Some history of the Duke Inn at Maney
This history of the Duke Inn at Maney in Sutton Coldfield, has been written by Yvonne Moore, a genealogist and customer of the pub, who has kindly given me permission to publish her work. It is a very comprehensive piece of research and is a credit to her hard work and determination in telling the story of this old tavern. When I asked her why she had undertaken this project she told me : "It was Christmas Eve 2016 and Kelly and Mike Coller had just taken over the pub. As regulars, we were anxious to keep it traditional. My sister-in-law and I were waiting for drinks and asked Kelly their plans and was told they would like to know some of the history. My sister-in-law told them I was a genealogist so I got volunteered!" Yvonne had to withhold some recent data of people still alive but what she has added has been freely given and approved. I am most grateful to Yvonne for allowing me to publish her work which I am sure you will enjoy reading.
Much has been written about the history of Sutton Coldfield and its inhabitants. A few of the most pertinent facts have been used in this brief overview of the town.
In "The Street Names of Sutton Coldfield" written by a local solicitor Kerry Osborne in 2007, he explains that the buildings of the town were mainly situated on the highest ground to avoid flooding in what was a very marshy and wet area. These areas became known as 'Great Sutton' and the main lanes and roads were called High Street, Mill Street and Coleshill Street.
The parish church, Holy Trinity, was built at the top of the junction of Mill Street and High Street. A cluster of houses spread out from the top of the hill. The roads and lanes originally had descriptive names, for example, Long Lane in Four Oaks became Clarence Road and Mr Bedford's Lane became Bedford Road [named after Rev. William Riland Bedford who was the Rector and Warden of Sutton Coldfield [b.1826 - d.1905].
Maney was an ancient district and was associated with the druids. There was also a stone quarry on Maney Hill. The name Maney is derived from the Latin 'meini' which means stones.
Originally, the parish church was to be built at Maney due to the proximity of the quarry but the site at the top of Mill Street was chosen instead so that any conflicts with paganism could be avoided.
A road, now called the Birmingham Road, ran through Maney from Wylde Green [known as the Wild] and down the hill into the main area of the town known as the Dam or Great Sutton. Newer roads acquired the names of where they led to for example Birmingham Road, Tamworth Road, Lichfield Road, Coleshill Street and Walsall Road. The road to Coleshill was very important in the eighteenth century as the London to Holyhead Road passed through it.
As hamlets and villages expanded and joined together, small administrative districts were formed for example Walmley, Boldmere, Whitehouse Common, Maney and Hill. Roads took on those district names for example Boldmere Road, Walmley Road, Maney Hill Road, Whitehouse Common Road and Hill Village Road.
In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, the town saw a rise in industrialisation and the pools and streams that were abundant in the locality were harnessed for waterpower. Bayonets, gun barrels, wire, buttons and cotton cloth were amongst the items that were being manufactured in the town.
In 1754, Joseph Oughton of Birmingham was granted a perpetual lease on the very marshy land south of the town centre. He built a mill, known as Oughton Mill, on the land where Plantsbrook School now stands. The mill was set up to grind gun barrels and bayonets and was water powered, benefiting from the power of the many pools, streams and canals in the area which were said to resemble Holland.
Mr Oughton also built a very splendid residence close to the mill. He named it Holland House, which is now the site of Holland House School. In 1841, the tenant of Oughton Mill was Samuel Clive, a gun barrel manufacturer.
Sarah Holbeche was an eminent woman and social commentator from Sutton Coldfield. She wrote a Diary that can be seen at Sutton Coldfield Reference Library. In her diary, Sarah Holbeche described the town in detail. In 1840 or 1841 she would have been able to walk from the centre of the town up the Birmingham Road going past the Cup Inn through rural countryside to the hamlet of Maney.
Most of the fields were part of the 200-acre farm belonging to Farmer Jenkins of Braggs Farm [this is now the site of Thomas Coulborn and Sons, Antique Dealers]. On the left hand side of the Birmingham Road, the only road passing through the fields was Farthing Lane, which still exists. If Sarah Holbeche had looked back from Maney towards the town centre she would have seen the above view of the town painted by a local artist called Miss Bracken.
Following the route taken by the enumerator for the 1841 census, the path from Oughton Mill led to the cottages known as the Blabbs, which is where Chambers Ford is situated these days. From the Blabbs, the path went up Reddicap Lane and on to New Hall. Named dwellings included Maney Farm, Stone Houses, New Hall Mill, Warren House and New Shipton Farm.
The 1847 Town Improvement Clauses Act and the 1875 Public Health Act gave local authorities the powers to give streets new names and it became very popular to name roads after Royalty, prominent political, historical figures or local dignitaries. As the town developed, many old road names were changed, for example, Albert Street became Old Bank Place, which is situated just off the High Street.
The town, especially the park, became a very popular destination with tourists from Birmingham and its suburbs during the nineteenth century. Many visitors came via horse drawn omnibuses from Birmingham.
Roger Lea, a local historian and author of 'Steaming up to Sutton,' outlines how poor the roads were in Sutton Coldfield and how the building of a railway was proposed to benefit the town. Roger Lea describes the many objections to the schemes proposed. One such objector owned a Huckster's shop at the bottom of the newly-made Sadler Street [now Duke Street] as the railway would take away the advantage of having a corner plot.
The proposals for the railway began in 1842 and there was an enquiry in 1859. However on August 8th, 1860 the contract to build the railway from Aston to Sutton Coldfield was signed. The line was built rapidly and opened on June 2nd, 1862, making the journey to the town much quicker and probably more comfortable for the visitors. Many people, before and after visiting the park, would visit the town for refreshments and no doubt, the local hostelries benefitted from this influx of tourists.
Sutton Park was well liked by the poor working people from Birmingham and other urban areas and was a place to visit and enjoy. Many business owners encouraged their workers to visit the park and often hired 'charabanc omnibuses' for them to travel to the town.
The popularity of the town grew with the newly emerging middle classes, many of whom were wealthy businessmen from Birmingham. This led to an increase in the demand for new and better quality houses and an increase in the size of the population. Entrepreneurs were quick to seize the opportunities for development, and one of them, Richard Sadler, purchased a six-acre wedge-shaped field called Cock Close opposite the Cup Inn.
