History of the Black Swan at Cradley in the county of Worcestershire.


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Some history of the Black Swan

I cannot believe I do not have a photograph of this public-house as it was one of the more prominent buildings on the old High Street. However, most of the Edwardian photographers seemed to concentrate on the area further up the hill and around the church. There are very few images of this section of the High Street.

Cradley : Map Extract showing the Black Swan on High Street [1922]

The location of the Black Swan is marked on this map extract dating from 1922. Note the pub's close proximity to the chain works of Jones & Lloyd Co. Ltd., a firm founded by Joseph and William Rock in 1837. The company had a 'Lower' Shop in the High Street, close to Lyde Green and a 'Middle' shop near to the Black Swan public house where heavy chain was produced. Known also as the Scotia Works, the company also had a 'Top' Shop at High Town where the firm's offices were located.

The street number of the Black Swan was once No.32 High Street, before changing to No.80. The building stood where the junction of Little Hill Crescent is in the 21st century. The two properties opposite have survived, though the old Bethesda Methodist Chapel [seen on the above map extract] has sadly gone.

Cradley : Sale of furniture and effects of Nathaniel Ward of the Black Swan [1850]

The Black Swan was licensed around 1840, an early publican being Nathaniel Ward. He remained at the helm until June 1850 when the licence was transferred to Mary Hingley, daughter of the anchor and chain manufacturer Noah Hingley. It actually stated her relationship to the industrialist in the local press. However, I am not too sure why she would be having the hassle of running a public-house as Noah Hingley was quite minted by this stage in his career. By the end of the 1850s he was employing 1,000 men and boys and living in the Chapel House on The Park. Mary soon joined her father and step-mother 'up the hill.' The family would later move to Hatherton Lodge on Drew's Holloway where Noah Hingley died in October 1877.

Noah Hingley

Halesowen : Notice for an auction of the Queen's Head [1850]

This advertisement throws up another question or two. Thomas Howell became the licensee of the Black Swan by 1854. Here, as an auctioneer, it can be seen he is selling the goodwill and licenses of the Queen's Head at Halesowen and disposing of the brewing plant. The sale, however, was to be held at the the Black Swan on the 11th of September 1850. And yet in the census of 1851 Mary Hingley is still recorded as the publican running the place. She was assisted by Mary Hickman who was recorded as a barmaid. She also hired a general servant. However, there is some overlap here and Thomas Howell had some connection with the Black Horse before he took over as publican.

Thomas Howell was certainly the licensee by 1854, a period when the Black Swan was a favourite of those working in the neighbouring chain works. Indeed, the proprietors would pay for dinners to be served to their employees, along with those who had formed the Loyal Adelaide Lodge, a body with whom they were associated.

Thomas Howell continued in business as an auctioneer whilst running the Black Swan. One of his sales held in June 1856 was for six freehold cottages to the rear of the Black Swan. Sold in one lot, the cottages generated an annual rental of £34. 4s. 8d. When advising potential buyers where more particulars of his sales could be obtained he listed his offices at both Hagley Street in Halesowen, along with the Black Swan Inn.

Billings' Directory for 1855 lists Thomas Howell as an Auctioneer, Appraiser, Victualler, Printer, Stationer and an Agent for the Birmingham Fire Office. Thomas Howell was clearly a man who liked to fill his diary. He concentrated on his business as an auctioneer and moved his office to the Birmingham Road at Smethwick.

William Jones was mine host at the Black Swan during the mid-late 1850s. He appears to have brought a lot of energy to the business and helped to make the Black Swan Inn a social centre of the community at Cradley. The publican fostered a number of clubs and societies. With Thomas Foley as Club President, the Cradley Old Glee Society were one such group to gather at the Black Swan Inn where, following a slap-lunch provided by William and Ann Jones, the beer would flow liberally and an evening of harmony and singing would be conducted with gusto.

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Both William and Ann Jones hailed from Shropshire, the publican being born between Cound and Berrington to the south-east of Shrewsbury. This was a period when a good number of the rural community migrated to the Black Country for employment opportunities. However, William and Ann did not fit into this mould as they had previously operated a fair-sized farm at Burwarton. The couple kept the Black Swan for almost a decade before deciding to retire.

Cradley : Sale of the Black Swan Inn [1865]

The tenancy of the Black Swan Inn was advertised in the summer of 1865 and James Perkins was the man who considered that he could build on the success of William Jones. The licence was transferred to him on October 20th, 1865. He may have been the James Perkins who was both farmer and victualler at the New Rose and Crown at Chadwick near Bromsgrove but I need to dig a little further to confirm this.

Cradley : Sale of the effects at the Black Swan Inn [1865]

On taking over the Black Swan, James Perkins must have turned up with a waggon full of his own furnishings - or he simply did not like the existing fixtures and fittings. Consequently, he decided to sell much of it through an auction held by Chandler's of Cradley Heath. These sales possibly enabled local residents to furnish their homes with furniture at knock-down prices.

