a competent general and he became increasingly unpopular amongst the ordinary people. When Wat Tyler led an insurrection in 1381 it was John of Gaunt's palace that was destroyed. He is mainly referred to in pub names by a reference to his badge.
"Early on Sunday morning a quarrel took place between two men who had, with others, been drinking during the previous evening at Audnam
Bank. The quarrel ended in a fight between William Lowe, a moulder, and Henry Benton, both young men. The fight was but of short duration, when Lowe was
taken home, where he died before help could be obtained. Benton and two others, named Cooper and Oldfield, who acted as seconds at the fight, were taken before William
Trow and William Foster, Esqs., on Monday, at Wordsley, and were remanded until the coroner's inquest should have been held. The inquest was held on Monday, before
W. W. Ward, Esq., coroner, and a respectable jury at the house of James Pagett, Red Lion, Brettell Lane. From the evidence it appears that the deceased struck Benton,
who was unwilling to fight; they then both stripped and fought three or four rounds, when Lowe fell, and when brought up again complained that his sight was dim,
he could not see, and would fight no more. He became sick, and was carried home, where he was found dead in about an hour after by the police officer, who fetched Mr.
Giles, surgeon. Mr. Giles, by order of the coroner, made a post-mortem examination, and from the appearances he concluded that death was caused by concussion
of the brain. Verdict, Manslaughter against Henry Benton, as principal, and John Cooper and Joseph Oldfield, as accessories, all of whom were present, in custody."
"Death From Fighting"
Worcestershire Chronicle : November 24th 1847 Page 5
"James Earp was charged by Henry Pagett with assaulting him. On Saturday last defendant went to the Red Lion Inn, Brettell Lane,
challenged complainant to fight, and struck him in the face. Fined 2s.6d. and costs."
Worcestershire Chronicle : May 3rd 1848 Page 5
"On Friday an inquest was held the Red Lion Inn, Brettell Lane, before T. M. Phillips, Esq., coroner, on the body of Ann Richards.
The deceased, who was eight years of age, was, the 17th inst., left in the house while the mother took the father's dinner. By some accident the child's clothes
caught fire, and before the flames could be extinguished she was so burned about the chest and throat that she died on Tuesday. Verdict: "Accidental
Worcestershire Chronicle : February 28th 1855 Page 5
"W. H. Phillips, Esq., deputy-coroner, held an inquest on Wednesday last, at the Red Lion Inn, Brettell Lane, relative to the death
of Fanny Beeson, a child of two years and six months old. The parents of the deceased reside at Brettell Lane, and the father carries on the trade of a carpenter
and joiner. The mother was the only person examined. She deposed that about six weeks ago, deceased and an elder sister were playing together near the house. She saw
them run past the door, and immediately afterwards deceased fell into a gutter, and her forehead coming in contact with some stones she was rendered insensible. A
waggoner passing by picked the child up. The child was taken the same day to Mr. Chapman's, a chemist, of Brierley Hill, who prepared it some medicine, and in a
day or two the child seemed much better, but never held up its head afterwards. Deceased had fits in succession, from Friday last till Monday afternoon, when she died.
The jury were of opinion that deceased died from accidental causes, and returned a verdict accordingly. The coroner said that under such serious symptoms, it would have
been much better to have taken the child to a qualified medical man."
"Death of a Child"
County Advertiser & Herald
for Staffordshire and Worcestershire
July 4th 1857 Page 4
"An inquest was held on Monday, at the Red Lion public-house, Brettell Lane, before Mr. W. H. Phillips, Deputy-Coroner, on the body
of William Hunter, aged fifty-six, who was killed on Saturday, at the Stourbridge Plate-Glass Works. It appeared from the evidence that about one o'clock
on Saturday a wall in the works fell upon the deceased as he was passing it on his ordinary businesa. He was got out in about half an hour, but was, of course, quite dead,
his body being very much crushed. A great quantity of sand, used in the manufacture of glass, had accumulated behind the wall, and it is believed that the weight of the
this pushed the wall over. The Jury found a verdict of "Accidental death."