Sarah Holbeche noted that during March 1846 "Mr. Sadler's field at Maney was cut up into building lots - the wedge that was soon to spoil the entrance to our town.' Duke Street now runs down the centre of this 'wedge' of land. The land was developed during the 1850s and 1860s by Richard Hurst Sadler, who originally named it Sadler Street.
Richard Hurst Sadler was a local Alderman, Mayor and solicitor who lived at the Moat House. He later went on to develop the Anchorage Road Estate. One of the first plots to be developed on Sadler Street was purchased by William King [plot 1551 on the plan below] who built a row of four cottages for rent. John Wells purchased plot 1550 in 1853. John Wells was a local lad who was making his fortune as a champion jockey at the time. John Wells had a handsome new house built, designed for stylish living. The outbuildings included a gig house and stables as well as the more usual cow house and pigsty. This house was later to become the Duke Inn.
In addition to buying the property that would become the Duke Inn, John Wells also purchased a cottage opposite for his parents and siblings to reside.
John Wells was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield on 12th February 1835. His parents were John and Mary Wells of Sutton Coldfield. John Wells was an agricultural labourer at that time. The 1841 census shows that John Wells and his wife Mary, both aged about 30, resided on Mill Street. John worked as an agricultural labourer. Their children were Mary, 8; John, 6; Elizabeth, 3; and William aged one. The whole family were born in the county of Warwickshire. By the 1851 census, the family had moved to The Dam in the centre of the town. John was now working as a maltster's labourer. He was born at Yardley and Mary was from Walsall. Living with them were their children Elizabeth, 12; Sarah, 9; Julia, 7 and Ellen aged four. They were all born in Sutton Coldfield.
On the 1851 census return, we find John Wells junior residing at Prospect Place, a riding and training stables at Hednesford near Cannock. 16 year-old John Wells was recorded as a jockey. His employer was Thomas Flintoff who was aged 59 and from Yorkshire. He was the trainer in the stables. It seems he trained both racing horses and jockeys.
There were informal horse races held in Sutton Park during the 1830s and early 1840s and it seems that Thomas Flintoff raced horses here during this period. This may well be how John Wells became acquainted with Thomas Flintoff. For more information about horse racing in Sutton Coldfield, the Yvonne has written an account of the life of John Wells.
It has been suggested [Tanner & Cranham "Great Jockeys of The Flat," published in 1992] that in 1848, John Wells won his first race, the Birmingham Stakes, at the Walsall Racecourse on a horse called Ribaldry. Thomas Flintoff was the trainer. His nickname at the time was 'Tiny' as he was in his early life, short and weighed just six stones. However, with maturity he grew into one of the tallest jockeys of his time.
John Wells had the house built in Sadler Street in about 1853 but it is not clear if he actually spent much time in residence. Sadler Street was later renamed Duke Street.
By 1861, John Wells had moved to Station Road, Woodditton, Newmarket in Suffolk [Newmarket being famously associated with horseracing]. John, a jockey, was 26 and married to Mary, aged 27 from Merton in Yorkshire. John Wells had married Mary Taylor in 1857 at Burton-on-Trent. Mary Taylor was the daughter of Thomas Taylor, a horse trainer.
In 1857 alone, John Wells won 20 races. He must have been earning a good wage, enough to have a house built, support his family and to get married. However, it is not clear exactly how much his income was in reality or whether he was paid per race or per win.
No records have been found showing John Wells actually in residence at Sadler or Duke Street. His job would have taken him away from home for much of the year as he visited racecourses around the country. The property was offered for sale in 1859 and purchased for letting by James Hughes who was a wealthy local businessman. The house was described in the sale advert as having a large garden and extensive and commodious stabling. It had been erected in 1853, in a substantial manner, regardless of expense. The house contained four bedrooms, two parlours, kitchen and back kitchen and the stables had rooms over.
The 1861 census shows the parents of John Wells living at Sadler Street. John Wells senior continued to work as a maltster's labourer. Their daughter Mary was now called Escott. She stated she was the wife of a horse trainer. She had a daughter called Charlotte, aged 4, who was born at Epsom in Surrey. Also living in the household were Julia Wells, 17, a milliner's apprentice and Ellen, aged 13.
Mary Wells had married John Escott at Sutton Coldfield in 1854. John Escott was the son of John Escott who was a fairly well-known horse trainer and jockey of the time.
By the time of the 1871 census, John Wells junior and his wife had moved to Hawley House, Tadley, Hampshire. John continued to work as a jockey. He employed a housekeeper, groom, errand boy and a general servant. Hawley House was owned by Sir Joseph Hawley. He also owned several of the horses that John Wells rode as winners. At this time John's parents lived at Maney [abode not stated] with Julia, now a dressmaker, Ellen and her son Harry, aged seven.
Mary Ann Wells died at Hawley House in April 1872. Her jockey husband died in July the following year. It is interesting that John Wells died so soon after the sudden death of his wife. It has been suggested by various sources that he had an eating disorder from trying to keep his weight at seven-and-a-half stones. This appears to be a common affliction for horse racing jockeys. The will of John Wells, late of Tadley, shows that he died on 17th July 1873 at Tadley. The will was proved at Winchester on 22nd November 1873 by Thomas Ashmall of Chantilly, France, trainer of horses and William Williams of Tadley, Veterinary Surgeon, two of the executors. Effects under £3000. The couple are both buried at Kingsclere Church.
Another plot on Sadler Street, plot 1554, was purchased by George Smith, who erected a public house on the site. This was on the opposite side of the road to the current Duke Inn. George Smith named the pub after his hero the Duke of Wellington, who was known as the Old Duke at the time of his death in 1852, at the age of 83. It was because of this pub "The Old Duke Beer House," that Sadler Street was later renamed Duke Street. Charles Atkins soon became the tenant of the beer house and lived there with his wife and children. He set up the business as a retail brewer and grocery. Business boomed and soon he required larger premises. The obvious choice was the house built by John Wells and offered for let by James Hughes. However, from the advertisement notice [below], it appears that a Mr. Carey had occupied the Wells' house in 1859, paying £30 per annum. The only person called Carey with any link to Sutton Coldfield was Mary Carey. She was unmarried, aged 54 and owned land and houses in Kidderminster, where she lived.
