Some history of the Waggon and Horses at Halesowen in the county of Worcestershire.
The Waggon and Horses is located on the corner of Halesowen Road and Islington, the latter being the street name between the main road and Richmond Street. However, at one time Islington also referred to the locale between Short Cross and Town's End, or Townsend, though it was centred on the thoroughfare leading up to Islington Row, the former name of Richmond Street.
I have marked the location of the pub on the above map extract published in 1904, by which time the Waggon and Horses had been enlarged [more on this later in the page]. Enjoying a prominent corner position, the Waggon and Horses was one of three taverns with a frontage on Islington, the other two being the Nailforgers' Arms [a tavern later known as the Old Royal Inn at No.10, and the Old Talbot Inn, at No.43. That tavern may have traded under the sign of the Bricklayers' Arms. There was certainly a tavern bearing that name on Islington but precise locations of 19th century houses in this thoroughfare are not easy to trace. The census enumerator did not provide house numbers and, indeed, did not follow the same route on each survey. Trade directories simply listed the licensees as beer retailers with no fixed address. What I need is a detailed rate book. In the census survey of 1851 the sign of the Islington Hotel appeared, the only reference I have seen. Was this another beer house with a very short lifespan or was it a case of a change of trading name, albeit for a very brief period?
Another reason for the lack of clarity is that, apart from the Waggon and Horses, every building seen here on Islington was demolished, maisonettes being erected in their place. These appear to have been constructed in the 1960s. The wrecking ball was also deployed on the southern side of Stourbridge Road. Most of the buildings seen on the above map extract have long gone, the exception being the two old chapels, though these serve a secular role nowadays.
All of the taverns marked on the map, including the Waggon and Horses, started out as beer houses. This is the reason why they do not appear in directories for Shropshire before 1830. However, Pigot's Directory of 1835 does include three beer retailers in Islington - Mary Grove, William Ganner and Ann Smith, the latter being here at the Waggon and Horses.¹ Bentley's directory published in 1841 provides a much more detailed picture of Halesowen during the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. In this year, James Grove was listed as a bricklayer and victualler at the Bricklayers' Arms. Catherine Harris was recorded as a beer seller in Islington, whilst William Jones was shown as a victualler at the Waggon and Horses.² The difference in terms or phraseology is important, victualler generally being applied to a person licensed to sell all types of liquor, including spirits, whilst a beer seller was, as it suggests, only allowed to retail beer, though in some cases sales of cider was also permitted. However, it was known for the use of victualler to be applied to those licensed only to sell beer and wine. Having said that, trade directories generally only included the inn sign when a house held a full licence. Both the Waggon and Horses and Bricklayers' Arms were listed by name, suggesting that the proprietors had gained a full licence for their premises.
With Pigot's Directory of 1835 being the first trade listing to include Ann Smith as a beer retailer, it is not clear exactly when the house was allowed to open its doors to the public for imbibing purposes. It was certainly in the early years following the Duke of Wellington's Beer House Act of 1830. The premises had almost certainly been erected a few years earlier. Proprietor of a carriage and haulage business, Ann Smith is recorded in deeds, dated December 29th 1826, regarding the purchase of land and cottages on the corner of Islington and the Stourbridge to Birmingham turnpike road.³
Ann Smith had been trading as a carrier for some years prior to acquiring the plot of land on the corner of Islington. In Pigot's Directory of 1828-29 she was one of four carriers listed. She operated a service to Birmingham, with departures from her house in Halesowen's Bull Ring, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.³ Little wonder therefore that the inn sign at her new house at Islington should reflect her trade. This name was quite common as waggons were the principal means of transportation before the advent of the railways. Moreover, many public-houses acted as agencies where all manner of goods could be left so that they would be forwarded or collected by local people to whom they were addressed.
So who was Ann Smith, the proprietor and first licensee of the Waggon and Horses? Parish records point towards her being Ann Deeley. There is a record of a marriage at Oldswinford between Francis Smith and Ann Deeley on April 7th 1795. There is also a record of burial for Francis Smith at the same church on October 19th, 1823. The couple had a daughter, Caroline, baptised at Saint John's Church at Halesowen in July 1811. There were also two sons - William would become a coal merchant at Worcester whilst Francis became a horn button maker, moving to Birmingham.
With Ann Smith being in the business of carrying goods and owning the Waggon and Horses, the missing ingredient was a maltster and brewer capable of producing homebrewed ales behind the premises. This is where William Jones enters the story of the Waggon and Horses. I am not suggesting it was a marriage of convenience and I very much hope that he fell in love with the daughter of the carrier. William Jones married Caroline Smith at the Church of Saint Thomas at Dudley on April 22nd, 1829. Born in Tipton around 1811, he was a maltster by trade, occupying premises in Hagley Street in the mid-1830s. At the Lent Assizes held at Worcester in 1834 the maltster was brought up on a charge of forging a Bank of England note. However, he was found not guilty.
Following his marriage to Caroline Smith, William Jones would eventually move into the Waggon and Horses. With Ann Smith concentrating on her business as carrier, it was perhaps inevitable that the licence of the premises would pass to the maltster. He was listed as victualler in Bentley's Directory of Shropshire published in 1841 and publican in the census conducted in the same year. At this time most of the neighbouring houses were occupied by nail-makers, many of whom toiled in the back yards of their dwellings, though some were engaged at a couple of nearby nail factories. The Islington locale became quite notorious as a place of poverty, hardship and squalor. Civic-minded industrialists would later attempt to address these issues.
Ann Smith, original owner and licensee, continued to live on the premises. In the census of 1851 she told the enumerator that she was 75 years of age and had retired. Well, I think you are allowed to retire by this time, though some people were less fortunate and toiled until they dropped. Ann Smith died on February 27th, 1858. Ownership of the Waggon and Horses may have passed to her daughter, Caroline, though William Jones was the licensee of the house. Three years later the household comprised of the couple, along with Francis Smith, brother to Caroline. After some years in Birmingham, he had moved back to Halesowen and was recorded as a horn button presser. I imagine he was employed at the factory of the Grove family at nearby Short Cross. In returning, he was reunited with his daughter, Rhoda, who had been living at the pub for some years. Caroline Twining, another niece to William and Caroline Jones, was also living on the premises.
Caroline Smith shuffled off this mortal coil on June 6th, 1863, her husband continuing the business until his passing in January 1870. I must mention that none of the family seem to have accumulated much wealth during their lifetimes. Indeed, William's will showed that his effects were valued at less than £100. What makes interesting reading is that the will was proved by Edwin Oliver, a contractor of Cradley and William Watson Oldershaw, a solicitor based at Hagley Street in Halesowen. This makes me wonder if William Jones, in order to stay afloat, had remortgaged the property? It could, however, be a case of these men being his friends and acquaintances. Whatever, the Waggon and Horses was put up for auction at the end of 1870. This means there was quite a gap between the death of William Jones and the sale of the premises. As can be seen above, there was a separate auction for the furniture, brewing plant and effects of the Waggon and Horses. The fact that there were only eleven casks included in the sale suggests that all beer made on the premises was solely for consumption in this pub rather than beer being supplied to other local houses.
