Some history of the Seven Stars
I had some material and information on the Seven Stars Inn at Oldswinford but my interest in the public-house was truly ignited when Stephen Lester sent me two photographs that I had not previously seen. The first photograph shows his grandfather, Arthur Benjamin Knights stood on the front doorstep of the Seven Stars Inn whilst a photograph is captured from an elevated position on the bridge or embankment for the railway line from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town.
When e-mailing me, Stephen asked if I could help "regards the Seven Stars public-house near Stourbridge as my grandfather ran it for a period of time and my mother was born there. His name is Arthur Benjamin Knights. I have found pictures of him standing outside the pub and one of him behind the bar. I am trying to find more about him. He also had The White Horse in Wednesbury. Is it possible you have any details of him on your records?" Well, to be honest, I did not have much on Arthur Knights, although I knew from court records that he was the licensee of the Seven Stars from 1912 until 1921. Consequently, I made a promise to Stephen to see what I could dig up in exchange for him sending these two wonderful images. Damaged they may be, but they are lovely photographs. Indeed, images of a publican behind the servery are rare so, thanks to Stephen, I am pleased to be able to share these with all who browse the website.
If Stephen had not told me the name of the licensee and I just happened to stumble on these images I would have guessed that they were commissioned by Mitchell's and Butler's not long after they rebuilt the Seven Stars in 1907. However, Arthur Knights did not become licensee until 1912 so it is likely that he, being the proud publican of a flagship pub operated by the Cape Hill Brewery, commissioned the photographs himself - so a big thank-you to Arthur Knights for booking a photographer and handing the images down through the family!
I should start at the beginning but, being as we are looking at Arthur Knights, we will kick-off with the publican of 1912. This is a priceless view of inside the Seven Stars during the early years of the reign of King George V. Arthur Knights has donned his apron and has his sleeves rolled up so he is ready to greet his lunchtime patrons - that is, if the time on the clock is correct. Although the original clock has long gone, the impressive ornate hardwood back bar has managed to survive into the 21st century. The handpulls are labelled so we can see that M&B were offering ale, bitter, old ale and four-penny on draught. Everything is looking spick and span and Arthur Knights is well turned out.
Arthur Benjamin Knights was born in July 1881 at St. Neots in Huntingdonshire but, perhaps for convenience, told the census enumerator that he hailed from Cambridge. His father, William Knights, made the newspapers in 1866 when he found the decomposed body of a young servant girl named Fanny Vines in the river at St. Neots.
The story of Arthur's parents will probably never come to light. His mother, Martha Mitchell, hailed from Abbotsley, a short distance from St. Neots. The daughter of a shepherd, she was hired as a servant girl at young age. Her path crossed with William Knights and I suspect she became pregnant by him in the winter of 1880-1. William, perhaps to escape the wrath of the family, moved to Burton-on-Trent where he found work as a shunter on the myriad of railway lines around the brewing town.
William Knights did the honourable thing and married Martha Mitchell in April 1881 at St. Modwen's Church in Burton-on-Trent. She must have returned closer to home to give birth to Arthur later in the year during October. She would give birth to four more children in Burton during the 1880s.
Growing up in Horninglow at Burton-on-Trent, Arthur Knights moved south to Wednesbury by the beginning of the Edwardian period where he found work at the Anchor Hotel. At the time the hostelry was being run by Charlotte Mundy and she took him on as a boot boy, generally abbreviated to 'boots,' a post down in the pecking order of the licensed trade in which he would undertake most of the menial tasks around the hotel. The important thing to note, however, was that the Anchor Hotel was operated by Mitchell's and Butler's so Arthur Knights was probably on the payroll of the Cape Hill Brewery.
Arthur Knights remained at the Anchor Hotel when Gertrude and William Bartlett were running the business. Indeed, he was a witness at a court hearing in which Gertrude Bartlett petitioned for the dissolution of her marriage following the misconduct of her husband. In July 1907, he went to Blackpool and never returned to the Anchor Hotel. It was alleged that he went off to America with a barmaid, Mary Sophia Davies. In the witness box, Arthur Knight, told the Bench that he noticed 'acts of familiarity' between William Bartlett and the barmaid. He told the court that, in August 1906, when Mrs. Bartlett was away on a holiday, he saw Sophia Davies visit the publican's room at night.
By the time of the court case in October 1911, newly-wed Arthur Knights was working as a barman at the Sandwell Hotel, a large public-house in a busy part of West Bromwich. He had worked his way up the pecking order and must have made an impression with the area manager. When the vacancy of the Seven Stars came up his name would have been put forward as a potential manager of the public-house. He had also married, thus boosting his chances of pub management as the brewery tended to prefer married couples running their houses. His wife was West Bromwich-born dressmaker Esther Plimmer. After a spell living with relations at Hill Top, the couple moved into the Seven Stars Inn during the autumn of 1912.
Arthur and Esther Knights remained at the Seven Stars until 1921 by which time they had three daughters. The eldest, Dorothy, was awarded a MBE in 1969 for her services to midwifery. At the time she was a Non-Medical Supervisor of Midwives within the Wolverhampton County Borough. In June 1944 she had married Paul Rinkel who, as a Jew living in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, had to flee Germany in August 1939. The couple's third daughter, Jessica, led a conventional life as a cashier but in later years followed a spiritual path and became a nun.
As mentioned, the Seven Stars Inn was rebuilt in 1907 by Mitchell's and Butler's following the brewery's acquisition of the old place from Thomas Pryce Epps a few years earlier. The former Seven Stars dated back to at least the 1830s. At that time there were only a scattering of buildings at this part of Lower Swinford. The tavern was erected in a hollow at the foot of Chawn Hill, Red Hill and Glasshouse Hill. Swinford is derived from a brook called Swin. Old was added later to distinguish the settlement from that at nearby Kingswinford. The ford refers to first a Roman and later Saxon crossing of the brook although the exact position has not been determined because the waterway has changed course over the centuries. It has also been suggested that the ford could refer to a crossing of the River Stour as the parish of Swinford extended up to Amblecote. The ancient thoroughfare of Brook Road running into Oldswinford from Chawn Hill is named after the brook which rises in Ham Dingle which used to feed a pond located between Oldswinford Castle and the Junction Station. From there it flowed under a culvert beneath Brook Road and toward Job's Lane where, in the early part of the 19th century, it powered a small forge. The brook eventually flowed into the River Stour near to another location named after a crossing - Stepping Stones.