Charles H. Atkins was born in Leicester and at the time of the 1841 census, his family lived at Mill Street, Leicester. His father, Timothy Atkins and his mother Elizabeth were aged about 35 and were frame workers in the textile industry. Charles was aged 11 and he too worked on a frame. He had five siblings and the family were all born in Leicester.
The frame workers in Leicester were using a knitting frame to make hosiery items such as stockings. Originally, the knitting frames were used in people's houses and from this census return, we learn that the whole family had a role in the production of hosiery within the home. By the 1840s and 1850s, mechanisation in factories was putting hand workers out of business. Many had to move away to find new occupations or face a life in poverty. It appears that Charles and his sister Ann moved on to pastures new by 1851. They were living on the High Street at Market Harborough where Charles was working as a hairdresser.
In 1851 Charles was aged 21. He was working on his own account as a Master Hairdresser, suggesting he had served an apprenticeship. He employed one man plus an apprentice. Charles somehow found himself in London where he got married in 1852 to Eliza [or Elizabeth]. Eliza Bridges Evered was born on 28th November 1823 at Shepton Mallet in Somerset. Her parents were Charles Evered and Elizabeth Orledge who were married on 14th October 1806 at Pilton in Somerset. Eliza, along with siblings Thomas, Mary, Frederick and Sarah were all baptised on 26th September 1826 at Shepton Mallet.
Charles Evered worked as an attorney at law. He died at Pilton in 1876. In 1851, Eliza Evered, age 26 and from Shepton Mallet, was working as a school mistress at Halstall, Ormskirk, Lancashire. It seems that her brother Frederick had moved to London. In 1861, he was in Islington and worked as a clerk. In 1871, he was at Southwark working as a publican and in 1881 at Newington, also running a pub. Perhaps this is the link between Charles Atkins and Eliza.
In 1861, we find the Atkins family at Sadler Street in Sutton Coldfield. Charles H. Atkins was 32 and a licensed victualler and grocer. He was from Leicester. His wife, Eliza was 32 and from Shepton Mallet in Somerset. Their children were Charles, 7; George, 6; Mary, 2 and Eliza aged seven months. Apart from George, who was born in London, the children were born in Sutton Coldfield. The family employed a domestic servant and a groom.
In 1871, the census records the family at Maney, with Charles working as a licensed victualler. Living in the household with Charles was Eliza, 44 and their children Frederick, 15; Louisa, 12; Kate, 8 and Jane aged six.
When Charles Atkins took on the tenancy of the Wells' house, he transferred his business and family over the road from the old beer house and the 'new' Old Duke Inn was established. Charles Atkins became a licensed victualler rather than a beer seller, which equated to a promotion in the public house trade.
The original Old Duke Beer House was later converted into semi-detached houses, long since demolished [situated in what is now a car park].
Sarah Holbeche noted in her Diary in 1868 that "The Old Duke has moved across the way and grown in importance." The Duke Inn flourished, taking advantage of the growing population in the locality as well as local tourism. At a time when travel was largely on foot, horseback, or in a horse-drawn vehicle, the extensive stables were a great asset. Charles Atkins also hosted many livestock sales at his premises. He was quite the entrepreneur!
The Old Duke Inn at Maney, Sutton Coldfield can be found in several newspaper adverts in 1866, namely the Birmingham Daily Gazette 17th, 19th and 20th April 1866 and Birmingham Daily Post 5th April 1866 which appears to relate to the sale or rental of the old beer house. Therefore, it appears that Charles Atkins moved to his new premises some time around April 1866.
In the late 1860s and during the 1870s the Old Duke Inn was advertised as the venue of many stock sales, an example of which can be seen above. It would appear from the sale notices that Charles Atkins was able to add to his income by hosting or arranging these sales of livestock and agricultural implements. No doubt, the sale of beers, refreshments and stabling income would have increased greatly on sale days. What is not clear is whether Charles Atkins purchased the building from James Hughes before his death or from his estate.
Charles Atkins died in the Spring of 1880. His will stated that Charles Henry Atkins, late of Maney in the parish of Sutton Coldfield in the county of Warwickshire, licensed victualler, died on 1st March 1880 at Maney, was proved at Birmingham on 14th June 1880 by Eliza Bridges Atkins of Maney, widow, the relict the sole executrix. Personal estate was under £800.00.
After Charles Atkins died his widow, Eliza Bridges Atkins became the licensee at the Duke Inn. In the 1880 Kelly's Directory for Sutton Coldfield, Mrs. Elizabeth Atkins is listed at the Old Duke and butcher, Duke Street, Maney. On the 1881 census, Eliza was the licensee at the Duke Inn. Living with Eliza were her children Charles H. Atkins aged 28, a butcher; George F. Atkins, 26, a corn dealer; Mary L. Atkins, 21; Eliza A. Atkins, 19; Kate A. Atkins, 17 and Jane Atkins, aged 15. Before the 1891 census, Eliza had moved to Park Road, Sutton Coldfield. Eliza was described as a retired licensed victualler. Living with her was her daughter Jane Atkins aged 23.
The Duke Inn appears to have remained in the ownership of Elizabeth [Eliza] Atkins until 1897 although this cannot be confirmed at this time. It appears that Eliza diversified her business by letting out part of the property.
In 1888, the Corporation Rate Book shows that William Read was renting part of the property known as The Duke Inn, probably the outbuildings, as a "manufactory." This was the beginning of "Read and Sons, Royal Sutton Mineral Waters" which moved to a purpose-built factory on the corner of Lower Queen Street and Upper Holland Road shortly afterwards. [Roger Lea, October 2015].
In 1881, William Read was living at Birmingham Road, Maney. He was aged 60 and from Stanmore in Middlesex. He was an aerated water manufacturer. William Read died on 9th April 1889 in Aston but his will stated that he was late of Sutton Coldfield. He left £1,376 1s. 4d. to be shared between several of his children and grandchildren.
Roger Lea [Sutton Coldfield historian and author] has identified that there were some short-term tenants [licensees] at the Duke Inn, renting from Eliza Atkins. These include Thomas Crudgington, John Short, Sarah Frances Thomas and in 1884 there was a woman called Emily Jane Richards who was declared bankrupt at the Duke Inn. In August 1884 the Birmingham Daily Post reported that "Emily Jane Richards, late of the Duke Inn, Duke Street, Maney, Sutton Coldfield, licensed victualler, now of Duke Street, Maney was adjudicated a bankrupt by Mr Registrar Parry." This suggests that Emily Richards moved out of the Duke Inn but was living elsewhere in Duke Street.