The above sale notice shows that it was not only the Waggon and Horses Inn being sold at the auction. William Jones also owned two adjoining houses that were included in Lot 1 of the sale. A second lot offered for sale adjoined the Islington Ragged School. The latter had only been erected three years earlier, paid for by William Caleb Bloomer, a nail and chain manufacturer. He was already a dedicated church man, having been the organist for many years. Following the death of his wife, he devoted the remainder of his days to charitable and missionary work.⁵ The houses adjoining the Waggon and Horses fronted Stourbridge Road and were occupied by George Field and Reuben Florence respectively. Both men were labourers in an iron works, and both of their wives worked as nail-makers.
The highest bidder at the auction was the timber merchant and beer house-keeper, Richard Withers, who paid £420.0s.0d. for Lot 1., including the Waggon and Horses. At the time he was the licensee of the White Lion on Hagley Road. He was one of several members of the Withers clan to run pubs in the locality, mostly around the Spring Hill area. His brother, Charles, was licensee of the British Arms at Hasbury. Richard Withers held the licence until he could find somebody to manage the house whilst he and his wife, Sarah, kept the White Lion.
Richard Withers appointed the sawyer Thomas Rudge, the licence being transferred to him during 1871. Locally born, he managed the Waggon and Horses Inn with his wife Phoebe. Having married in 1835, both were in advanced middle age. Not too old however for their grandson, Edward, who lived on the premises. The couple also employed Potteries-born Harriet Bennett as a general servant. Thomas Rudge had worked as a sawyer for much of his working life. He was engaged in this line of work during the 1850s when living in Waterfall Lane at Old Hill. His work in timber almost certainly resulted in him meeting Richard Withers. He may have been an employee in the family timber yard. He and Phoebe had previously kept the Swan Inn on Long Lane where they lived with sons Samuel and Joseph. Phoebe Rudge died at the Waggon and Horses but Thomas remained for a period as the licensee. He was helped by Anna Maria Phillips. Following his retirement, he moved into the house next-door-but-one, a property owned by Richard Withers. The house was occupied by Thomas's son, Samuel, along with daughter-in-law Ann. No doubt Thomas Rudge continued to patronise the Waggon and Horses Inn for the odd pint or two.
I need to rewind a bit here because, during the period in which Thomas and Phoebe Rudge were managing the Waggon and Horses, the owner of the building passed away. Richard Withers died in January 1878 and was buried in Halesowen cemetery. A section of the headstone is featured above, other members of his family also being buried here.
Following the death of Richard Withers ownership of the Waggon and Horses remained with trustees. However, in the mid-1880s widow Sarah Withers moved from the White Lion to take over at the premises on the corner of Islington. Thomas Rudge was recorded as licensee in Kelly's Directory published in 1884 and Sarah Withers in the 1888 edition. So, although there I have not determined the exact date she took over, it was between these dates. A history panel by John Richards inside the pub categorically states it was in 1884 but I cannot confirm this. There are errors in his listing of licensees so I cannot trust this source.
Dating from 1890, this ground floor plan of the corner of Stourbridge Road and Islington shows the former structure and layout of the Waggon and Horses Inn when owned by the trustees of the estate of Richard Withers. The aforementioned adjoining cottages can be seen to the right of the pub. Note the entry that facilitated access to the rear yard, possibly used in the 1830s as part of Ann Smith's carriage business. The outbuilding was the site of the brewery operated by William Jones. Following the sale of the brewery plant in 1870, I have not seen evidence that homebrewed ales were sold in the Waggon and Horses in the latter half of the 19th century. The rectangle marked on the pavement shows the cellar drop through which ales from a local common brewer would be delivered to the house. It was quite a climb to the front door, the steps being clearly marked on the plan.
Being one of the prominent houses in the locale, the Waggon and Horses was occasionally used for inquests by the coroner. One such inquest was held on Tuesday June 4th, 1889, on the body of 14-year-old Ellen Corbett of nearby Queen Street. She had drowned in the Waxland Brook at Hasbury on the previous Sunday afternoon. The brook was swollen following a heavy storm and Ellen Corbett, whilst crossing on an eleven-inch plank, fell into the water and was carried away by the current. Accompanied by her friend, Obedience Jackson, she had been on an afternoon walk across Waxland. Her friend, a young factory girl, was nervous of walking across the plank and told the coroner that she had expressed a fear that Ellen Corbett would fall into the water. However, apparently in an act of bravado, the teenager went on the plank for a second time. Ellen Corbett fell in and cried out "Oh, Biddy." Obedience Jackson was just about to jump into the brook but was prevented by a young farmer's lad who happened upon the scene. By holding on to a bush, he made an attempt to grab Ellen Corbett but she was carried away at some speed and disappeared over a waterfall. It was some time before Arthur Portman, a Spring Hill nailer, got the body out of the water with the use of a rake. At the inquest the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death." ⁶
There was another sad event on the last day of February in 1894 when a tramp named Charles Knapp, a former worker in a bicycle factory at Coventry, collapsed on Stourbridge Road, close to the Waggon and Horses. He was brought into the pub, following which Police-Constable Haughty was called in. The officer sent for Dr. Joseph Arkwright who lived nearby at Townsend House. It transpired that Charles Knapp had applied to the relieving officer for assistance. He was given a ticket for the lodging-house and it was whilst walking there that he collapsed in the street. After examining him, Dr. Arkwright pronounced the man too ill to be removed to the Workhouse, and ordered him to be taken to the lodging-house. This instruction was undertaken but the poor man died there on the Saturday evening. Drs. Ernest Tatham and Joseph Arkwright, who attended the deceased, were of the opinion that Charles Knapp had died of starvation and diarrhœa.⁷
Sarah Withers had taken over as licensee some one and a half decades after her husband had bought the property at the auction. At the White Lion she was helped by daughter, Harriet, who had married the butcher Thomas Moseley. By this time a younger daughter Annie was working as an assistant teacher. However, it was Annie who accompanied her mother when they moved to the Waggon and Horses. Harriet and Thomas Moseley remained at the White Lion. Annie Withers married factory foreman John Spittle, the couple living at the pub with Sarah Withers who remained as licensee until around 1895.