Because of its proximity to Stourbridge Junction railway station, many visitors imagine that the Seven Stars Inn was built as a railway pub. However, whilst that may be true of the present building, the former hostelry pre-dates the station which was opened in 1852 on the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway line. Indeed, the original station was further to the north and only moved when the line was taken over by the Great Western Railway who opened the branch line into Stourbridge Town. When this public-house started trading the main form of transport was horse-drawn carts and waggons along the ancient route up to Wollescote, Oldnall and Cradley. In the opposite direction the route can be traced past the Gigmill, down Gibbet Lane to the River Stour at Dunsley.
In the absence of the title deeds of this property I have picked through the bones of what is available in an attempt to trace the origins of this and another nearby watering hole. When I patronised this pub in the 1990s I noticed that there was a metal plaque screwed to the wall next to the main entrance. I assumed that the 'Rot Hole' was a colloquial term for the Seven Stars [Rot being Black Country parlance for Rat]. However, when I asked the licensee he told me that it was an abbreviation for Railway Hotel. I can only assume that something got lost in translation over the years because, although there was a nearby beer house named after the railway, I have found no evidence of the Seven Stars once being known as the Railway Hotel. However, I did find references to the Rat Hole in newspaper articles dating from the early 1870s.
In his excellent book "A History of Stourbridge," Nigel Perry wrote that the Seven Stars was once known as The Waterloo. Frustratingly, I have not come across any documents to be certain about this. It is a fact that Pigot's trade directories list a Waterloo at Lower Swinford. This is important as, although there was a pub called the Waterloo at Oldswinford, it was in Upper Swinford. It is possible that an early publican removed the sign to another building, a practice that did happen in other places. The directories list William Wyatt at The Waterloo in the late 1820s but he is there when the Three Stars [see below] was listed in later years.
The census of 1851 helps to shed some light on the pubs listed at Chawn Hill. Interestingly, in his description of the locality, the enumerator calls it Chawn Hill village and make reference to collecting data on "both sides of the road below the railway bridge." Although, the railway station did not open until the following year, this tells us that the bridge was already in place to carry the track-bed across Brook Road. Perhaps in anticipation of the railway opening, a beer house called the Railway House was recorded a short distance from the Seven Stars. But the key entry in this census was the insertion of the Three Stars name occupied by the victualler David Davies.
The Seven Stars can be seen here in a Post Office Directory published in 1850 and it lists David Davies as both licensee of the house and a shopkeeper. I believe that the census enumerator, familiar with the name of the Three Stars, entered the former name of the property despite the fact that David Davies had recently changed the name. Moreover, I suspect that the name change may have been the result of full licence being granted to the tavern. In earlier years the Three Stars was listed as a beer house. Indeed, in 1845 David Davis was listed at a beer shop in Old Swinford. This continuity suggests that this was the same property. Accordingly, it is possible to trace the Three Stars name back to 1835 when Thomas Butler was the publican.
In the 1830s many of the people living at Chawn Hill were engaged in nail-making, along with some working as brickmakers or colliers. These were the key customer base of the Three Stars, along with those travelling along the old road.
In the early 1840s Thomas Butler moved to another tavern in Angel Street and was succeeded by Belbroughton-born David Davies. He kept the tavern and shop along with his wife Mary who hailed from Wolverley. A son, also named David Davies, was born in Chaddesley Corbett in 1838 which may show the movements of the publican when he was in his twenties.
The name of David Davies spread from the locality and into newspapers across the country in 1852 when he and his son were charged with murder. For whatever reason, on the evening of August 9th, 1852, there was a "disturbance" in the public-house. At the time the publican's son, 16 year-old David Davies, was looking after the place. A fight had broken out between several navvies in the bar. The men were almost certainly engaged with laying track and other construction work of the railway line. With eleven of them in the bar and everything kicking off, David Davies jnr. went in search of his father who was in the locality. The son was the first to return to the Seven Stars and told the patrons that "his father was coming, and would give them a sweep." When the publican arrived at the pub he went into a rage, though the Victorian journalists described his state as "very excited."
By all accounts David Davies senior was something of a loose cannon and had, on previous occasions, threatened to shoot people. The enraged publican burst into the Seven Stars and went up the stairs shouting "he would blow their bloody brains out." By this time most of the customers had left the building and were in the street. A labourer named Thomas Pardoe entreated him not to go up the stairs to fetch his gun as, he told the court, Davies "was always threatening to shoot somebody." However, according to the statement of the witness, the publican came back down the stairs and offered a single-barrelled gun to a navigator to assist him, saying "he had given the bastards one sweep, and he would give them another." He went back up the stairs where it was alleged that he was hit by a stone thrown from the street. According to James Chance, the local constable who had arrived at the scene, the publican fired five shots into the street from an upstairs window. Several people were injured but Mary Pardoe, wife of the aforementioned labourer, died as a result of being shot in the neck.
David Davies and his son were arrested and detained. When David Davies Senior appeared at the Worcester Lent Assizes in March 1853 on a charge of murder, the publican, on being called to plead, made "a wandering answer" before throwing himself down in the dock, tearing his hair out, and making a great noise. Medical professionals were called to examine him and they pronounced him insane. The case was postponed until the following assizes where he again avoided the trial on the plea of insanity. Accordingly, he was "ordered to be kept in strict custody until her Majesty's pleasure respecting him should be known." He was removed to an asylum in London, before being transferred to another institution in Wiltshire.
The son did stand trial for both murder and for "being feloniously present, and then and there comforting, aiding, and assisting David Davies, the elder, the said felony to do and commit." The case hinged upon the statement of a witness named John Wilson who stated that he had seen the 16 year-old encourage and help his father by handing him a powder flask and some shot. Wilson claimed to be in the passageway where he saw the double-barrelled gun being loaded before the licensee went to a window and fired into the street above the heads of people. After going downstairs he said that the pair came back up the stairs where the son said "Go into the bastards" and it was then that the publican fired the gun downwards towards the crowd of people.