Emily Jane Richards and her family were not found on the 1891 census. It would appear that they went to France, most likely to avoid creditors and the courts. On the 1901 census, Robert Richards, 48 and Emily J. Richards, 48 were living at 61 Summer Hill Road, Ladywood, Birmingham. Robert was a traveller in sewing machines and Emily had no occupation. One son, John was 16 and born in Sutton Coldfield. Two daughters, Emily and Mary, and one son Reginald were born in France. It seems likely Emily Jane Richards left England to avoid her creditors.
Extensive searches for John Short with links to the Duke Inn have been made. This person has links to Sutton Coldfield but no obvious links to the Duke Inn. John Short was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield on 2nd October 1864 to parents Daniel and Mary Short. Daniel Short was a labourer. In 1881, the Short family lived at Coleshill Street, Sutton Coldfield and John Short worked as a clerk. In 1891, he was working as a farm bailiff and in 1901, he worked as a 'navvy.' In 1911, he was a dairy farmer at Solihull. This John Short may have tried his luck at The Duke Inn but equally another John Short could have been the tenant.
It appears that Sarah Frances Thomas was the tenant of The Duke by the time of the 1891 census. The census return shows Sarah Frances Thomas as the head of household and the publican. She was a widow aged 66 and was from Handsworth. Also living in the household was Lizzie Mary Insley, a single woman aged 20 and from Walsall. Lizzie was described as a visitor. It is hard to say what became of Sarah Frances Thomas after the 1891 census. She was not found on the 1901 or 1911 census returns and no obvious death or marriage entry was found in Warwickshire or Staffordshire. In 1881, Lizzie Mary Insley lived in Walsall with her parents and in 1894, she married Arthur Gormley in Walsall. In 1901, Arthur and Lizzie Gormley were living at Belvedere Street in Walsall. Arthur Gormley was a self-employed wine merchant and licensed victualler. Nothing further about Sarah Frances Thomas can be added at this time.
After the 1891 census, Eliza Atkins moved to The Brackens, at Anchorage Road, Sutton Coldfield. This property is currently a children's nursery and has had several commercial uses recently. It is suggested that Eliza Atkins sold the Duke Inn to the Holt Brewery Company of Birmingham in 1897. This would have given her some funds to move to Anchorage Road. The houses on the Anchorage Estate were prestige properties and were costly in comparison to other houses available in the town at the same time. The estate was developed from 1869 by Richard Sadler with the aim of providing an elite estate of individually designed houses for purchase by the growing middle class population wishing to move to Sutton Coldfield. The houses were of the 'Arts and Crafts' style with individual designs. Many of these wealthy families had made their fortunes in Birmingham and other industrialised areas from the trades such as jewellery-making and brass-founding. The houses and the Anchorage Road Estate have been researched by Janet Lilleywhite for the Sutton Coldfield Local History Group and can be viewed in Sutton Coldfield Library.
In 1901, Eliza was still living at The Brackens. She was described as a lodging housekeeper. Her daughter Kate Atkins lived with her. Eliza employed one live-in servant. Eliza, Kate and Jane Atkins were still living at The Brackens in 1901 and 1911. They were taking in boarders at the time. Following her death on March 13th 1913 Eliza Bridges Atkins left personal effects of £4,011 2s. 8d. Therefore, it would appear that Eliza Bridges Atkins enjoyed a good life in Sutton Coldfield and left a fair amount of money in her estate. Jane Isabel Atkins continued to live at The Brackens until her death in November 1952.
During 1894, John Bailey Harrison became the new publican at The Duke Inn and under his management, the inn flourished. It has been suggested that in about 1897 the ownership of the property passed to the Holt Brewery Company of Birmingham. The brewery immediately set about building an extension to provide a taproom and increased cellarage.
After John Harrison took over the pub, it was clearly popular with the locals and he encouraged the local cricket and football clubs to use the pub. John Harrison also hoped to attract more trade, possibly from tourists and visitors to the town. He took out a full page colour advert in the 1900 Sutton Directory. This must have been expensive as there were only four colour adverts in the directory. Of note is the fact that John Harrison had previously kept the Queen's Head at Farm Street in Birmingham. He was a member of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, a 'fraternal' organisation of men who were true and loyal supporters of the British Crown and Constitution. They did not discuss religion or politics and forbade gambling. However, historically most meetings were held in public houses. Also of note, William Stonehouse was a member of the R.A.O.B. William Stonehouse lived at 41 Tamworth Road before he married but his extended Stonehouse family lived in Duke Street from as early as 1876, so no doubt William was familiar with the Duke Inn.
The 1901 census shows the Harrison family living at the Duke Inn. John B. Harrison was 57, from Birmingham and was a licensed victualler. His wife Sarah was 51 and from Bromsgrove. Also living within the household were Annie L. Whiston, their married daughter, aged 26 and her husband George Whiston who was 31 and was a gold jewellery worker. Their daughter was Maud, aged one. Thomas Harrison, son, was single and aged 19. He was an accounts clerk. Harry Turner was a nephew. He was a single, aged 31 and was an art metalworker. Elizabeth Reader was a niece, aged 16. Nellie Stringer was 18 and a servant. Apart from Sarah Harrison, they were all born in Birmingham. Elizabeth Reader was the daughter of Ann Matilda Harrison, John Harrison's sister. Ann was married to Samuel Thomas Reader. Ann died in 1895 and Samuel died before 1901, leaving Elizabeth an orphan in the care of her uncle. Elizabeth Reader was mentioned in John Bailey Harrison's 'Will and Codicil.' Harry Turner was the son of Elizabeth Harrison, another of John's sisters and her husband Edwin James Turner. Both had died before 1901.
John and Sarah had married on December 28th, 1870 St. Paul's Church, Ladywood, Birmingham. 21 year-old John Bailey Harrison, was an engraver and lived at 15 Charlotte Street, Birmingham. His father, John Harrison, was a grocer. Sarah Matilda Kember, also 21, was living at the same address in Charlotte Street. Her father, William Kember, was a cordwainer. In the following year the couple were living at 20 Augusta Street in Ladywood. From this address John was working as a gold engraver and Sarah was a seamstress. In 1861, Sarah Kember was living at High Street in Kingswinford with her family. Her father, then aged 35, was a cordwainer [boot maker and repairer] and was from Ramsgate in Kent. Her mother was Sarah, a 34 year-old boot binder who hailed from Grantham in Lincolnshire. Also in the household were two sons, John, 9 from Bromsgrove and William, 8 from Stourbridge.