In her latter years, Sarah Withers seemingly depended on help from son-in-law Thomas Moseley. The landlady died on February 7th, 1897, with probate to Thomas Moseley and the carpenter John Jones on May 11th. The very next day they sold the Waggon and Horses to Henry Mitchell & Co. Ltd., the Cape Hill brewery paying the sum of £2,100. 0s. 0d. This included the adjoining houses seen on the plan of 1890. It is widely reported in other histories of the Waggon and Horses, including that of the late Tony Hitchmough and within a history panel by John Richards inside the pub, that the property was bought by Mitchell's and Butler's in 1903. This is completely wrong - I cycled to Burton-on-Trent and looked at the original M&B records for this house. The ledger clerks was notoriously meticulous in their record-keeping. It was definitely acquired BEFORE Mitchell's and Butler's was formed. A massive clue is provided within the pages of Pevsner's Buildings of England volume for Birmingham and the Black Country in which Andy Foster stated : "much rebuilt by Wood & Kendrick, 1898-1901." ⁸ Actually, I would question the date of construction work but it is indubitable that the Birmingham-based architectural practice drew up their plans in February 1898. As I type I have the record in front of me. Wood and Kendrick undertook much work for the Cape Hill brewery and were responsible for some of their flagship buildings. The fact that they were submitting drawings of the Waggon and Horses in February 1898 should alert historians that a change of ownership had taken place.
It is time to take a look at the building that stood on the corner of Islington during the Victorian era. I note with interest that the aforementioned Andy Foster stated that the structure was "originally of 1867" but where that nugget originated, I know not. It is inconceivable that the Jones family had the place rebuilt. It is noteworthy that two of the windows were not in use. Is this a legacy of the much-derided window tax? This form of property tax was repealed in July 1851.⁹
The name of Hems can be seen on the sign above the main entrance on Stourbridge Road. A month after the Waggon and Horses was acquired by Henry Mitchell & Co. Ltd., the licence was granted to William Hems during June 1897. He may have gone by the name of John rather than William. The transfer of the licence at the Police Court does, however, record the name of William. He was also recorded as such in the census of 1901. Born in 1868 at Northfield, he was working as a mechanic when he married Minnie Gwendoline Thompson in June 1895. The daughter of a weaver, she hailed from Leeds in Yorkshire. Not long after they moved into the Waggon and Horses they had a daughter named Gwendoline, quickly followed by a son named William. This was a couple with a lot on their plate in the late 19th century. Newly married, moving homes, the birth of two children and the brewery undertaking to rebuild the premises. I imagine that is Minnie Hems standing in the doorway of the Islington entrance. One of the men in the photograph could be her husband, William Hems. The couple would move to the Brades Tavern at Rounds Green near Oldbury in 1903. I would not be surprised if this was the period when work on the Waggon and Horses was undertaken. The architects may have put forward plans for the building beforehand but the brewery were themselves undergoing a lot of upheaval with their merger so it is possible that the work was put on the back burner for a while. The 1901 census does not appear to show a shopkeeper next to the pub and yet a retail unit formed part of the plans. I am going to stick my neck out and suggest that the project was undertaken between 1901 and 1903.
© Image from author's photographic archive. DO NOT COPY
As for the Hems family, they would later run the Red Lion Hotel at the Bull Ring in Sedgley before heading off for a new life in Canada. Bound for Quebec, William Hems sailed from Southampton on the R.M.S. Ultonia in April 1913. I think he may have been the advance recce - his family joining him at Winnipeg, sailing on the S.S. Tunisian in May of the following year.¹⁰ During World War One this vessel was used as a prisoner-of-war ship at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, before serving as a troop carrier.¹¹ The vessel was notable for its voyage in 1912, when "five days before the Titanic sank, the Tunisian reported heavy ice in the area that was to become the site of the disaster. The Tunisian was travelling eastbound at this time from St. John, New Brunswick to Liverpool." ¹²
In this photograph, we have fast-forwarded to 2006, just over a century after the designs of Wood and Kendrick were executed. Compare this building with the earlier Victorian structure and see if you can spot any similarities. The portfolio of the architectural firm featured many grandiose and ostentatious buildings but here, on the corner of Islington, they worked their magic in a rather unique way. This was only a partial reconstruction of the earlier building. A giveaway is the older brickwork to the rear of the premises. The reason for such an approach may have been the restrictive site, issues of land ownership, monetary budget or an estimate of the return of investment. Whatever the reason, Wood and Kendrick may have been instructed to work with what they already had in place. As a result, the core of the building remained, the pub extended into the neighbouring cottage, a new continual roofline, and the creation of retail premises to the end cottage. The front and side elevations were reconstructed in red brick with stone dressings. The result was a rather pleasing re-creation, the doorways featuring Greek revival pediments and chunky pilasters. The windows feature segmental voussoirs, alternated between sets of four tapered bricks to form basket-handle arches for the window apertures, central to which are carved central keystones. The pavement space around the corner of the building was enlarged a little by the use of a corbel.
One of the key characteristics of the refurbished interior was a sloping floor. As can be seen from the earlier photograph, a flight of steps had to be surmounted to enter the house. However, the new frontage was at street level. As the site is sloping, I imagine that the floor level had to be lowered to achieve this. But it looks as though the gradient was such that a sloping floor was the only solution to avoid having a cellar height in which the publican would have to get on their hands and knees. Talking to Bob Dummons, a later owner of the building, the floorboards were feathered to facilitate this. I have to fess up here and state that I have been the worse for wear in this pub and the sloping floor was not ideal when attempting to shuffle across the front of the servery towards the exit on Islington. Many other imbibers experienced this and the seasoned drinkers sat along the room, on seeing an extreme example of bibulous veering, would suddenly take hold of their glasses to avoid spillage.
Sadly, the original etched-windows have not survived. However, until a recent refurbishment, a former hatch servery window had fine leaded-glass featuring the Cape Hill brewery motif within a scroll or shield. The lettering displayed M&B so, unless this was fitted at a later date, it tells us that the work on the building was undertaken AFTER the merger of Henry Mitchell & Co. Ltd. and Butler's Crown Brewery Ltd.
Illustration from the "Birmingham Daily Gazette"
Saturday January 5th 1907 Page 3
At the Halesowen Police Court in April 1903 an interim transfer of the licence of the Waggon and Horses was made, removing it from William Hems and awarding it to Thomas White. This was possibly the period in which the part-reconstruction of the property was completed. The new licensee was the treasurer of Halesowen Football Club [Town was not in the club name back then]. The presence of the treasurer, combined with the extension to the premises, seems to be the point when the house became the headquarters for the club. Certainly, meetings were held in the premises from 1903 onwards. The authors of a history of the club state that the players used to change here before and after the games.¹²
The early Edwardian period cannot be hailed as the glory years for Halesowen Football Club as they finished bottom of the league in 1904-05. However, the club were well-regarded in footballing circles for their Corinthian Spirit in terms of players wages. Unfortunately, this led to many of their good players being poached by the big professional clubs, notably Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest. The latter possibly spent time scouting in the Black Country trying to emulate their great rivals, Derby County, by discovering the next Steve Bloomer.