The defence lawyer ripped into Wilson, though the moderate tone of the journalist merely suggested that "he was subjected to a long examination." However, it was noted that Wilson's "nonchalance with which his answers were given was severely rebuked by the learned counsel." Another witness named John Sparrow was called and he stated that he saw the publican fire the gun and reload in the upstairs room but, despite looking through the windows and with the interior being lit, he did not see Wilson. Thomas Lawley, a sawyer, swore on oath that nobody was with the publican. This was corroborated by another witness named Thomas Hall. So, John Sparrow was recalled when he told the court he could see the publican David Davies was clearly alone as he was stood on the wall of Mr. Moreton's garden opposite and was almost level with the upper window. The defence lawyer seized upon these contradictory statements and, combined with a weak prosecution counsel, convinced the jury who, after deliberating for twenty minutes, returned a verdict of "not guilty." A second charge of shooting at and wounding William Woolridge was also dismissed because of lack of evidence from the prosecution lawyer. David Davies jnr. was therefore acquitted and discharged.
As for David Davies senior, it was reported that he had recovered from his insanity whilst being confined in Wiltshire. Most newspapers took a similar tone in stating "if he ever was really insane seems questionable" before lambasting the legal system. I am not sure how David Davies got off the hook but the 1861 census reveals he was back at the Seven Stars and running the public-house with a different wife! The gossip flying around the locality must have been something else. No doubt it was good for business as people would come to the pub just to have a gander at the man who had took a shotgun to his customers. I cannot help wondering what Thomas Pardoe made of it all. The people responsible for his wife's murder had not only escaped jail, but were also profiting from the outrage.
John Hemming was installed as an interim publican during the hiatus of imprisonment and court proceedings. His son William worked as an apprentice to the Cradley Heath cooper Charles Dallow. However, he absconded from his position and such waywardness led to strict actions from the employer. Charles Dallow issued a warning to other employers that if they gave work to William Hemming he would take legal action.
Sussex-born William Davy took over as licensee of the Seven Stars in the mid-1860s. The earth-work contractor and his wife were not constrained by so-called social mobility. She hailed from the Staffordshire village of Kingsley, near Cheadle. The couple had children born in Tean, Stone and Leigh before settling at nearby Norton after a spell living in Checkley. Things seemed to be going well for the contractor until he entered the licensed trade. After taking over at the Seven Stars it was not too long before he was in serious financial difficulties. He was judged bankrupt in March 1865. Jane Davy died in 1868 and within three years the former bankrupt had re-married to a Liverpudlian grocer and was working as a landscape gardener in Wavertree. The twists and turns of life are a curious thing.
Making the short journey from the Fountain Inn, William and Elizabeth Coley succeeded the Davy's at the Seven Stars Inn. Born locally in 1826, William Coley started his working life in the glass industry. When at the Fountain Inn, it was possibly Elizabeth that managed the house as William concentrated on the business of a wines and spirits dealer. At the Seven Stars he became an agent for Burton Ales and Porter. In this capacity, William Coley would store casks of ale delivered via the rail network and sell on to other interested parties.
William and Elizabeth Coley did not enjoy a good relationship with the local police. In fact, the licensee would later challenge one officer in particular at the Stourbridge Police Court. In attempting to prevent John Gwilliam, a former officer in the Worcester Police Force, obtaining the post of an under bailiff of the County Court, William Coley accused him of purjury. Moreover, he claimed that the police officer "had conspired with a rival publican to injure his business" and that on two occasions he had lied to the court in an attempt to gain a conviction.
In one case, in August 1866, William Coley was charged with permitting gaming in the Seven Stars based on the evidence given by Police Constable Gwilliam. The officer told the court that he was watching the publican's house and crept around the back to peer through a window through which he saw two men toss for a pint of ale. He added that both William and Elizabeth Coley were present and that the ale was brought in and drunk. However, Mr. Burbury, who defended Coley, called several witnesses who deposed that at no point during the evening was there any tossing for drink. They were in the Seven Stars to celebrate the anniversary of a couple called Marks and, on the day in question, "they entertained a number of friends to a good deal of drink during the day." Based on this evidence the case was dismissed.
Police Constable Gwilliam continued with his harassment and persecution of the Coley's by bringing another case in November 1866 in which he accused them of selling ale during prohibited hours. Again, the case was dismissed.
Gwilliam left the force. In fact, he walked before he was pushed as there was an outstanding charge against him. This was brought about by evidence submitted by William Coley that the officer had drunk in his house, treated women to brandy and rum, and offered money to one woman to meet him on the following night. The policeman swore on oath that this did not happen but the witnesses were called and corroborated the evidence. This was to bring about the end for Gwilliam.
William and Elizabeth Coley decided to give up the Seven Stars Inn and advertised the furniture and fittings of the house in February 1869. The advertisement suggests that, at some point, homebrewed ales were sold at the Seven Stars. The sale included brewing utensils and casks. Following the sale William and Elizabeth moved to a residence in Junction Street but the couple, along with their family, moved to Coventry, the hometown of Elizabeth. The next chapter of William Coley's career was working as a sales agent.
Benjamin Ford kept the Seven Stars briefly during 1869 but the licence was again transferred in December of that year to Solomon Pearson. The son of a nailor, he was born in Lye in 1829 and, when old enough, he started to make nails himself. He married Mary Ann Dovey in May 1854 and the couple lived a short distance from the Seven Stars Inn from where he continued to produce nails for horseshoes. Mary Ann hailed from Bringsty Common near Bromyard.
It was during another sensational court case that the colloquial name of the Seven Stars Inn was revealed as "The Rat Hole." The court case was brought by Alfred William Gower in 1872 who sought the dissolution of his marriage on the grounds of adultery by his wife Catherine Elizabeth Gower with Joseph Hill, John Bunn and the publican Solomon Pearson. Catherine Gower denied the charges, pleading "considerable cruelty, wilful neglect, and misconduct, by living separate and apart from her, and engaging himself to another woman, and conducing to the adultery [if any] by inducing and inciting the co-respondent Joseph Hill, to commit adultery with her. The licensee of the Seven Stars also appeared in court but denied adultery. The journalists must have relished reporting on this case - a sensational scoop in straight-laced Victorian times.