Cradley : Sale of the Black Swan Inn [1867]

Featuring nail shops, two of the cottages at the back of the Black Swan in 1867 were occupied by J. Buffery and Joseph Southall. The move to Cradley did not suit James Perkins and he gave his reason for leaving the Black Swan as "ill-health. The licence of the Black Swan was transferred from James Perkins to Joseph Steadman on the first day of May, 1868.

The late 1860s appears to have been an unsettled period at the Black Swan. Joseph Steadman was only at the public-house for a few months. The licence of the house was transferred Edward Oakes on December 4th, 1868. His time at the pub was also short-lived and Richard Newman took over as licensee in June 1869. Within weeks the licence was being transferred again, this time to Samuel Jones who appeared before the magistrates on August 13th, 1869 where they approved of his application. Samuel Jones steadied the ship and remained as host for several years.

Cradley : Dancing Party at the Black Swan Inn [1870]

Born in the locality, Samuel Jones was a relatively young licensee. He was only 24 when he took over the White Swan. He kept the pub with his wife Fanny. The couple livened up the Black Swan Inn by staging events in the club room. A Quadrille Band was the rock'n'roll of the day! Well, a bit more like line-dancing in some respects as couples in each corner of a square took turns strutting their stuff.

Cradley : Fete and Picnic for the Jessamine Lodge of Free Gardeners [1871]

I assume that Homer Hill had not been exploited to such a degree in 1871. By the end of the Victorian era it looked like a moonscape! Here it is described as the "beautiful grounds" in which a grand fete and picnic was being held for the benefit of the Jessamine Lodge of Free Gardeners, held at the Black Swan Inn. This fraternal society was one of many to be established in public-houses, the aim being to protect members in times of sickness and/or death during a period when there was no welfare state. However, the management of funds often led to disputes. One such case involved the Loyal Adelaide Lodge of the United Order of Oddfellows at the Black Swan when the secretary Ezra Bloomer refused payment to John Beasley. In another court case, Ezra Bloomer was charged with appropriating the funds for his own gain, an offence that would have made him one of the most unpopular men in Cradley.

Cradley : String Band at the Black Swan for Cradley Wake [1872]

Samuel and Fanny maintained their track record of providing top entertainment at the Black Swan Inn by booking G. Williams's String Band for the Cradley Wake in May 1872. Staying in the licensed trade, this couple would later move up the High Street. They were succeeded at the Black Swan by David and Elizabeth Brookes, a couple both in their mid-60s when the census enumerator called in 1881. David Brookes had earlier worked as a forgeman when the couple lived in Butcher's Lane.

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William Henry Hickton, licensee in the mid-1880s was also a cab and car proprietor. He had previously kept the Five Ways Inn at Cradley Heath. The publican died at a very young age in November 1888 and the licence passed his wife Maria. She also died at a relatively young age in November 1896.

Cradley : Sale of the Black Swan Inn [1897]

The Hickton's probably owned the freehold of the Black Swan as, following the death of Maria the property was advertised in February 1897. This was possibly the year that the Black Swan was acquired by Atkinson's Brewery Ltd. of Aston. However, for some reason the company disposed of the property to J. A. and A. Thompson Ltd.

The Black Swan was forced to close in 1939 after the authorities refused to renew the licence. It was reported at a meeting of the Worcestershire County Licensing Committee that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue awarded £1,620 compensation in respect of the closure. The committee gave £1,595 to the owners, J. A. and A. Thompson Ltd., of Oldbury, and £25 to the licensee, John Mather Forbes. At this meeting the renewal of the licence for the neighbouring Robin Hood, owned by Benjamin Tromans, was also refused, along with the Old Mogul, owned by Ansell's Brewery Ltd..

Licensees of this pub

1843 - 1850 - Nathaniel Ward
1850 - Mary Hingley
1854 - Thomas Howell
1856 - 1865 William Jones
1865 - 1868 James Perkins
1868 - 1868 Joseph Steadman
1868 - 1869 Edward Oakes
1869 - Richard Newnam
1871 - Samuel Jones
1878 - David Brookes
1888 - William Henry Hickton
1889 - Maria Louisa Hickton
1900 - Francis Griffiths
1903 - William Henry Davis
1904 - John Auden
1911 - 1918 Herbert Joseph Harrison
1918 - 1919 Harvey Hall
1919 - 1920 Alfred Hinks
1920 - 1922 Joseph Bennett
1922 - 1923 Llewelyn Robinson
1923 - 1930 Alice Robinson
1930 - 1933 Joseph David Robinson
1933 - 1936 Henry Beskeen Treglown
1936 - 1939 John Mather Forbes
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

Atkinson's Ales - Held Up As The Best!

Genealogy Connections

If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Black Swan can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Worcestershire Genealogy.

Have Your Say

If you would like to share any further information on the Black Swan - perhaps your ancestors drank here in the past? Or had some link with a previous publican? Whatever the reason it would be great to hear of your stories or gossip. Simply send a message and I will post it here.