Sarah Matilda Harrison died at the Duke Inn on October 20th, 1904 at the age of 54. She is buried in Sutton Coldfield Cemetery with her husband. The licensed victualler also died at the Old Duke Inn on March 2nd, 1906.
Probate was granted at Birmingham on 18 April 1906 to Annie Louise Whiston [wife of George Whiston] and Joseph Thickbroom, timber merchant. The publican's had personal effects of £993 19s. 3d., of which £150 was left to his daughter Annie. The residue after debts, funeral and testamentary expenses was to be divided equally between his four sons: Harold John, William Harry, Arthur and Tom and his daughter and his friend Joseph Thickbroom. He also left a gold watch that had usually been worn by his wife to Elizabeth Reader. However, a codicil to the will resulted in this timepiece being given to his daughter Annie Louise Whiston rather than Elizabeth Reader. In addition, his own gold watch and chain was given his son-in-law George Whiston.
By the time of the 1911 census, Charles Arthur Williams was the landlord of The Duke Inn. The publican had been married for 10 years. He and his wife Ellen had three children, two of whom had died. Charles and Ellen were married in September 1900 at Solihull. From electoral rolls, it would appear that the couple were resident at The Duke Inn until 1918. They were tenants for Holt Brewery Company. The incoming money was provided by Charles Hayward Williams, formerly a grocer in the High Street.
There was a hiccup in the licence of the Duke Inn during 1912. Indeed, the justices refused to renew the licence of the house, which they held over until the adjourned sessions in order for the completion of alterations reported as necessary during the previous year. The delay was believed to be owing to a dispute regarding a boundary wall. Following their spell at the Duke Inn, Charles and Ellen Williams moved around somewhat and the electoral roll shows them living in Yardley, Tamworth and Birmingham.
According to the Electoral Rolls for Sutton Coldfield, the next person to live at The Duke Inn was George Charles Baker and his wife Eliza. The Duke Inn was vacant in 1912 and the electoral rolls were halted during the Great War so it is hard to pinpoint exactly when George Charles Baker became the landlord at the Duke. He was the landlord at the Mount Pleasant Inn at Ledsam Street, Ladywood in 1911. The marriage between George Charles Baker and Eliza Collier was registered in June 1899 at Birmingham. It is possible that George and Eliza Baker were self-employed in 1901. They occupied retail premises at 232 Witton Road in Aston where George was listed as a draper and Eliza a milliner. A young daughter named Violet was also in residence here. In 1903 George and Eliza had entered the licensed trade and were running the Old Peacock at 55 Aston Street, a pub operated by the Holt Brewery Company. They are listed at the Old Peacock in a ratebook dated 1906. However, by 1911 the couple were running the Mount Pleasant Inn at Ledsam Street in Ladywood, Birmingham. It would appear that the Bakers were working for or tenants on behalf of the Holt Brewery Company and this working relationship brought them to the Old Duke Inn. George Baker died in November 1920 but his wife lived for another 30 years.
Amos and Mary Ann Stubbs were the next couple to run the Duke Inn on behalf of the Holt Brewery Company. On the 1911 census return, we find Amos Stubbs working as a publican at the Duke of Wellington, 43 Wainwright Street, Aston. Amos Stubbs was 36 and from Birmingham. Living in the household was his wife Mary Ann, aged 35 from Birmingham and their children, Amos Henry aged six and twins Austen, and Harold, both three. They were all from Aston. Amos and Mary had been married for seven years. Also living with them was Sarah Stubbs, mother, aged 74 from Rothley in Leicestershire. The marriage of Amos Stubbs and Mary Ann Hawley was registered in December 1903 at Solihull [Solihull register office covered the Yardley area]. In 1901, Mary Ann Hawley lived at 58 Sadler Street in Yardley with her parents John and Alice.
Amos and Mary Ann Stubbs were later recorded at the Winson Green Tavern on Lodge Road in Birmingham. This suggests that the Duke Inn at Maney had moved from being run by tenants to managers installed by the Aston brewery. The Duke of Wellington, the pub they had formerly kept, and the Winson Green Tavern were also operated by the Holt Brewery Company. Indeed, in the 1939 register for the Winson Green Tavern, a boozer colloquially known as The Don, shows that the occupation of Amos Stubbs was a manager of a public house. The death of Amos Stubbs was registered in March 1940. He was buried at Witton Cemetery. His wife lived for another 27 years before her death in March 1967.
The Electoral Roll for 1923 shows that Minton and Annie Toddington were running the Duke Inn. Born in Lilleshall, Shropshire in 1869, Minton Edwin Toddington was the son of the engine fitter John Toddington and Jane Hitchcock. As a widow his mother had moved to Cape Hill in Smethwick where Minton followed a similar career path to that of his father.
Minton Toddington married Emma Neale in December 1896. In 1891, Emma Neale lived at 4 Stafford Road in Wolverhampton. Her father was Joseph, a brass caster and her mother was Ellen. Ellen Neale was 19 and worked as a metal lacquerer. She was from Wolverhampton. Her younger sister, Annie, was seven and from Birmingham. Minton and Emma Toddington soon took over a public house called The Stores on Smethwick High Street. However, Emma died in March 1902.
Minton Toddington re-married during the following year to her younger sister Annie Kate Neale. Marriages were searched for a Neale/Toddington but were not found. It would seem that Emma's younger sister Annie simply stepped into the role of 'wife' to Minton Edwin Toddington. Minton and Annie may not have been married. At the time of the 1911 census the couple were running the Four Oaks Hotel, Sutton Coldfield. The couple had one son, Victor Edwin Toddington, who was three and from Harborne. Also living with them was Winifred Gladys Toddington, aged 13. She was the daughter of Minton and his first wife Emma. They employed Matthew Gould, single, aged 30 and from Tipton as a barman.