Following their marriage in 1864, Alfred and Catherine Gower lived at Dennis Park in Amblecote where their son Alfred was born. The couple moved to Rock Hill House where it was claimed Catherine "took to the habit of indulging in strong drink," the result of which placed Alfred Gower in difficulties. He stated that she would run up debts with tradesmen that he was forced to pay. Eventually they lost their house and, by way of his uncle becoming involved, it was decided she should go and live with her father with an annual settlement from Alfred. It transpired that she drifted from one place to the next in lodgings and he learned of her misconduct and her mode of life. By this time she had moved into the Seven Stars Inn with Solomon and Mary Ann Pearson where, it was alleged, she committed adultery with the publican.
It was at this point in the court proceedings that the title of the public-house emerged. The magistrates were told that "although the proper title of the house is the Seven Stars, it had, in consequence of the evil reputation which it had acquired, bore the name of the "Rat Hole," and which, it seems, was a place where young men of a fast turn of mind were in the habit of going." The court were told that while Catherine Gower was at the public-house "her conduct was unquestionably anything but that of a respectable woman." Furthermore, the lawyer stated that the Seven Stars, or Rat Hole, was a place that loose women frequented regularly. However, her liaison with the publican was said to have taken place in a Hansom cab on the way back from Snow Hill in Birmingham. She was also found in bed with Joseph Hill at the Crown in Worcester which was the destination of a trip from the Seven Stars. The third case of adultery with John Bunn took place in the parlour of the Seven Stars. These acts were all seen by people who were called as witnesses.
When cross-examined in court, Catherine Gower stated that "when I arranged to lodge at the Seven Stars I called myself Miss Pearson. There was not any piano when I first went there, but I had one, and it was put into the parlour. The customers came in there, and I have sometimes played and sung, the customers sometimes joining. They may have sung as late as 12 o'clock." She added that "Solomon Pearson was not a sober man. He used to drink with his customers, and has gone to bed drunk. He did not attend much to the business. Mrs. Pearson and myself used to attend to the customers." She subsequently denied any wrong doing in the parlour of the Seven Stars.
Despite the evidence that was piled up against Catherine Gower, her husband failed in his petition, probably because the evidence suggested he had colluded with Hill. However, he was back in court again in 1875, citing his wife's adultery with a man named John Harris and also another act of adultery with William Rhodes, a railway clerk at Cradley Heath railway station. John Lewis Harris, son of the co-respondent, told the court that Catherine Gower "first came to live at his father's house as Mrs. Davis. At first she slept with his younger brother. About five months later she started to sleep with his father." Sarah Perks, landlady of the Beehive public-house in Cradley Heath, proved the cohabitation of Catherine Gower and Harris. The judge in this case granted a divorce.
These court cases occupied many days and hours in legal wrangling and filled plenty of column inches in the newspapers. I have attempted to condense it all into a few paragraphs but, reading between the lines, it is clear that much bawdy behaviour went on at the Seven Stars during this period. The house gained a reputation beyond Oldswinford, and it is a wonder that the place was not shut down. With the nearby railway station, people would come by train to seek a wild night at the Rot Hole. Catherine Gower was something of a moll and performed on the piano as Miss Nellie, entertaining several men in the parlour where who knows what went on? Alfred Gower almost certainly paid people to help build a case against his wife who the family wanted rid of. The Gower family had considerable wealth accumulated as coal merchants.
Probably because, in Victorian times, it was almost impossible for a woman without wealth to rid herself of her husband, Mary Ann Pearson remained with Solomon Pearson. The former licensee of the Seven Stars became a milk dealer and the couple moved to premises on Hagley Road before moving again to New Street.
The licence of the Seven Stars was transferred from Solomon Pearson to George Bennett on the 13th October 1871. The court report recorded him as James Bennett but trade directories list him as George. He flew under the radar and the Seven Stars did not appear in newspaper stories for a few years, suggesting that a lid had been put on the place.
If ever there was a man to restore the reputation of the Seven Stars it was Joseph Brittlebank, a former Regimental Sergeant Major, Chelsea Pensioner and overseer of Upper Swinford. Born in Sheffield around 1827, he followed in his father's footsteps by training as a joiner. He was engaged in this trade when the family lived in Ecclesall before they moved to Hulme in Lancashire. He served 24 years in the regular army with the Carabiniers [6th Dragoon Guards] and almost 14 years with the auxilary forces [similar to today's territorial army] with the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry. On being discharged from the regular army in 1868, his role in the auxilary forces brought him to Hagley Street with his Irish-born wife Sarah and four daughters, all of whom were born in Sandhurst where Joseph would have bawled at people on the parade ground.
Joseph and Sarah Brittlebank moved from 29 Hagley Street to Chawn Hill in the early 1870s. She died in July 1874 and Joseph re-married to Elizabeth Hicks a year later. Proof that there was life in the old soldier, he had two more children by Elizabeth in the mid-1870s and then, whilst still serving in the auxiliary forces, became licensee of the Seven Stars. Sergeant Major Brittlebank would drill the Stourbridge Troop of the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry some evenings and at weekends and guarded the Seven Stars for the remainder of the week. And just to ensure he had enough on his plate, he was selling homebrewed ales.
Whilst Oldswinford were being titillated by the antics of Miss Nellie at the Seven Stars, the rest of the nation were captivated by the case of Sir Roger Tichborne and the cause célèbre legal case surrounding the impersonation by Arthur Orton who came to England from Australia to claim the baronetcy and family fortune. However, publican Joseph Brittlebank had something to say about the missing baronet as he had actually served with Roger Tichborne in the Carabiniers [6th Dragoon Guards]. He told journalists that "when Roger Tichborne was in the regiment, he was regimental sergeant major, and frequently did duty with him as regimental orderly sergeant, when Mr. Tichborne was regimental orderly officer, besides being brought into contact with him by numerous other duties." The publican said that "he spoke very broken English and that, at that time, a dark, straight-haired man, with a very awkward gait, and about twenty-two or twenty-three years of age." The licensee of the Seven Stars added that "he frequently drilled Mr. Tichborne alternately with others, from the time he entered the regiment as cornet, at the Portobello Barracks, in 1840, until he resigned his lieutenancy, in the year 1862."