During the annual general meeting held in the Waggon and Horses in June 1904 it was disclosed that the annual income of Halesowen Football Club was £397, but their expenditure amounted to £466, leaving an adverse balance of £68.¹³ At the A.G.M. held three years later the chairman remarked that "Halesowen people did not give their best support, especially as football was the only sport played in the district during the winter." Commenting on gates receipts, he stated that the committee "wanted the public to make the club independent of transfer fees." ¹⁴
In November 1904, tucked away in the football gleanings of the local press, it was stated that "much sympathy will be extended to Thomas White, landlord of the Waggon and Horses Hotel, and treasurer of Halesowen Football Club, in his recent accident whilst dealing with an unruly customer. Mr. White sustained a fracture of his right wrist." ¹⁵
The publican was allegedly hurt during an ugly incident in the Waggon and Horses during which James Bailey, described as veterinary surgeon, of Spring Hill, completely went off on one inside the recently-refurbished public-house. The vet was subsequently charged with being 'drunk and disorderly and refusing to quit licensed premises, and also with damaging a table, door, and glasses to the extent of 10s.; and, further, with assaulting the landlord, Thomas Joseph White, on the 12th November 1904.' The length of the charge possibly caused the magistrate's clerk to draw breath. The board members of Mitchell's and Butler's were evidently incensed at this behaviour in a house on which they had recently spent a good deal of money improving. Consequently, they sent their best solicitor, J. Walter Clulow, to ensure a successful prosecution against the miscreant horse doctor. Addressing the Bench, the legal representative stated that "on the night in question James Bailey went into the smoke-room of the house in a drunken condition. He commenced to cause a disturbance with a local tradesman named Ball." It was stated that Thomas White, landlord of the Waggon and Horses, told James Bailey to go, but he refused so do so, and when the publican attempted to eject him, the vet "became very violent, smashed a table, and knocked off the whole of the glasses." Moreover, Bailey "also pulled off a brass bar on the door and struck Thomas White a violent blow on the arm with it, which broke a small bone close to his wrist." The vet was eventually ejected from the house, but returned later on in the evening and again created a disturbance. Evidence in support of this statement was given by the prosecutor, Rev. Canon Ball, and Major Bloomer. As a result, James Bailey pleaded guilty, though he demonstrated some contempt for the court when he asked the magistrates to tell him what he had to pay, "as he was in a hurry to get away." On hearing this the Bench may have been tempted to ramp up the penalty but they settled on a fine of 10s. and costs for refusing to quit, and 2s. 6d. and costs for doing the wilful damage. Oddly, considering the publican had a wrist injury, the charge of assault was dismissed. The total cost and damage was £1 17s. 6d., including costs.¹⁶ I imagine the brewers would have preferred horse-whipping James Bailey.
© Hughie Cannon., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
In the previous month the Waggon and Horses was patronised by a rather peculiar fellow from the Garden of England. He would later appear at a special sessions at the Halesowen Police Court. Described as a "little man," John Cowley, who claimed to be from Kent, was charged with being drunk and creating a disturbance one Saturday evening. He had gone into the new-look Waggon and Horses and created a disturbance. When he was turfed out of the pub he was taken into custody by Police-Constable Haden. When taken to the police station he caused some mirth when stating : "I am the original Bill Bailey; I am not Joseph Chamberlain, no do I believe in his fiscal policy." At the court, before the magistrate John G. Reay of Rockingham Hall at Hagley, he denied being drunk, but admitted to giving the name of "Bill Bailey." He was fined 6s. 6d., or in default, seven days' imprisonment with hard labour. It was appear that John Cowley, reportedly a man just over four feet in height, opted for the custodial sentence as it was reported that he "created much amusement on his way to Winson Green." ¹⁷
The vertically-challenged inebriate, if indeed he was from Kent, was referring to the mythical character that became something of a legend in the Sheerness area during Edwardian times. The hullabaloo arose following the enormous popularity of the song "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please .... Come Home?" that had become a Music Hall sensation in the UK. Originally a Dixieland comic jazz standard, it became a bawdy vaudeville number on the boards of British music halls. For some reason, Sheernessians insisted that Bill Bailey was a living personality amid their midst. The town's local newspaper were baffled why Bill Bailey had become such a cult to local residents and visitors from London. One journalist described the song lyrics as "the most awful doggerel ever published." The scribe would have been forced to re-evaluate this assertion had he or she lived to hear "Fast Food Song" by the Fast Food Rockers! Despite its racial stereotyping, in comparison "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please .... Come Home?" is a work of deep complexity.
Possibly put off by troublesome patrons, Thomas White opted out of running the Waggon and Horses, the licence of the house being transferred to John Beasley in October 1905. He was part of the Beasley clan that operated a number of public-houses in the Oldbury area. He and his wife Minnie had previously kept the Swan Inn at West Bromwich. The couple continued to host meetings, events and dinners for Halesowen Football Club. Naturally, the publican became a keen follower of the club, though his main passion seems to have been swimming. Despite his athleticism he died relatively young in April 1909. Minnie Beasley continued as landlady, hosting events and dinners at the Waggon and Horses. She was in charge of the house when a concert was held for the benefit of Harry Gaunt. I believe he was a bricklayer living at Forge Lane but had been unable to work due to illness. Presiding over affairs, the concert programme featured a number of local artists who were accompanied by Mr. Squires.
The mutually beneficial relationship between the Waggon and Horses and Halesowen Football Club continued when Herbert Sperring became the licensee in May 1911. Indeed, the pattern is such that it was seemingly a prerequisite for applicants wanting to run the place being involved with the footy team. Herbert Sperring was more involved than most. At the annual meeting of the club in August 1912 the publican was appointed a vice-president and also elected to the committee, making him a bona fide Yeltz.¹⁸ Not long after taking over the Waggon and Horses he and his wife suffered the loss of their only child, Leslie. The above notice appeared in the local press in May 1911.¹⁹ They suffered a similar loss in 1917 when their four-year-old daughter Evelyn died. There was a surviving son - after serving in the Royal Navy during World War 2, Kenneth Sperring went on to have a career as an architect.
The son of a grocer, Herbert Sperring was born at West Bromwich in December 1876. He married Elizabeth Pickering in July 1904. And here is a connection with the previous licensee. Elizabeth Pickering was the younger sister of Minnie Beasley. They were daughters of Benjamin and Elizabeth Pickering. After handing over the keys to her brother-in-law, Herbert, she went to live with parents at Bearwood Road in Smethwick. At this time her father, Benjamin Pickering, was also recorded as a licensed victualler, managing the Hen and Chickens on Broad Street in Birmingham.