Prior to moving to the Duke Inn, Minton and Annie Toddington managed the Fighting Cocks at Moseley. This was also a house operated by the Holt Brewery Company. However, the couple seemed to switch to Atkinson's Brewery Ltd. because in the mid-late 1920s they were running the Bee Hive on Bull Street in the centre of Birmingham, a pub owned by the Aston-based brewery.
The next incumbents of the Duke Inn were Frederick and Beatrice Smith. The marriage of Frederick Walter Smith and Beatrice Lawson Pickthorne was registered in June 1919 at Birmingham. Beatrice was born at Yardley in 1887. In 1901 she was living with her parents at Bolehall, Tamworth. Her father, Arthur Pickthorne, was a police officer. At the time of the 1911 census she was working as a laundry nurse at the Leicester Asylum. It appears that in 1911, Frederick Walter Smith lived at 231 Montague Road, Smethwick with his parents Frederick and Bertha Smith. He was 17 and worked as a bottle filler at a brewery.
Following their stint at the Duke Inn the Smith family moved to 372 Frankley Beeches Road, Northfield, Birmingham. At this address Frederick was recorded as a works policeman. Beatrice, born 10th October 1886, did unpaid duties. Clifford N. Smith was born 4th February 1923 and was a tool maker. Barbara G. Smith was born 28th September 1925 and did not work. William A. Pickthorne was born 15th October 1885 and was a labourer in a store.
Although the Smith family had moved on, Beatrice's sister Florence remained at the Duke Inn when it was run by George and Gertrude Blood. George James Blood was born on 15th June 1878. He was a publican and former manager at an artillery shell case department. Gertrude Maria Blood was born on 30th June 1879. She was a manageress at a public house. The couple generally employed a live-in assistant. In 1939 this was Maud Bell, barmaid and former cartridge examiner.
George Blood married Gertrude Harrison on the first day of January 1901 at St. Bartholomew's at Edgbaston. Ten years later the couple, together with their son George, were living in Oxford Road at Erdington where George was recorded as a cycle works manager. Given the two fields of work in which George Blood was involved, it is possible that he was employed at Kynoch's at Witton. This factory was involved in the production of bicycles and munitions. George Blood died during World War 2 but Gertrude remained as landlady for many years.
The Electoral Rolls for 1961 and 1962 show Samuel and Florence Unitt at the Duke Inn. Samuel was born in Birmingham in December 1894 and when he was a young man he worked as a grocer's assistant whilst living with his widowed mother Florence on Washwood Heath Road in Saltley. During the First World War he served as a gunner in 46 Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. After the Great War he married Florence Mary Wilson in September 1922. The couple would later run the Royal Exchange, an Ansell's pub on Park Road in Aston. This brewery had taken over the Holt Brewery Company in 1934 and were the owners of the Duke Inn thereafter.
One of the customers at the Duke Inn has suggested that possibly in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the landlord of the Duke Inn was the father of Christopher Charleton or Charlton. The customer was at school with Christopher, who was born around 1948. Searches for Christopher Charlton were made but nothing conclusive was found. There was this birth registration: Christopher J. Charlton September, 1949 Birmingham. This marriage was found: The marriage of Hector Joseph Charlton and Iris Hunter was registered March 1942 at Birmingham.
Albert and Gladys Hearn were running the Duke Inn during the mid-1960s. Gladys was actually her middle name as she was born Meryl Gladys Hall. She married Albert Hearn in the summer of 1962.
This clipping from the Sutton Coldfield News published on September 5th 1967, shows Donald and Betty Robbins behind the bar at the Duke Inn not long after the couple had taken over running the pub. The accompanying article read: "Keeping a good pint of beer for the 'locals' seems to be the secret of success for the new manager at The Duke Inn, Duke Street. Mr. Donald Robbins took over as manager of the Duke last week. It is the first public house that he has managed but he has already discovered that his regular customers are "real connoisseurs of a good pint of beer." Mr. Robbins was formerly in the jewellery trade and lived in Belbroughton, Worcestershire. He said that he and his wife Betty had decided to enter the public house trade as they thought it "a very sociable part of life." Mrs. Robbins said that they had a good crowd of customers and were very happy with the Duke. "Once we get straightened out I am sure we are going to really enjoy it. It's a busy sort of life and keeps you going." Mr. and Mrs. Robbins, who initially trained at The Beggars Bush, New Oscott, said they were very impressed with Sutton Coldfield and thought it a very nice town. They have two sons, Anthony  and Donald ."
Anthony [Tony] and Eunice Griffin moved into the Duke Inn during 1971. The couple were married in 1951 and established a home at Medcroft Avenue in Handsworth Wood. The electoral roll for the Duke Inn shows they lived at the pub with their sons Leo, Simon and Matthew. Their daughter - Caroline had married Bernard Hartley during the same year.
This image is part of a newspaper article from 1973. The name above the door of the Duke Inn is that of Eunice Beneta Margherita Griffin. Her maiden name was Maturi. Outside the pub are some of the regular customers. A caption for the image read: 'The pub that has always been a "local" receives a salute and wishes for a long life from some of its longest serving customers [left to right] Arthur Newtown , Fred Rigby , Edward Savage , Sidney Millward , and Edward Brown . They say, apart from one or two exterior changes and alterations in the gardens, "it has not changed at all."
The photocopies have not been very well stored and were hard to photocopy. There were two cuttings saved, one from the Birmingham Mail published on 5th June 1973 and one from The Erdington News on 8th June 1973. In essence, the borough council were planning a bypass and the building of new homes in the area. "The Inn, situated in Duke Street is within an area where the borough council propose to build 200 new houses after compulsory purchase then demolishing existing buildings. But the council have put the future of the Duke in the hands of Ansell's Brewery" It was felt unlikely that the brewery would demolish the pub and replace it with a contemporary building but would rather use the land behind the pub for further development. "We want to maintain it in the fine traditional style and character which it possesses at the moment and we anticipate keeping it as our existing customers would prefer it." The licensee was Mrs Eunice Griffin. She was dubious about any plans for her pub. She can be seen behind the servery in the photograph below.