After a successful military career Joseph Brittlebank finally retired from the auxiliary forces in June 1882. His son Joseph also served with the 6th Dragoon Guards. He joined in 1864 and served 16 years and 155 days in the ranks, going through the Afghan War, 1879-80, including the expedition to the Lughman Valley and against the Waziris. He served as a quartermaster at Leeds during the gas strike riots, and he twice with the Carabiniers at York and Strensall Camp, and at Preston. During the Boer War he was appointed to Her Majesty's Reserve Regiment of Dragoons at York, and afterwards served with the Provisional Regiment of Hussars at Aldershot under Lieut.-Col. R. Wilson, D.S.O. Joseph Brittlebank reached the rank of major before he retired from the army.
Joseph and Elizabeth Brittlebank left the Seven Stars in 1884 and moved to the Four Ways Inn at Worcester. The Seven Stars then went through a sticky patch with short-term licensees before the arrival of another man handy with a gun. Wiltshire-born James Gasper had previously worked as a gamekeeper in Gloucestershire. He kept the Seven Stars with his wife Emily who also hailed from Wiltshire. Their daughter Rosa worked as a barmaid.
George Smith took over in 1891 and, although he remained for the term of his lease, he struggled to keep order at the Seven Stars. He had already been fined for offences such as 'opening out of hours' and 'permitting drunkenness' when he almost came unstuck at the petty sessions held in August 1898. When his licence renewal came up before the magistrates, Police Superintendent Pugh objected to him remaining in his post. The officer stated that "the house had been badly conducted before the convictions" and that "a great deal of drunkenness took place in the house." The Superintendent told the Bench that he had warned George Smith during the previous year "against his premises at the back facilitating the commission of offences against the Licensing Laws." The policeman stated that, "despite these warnings, the Seven Stars was as bad as ever." Mr. Collis appeared for the publican and appealed to the magistrates to give George Smith another chance for twelve months. He told them that "he had invested all his savings in the public-house, and it would be very hard upon him if he had to go out. It would mean that he would lose all his savings, and he might point out to the Bench that he had been in the house for seven years." He added that "the convictions and fines had been a very sharp lesson to his client, and he therefore asked the Bench to give Smith another chance." The case was left hanging until the next adjourned licensing sessions but George Smith did get his second chance and remained at the Seven Stars.
George Smith may have survived at the petty sessions but there were big changes coming to the locale and it would seem that he was not to benefit from an increase in footfall following the construction of a new railway station across the road. There had been petitions to improve the old station at Junction Road. Passengers had no protection from the elements and the local press urged for a memorial to be sent to local big cheese Viscount Cobham who sat on the board of the Great Western Railway.
Stourbridge Urban Council put forward a plan for a new station at Red Hill in lieu of the Junction and Town Stations but in April 1897 the Great Western Railway Company announced that such a plan could not be entertained. The company, therefore, decided that the new Junction Station should be erected at Chawn Hill in accordance with the plans they had drawn up. Naturally, as soon as this announcement was made, some local residents opted to sell up but businesses such as the Seven Stars were licking their lips at the prospect of new business opportunities.
I have not seen the deeds for this house so I am not sure who held the freehold and was selling the pub. However, the purchaser was Thomas Epps. To be honest I am surprised that the property was bought by an individual as this was the period when the large breweries were snapping up public-houses in order to develop their large tied-estates. It is improbable that the brewers did not send representatives to bid at the auction. Perhaps they considered the price too high? Perhaps Thomas Epps just wanted it that bit more than the rest?
I did not have to look too far to find where Thomas Epps got the money to buy the Seven Stars - his family had done well in the licensed trade at Worcester. Indeed, he grew up in the Bush Inn in the Bull Ring at Worcester St. John's, a public-house kept by his parents Thomas and Jane Epps. He was a beneficiary in his father's will when he died at the Albion Inn on Bath Road near Diglis Basin at Worcester. He became the licensee of the latter following his father's death.
Thomas Epps was born at Claines in July 1859, though at the time his father was the licensee of the Rainbow at Lowesmoor. As a young man he had worked as a baker in Birmingham but the lure of the licensed trade made him follow in his father's footsteps. He may have had little choice but relieve his widowed mother at the Albion Inn. He married Emma Stallard at The Tything in March 1888. He became a respected citizen of Worcester. A member of the Licensed Victuallers' Association, he supported a number of charities and was a representative of St. Peter's Ward Board of Guardians.
Thomas lost his wife Emma in 1894. The 1901 census records him at the Seven Stars with his wife Eliza. This may have been a younger sister of his wife. However, his marriage to her was not until 1908. Four children were living on the premises, along with a brewer's assistant named Joseph Jester. This suggests that the house was still producing homebrewed ales. Thomas and Eliza also employed Winifred Smith as a barmaid and Edith Hazeldine as a nursemaid.
Thomas Epps made a quick return on his investment by selling the Seven Stars Inn to Mitchell's and Butler's on December 12th, 1901. The Cape Hill brewery, probably desperate for a house next to the new railway station, paid Thomas Epps £2,750. I guess that we will never know the actual reason why Thomas Epps relinquished the Seven Stars. This sum may have been an offer he couldn't refuse from Mitchell's and Butler's. Following the sale, he married Eliza and the family emigrated to New Zealand. They sailed from London in December 1908 on a ship named Whakatane, a vessel built on Tyneside for the New Zealand Shipping Company Limited.
The Tenbury Wells Advertiser reported on the welfare of the Epps family in December 1910 following a letter from George E. Porter, of Worcester, who had also moved to Wellington. Porter met the former publican of the Seven Stars at an agricultural show held at Lyttelton, where Thomas Epps gave a highly satisfactory account of his colonising experiences. He was fortunate in the ballot for some land which was set apart for clearing, to obtain an excellent section with good soil, pleasantly situated, and well watered. He and his family had been gradually clearing the land, with excellent results, and he undertook an active interest in a movement for the construction of better roads, to connect the "up-country" districts with the nearest towns.
