Some history of the New Two Gates Inn at Cradley in the county of Worcestershire.


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This tavern was located at High Park, and fairly close to the Ragged School. Indeed, the land on which the Ragged School was erected was once owned by the family running the New Two Gates Inn. This was a completely different building to the Old Two Gates Inn that stood at the top of Tanhouse Lane.

Tithe Map showing Two Gates and Foxcote Lane at Cradley [1843]

The building was originally a farmhouse and in the 1840s was occupied by Joseph and Sarah Parish. Their names appear with two 'rr's' in some records but I believe the correct spelling was Parish. Born around 1775, Joseph Parish is recorded as a landowner on the 1843 Tithe Map for Cradley. The schedule for this tithe map records him as land owner and occupier of a house and close with arable land. Joseph Parish was a farmer but decided to open up part of the premises as a beer house at Two Gates. He was being a bit of a rascal naming it the New Two Gates Inn as the Old Two Gates Inn was only a short distance along the road at the top of Tanhouse Lane. I have seen this sort of thing in other locations whereby a publican would try to attract some custom from those who were confused with the similar inn signs. In some cases a publican would take a name with him when moving to new premises, though I do not think that Joseph Parish kept the Old Two Gates Inn prior to the Bache family. The tavern at the top of Tanhouse Lane held an old, or full, licence, whereas the New Two Gates Inn was simply a place where beer and cider was sold.

Cradley : People and Trades of Old Two Gates at Cradley in Bentley's Trade Directory [1841]

I have placed an extract from Bentley's Trade Directory of 1841 to show that the publisher, when listing most people conducting a trade here at Parkside, High Park and Two Gates, were recorded at Old Two Gates. This made it confusing back then and also confusing for those researching the area almost 200 years later!

Cradley : Joseph Parish and Richard Bache in Bentley's Trade Directory [1841]

Following on, this shows two more extracts from the same 1841 trade directory and shows Richard Bache, victualler [one that holds an old full licence] at the Old Two Gates, along with Joseph Parish, a beer-seller.

This locality is often listed differently in various sources, thus creating more confusion. Sometimes, particularly on Victorian maps, the locale is shown as Parkside. This title is more commonly associated with the settlement straddling the old turnpike road on the other side of Cradley Park between Park Lane and Colley Gate. The continuation of Two Gates from Joseph Parish's beer house towards Oldnall was colloquially known as High Park - hence High Park Road in later years.

Brewsters Sessions for Two Gates Beer Houses [1874]

The New Two Gates Inn was later run by Samuel Bennett. This newspaper article, printing details of the 1874 Brewsters Sessions, indicated that he had been repeatedly applying for a full licence for 18 years, suggesting that he took over as publican around 1856.

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Samuel Bennett was a 'fruit 'n' veg' man who moved to Cradley from his Netherton home following his marriage to Sarah Parish in August 1845. The son of Joseph Bennett and Sophia Smith, he was born in 1817 and was helping his mother run her business as a fruiterer in Netherton's Northfield Road before he married Sarah Parish, daughter of Joseph and Sarah Parish. She and her brothers, Joseph and Henry, had spent their formative years at the old farmhouse.

Sarah Parish probably inherited the farmhouse and land which, as was the case in those days, passed to her husband Samuel Bennett. He was listed as the person that conveyed a parcel of land to Noah Hingley and Jeston Homfray in order for the Ragged School to be built in 1867.

Cradley : Probable site of the New Two Gates Inn [1903]

Based on the fact that the beer house was part of a farmhouse, that part of the land was sold for the adjoining Ragged School, and the entry for Joseph Parish in the 1843 Tithe Schedule, I suggest that the location of the New Two Gates Inn is the large building marked on this map extract. Please note however that this is not definite, it is based on the evidence found from other sources. Certainly, the large building almost opposite is that of the Vine Inn.

Cradley : Probable location of the New Two Gates Inn [2009]

Samuel and Sarah did not move into the New Two Gates Inn after they were married. Samuel continued to trade as a fruiterer from a neighbouring cottage. Sarah's mother had taken charge of the tavern where she was recorded as a licensed brewer. Consequently, we can be pretty sure that the New Two Gates Inn was selling homebrewed ales. Sarah was getting on in years but was assisted by her son Henry who was also recorded as a brewer. He may have kept the Old Two Gates Inn during the mid-1850s. His name appears in the Post Office Directory of 1854 - did the compliers of the directory get the pubs mixed up?

By the early 1860s Samuel Bennett was both farmer and publican. His wife Sarah, daughter of the previous occupiers, probably kept the house whilst Samuel Bennett worked the land, a portion of which he gave up for the Ragged School. This still left him with 17 acres. In later years Samuel and Sarah were able to hire a servant for some of the tasks around the household. In the early 1880s this position was held by Mary Billingham.

Cradley : Sale of property on Two Gates sold at the New Two 
Gates Inn [1878]

Samuel Bennett sold many of his property assets at an auction held at the New Two Gates Inn during April 1878. However, he retained ownership of The Britannia at Windmill Hill which he leased to Richard Forrest. Indeed, I think he may have leased the New Two Gates Inn as the name of George Billingham appears in the 1871 census as chainmaker and publican.