As her maiden name suggests, Eunice Griffin was born into the Italian community of Birmingham in 1923. In the late 19th and early 20th century there was a robust Italian quarter based around the old Curzon Street railway station and parts of Duddeston. Her father was Leo, or Leone Domenico Maturi, a cutlery dealer who originated from Este in Italy. His wife was Carolina Maturi who hailed from Muradino in Italy. In the census of 1911 the couple had been married for six years. They had three children but one had died. Their children were Cerina, aged five and Leonilda, seven months old, both born in Birmingham. Also living in the household was Mary Isabella, aged 14 from Muradino, Italy. She was listed as a visitor. Sadly, Mary Isabella did not have long to live as she died shortly after the census. Leo lived at 71 Bunbury Road, Northfield in later years. He died on 29th November 1951 at the General Hospital in Birmingham. Probate was granted on 6th February 1952 to Leo Giovani Benvenito Maturi, master cutler and Sylvia Maria Maturi, spinster. The effects were £9,547 8s. 3d., suggesting a successful career.
Tony Griffin suffered a stroke in 1969 so the running of the Duke Inn was mainly down to Eunice. Her husband died in March 1975 but Eunice remained at the pub for a few years. She lived until March 2015 when she passed away at Stennards retirement home. Her obituary stated that "she was always a kind and loving woman." Her sons show how we have become so mobile. Simon moved to the Isle of Man. Leo has lived in Denmark for more than 35 years. Matthew moved to Utrecht but died at an early age when suffering a heart attack in 2004.
Leo Griffin, who played with Anderlecht Star Sunday Afternoon Football Team when living at Sutton Coldfield, has shared some excellent photographs from when his mother Eunice was at the Duke Inn.
This photograph was taken on July 1st, 1971 when Eunice took over the running of the Duke Inn. Standing behind Eunice was a lady called Elsie who worked as a cleaner and morning barmaid. Leo remembers an article in a paper about 'The Duchess of Duke Street' which was a popular TV programme at the time. Eunice gained the nickname 'The Duchess of Duke Street.' However she had another nickname which was 'Diamond Lil' because she used to smoke cheroots [Hamlet]!
This photograph was taken on October 3rd, 1977 and Leo thinks this is when Eunice was leaving the pub and John Leo Colbert was taking over. This is thought to be him pictured with Eunice Griffin.
From a wonderful eulogy read by Simon at his mother's funeral there is some very interesting information. The eulogy started with the great line : "Eunice Benita Margherita, Bernadetta Maria Maturi. An impressive name for an impressive woman. Not only is it befitting of one who touched so many people's lives positively but it is also worth nearly 100 points at Scrabble. The one downside is that when I was ordering her obituary her name alone cost £23.42p." Leo went on to say that his parents were both rebels so rejected a beige suburban life to run a pub - and not just one. The number of pubs, clubs, bars and parties that Eunice held the licence for exceeded even the letters in her name, she was truly prolific. The first public house that she and Tony kept was the Eagle and Tun on the corner of Banbury Street. It was Tony who held the licence for this Ansell's house between January 1966 and February 1967. As excellent hosts, Eunice and Tony quickly progressed up the public house food chain and moved to the Warwick Castle on Aston Street before taking at the more prestigious New Inns at Mere Green. All three pubs were run by the Aston-based brewery. As Leo said : "Tony liked a drink and Eunice was a brilliant cook. He managed the wet side whilst she produced good, comforting home cooking. It was success on a plate with a tipple on the side."
Eunice must have been a tough act to follow and this duty fell to Leo and Elsie Colbert. However, they made a real go of it and kept the pub until the end of 1992 or the beginning of 1993. John Leo Colbert and Elsie L. Rutherford had married in September 1953. Hailing from Longford in Ireland, John was known by his middle name. He was instrumental in bringing real ale back to the Duke Inn and the pub was voted "Pub of the Year" in 1983 by the Sutton and Tamworth branch of CAMRA. Leo was also presented with a Master of Ale certificate from Ansell's for the quality of his beer. He and Elsie did a lot of charity fundraising through the Duke Inn. The couple later lived in Burton-on-Trent.
Patrick [Paddy] and Mary McLaughlin took over the Duke Inn during 1993. In the new millennium John and Janet Horton were mine hosts and spent some fifteen years at the Duke Inn. They were succeeded by Kelly and Mike Coller.
The Duke Inn in 2018
This façade is an insert dating from the late Victorian or Edwardian period. It was possibly an insert to the building by the Holt Brewery Company. Hidden by the pilasters, cast-iron supports and brickwork would hold up the first floor of the building thus allowing a 'modern' fenestration to be inserted on the ground floor. This was a very popular addition to pubs and shops during the late 19th century and continued into the early 20th century. The main entrance has moved from the centre of the building to the left.
The Duke Inn has a fine pair of lanterns projecting from the first floor. These are possibly a legacy of the Holt Brewery Company, an Aston-based brewery that loved their big lanterns. Mind you, so did Ansell's, the firm that took over the Holt Brewery Company. Note the Duke Inn lettering on shield-like metal plates within the wrought-iron work.
Entering the building through the main entrance and right through a door with 'Bar' on an etched-glass pane, brings the customer to this room. Back in the day this would have been a compact saloon bar but an internal wall has been 'knocked through' so that this now forms part of a larger L-shaped room.
This view of the pub's interior is taken from the bar entrance. Look to the ceiling and you can see the old internal layout of the Duke Inn. A wall once divided this small saloon bar from the main drinking room. Note also that another divide went across the building so that there would have been another internal wall. The support by the servery was probably inserted by the Holt Brewery Company to facilitate a serving area. These internal walls would have been part of the original house.
A view of the servery in the small bar. Plenty of wood panelling but most of it dates from a refurbishment of more recent times. The doorway and window above is of greater antiquity. There is also some old floor tiling beneath the rug in the passageway.
A nice feature of the modern pub, these small rotating glass panels are generally dubbed snob screens, originals of which are extemely rare in the 21st century. Most were ripped out of pubs in refits of the 1960s and subsequent years. As far as I am aware, the only surviving examples in Birmingham are within the Bartons' Arms at Aston Newtown. As the name suggests, they were used to protect more genteel drinkers from prying eyes in the saloon bar, not to mention anybody overhearing their conversation. These were part of a refurbishment of the Duke Inn, certainly post-mid 70s as they are not visible in photographs supplied by the Griffin family. Moreover, their position only divides the bar from the passageway rather than another drinking area. So, although a retro-fit, they are still a good internal feature of The Duke.