Mitchell's and Butler's operated the old tavern for around five years. The company put in managers to run the place. The first of these was Samuel Perks who lived a couple of doors away. The spade manufacturer had probably got to know Thomas Epps as a patron of the Seven Stars. His life came to a tragic end in the autumn of 1904, the circumstances of which created what the local press described as "a painful sensation." It was reported that he was "last seen alive on September 15th, and no trace was found of him for nine days, when a body, which proved to be his, was found in the River Stour." It was stated that "the discovery was made in a singular way by some persons boating on the river at Kinver. An oar struck something in the water, and this turned out to be the body of the dead publican. The discolouration showed that Samuel Perks must have been in the water a week or more." The inquest on the body resulted in a verdict of "suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity." He had been a popular publican for a considerable number of people attended his funeral. He left a widow and seven children which must have created desperate circumstances for Sarah Perks and her children. She later lived in Field Lane from where she worked in the steam laundry on Hagley Road.
In the mid-Edwardian period, the board members at Mitchell's and Butler's elected to completely rebuild the Seven Stars. Unlike other houses rebuilt by the Cape Hill brewery, they did not spend a fortune on an ostentatious architectural palace, preferring to erect a simple but solid house in Red English bond brick with four canted bay windows featuring stone dressing and etched panes. The latter have remarkably survived and are now an important part of the building's history. The door at the right-hand side of the building was formerly used for an outdoor department but this was absorbed into the main room many moons ago. Each of the three entrances have attractive gabled porches, the main entrance having retained its large lantern on a wrought iron bracket. There is some decorative timberwork to the eaves and, overall, the building is attractive. Perhaps the exterior is a little understated for the period, but the building is a fine legacy of the mid-Edwardian era. The company did approve a decent budget for the interior fittings - more on those later.
Mitchell's and Butler's appointed Joseph Pool as the first manager of the 'new' Seven Stars Hotel. He is possibly the man featured in the photograph above standing on the doorstep of the pub. As an employee of the Cape Hill brewery, he was transferred from the Chapel Tavern on the corner of Great Charles Street and Ludgate Hill in Birmingham. However, as a keen cyclist, I am intrigued by the fact he was once a cycle maker when living at Winson Green at the end of the Victorian period and previously in Brearley Street in Aston New Town. He had established a home there with Alice Wheelwright [you couldn't make it up] whom he married in August 1889. She was the daughter of the photographer Frederick Wainwright. After their spell at the Seven Stars they moved back to the Chapel Tavern.
The Pool's were succeeded by John and Harriet Roberts. Born in Worcester in 1874, John Roberts grew up in the Bridge Inn, a tavern kept by his parents William and Emma. As a young man he moved to Birmingham and was living in Gem Street and working as a fitter when he married Harriet Bissell in October 1897. Two of Harriet's sisters. Lottie and May, lived at the busy Seven Stars Hotel with Lottie working as a barmaid. Gertrude Booth was also on the M&B payroll and worked as a general servant.
The licence of the Seven Stars Hotel changed quite quickly and Ernest Workman continued the trend of a Birmingham publican being transferred by the Cape Hill brewery to Oldswinford. Pershore-born Ernest Workman had worked his way up from being a waiter at the Conservative Club in Temple Row to running the Crown Inn on Leopold Street with his wife Elizabeth. The Workman's stay at the Seven Stars Hotel was, however, very brief and their departure ushered in the period when Arthur Benjamin Knights and his family lived at the recently-constructed public-house.
Albert Denny was publican during the early 1920s before moving to the Horse and Groom in Stourbridge High Street. He was succeeded by Douglas Young who had served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War One. Eric Norton had also been in France during the war, serving with the Royal Field Artillery. The Smethwick-born publican had worked as a gem setter in the jewellery trade during the Edwardian period. Following World War One he married Dora Hall in July 1920. The couple started off in the licensed trade by running an off-licence in Eagle Street at Coventry. Though no longer a shop, the property still stands on the corner of Springfield Road. Following their spell at the Seven Stars Hotel, the couple moved to the Red Hill Tavern on the Coventry Road at Yardley. However, the public-house where they stayed for a longer spell was the Stockland Hotel at Marsh Hill, a M&B flagship pub at Erdington. It was while they were at the Stockland that the former publican of the Seven Stars had a prang in his car at Shire Oak near Brownhills. Pleading guilty, he was done for driving without due care and attention after failing to stop at the traffic lights and crashing into two vehicles. In his defence, the publican stated "that he was having a trial spin in the car, and intended to put his foot on the brake, but instead did so on the accelerator." By the time of the Second World War Eric and Dora had moved to Colwyn Bay to run a hotel.
In the second half of the 1920s Percy and Florence Newell were mine hosts at the Seven Stars. Percy Newell is another who grew up in a pub. By the time he was 18 he was helping his father run a beer house in Camden Street at Birmingham. Once more, the couple departed to run a flagship public-house, in this case the Bagot Arms near Pype Hayes Park, a huge place that opened in 1931. Percy and Florence left Oldswinford for the smell of fresh paint.
In the early 1930s the Seven Stars was kept by Samuel and Jane Lane. Born in Rugby in 1906, he was the son of James Henry Lane, a larger-than-life character who was the proprietor of the Three Horse Shoes Hotel in Rugby. However, it was his mother that was to become more celebrated. A native of Hinckley, Mary Ellen Lane moved to Rugby at the end of the Victorian era. A few years later she married Leicester-born James Lane, who at that time was the licensee of the Bull Hotel. Subsequently they moved to the Windmill Inn, the Globe Inn, and then the Three Horse Shoes, and at each house Mary Lane proved to be a very capable and popular hostess. When the local branch of the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers was formed, she played a prominent part in the creation of the ladies' section, known as the Fairy Belles. By their united efforts the branch raised almost £300 for Rugby Hospital, in addition to entertaining right royally each new year the crippled children who attended the Orthopaedic Clinic. She worked tirelessy for charitable causes and when Queen Elizabeth, then the Duchess of York, visited the Hospital of St. Cross in April 1929, to open the out-patients department, Mary Lane introduced to Her Royal Highness, and three years later she was received by the Princess Royal on the occasion of the opening of the Sun Pavilion. Like her husband, she was a member of the Rugby branch of the Dickens Fellowship, and was one the pioneers of the annual Dickens costume dance.