County Advertiser & Herald
for Staffordshire and Worcestershire
December 29th 1866 Page 5
"On Thursday afternoon, Mr. W. H. Phillips, Deputy Coroner, held an inquest at the Red Lion public-house, Brettell Lane, on the body
of Ann McDowell, aged forty, the wife of a glasscutter, named Frank McDowell, who committed suicide under peculiarly melancholy circumstances. The facts, as
brought out in evidence, were as follows:" The husband of the deceased had been out of employment for several months, and a short time since he went away to
Newcastle in search of work. He appears to have got work, and from time to time sent money for the support of his wife and two children, a boy about twelve years of
age, and a girl about eight. On Tuesday the deceased rose at her usual time, baked, and went through her usual household duties. In the afternoon she cleaned up the
house, mended the fire, and put the kettle on to boil for tea. She then sent the children out to play, and forbade them to come upstairs. Shortly after, however, the
little girl went into the house, and not finding her mother below went up into the bedroom. There she found her mother hanging by a piece of clothes line by the neck
from the cross bar between two of the posts of a bedstead. She ran out and alarmed the neighbours, several of whom rushed into the house; and a man named William
Hill thought she moved after she was cut down; but by the time that Mr. Turner, surgeon, arrived [which was as soon as possible] she was quite dead.
For the last three weeks deceased had been in very low spirits, and was noticed to be very strange in her manner. On account of this a neighbour woman was in the habit
of going and sleeping with her. The Jury at once found a verdict to the effect that deceased committed suicide while suffering from an attack of insanity.
"Melancholy Suicide of a Married Woman"
County Advertiser & Herald
for Staffordshire and Worcestershire
April 18th 1868 Page 5
"George Parkes , of Campbell street, Brookmoor, was charged with stealing seventeen sovereigns, the moneys of Thomas
Homer, on the 26th of August, 1891. Complainant said he lived at Campbell street, Brockmoor, and defendant was his son-in-law, and he was a cinder burner.
On the 27th of August in consequence of a communisation he received he looked at his money-bag, and missed £17 in sovereigns. On the previous Sunday week he
saw the money safe. On the 26th of August he left his house about seven a.m., and took the key down to prisoner's, but he was away, so he came back and put the
key in his brewhouse, where he usually put it when prisoner was out. Prisoner had been out of work a month, and prisoner's wife cleaned witness's house. May
Fritsche said her husband formerly kept the Red Lion, Brettell Lane, and prisoner came to the house on the 26th August last. He ordered a glass of whiskey for a girl
named Joy, and gave her a sovereign. Prisoner had some more sovereigns in his hand, and said he had been working at Coventry. He had a newish suit of clothes on, and
a ring on his finger. He promised to buy the girl Joy a mackintosh and a wrap. Mary Ellen Joy deposed to what took place in the Red Lion as stated by the
previous witness. She and prisoner went to Stourbridge together, when prisoner bought her a mackintosh and a wrap, for which he paid £1. The next day they went
to Clent, where they had drinks, brandy and soda, and mutton chops. Police-Constable Lafford, stationed at Brookmoor said he received a warrant on the 26th
September, 1891, for prisoner's arrest, and on the 25th of April last the prisoner gave himself up at Brockmoor station. When witness read the warrant over to him,
he made no reply, but afterwards volunteered a statement in which he said, "Mr. Lafford, you have known me, my father, and my brothers a long while, I am the first
to be placed in such a position. I should not have done it if it had not been for that woman." Prisoner now pleaded guilty, and expressed his sorrow for what he had
done, as well as his willingness to pay back the money, to do which he would sacrifice anything. It was bad company that led him to do it, and he hoped the Bench would
be as lenient as they could. Prisoner was sentenced to two months' imprisonment."
"Result Of Keeping Bad Company"
County Advertiser & Herald
for Staffordshire and Worcestershire
May 7th 1892 Page 6