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In the summer of 1872 George Billingham's name featured in a newspaper report following a charge by Superintendent Freeman that he had permitted drunkenness in his house. At the magistrates court Police-Constable Roe said that about five o'clock on June 17th he visited the New Two Gates Inn and found four men in the tap room drunk. The officer said that one of the men had his face blacked. He also found two men drunk in a back room. P.C. Roe stated that, "when he called the attention of the landlady to the state the men were in, she ordered them out of the house." The officer also claimed that Susannah Billingham, to prevent him from reporting her, tried to bribe him with five shillings. As it turned out, the magistrates considered that the evidence was very conflicting, and should they gave the defendant the benefit of the doubt and dismissed the summons.

Cradley : The New Two Gates Inn recorded on the 1891 Census

Cradley : Rabbit Coursing Meeting at the New Two Gates Inn [1889]

William Bennett, a market gardener, like his father before him, became licensee of the New Two Gates Inn, the census entry of 1891 confirming that it was still trading under this sign. Judging by his advertisements he will not be remembered as an animal lover. He advertised the tavern to rent in November 1893, by which time there was a much reduced 3½ acres of land attached to the New Two Gates Inn. William Bennett got into some financial difficulty and had to appear for a public examination at the Talbot Hotel in Stourbridge in February 1894.

James and Alice Taylor were running the New Two Gates Inn during the early Victorian period. Born in Lye in 1857, James Taylor was a builder by trade. No sooner had he entered the licensed trade he found himself being hauled before the local magistrates in 1901 on a charge of "preventing Police-Constable Allen from entering a room which, in the execution of his duty, he had a right to enter, on June 10th." Judging by the evidence presented in court it would appear that James Taylor delayed the entry of the policeman in order for his punters to hide the fact they were gambling in the house. Police-Constable Allen, suspecting this was the case, tried to enter the pub but, as he pushed against the door, the publican put his foot against it. After some time he gained entry, James Taylor stating in court that he was simply sitting close to the door, because there was no where else for him to sit, the room being full of customers. He denied obstructing the officer but the Bench were not convinced and he was fined £5 and costs. He was also done for being drunk on his own premises. This would have been an issue for James Taylor when renewing his licence. Certainly, he gave up the tavern soon after and the couple returned to Lye.

James Taylor was succeeded by William Thomas who kept the house with his wife Florence, though I think she may gone by her middle name of Laura. The couple had previously lived in Beecher Street from where William worked as a shoemaker.

The pub was referred for compensation by the County Licensing Committee in July 1914. Along with the Old Pipe and Car and Horses at Stourbridge, and also the Vine on Pedmore Road at Lye, the life of the New Two Gates Inn was reaching the end of the road. In December the compensation awarded by the County Licensing Committee was set at £520. The licensee, William Henry Thomas received £74 5s. 6d., the remainder going to the trustees. The last beers were served in the tavern on January 12th 1915.

Licensees of the New Two Gates Inn

1841 - Joseph Parish
1851 - Sarah Parish
1861 - Samuel Bennett
1891 - William Bennett
1894 - William Massey
1901 - James Henry Taylor
1911 - William Henry Thomas
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub. The dates of early licensees are sourced from trade directories, census data, electoral rolls, rate books and newspaper articles. Names taken from trade directories may be slightly inaccurate as there is some slippage from publication dates and the actual movement of people.

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Related Newspaper Articles

"The Ancient Order of Free Gardeners' held their picnic on Monday. The procession left Mr. Samuel Bennett's, the New Two Gates Inn, Two Gates, at about eleven o'clock in the morning, and proceeded from thence to Mr. W. Morgan's, Pear Tree Inn, Lye Waste, where it joined its United Brotherhood. They then formed in full procession, and promenaded through the principal streets of Lye Waste, Lye, Quarry Bank, Cradley Heath, and Cradley, from there to the beautiful enclosed grounds at Cradley Park, kindly lent for the occasion by Mr. E. Oliver. The procession was headed by two beautiful banners, kindly lent for the occasion by the Tamworth and Bilston Districts. Two brass bands, the East Worcestershire and South Staffordshire, under the directions of Mr. J. Whitehouse and Mr. W. Wakelam, led the procession, which reached the grounds between two and three o''clock in the afternoon. The Metropolitan Minstrels performed three times in the course of the afternoon, to the great amusement of those present. Mr. T. Licester, jun., played two solos, with variations, one on the piccolo, and one on the cornet. The party dispersed about nine o'clock."
"Free Gardeners' Picnic"
County Advertiser : July 1st 1871 Page 5.

"While Cradley cyclists are busily engaged training, and testing their skill on a patent home trainer in the district, the flat racers are keeping in condition by the aid of regular cross country spins, and Saturday last saw an interesting match between the Two Gates Harriers and Kidderminster Harriers. The course selected was from headquarters [New Two Gates Inn Inn] through Halesowen, crossing to Hasbury and on towards the popular Causeway. Broadmarsh was the next place passed en route, and a spurt home completed seven miles which was covered in 38½ minutes, The Two Gates runners, scored a hollow victory in furnishing the first, second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth men home, A. Meacham, [the old boss] Tolley, H. Meacham, Edmonds, Billingham, Tromans, and Taylor respectively, while "Kiddy" furnished fifth man in Smith, and the ninth in Moore. The return match is looked forward to with interest."
"Football, Athletics and Cycling"
County Express : December 19th 1891 Page 3.

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