Although aesthetically pleasing, the back bar of the Duke Inn is another relatively recent addition to the building. One can see that it is made of softwood rather than, say, mahogany that was deployed by the Victorian and Edwardian bar fitting firms. In the photograph of Eunice Griffin and Leo Colbert dating from 1977, one can see a spiral spindle of the older back bar that was almost certainly made with hardwood.
This photograph was taken within the passageway leading to the rear room, the former smoke room of the Duke Inn. Here you can see the other side of the snob screens at the servery. This is where customers from the rear room order drinks. Of course, in the old days, patrons using the smoke room would have paid a penny extra for their ale and it would have been brought to their table by a waiter.
I have flipped this photograph so that you can read the Smoke Room lettering of this internal window pane. There is another similar pane for the bar. These would date from the days when the Duke Inn was operated by Ansell's or perhaps older still when the Holt Brewery Company owned the property. There were nice etched glass window panes in the main fenestration but these have not survived.
The former smoke room of the Duke Inn features some old bench seating, ceiling light fittings. For some reason the old fireplace surround was taken out and replaced with a modern softwood version. An old shell casing stands in the hearth - and perhaps has a story to tell.
The rear of the Duke Inn and the old outbuildings can be seen here from what is a large garden for the pub. There used to be a bowling green here until the mid-1970s.
We cannot have a tour of the Duke Inn without a look at the gents! I have featured a photograph because, although the toilets have been modernised, the old ceramic urinal is still in place. This is becoming less common in the 21st century.
Licensees of this pub
1866 - Charles Atkins
1880 - Eliza Bridges Atkins
1884 - Emily Jane Richards
1991 - Sarah Frances Thomas
1894 - John Bailey Harrison
1911 - Charles Arthur Williams
1919 - George Charles Baker
1921 - Amos Stubbs
1923 - Minton Edwin Toddington
1926 - Frederick Walter Smith
1930 - George James Blood
1944 - Gertrude Maria Blood
1961 - Samuel George Unitt
1964 - Albert Hearn
1967 - Donald Robbins
1973 - Eunice Beneta Griffin
1977 - John Leo Colbert
1993 - Patrick McLaughlin
2000 - John and Elsie Horton
2015 - Mike and Kelly Coller
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.
This map shows the location of the Duke Inn at Maney in 1889. Note the Cup Inn at the top-left corner of this map extract. The school building still stands but was a day nursery in 2018. Duke Street Church occupies a large portion of land between the school buildings the the Duke Inn. Farthing Lane is also truncated in the 21st century.
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Duke Inn at Maney you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Warwickshire Genealogy.
Have Your Say
If you would like to share any further information on this pub - perhaps you drank here in the past? Or maybe knew a previous publican? Whatever the reason it would be great to hear of your stories or gossip. Simply send a message and I'll post it here.
Related Newspaper Articles
"At a special sitting of the Sutton Coldfield Police Court, yesterday, before Messrs. H. Duncalfe and A. L. Crockford. Henry Stansbie,
brewer's traveller, of 60, Abbey Street, Birmingham, was charged, in company with five persons, with doing wilful damage at the Cup Inn, Maney. The other five
prisoners were Thomas Howell, clerk, Salisbury Road, Birchfield; Herbert Douglas Barbour. warehouseman, 51, Birchfield Road, Aston; Walter Channing, jeweller,
163, Ingestre Street, Birmingham; Henry Webb, scale-beam maker, 71, George Street, Lozells; and William Thomas, jeweller, 14, Lincoln Place, James Street,
Aston. Prisoners were further charged with wilful damage to a clock, at the Duke Inn, by placing it on the fire. It was stated by Mr. John Ellery, of the Cup Inn,
Maney, that a few minutes after two o'clock on Sunday the prisoners entered the house, and were supplied with three small jugs of ale in the smoke room. Shortly
afterwards his man came in, and requested him to go into the room. On entering, he found that the railway timetables had been burned and also two sheet of almanacks;
some theatre notices had been burnt and others torn up, as well as several notices of a sale, The supports to the clock had been taken away, and the clock itself had
been put forward one hour. The contents of the matchboxes were emptied on the floor, and they were filled with beer. Beer was also spilled on the floor, as well as ashes
from the grate, and the curtains were torn down from the windows. The police were sent for, and the men were apprehended, Barbour being seen fighting with a man as the
police came up. Evidence, was also given by Mrs. Thomas, of the Duke Inn, Duke Street, Maney, to the effect that prisoners came to her house about one o'clock and
after they had gone it was found that the clock had been put on the fire, and seriously damaged. The prisoners admitted the offences, and the Bench imposed a fine of 5s.
and costs each, in addition to damages, the whole amounting to £10. 3s. 10d."
"Rowdyism at Sutton Coldfield"
Birmingham Daily Post : April 2nd 1889 Page 5
"A pint from the past - manager of the Duke Inn, Sutton Coldfield, Mr. Leo Colbert and his wife Elsie sample the new delights of the new
beer, Ansell's Aston Ale. The traditional ale has just been launched by the Midlands brewery and is now served in the old-fashioned way at six Sutton pubs. On
Monday, the first pints were served through beer engines, without induced gas pressure, at the Beggars Bush, the Dog, the Horse and Jockey, the New Inns and Reddicap in
Sutton. Aston Ale will also be available shortly at three other local pubs already selling real ale - the Boat at Minworth, The Beehive at Curdworth and the Three Tuns
in Sutton. The traditional ale is no newcomer to The Duke. Since taking over as tenant, Mr. Colbert has converted all popular pints to the old fashioned pulling methods.
But what has been the response from the beer drinkers themselves after whetting their palates with Aston Ale? "They love it right down to the last drop," is
the official reckoning of drinkers at the Duke, according to the manager."
"Duke Goes Back to Tradition"
Sutton Coldfield News : April 14th 1978
"Cricket fans who drink at the Duke Inn in Sutton Coldfield are being bowled over by this prize in a charity raffle organised by the licensee.
The bat was presented to the pub by Warwickshire batsman Neil Abberley. It carries the signatures of the Pakistan touring side, the England cricket team and the Warwickshire
cricketers. Money from the raffle, which will be drawn next month is to be split between under-privileged children in Birmingham and Leamington scouts. Licensee Mr. Leo
Colbert is pictured with the cricket bat."
Sutton Coldfield News : April 20th 1979