The career of Herbert Sperring had meandered somewhat prior to marrying Elizabeth Pickering. By the time the couple moved into the pub he was working as a traveller for a typewriter manufacturer. Though it was customary for the husband to be listed as licensee, it was probably Elizabeth who was running the place.
This Edwardian photograph of Stourbridge Road is the earliest image I have seen of the partially-reconstructed Waggon and Horses. This is the locale in which the Beasley and Sperring family were embedded. The large building in the distance is the old schools for infants and juniors, formerly known as the British Schools and, later, Hawne Primary School. Apart from a few minor elements, the pub is pretty much the same today except, of course, for the barge boards along the roofline. Popular during the Edwardian period, there is hardly a pub in the land that has any remnants of this sort of woodwork. Most rotted away, and plenty were blown off the roof during stormy weather. With finials on the corners, this example boasted a central gable. Unfortunately, the photograph does not afford a good view of the lock-up shop as part of the new development. This was sub-let by the brewery.
This is the row of buildings on the opposite side of Stourbridge Road that faced the Waggon and Horses. The pawnbroker's shop, featuring the symbolic three balls and long pole was directly opposite the pub. Although much altered, these buildings have survived. In the 2020s the former pawnbroker's shop formed part of the premises of Bradley Environmental. At the time of this photograph, the pawnbroker was Herbert Edmonds who operated the business with his wife, Keturah, along with daughter, Beatrice. Herbert and Keturah had previously traded in premises on the High Street at Cradley, just down from Saint Peter's Church. After a spell here they would later cross the border and conduct their business in Cradley Heath.
When Minnie Beasley was preparing dinner events at the Waggon and Horses she probably bought the meat from the shop across the road. Seen here on the right of the photograph, the shop has a display of carcasses outside the shop - in the full sun by the look of it. The cobbles in the bottom right of the picture suggest that animals were brought to the rear of the premises for slaughter, the usual procedure at many butchery businesses during this period. In fact, I can remember seeing animals being delivered to Black Country shops in the late 1970s - the High Street at Cradley Heath and Cinder Bank at Netherton being two clear memories. The butcher running the shop at the turn of the 20th century was Samuel Smith, who was certainly recorded as a slaughterer. The shop was kept by his wife Elizabeth. During the Edwardian period they were succeeded by Richard and Hannah Marsh. Located between the butchery and the pawnbroker's shop was a greengrocery. This also changed hands during the Edwardian period. It was kept by William and Martha Parsons, a couple succeeded by James and Emma Blaen. This couple remained here for a considerable number of years.
Mitchell's and Butler's undertook further alterations to the Waggon and Horses in 1923 and 1927, the work being carried out to the plans of Wood and Kendrick. When I talked to Bob Dummons he said that he had seen a silk plan of the 1927 work but he did not know what became of it. I do know that the 1923 alterations concerned the ground floor and cellar as it was noted on an index card within the records held by M&B. The offices also recorded alterations to the premises from the plans drawn up in March 1927.
The Waggon and Horses enjoyed great continuity for a couple of decades. Herbert Sperring was licensee until his death in September 1930. Featured in his will was sister-in-law, Minnie Gibbs, landlady here in the late Edwardian period. At this time she was the landlady of the White Horse Inn at Curdworth.
Widowed Elizabeth Sperring took over the licence of the Waggon and Horses. She was a tenant rather than a manager or employee of Mitchell's and Butler's which meant that she could make a bit more money, particularly as she seemed to run a ship-shape hostelry. She signed a new lease agreement in November 1930, her annual rent being £91. She also had to pay for fittings amounting to £100 4s. 0d. When she renewed the lease six years later, in July 1936, her annual rent was increased to £117, just over a 28% increase.
Elizabeth Sperring was, like most pub tenants, tied to all products from the brewery. In 1936 she sold 247 barrels of beer for which she paid £1,343 to M&B. The Cape Hill brewers also supplied Elizabeth Sperring with wines and spirits to the value of £440, along with bottled products costing £546. This produced a total wholesale profit of £461 for the brewery. Given that they owned a massive estate of public-houses, off-licences and other establishments, it is clear to see how they were raking it in. Of course, we will never know how much Elizabeth Sperring made after all her expenses but it is interesting to see some of the figures of a financial year in the 1930s. The price of a pint during this period ranged from 6d. to 8d., depending on strength. On this basis, allowing for a little ullage, 247 barrels of beer would mean that around 70,000 pints were poured in the Waggon and Horses during the year. There were 240 old pennies in a pound so the cash register should have received just over £2,000. This is solely for draught beer sales.
In her retirement Elizabeth Sperring lived at 200 Hagley Road at Hayley Green, as did her sister Minnie Gibbs. Elizabeth died at The Poplars Nursing Home at Smethwick in August 1958.
I have a gap in my records for the Waggon and Horses. Consequently, until I address this I do not know who kept the pub between the departure of Elizabeth Sperring up until June 10th, 1965, when the licence was transferred to Gordon Brown. He remained at the helm for almost two decades. Following brewery mergers, the pub was then owned by Bass, Mitchell's & Butler's Ltd., and later Bass Charrington Ltd. The premises can be seen with the livery of Bass in the above photograph dating from the early 1970s.
The last licensee to run the Waggon and Horses for Bass was Dilbagh Singh who, I believe married Surinder Kaur. Taking over the licence on November 27th, 1984, Peter Whittaker bought the freehold of the property. I believe, after his spell at the Waggon and Horses, he would become a property developer. I have tried to contact him for information on his time at the pub but, alas, to no avail. I did gather some intelligence from Bob Dummons who told me that Peter hailed from East Anglia. He had around six hand pumps for real ale and some of the beers sold in the pub came from East Anglian breweries that he would pick up when visiting his old stamping ground. Bob told me that Peter Whittaker did some restoration work on the interior. For example, he stripped the orange paint that had been applied to the bar back by the brewery. I can remember that awful orange paint as the brewery plastered plenty of pub interiors with it in the 1960s and 1970s. Peter also changed the lighting in the bar and removed a thatched tile roof from around the servery. Oh dear, I also remember plenty of pubs having that sort of thing fitted, a legacy of some interior designer working for the breweries. Peter Whittaker was also responsible for removing the Formica bar top, revealing the old British Honduras woodwork underneath.