In 1933 Leslie Green survived a summons before the local magistrates for supplying drink during prohibited hours and remained as licensee until the Second World War when standard practice was to transfer the licence to his wife Edna. Frederick Corbett took over in 1944 and put in a 12-year shift as publican.
Frederick Skinner was the licensee of the Seven Stars during the Rock'n'Roll years but it would be a few years before the pub hosted folk and blues nights in which the young Robert Plant would perform with The Delta Blues Band. It was at these nights that he met members of Sounds Of Blue, a band that featured Stan Webb and Christine Perfect.
During the 1960s ownership of the Seven Stars changed when, in 1961, Bass merged with Mitchell's & Butler's and six years later merged again with Charrington United Breweries. The M&B name was lost in subsequent years and Bass Charrington became Bass PLC. However, in the great shake-up of the 1990s Denise Langford purchased the Seven Stars. She sold the building to licensee Michael Dickinson at the turn of the new millennium. He and his wife June had previously spent over a decade running the Fountain Inn at Clent. Together with their son Andrew, they certainly seemed to have a winning formula at the Seven Stars. The pub was generally busy and often packed at the weekend. I started to patronise the pub when the Dickinson family were running the Seven Stars as the beer variety was pretty good for the time and Batham's Bitter was a regular at the counter.
I suspect that the Dickinson family sold up at the right time and obtained a good price for the freehold. This facilitated funding for Andrew Dickinson who established The Retreat restaurant at the old Swan Inn on Hagley Road. With pubs in his blood, Michael Dickinson couldn't resist buying the Little Pig at Amblecote, though I do not think he was hands-on with the day-to-day running of that place.
The Seven Stars was acquired by brothers Graham and Terry Robertson in 2001. They appointed Dominic Gill as manager. He had previously worked at The Dog at Harvington. It has to be said that the fortunes of the Seven Stars waned and customers slowly drifted away. I believe the pub was purchased by Ian Bullocks in 2004 but Adam Johnson was also involved around this time. Indeed, details are a bit sketchy for this period as the pub was in trouble and it was on the market for several spells. There was a period of closure in 2004 and, again, in 2008. I think this was when Helen Little and Stuart 'Sid' Hingley acquired the business. In my humble opinion, both the Labour in Vain and Seven Stars suffered a loss of trade when Stourbridge High Street became a hotbed of nightlife following the opening of several YPV's, a trade term for Young People's Venues. The two pubs had been popular launch-pads for younger drinkers who brought a significant amount of wet trade.
Heineken and Carlsberg, who had bought out Scottish & Newcastle, operators of the Seven Stars, must have thought they could turn things around when they took control of the pub. I think they leased it to a company called Primemoor Limited - modern pub ownership is often complex. Anyway, it did not work out and the pub went on the market again in 2019. Many feared the worst but Pensnett-based Black Country Ales came to the rescue. The company sympathetically renovated the building and restored some of its old traditions. Paul Hicks and Liz Oakley, a couple who had kept the Swan at Halesowen with great success for Black Country Ales, were invited/persuaded to move to the Seven Stars. Paul proved his beer management skills by staging beer festivals at the Swan and scooping the Stourbridge and Halesowen CAMRA Pub of the Year 2016. When the Seven Stars was re-opened the locals were impressed to find up to 19 real ales across two bars in the Seven Stars.
Photographs of the Seven Stars
I took the next few photographs in 2001 on an early digital camera so the quality is not great but they do at least show the interior of the pub at that time. The main bar during this period was known as Cecil's Bar in which the upper part of the walls featured more than a hundred black-and-white photographs of regulars and visiting drinkers.
I took the following photographs in June 2004 when the licensees name above the front door was Graham Roberston. He and his brother may have had good intentions but they seemingly did not have sufficient resources to run the pub and it started to look a little tatty and tired. The restaurant sort of went on ice and only baguettes were being sold in the bar. Note also the servery in the rear smoking room which, thankfully, was removed in a later renovation.
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Seven Stars at Oldswinford you 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 this pub - perhaps you drank here in the past? Or maybe knew a previous publican? Whatever the reason it would be great to hear of your stories or gossip. Simply send a message and I will post it here.
In pub terms, The Seven Stars is an old religious sign and a favourite in the Middle Ages. It traditionally represented the seven-starred celestial crown which the Virgin Mary was usually shown wearing. In the illustraton from 2001 the artist has made piquant use of the seven stars of The Plough constellation and an agricultural plough on the ground. To be honest, even with headlights on tractors, I have rarely seen a farmer out this late at night - they are normally in the pub by then! The Plough is the nickname of Ursa Major but is also known as The Great Bear or Big Dipper. The handle of the Dipper is the Great Bear's tail and the Dipper's cup is the Bear's flank. Technically however, The Big Dipper is not a constellation but an asterism, a term for a distinctive group of stars. The names of the seven stars which make up The Plough are Alkaid, Mizar, Alioth, Megrez, Dubhe, Phad and Merak. Due to the close proximity, the second and third signboards use the Seven Stars as smoke from the funnel the Agenoria, an early steam locomotive built by the Foster, Rastrick and Co. partnership of Stourbridge and first rolled along the Kingswinford Railway in 1829.
2019 Renovation of the Seven Stars
I took the following photographs in September 2020 not long after the pub had re-opened following the Covid-19 lockdown. Therefore, the images contain some of the pub's measures to control social distancing, including perspex screens on the servery. Black Country Ales did a good job with renovating the Seven Stars. I must ask them how they replaced one of the etched-glass windows to the frontage? One loss is the lovely terrazzo floor inside the entrance and hall. However, overall, the restoration has been done very well with some nice touches.
