Some history of the Greyhound Inn at Hawkesbury Stop at Foleshill in the county of Warwickshire.


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The Greyhound Inn is located at Hawkesbury Junction, or Sutton Stop, the latter name evolving from the fact that members of the Sutton family operated the stop-lock here during the 19th century. The lock was necessary as the water levels differed slightly. Originally, the location was known as Hawkesbury Stop and in the northern part of Foleshill parish. The canal junction is the link between the Coventry Canal, excavated to bring the black stuff from the Warwickshire coalfield, and the Oxford Canal, an important route to and from the River Thames and London. Although the canals had been operating for some time, the junction was moved to its present location in 1803.

Hawkesbury : Map Extract showing the location of the Greyhound Inn [1887]

Dating from 1887, this map extract shows the location of the Greyhound Inn next to the canal basin - a hotspot when the canal carried cargo and industrial loads. There is much conjecture on the tavern's name but there is no definitive explanation why a canalside inn was given the sign of The Greyhound. A more apposite signboard was applied to the nearby Boat Inn, seen here a short distance from the Greyhound Inn. The Boat Inn was once kept by the boat builder Francis Sephton. Other competition for beer sales was at Hawkesbury Lane where the Horse and Jockey and Old Crown Inn traded. Note the spoil heap close to the Greyhound Inn - coal was excavated here in the early 19th century.

Foleshill : The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Stop [2018]

I am not sure of the date of the building but it was first licensed as a public-house on September 10th 1829 when Thomas Worthy was successful in his application to the magistrates of Coventry. The Greyhound Inn was one of sixteen houses to be granted a new licence, including the Green Dragon at Foleshill, Black Horse at Exhall and the Noel Arms at Pinley.

Thomas Worthy had no sooner opened for trading when he was summoned to appear before the magistrates following a complaint by George Whieldon, proprietor of the Hawkesbury Colliery for "harbouring four of his workmen, and allowing them knowingly or willingly to tipple and get drunk in the house." Several men were brought before the Bench, that included the Mayor, and stated that they had indeed drank at the Greyhound Inn all day instead of going to work. However, the case against Thomas Worthy could not be proved as all of the men stated that they did not see him on the premises and had been served by his wife. Unsatisfied, George Whieldon, who had opposed the granting of a licence to Thomas Worthy, pressed the magistrates to take action against the publican. He said to the Mayor that "colliers were of a class of men that, if a public-house was at hand, they would be sure to go to it and he could not get his work done." He added that if Thomas Worthy was allowed to continue his business "he might as well give up his colliery." Thomas Worthy had sought the services of a solicitor who brought in several witnesses who testified, unequivocally, to "the good order kept in Mr. Worthy's house." Following an agreement between the colliery owner and the publican the matter was settled amicably, the mine proprietor to discourage his men from bunking off work, and the licensee to refuse to serve men who were supposed to be working.

The Worthy family had lived in the parish for generations, the eldest sons generally being named Thomas. The family also operated a farm in addition to running the tavern. Thomas Worthy possibly did more agricultural work whilst his wife Abigail kept the tavern in good order. In the census of 1851 Henry Sutton was recorded as the toll clerk at the lock. The neighbouring coal mine would become known as the Victoria Colliery.

Following the death of Thomas Worthy, his wife Abigail continued to run the Greyhound Inn. Her son Richard carried on the farm work whilst daughter Mary Ann assisted in the business. Henry Sutton was still the canal toll clerk but had also become a coal dealer himself. Abigail Worthy died in 1864 and whilst the Greyhound Inn was run by other people the freehold was held by the Worthy family until the death of Mary Ann Worthy. The notice for the auction makes for interesting reading as some form of picture of the canal basin can be formed from the particulars.

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Foleshill : Auction Sale of The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Stop [1887]

The Worthy family had leased the Greyhound from January 1865 before selling in November 1887. Two years earlier the Greyhound Inn had been leased to William Ratliff of the Coventry Brewery. He rented the public-house to Benjamin Beasley. It would be the beginning of a long association that the Beasley family enjoyed with the Greyhound Inn.

Foleshill : Bar of The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Stop [2018]

Benjamin Beasley and his family originated from Bletchingdon in Oxfordshire but spent much of their time on the waterways as his father was a boatman. He was to follow the same journey himself and, together with his wife Mary and two young children, Benjamin and Harriet, spent some years on the canal network. The family dropped anchor at Foleshill, Mary's place of birth, to take over the Greyhound Inn.

Barges were seemingly in the blood and Benjamin Beasley's son, also named Benjamin, registed the canal boat "Providence" in June 1893. He married Sarah Hartlett in October 1897. She was a day school and Sunday School teacher at St. Thomas's Church Schools at Longford. Her sister Mary was also a teacher at Foxford Council School.