While Peter Whittaker was running the Waggon and Horses, things were brewing down south as two brothers, Bob and Brian Dummons, were formulating the idea of running their own pub. I was down south too. I did not patronise the Waggon and Horses in the 1980s as I was living in Dorset. Anyway, the Dummons story goes much further back. Hailing from Southampton, Brian Dummons was formerly a blacksmith and welder at British Rail. Bob remembers that it was many moons ago that his brother met a bloke at the Great British Beer Festival which led to him making hand pumps, of which there was a shortage at the time. He subsequently applied some of his skills in metal work to make and install hand pumps in public-houses. It was when fitting a hand pump at the Dog and Bull, a historic tavern on Croydon's Surrey Street, that he found himself working in the pub operated by Young's brewery. He ended up managing the old tavern for the tenant. Bob would visit his brother at the Dog and Bull, a time when the legendary Beano's Records was trading nearby. David Lashmar, the proprietor of what was once the largest second-hand record shop in Europe, was a regular patron of the Dog and Bull. The tenant of the pub had another place in Kent called The Rock and Brian went to run that place for quite a period.
© Photo taken by author on July 17th, 2001. DO NOT COPY
That is a very brief summary of the working life of Brian Dummons. What about his brother Bob? He worked for the General Post Office in the Southampton area and remained with the organisation when it evolved into British Telecom. He was promoted to senior technician within maintenance control, just as it was switching to 24 hour working. This led to a pattern of shift-work in which Bob was working five out of every eight Sundays, along with one week of nights across seven days. Sunday was double time and Saturday working was time-and-a-half. Evening work was paid extra along with shift allowances. All of this combined to boost his wages dramatically. But Bob, a former Chairman of the Southern Hampshire Branch of CAMRA, dreaming of own running his own pub, saved his pennies in order to fulfil his vision. His job at British Telecom involved meeting a lot of agitated customers, through which he learned a lot of skills of how to deal with people. When talking with him, he remarked that today's young pub managers should have a bit more experience before stepping behind a servery. He thinks that going around the block a bit, and gaining life skills would benefit the young publicans. It is a philosophy with which it is hard to argue.
I am not too sure about the exact period but Brian and Bob Dummons, along with Pat O'Neill, author of the acclaimed "Cellarmanship," were in charge of all the beer at the Great British Beer Festival held at Alexandra Palace. The were twelve bar managers at the festival, with the trio in overall charge, acting as troubleshooters. They learned a great deal during this period and, as part of their work, met a good number of brewery representatives. Things were starting to fall into place.
The brothers edged closer to taking over their own pub and were tempted with the New Inn at Southampton, a pub operated by George Gale & Co. Ltd. Bob had been doing some evening shifts at the place run by a bloke named Ted, a Yorkshireman nearing the end of his tenancy agreement. A nice bloke according to Bob. He and Brian intimated that they were interested in succeeding him so, knowing of their experiences at beer festivals, suggested that he showed them the other side of running a pub and opened up his accounts and books in order to teach them. A generous gesture on his part. The interview at Gale's was a bit of a disaster because the brewery evidently preferred a married couple rather than two brothers taking over the house.
With property prices starting to go through the roof during the mid-1980s, Bob and Brian realised they would have to look elsewhere in order to take on the freehold of a pub. They spotted an advertisement for the Waggon and Horses in the Morning Advertiser and came to take a look at the place. They were already familiar with some of the famous pubs of the Black Country. Indeed, Bob had met Doris Pardoe in 1976 on one of his soirées. He remembers buying a pouch from the leather shop just up the road, the retailer later becoming a director of Enville Ales. When the brothers walked into the Waggon and Horses they fell in love with the place. They need to secure further finance to proceed with a purchase. Bob had been banking with Lloyd's Bank at Southampton for many years so they went there armed with a business plan. The manager, bearing the character of a Captain Mainwaring, exclaimed "the building hasn't got a car park." Bob reminded him that the Jolly Sailor at Bursledon, not a million miles from the bank's office, and where they filmed "Howard's Way," also had no car park but was a very popular destination. The bank manager was not convinced so they had to look elsewhere for money. This is where a friend, Rob Michael, comes into the story. After coming to look at the Waggon and Horses, he stumped up the necessary money to become a silent partner in the business. Bob remembers the journey up to Halesowen because it was just after the storm that Michael Fish famously predicted wouldn't happen. It was the worst storm to hit the south in three centuries and all they saw from the car was the sight of fallen trees.
The purchase went through and Rob Michael came up to Halesowen for the grand opening on November 17th, 1987. In those days only one person could hold the licence of a public-house in this town so, with Bob still working his notice at British Telecom, Brian became the licensee. Bob moved up in February 1988. He and his brother would benefit from the days at the Great British Beer Festival as they had formed relationships with brewers around the country. For example, they travelled to Keighley to meet up with Allan Hey, the head brewer of Timothy Taylor & Co. They had got on famously with him at the Alexandra Palace and struck up an arrangement in which they would be supplied with beers from the Knowle Spring Brewery. This was at a time when the company did not sell outside of the tie so it was something of a scoop to see their ales on sale in the Waggon and Horses. It would be the start of a long list of beers that found their way to the cellar of this house transformed into a real ale utopia. The word got around and soon imbibers flocked to spend a few hours in this, a key landmark on the early UK real ale scene.
Bob and Brian had to undertake some repairs to the Waggon and Horses. They learned how M&B achieved the sloping floor when they undertook some repairs to the feathered joists. These measured 12" x 4" and could take the weight of a church tower - well, almost. The back room [above], which was once separate from the other rooms, was dubbed the "Titanic Suite." The chairs seen here replaced wooden slat benches that were a tadge uncomfortable. There was once a pin-ball machine in here.
One of the major works undertaken was the replacement of the roof, the work being undertaken by Paul Westwood, a builder who lived further along Stourbridge Road and a committed follower of Halesowen Town F.C. One of the alterations that became a talking point in the pub was the creation of the "Barbara Cartland Suite," complete with a colour scheme that divided opinion. A tongue-in-cheek portrait of the "Queen of Romance" was mounted on the wall. When work on this room was undertaken one of the doors was removed and fitted to the Islington Road entrance. I can confirm that the bench seating, the work of a local and regular of the pub, was a bit back-breaking, but I had plenty of good times drinking in this section of the pub. This room was generally taken over by supporters of The Yeltz for the pre-match piss-up. With the array of real ales, away fans would also look forward to fixtures at The Grove.