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Related Newspaper Articles

"On Monday week, the members of the Loyal Adelaide Lodge, held at Host Howell's, the Black Swan, Cradley, to the number of about 70, met early in the morning and proceeded, headed by a brass band, to church, where, after listening to an excellent sermon, the procession reformed and paraded the district. The members afterwards partook of a substantial repast at the Black Swan, and spent a pleasant evening, under the presidency of Brothers Adams and Rock. The usual loyal and other toasts were drunk, and duly responded to, as also was "The health of the surgeon, Mr. Hudson." It was stated that during the ten years of the existence of this lodge there had been no funeral, and consequently its funds were in a very satisfactory condition."
"Lodge Anniversaries"
Worcestershire Chronicle : July 12th 1854 Page 6

"Richard Boncer, a chainmaker, was charged with being drunk and refusing to leave the Black Swan public-house, Cradley, when requested to do so. Ordered to pay a fine of 2s. 6d. and costs, or, in default, fourteen days."
"Refusing To Leave Public-Houses"
Worcestershire Chronicle : February 3rd 1864 Page 4

"Yesterday at the Police Court, Benjamin Harrison and Elijah Harris, who did not appear, were each fined 5s. and costs, or fourteen days, for being drunk and riotous at the Black Swan public-house, Cradley, on Saturday night last. Police-Constable Rowe proved the case."
"The Drink"
County Advertiser : March 30th 1872 Page 5

"Jones vs. Drewery: This was a new trial. The plaintiff keeps the Black Swan, Cradley, and the defendant who is a carpenter and publican, lives at Stourbridge. The action was brought is recover the value of ale applied to defendant while at work at a new house at Cradley, near the Black Swan. Mr. Homer appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. Wall for the defendant. The plaintiff's wife swore that the ale was supplied to the defendant, and was consumed off the premises, and in support of her statement, Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Harper were called. Mr. Wall, for the defendant, contended that there was no debt due to the plaintiff, and that the defendant had ale in the house, for which he had paid the defendant. Two witnesses named Sturt and Morgan, were called in support of this, but after being cross-examined by Mr. Homer, his Honour said he considered the weight of evidence was in favour of the plaintiff and gave a verdict for the full amount claimed and costs."
"Jones v. Drewery"
County Advertiser : June 24th 1871 Page 7

"Isaac Bloomer, 24, chainmaker, and Charles Bridgwater, 19, puddler, were indicted for unlawfully and maliciously inflicting bodily harm upon Thomas Hatton, on the 13th of April, at The Lye. Mr. Clive prosecuted, and Mr. Jelf defended. The prosecutor, a spademaker, living at Hay Green, stated that he was returning home from Halesowen, and when near Cradley he was assailed by the prisoners. Bloomer endeavoured to force him into the hedge, and immediately afterwards he received two severe blows on the head, and the latter rendered him insensible. When he recovered he was lying in the road; this was about half a mile from his residence. There were eight or ten wounds on his head, and he could not resume business for three weeks afterwards. He had never seen either of the prisoners before the occurrence. Charles Southall, chainmaker, deposed that he was at the Black Swan Inn, Cradley, on the evening in question. The prisoners were at the public-house, and he heard Bloomer remark, in answer to the other prisoner, "I should think we have given him enough." A fellow-workman with Bloomer stated that on the 14th April he came to him at work, and in the course of some conversation about some races that took place on the day on which the assault was committed, stated that he and Bridgwater had knocked "a man down again the brick-kiln, and had left him for dead, and they were obliged to run away." The Court rose at seven o'clock, and the further hearing of the case was adjourned until nine o'clock on Wednesday morning."
"Wounding At The Lye"
Worcester Journal : July 4th 1874 Page 7

"At the County Court, on Tuesday, before Mr. R. Kettle, John Beasley, a member of a friendly society held at the Black Swan Inn, Cradley, sued the secretary, Ezra Bloomer, for £4. 8s. 6d., being eleven weeks' sick pay. Mr. Addison appeared for plaintiff, and Mr. Homer for defendant. Payment of the claim was resisted on the ground that plaintiff had been engaged in a fight with another man, and that under the rules he was not entitled to sick pay on this account. It was proved, however, that plaintiff was attacked without any provocation on his part; and his Honour gave a verdict for the amount claimed."
"Friendly Society Case"
Worcester Journal : December 21st 1878 Page 3

"At the Police Court, before Colonel Fletcher and Mr. C. Cochrane, Ezra Bloomer, Cradley. was charged with appropriating to his own use £26 15s., the moneys of a friendly society held at the Black Swan Inn, Cradley. Mr. Stokes prosecuted, and Mr. Caldicott defended. Bloomer, it appeared, had been secretary to the society in question, and formal evidence was given that he had appropriated the money. He pleaded guilty, and was ordered to pay the amount and costs, or three months' in default."
"Charge of Appropriating Money"
Worcester Journal : December 24th 1881 Page 5

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