Foleshill : Interior of The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Stop [2018]

Benjamin Beasley senior was commended for an act of bravery when trying to save the life of a local publican who had fallen into the canal. The publican died himself in November 1901. One Monday he had been working around the premises all day and during the evening suddenly dropped down dead. He had been treated for heart disease for around two years by his doctor. Widow Mary Beasley continued to run the Greyhound Inn. She was assisted by her daughter Laura. Son Charles worked as a carpenter for a boat-builder.

Mary Beasley remained in charge of the Greyhound Inn until her death in January 1928. She had been the face of the house for over four decades. However, the family continuity remained in place as her daughter Clara took over the canalside tavern. She had married John Nelson in 1909. He was the son of Jacob Nelson, landlord of the Boat Inn on Shilton Lane at Sowe. The licence was transferred to him and he remained as publican until his death in April 1946. The licence of the Greyhound Inn was transferred to widow Clara in June 1946. I believe she was still running the pub in the mid-late 1950s.

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Clara Nelson would have been running the Greyhound Inn when it formed part of the tied-estate of Atkinson's Brewery Ltd.. Following the acquisition of the brewery the Greyhound Inn fell under the control of Mitchell's and Butler's.

I am not sure when Clara Nelson finally hung up her bar towel for the final time. She died in March 1966 by which time she was living in Beresford Avenue. Her son Ronald would also become a licensed victualler.

Foleshill : Interior of The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Stop [2018]

Atkinson's Etched Glass

Hawkesbury Stop : Former Inn Sign of The Greyhound

Hawkesbury Stop : Inn Sign of The Greyhound [2018]

The former inn sign of The Greyhound has been moved to an interior wall of the public-house. The sign was signed in June 2010 but I cannot make out the name of the artist. The second signboard was mounted above the entrance to the old canalside inn at the time of my visit in May 2018. This sign was painted by J. A. Powell.

Licensees of the Greyhound Inn

1829 - Thomas Worthy
1861 - Abigail Worthy
1868 - William Barnett
1874 - William West
1887 - Benjamin Beasley
1901 - Mary Beesley
1932 - John Charles Nelson
1946 - Clara Nelson
2018 - Leigh Watts
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

Atkinson's Ales - Held Up as The Best!

Foleshill : Canal Bridge at Hawkesbury Stop [2018]

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Mitchells's and Butler's Ales

Related Newspaper Articles

"This morning Dr. C. W. Iliffe, coroner, held an inquest at the Greyhound Inn, Hawkesbury Stop, touching the death of Jem Clay, 50 years of age, who was landlord of the Holly Bush Inn, Alderman's Green, and whose body was recovered from the Oxford Canal, into which he fell late on Friday night. James Clay, coal dealer, Alderman's Green, identified the body as that of his father. He said that deceased left home on Friday at dinner time to take some pigs to the Greyhound and did not return home. Benjamin Beasley, landlord of the Greyhound Inn, said that the deceased came to his house aboat 3.30 on Friday afternoon with a man named Steane to deliver some pigs. He had some beer in the house, but did not drink altogether above three pints. Asked by the Coroner if the deceased was drunk or sober, the witness said that he seemed to have his senses about him. The Coroner: "You know when man is three sheets in the wind? He rocks bit, doesn't he? Was he in that condition?' Witness : "Well, he did not rock, he could walk out straight. He seemed able to take care of himself." Continuing, witness said that deceased left his house about 10.30 and about ten minutes afterwards a girl named Mary Ann Farmer having heard a splash in the canal, came and gave alarm. Witness went out, got into the canal, and helped to pull deceased's body out, having to be afterwards helped out himself on account of the mud. There about twelve inches of water in the canal and four feet of mud. Superintendent Prosser said a constable came down to the spot and endeavoured to restore animation in the deceased but failed. The deceased appeared to be choked with mud. The Coroner observed that Beasley did a brave act in going into the water at that time of the night. Superintendent Prosser said the night was very dark and windy, and if the mud was sufficient to almost overcome a man like Beasley it would be too much for the deceased, who was a weakly man. A brother of the deceased said he was quite satisfied with the efforts made to rescue the deceased. The Coroner said the cause of death was evidently asphyxia, caused by drowning. He was sure they must all commend Beasley for his bravery in attempting to rescue his fellow-man that time of night, knowing also, as he did, the condition of the canal. He thanked him on his own behalf, and as representing his fellow-men, for the exertions he had made to save the deceased. The jury, in returning a verdict of death from asphyxia, caused by drowning, such drowning being the result of an accident, expressed their concurrence with the coroner's remarks."
"Drowned at Hawkesbury
Coventry Evening Telegraph : February 12th 1894 Page 3

Mitchells's and Butler's Ales

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