Although I patronised the Waggon and Horses on a regular basis in the early years of the new millennium I do not know all of the comings-and-goings at the pub. Brian Dummons had long gone to live in Burton-on-Trent. Bob also divided his time between Halesowen and Burton, during which time Don Dykes became the manager. He had already worked here for some years, having moved up from Bournmouth. He was to become a key figure in the pub's success story and was the recipient of a number of CAMRA awards. When receiving the local Pub of the Year award in May 2006, Don Dykes attributed much of the pub's success to the fact that "it is unwrecked by progress." The Waggon and Horses went on to greater success by scooping the 2006 West Midlands County Pub of the Year award, an honour which recognised the quality of the beer, atmosphere in the pub, value for money and mix of customers. After 15 years at the Waggon and Horses, Don Dykes had become something of a local legend, was part of the fabric and certainly a key ingredient of the character within the building. Tragically, he suffered a stroke in May 2008 and died in hospital. I had a pint with Don many times and he was always a convivial host. It was through CAMRA that Bob Dummons and Don Dykes met. A member of the East Dorset branch, Don was running the bar of the Supporters Club for AFC Bournmouth during which time he changed the tastes of the town's football fans. He was instrumental in changing the counter from one that stocked four keg lines to one boasting six cask handpulls, though Don was not sure how much difference the pre-match pints made to the vocal support for the team! Although exiled from his beloved Cherries, Don always kept an eye out for the fortunes of Bournmouth but also made the short walk to The Grove to lend support to The Yeltz. He loved his footy. After pulling many thousands of pints at the Waggon and Horses, Don told me that his Desert Island Beer was Nottingham Extra Pale Ale, a light and hoppy bitter. He told me that the best aspect of running the pub was meeting the customers, many of whom had become his friends.
In July 2012 the fledgling Angel Ales brewery, based on Furlong Lane in Cradley, brewed a special beer named BOB61 to celebrate the 61st birthday of Bob Dummons, who had also clocked up a quarter of a century as proprietor of the Waggon and Horses. After his long reign running this real ale emporium, he moved to Kidderminster and, teaming up with Terry Hodges, who inherited Mister Tee's record shop at Horsefair, has enjoyed beer-themed tours across Europe. They go back a long way - Terry used to host the Sunday night music and quiz events in the Waggon and Horses.
It was towards the end of 2015 that the Waggon and Horses was acquired by Black Country Ales. Seemingly, it is a policy of the brewery to undertake a complete refurbishment of their properties immediately after purchase. If I am honest I find many of the refits a bit homogenous, almost like company branding. However, there are exceptions and they must be credited with some very nice sympathetic refurbishments within their growing estate. The Seven Stars Inn at Oldswinford being a good local example. And here at the Waggon and Horses many think that the refurbishment is a great success. I just happened to be passing when I noticed the builders were going at it so stuck my head in for a couple of photographs. Actually, I have not got that many photographs of work being undertaken inside pubs so I was pleased to capture the event. There was a lot of dust ....
I imagine there were divided opinions on the new-look Waggon and Horses when it re-opened around April 2016. There would be many who welcomed the renovation work and comfortable surroundings. The other camp were possibly shocked at how smart and stylish the place looked. The latter probably thought that the loss of the hotch-potch approach of the Dummons brothers, who altered the building as and when funds permitted, meant that the old character and soul of the place had vanished. Others may have welcomed the fact that it was somewhere they could bring their mum who would have been horrified at some of the old features, including a bit of dust, squeeky door hinges, chips in the plasterwork and the odd bit of grime. Oh, and the loud latch.
The whole of the interior was given a makeover but, structurally, the main alteration to the Waggon and Horses was an extension by knocking through to the former shop premises. I remember Bob talking about wanting to undertake this work but I don't think his finances could stretch to that project. In this photograph I am standing in the former shop looking back towards the bar. Although, it has only extended the interior by a few metres, it does create the feeling of a much bigger pub.
I have no idea what the discussions were like at Black Country Ales but I imagine that the directors thought the only way to win over the crowd was to bring in one of their top management couples for the re-opening. With Mick O'Neill and his partner Dawn Taylor looking after the cellar, no matter what the old regulars thought about the building's fabric, they would not be able to complain about the beer. The couple had previously kept the Court House at Dudley. I had visited that pub on a few occasions and found the beer to be top-drawer. In terms of presentation and condition, any brewer who produced the ales being sold at the counter would have been proud of the way the beer was served. It was no surprise to learn that Mick and Dawn were awarded CAMRA Pub of The Year for three consecutive years between 2017 and 2019. I think they left the licensed trade when they departed from the Waggon and Horses as 2020 rolled into 2021. This was terrible news for the regulars of the pub who had become accustomed to their congenial hosts.
In 2023 the Waggon and Horses was being run by Drew Swadling and his partner Emma. In July of that year the former teacher posted on the pub's Facebook page : "Emma and I have been made to feel very welcome. We feel great affection for this wonky old lass of a pub."
1. "National Commercial Directory of Shropshire" : J Pigot & Co.; 1835. p.359.
2. "History, Guide & Alphabetical and Classified Directory of Shropshire" : J. Bentley; 1841. p.113.
3. Richards, J. "History Of The Waggon & Horses Inn" : 1987; Para.1.
4. "National Commercial Directory of Shropshire" : J Pigot & Co.; 1828. p.679.
5. "The Late Caleb Boomer" : County Express; Brierley Hill, Stourbridge, Kidderminster, and Dudley News; August 14th, 1875. p.8.
6. "Sad Drowning Case At Halesowen" : County Express; June 8th, 1889. p.8.
7. "Supposed Death From Starvation" : Bromsgrove & Droitwich Messenger; March 3rd, 1894. p.8.
8. Foster, A., Pevsner, N. & Wedgwood, A. "Birmingham and the Black Country" [Pevsner Architectural Guides] : Buildings of England] : Yale University Press; 2022. p.517.
9. "Encyclopædia Britannica" : Horace Everett Hooper; 2022. Volume 28, p.713.
10. "Canada, Prairie Provinces Census 1916", Entry for William Hems and Minnie Hems, 1916.
11. "The Tunisian" at British Home Child International <https://britishhomechild.com/the-tunisian/>, Accessed December 15th, 2023.
12. Bullock, B. & Ponter, M. "Yeltzmen: A History of Halesowen Town Football Club, 1873-2020" : Halesowen Town F.C. Press; pp. 1-7.
13. "Halesowen Football Club" : Bromsgrove & Droitwich Messenger; June 4th, 1904. p.8.
14. "Satisfaction At The Annual Meeting" : County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire; July 27th, 1907. p.6.
15. "Gleanings" : County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire; November 19th, 1904. p.7.
16. "A Row In A Public-House" : County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire; November 26th, 1904. p.2.
17. "The Original Bill Bailey" : County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire; October 15th, 1904. p.7.
18. "Halesowen Football Club : Position Better Than Twelve Months Ago" : Sports Argus; August 10th, 1912. p.6.
19. "Deaths" : County Express; May 6th, 1911. p.5.
© Photo taken by author on March 3rd, 2004. DO NOT COPY
© Photo taken by author on March 3rd, 2004. DO NOT COPY
© Photo taken by author on March 3rd, 2004. DO NOT COPY
Bob Dummons re-introduced the pub's boxing memorabilia in the bar for the new millennium. This included the gloves and historic photographs of Halesowen-born Joe Attwood. One photograph showed him lining up for an outdoor bout with Jim Watts at Brighton in 1918. The crowd, comprising of mostly military personnel, was quite enormous. Joe Attwood gained dubious notoriety for throwing a fight when the locals had staked everything they had [pigs et al] on him winning. He allegedly had to flee for his life after the fight and later emigrated to Canada. But before you think Joe was all for taking a dive - he became a local legend when he once won six bare knuckle fights in one day!
© Photo taken by author on June 13th, 2001. DO NOT COPY
The Waggon and Horses was quite a common signboard when they were the principal means of transportation before the advent of the railways. Moreover, many publicans acted as agents and all manner of goods could be left there where they would either be forwarded or collected by locals to whom they were addressed. The Oxford Dictionary prefers the spelling waggon, but wagon has also been in use for many years and is also seen on many inn signs. This sign was commissioned by Bob Dummons in 1998. The sign remained true to its predecessor and combined the traditional with more modern painting techniques.
"On Tuesday an inquest was held by G. Hinchliffe, Esq., at the Waggon and Horses, Halesowen, on William Hall, aged 68, who
had drowned himself in Spring Pool, owing to some domestic discomfort. Verdict, "Found drowned."
"Suicide At Halesowen"
Worcestershire Chronicle : March 31st 1847 Page 5
"On Friday last, an inquest was held at the Waggon and Horses, near Halesowen, by R. Docker, Esq., coroner, on the body of
James Hutton aged 74 years, who died suddenly on the road on Wednesday last. Verdict, "Died from natural causes."
Worcestershire Chronicle : September 11th 1861 Page 3
"George Lowe, was charged with refusing to leave the Waggon and Horses Inn, on the 17th inst. Thomas Rudge, the landlord, proved
the case and defendant was fined 5s. and costs."
"Refusing To Quit"
Cradley Heath & Stourbridge Observer
October 31st 1874 Page 4
"Andrew Moore, of Short Cross, was summoned for cruelly ill-treating a cat on the 4th September. Police-Constable Owen
stated that at 11.10 on the night of the 4th instant he saw defendant take a deliberate kick at a kitten whilst on the footpath by the Waggon and Horses Inn.
The kitten, which was seven weeks old, was kicked to the other side of the street, and it afterwards died. He spoke to defendant, who expressed regret at the
occurrence. Mr. Grove, who defended, denied the offence, and said his client was standing with two friends on the footpath when he felt something at his feet. He
did not know what it was, and simply lifted his foot, and threw it into the horse road. Defendant and two witnesses named Basterfield and Beresford bore out Mr.
Grove's statement, and said it was too dark to observe what it was that defendant lifted into the road. Police-Sergeant Pass said his chief witness was ill,
and therefore could not attend the Court. The Bench said the Police had done quite right in bringing the case forward, but would give the defendant the benefit of
the doubt, and dismiss the case."
"Charge Of Ill-Treating A Cat"
Bromsgrove & Droitwich Messenger
September 26th 1903 Page 5
"Brian Dummons, a CAMRA stalwart from the 1970s, has died in Burton-on-Trent after a long battle with cancer. Brian was
a founder of South Hampshire branch and made his mark as a worker and manager at many early Great British Beer Festivals after going to the opening of the Covent
Garden event as a punter and staying throughout. He then became a senior member of the organising team for subsequent festivals at London's Alexandra Palace.
After many years with South Hampshire branch, Brian made the decision to go into the licensed trade himself, moving to Kent to run the Rock pub near Croydon. Later,
he and his brother Bob, bought the Waggon and Horses, a current Good Beer Guide entry in Halesowen, West Midlands. Brian left the pub before his illness, and it is
still run by Bob."
by Pat O'Neill in What's Brewing : April 2006 Page 2
"Staff at a cosy Black Country boozer are celebrating after it was named the best pub in the region. The Waggon and Horses, in Halesowen,
scooped the West Midlands County Pub of the Year in the annual CAMRA competition. Branches from Coventry, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Birmingham and
Stourbridge nominated their best pubs to compete for the award. Judges looked at the quality of the beer, atmosphere in the pub, value for money and mix of customers.
And it was the Waggon and Horses that came out on top after being nominated by the Stourbridge and Halesowen CAMRA branch. Landlord Don Dykes said: "It's
the first time we've won this, although we won the Stourbridge award this year. We actually had the presentation last Tuesday, followed by a fairly bad hangover.
The only award bigger than this one is the National CAMRA award, but I'm not sure if we're quite ready for that yet." Mr. Dykes said the pub served a
range of ales, ranging from the bigger brewers such as Holden's, to smaller regional ales such as Windsor Castle. Stourbridge CAMRA spokesman Simon Hanson
said: "The Waggon and Horses has for years been one of the most exceptional real ale pubs within our branch area. We have already awarded them the best pub
of the year locally. I was pleased when I heard the results from the independent judges and our branch is very proud to have its best real ale pub scoop the
"Waggon's Roll As Top Pub Gets CAMRA Vote"
by Wayne Beese in Express & Star : September 29th 2006 Page 7
© Halesowen News Picture Reference 240618M and used with kind permission. DO NOT COPY
"Don Dykes, manager of the Waggon and Horses in Halesowen, aged 55, died on Wednesday 14th May following a stroke. Don was a
much-loved character who had a passion for both Bournemouth F.C. and real ale. Under Don's stewardship the Waggon and Horses had received many awards
from CAMRA including branch and regional pub of the year and had just been announced as the Stourbridge and Halesowen Branch of CAMRA Pub of the Year 2008.
Stourbridge Beer Festival was also dedicated to Don. The owner of the Waggon and Horses and long-time friend Bob Dummons said he was devastated at the loss.
"Don was a cantankerous rogue, a one-off character whose passing has left a massive hole for all the staff and everyone who knew him."
"Don Dykes 1955-2008"
Pint Taken : Summer 2008
"A Halesowen publican believes he has found the secret to success with new technology to make cloudy pints a thing of the past. Landlord
Bob Dummons, aged 58, has installed the Beer Saver system to pumps at the award-winning Waggon and Horses pub, in Stourbridge Road. He is one of the first in the
Midlands to try out the equipment. Electrical pulses are fired along pipes which deliver ale from the cellar to the pumps, helping to reduce a yeast build-up.
Now pipes do not have to be cleaned out as often - once every six weeks compared with the previous three or four in the same period. "We rent the technology,
so we didn't have to pay cash up front, which means it's good for pubs at the current time. The system was set up 10 weeks ago, and we use it on all of our
pipes," Bob said."
"Device Means Bob Serves Perfect Pint"
Express & Star : September 24th 2009 Page 19