Licensees of this pub
1835 - Thomas Butler
1845 - David Davies
1852 - Joseph Hemming
1860 - David Davies
1864 - William Davy
1865 - 1869 William Joseph Coley
1869 - 1869 Benjamin Ford
1869 - 1871 Solomon Pearson
1871 - 1880 George Bennett
1880 - 1884 Joseph Brittlebank
1886 - William Dyson
1887 - A. F. Sedman
1888 - 1891 James Gasper
1891 - 1899 George Smith
1899 - 1902 Thomas Pryce Epps
1902 - 1904 Samuel James Perks
1904 - 1907 William Elcock
1908 - 1910 Joseph John Pool
1910 - 1911 John Hugh Roberts
1911 - 1912 Ernest Charles Workman
1912 - 1921 Arthur Benjamin Knights
1921 - 1923 Albert John Denny
1923 - 1925 Douglas George Young
1926 - 1931 Percy George Newell
1931 - 1932 Samuel Alexander Lane
1932 - 1940 Leslie Arthur Green
1940 - 1944 Edna May Moore Green
1944 - 1956 Frederick William Corbett
1956 - 1960 Frederick Charles Skinner
1960 - 1961 Desmond Burden
1961 - 1961 Anthony Thomas Sharp
1961 - 1962 George Albert Sutch
1962 - 1964 Harold Humphries
1964 - 1964 Patrick Edward Timley
1964 - 1965 Arthur Casson
1965 - 1965 Ronald Thomas Goode
1965 - 1966 E. Tysall
1966 - 1969 Albert Haynes
1969 - 1969 James Robert Robson
1969 - 1971 E. Tysall
1971 - 1983 Dennys Derry
1983 - 1985 Janet Jean [Watts] Tonkins
1985 - 1987 Jayne Helen Taylor
1987 - 1994 Denise Sheila Langford
1994 - 2000 Michael John Dickinson
2000 - Dominic Gill
2004 - Graham Martin Robertson
2005 - Jason Wigley
2008 - Chere Barnsley
2020 - Paul John Hicks
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.
Related Newspaper Articles
"Our readers will recollect the circumstances attending a murder which was perpetrated at the Seven Stars public-house, at
Oldswinford, on the 9th of August, 1852, when David Davies, the landlord of the inn mentioned, shot at a number of persons assembled round his house, the result of
which was the death of a poor woman, named Mary Pardoe, and other parties present were more or less wounded. The man Davies and his son, a lad aged about 15, who
assisted his father in loading, were at the following Lent Assizes, tried for the murder of this woman, but the elder prisoner having shown symptoms of insanity,
a jury was empanelled to try whether he was in a sufficiently sound state of mind to take his trial. After hearing the evidence of several medical gentlemen, the
jury were of opinion that he was not in a condition to plead to the indictment, and he was ordered to be kept in strict custody until her Majesty's pleasure
respecting him should be known. In August, 1853, he was removed to an asylum in London, and from thence to another establishment in Wiltshire, and it now appears
that he has recovered from his insanity [if he ever was really insane seems questionable], and an order has been sent to receive him into Worcester County
Gaol. What the result of this will be cannot at present be known, but we presume that he will be again arraigned and tried for murder. It so, the trial will no
doubt take place at the Summer Assizes, in July next."
"The Oldswinford Tragedy"
County Advertiser : April 19th 1856 Page 4
"Mr. Hebbert [deputy coroner], held an inquest on Saturday afternoon, at the Seven Stars Inn, upon the body of Enoch Campbell,
aged six months, whose mother resides in Pedmore Road, and who died on Friday morning under circumstances given in the evidence. Police Sergeant Danks was called to the
house about three o'clock in the morning, and found that Mrs. Campbell had been sleeping with a lamp and other alight in her bedroom. Just before three o'clock
Mrs. Campbell was awakened by the heavy state of atmosphere in the room, and discovered that the lamp was burning fiercely, and that the room was full of smoke. She
immediately got out of bed and threw the lamp through the window. She then took her child, which had been lying with her. downstairs, and called for assistance. Her
father and son came and opened the windows. The child was breathing very heavily, and Dr. Hardwicke was sent for but before he arrived the child was dead. Dr. Hardwicke
gave evidence that no doubt the child died from the fumes of the lamp, which caused him to be suffocated. A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned."
"A Child Suffocated at The Lye"
County Advertiser & Herald : September 21st 1901 Page 8
"Mr. A. H. Hebbert [deputy coroner] held an inquiry last night, at the Seven Stars Inn, Oldswinford, into the circumstances
connected with the death of Lizzie Frances Fletcher , domestic servant, who died on Wednesday evening at Stourbridge Junction. Chief Inspector Ledbrooke was
present, and Mr. Evers represented the Great Western Railway Co. The mother, Ann Fletcher, a widow, stated that on Wednesday evening she met the 8-35 p.m. train
from Wolverhampton at Brettell Lane Station. Her daughter at that time seemed very well. Witness asked deceased if she had enjoyed herself, she having been to the
Wolverhampton Exhibition. Deceased said "Yes, very much, mother. It is very nice; you must go. I will take you one of these nice days." After they had
finished speaking, deceased dropped suddenly on her arm on the window frame, and dropped a purse and collar on the step of the carriage. Witness shouted to the porters,
the train being on the move. "Do stop the train, my daughter Lizzie is in a fit. Do stop the train." The porters whistled a little, but not much; and the
train went off to Stourbridge Junction. When they ran up the platform at Brettell Lane Station they were called back as if they were dogs. The Coroner: "You
have told us that the train was on the move." Witness: It was moving just a little. Joseph Tay, gardener with Lady Crease, Sion House, with whom deceased was
a servant, said deceased came back with him and others in the same compartment from the Wolverhampton Exhibition. When deceased had finished speaking to her mother at
Brettell Lane she seemed to catch hold of she window frame, and he thought she was crying. She seemed to collapse, and witness's wife unloosened her dress, and did
all she could for her. Deceased did not seem to revive at all. When they reached the Junction he told the railway officials there was a person ill in the train, and
deceased was lifted out and put into a waiting room, and witness went for Dr. Collis. Inspector Butler, employed on the Great Western Railway, said he heard about the
occurrence about a minute after they left Brettell Lane Station. He was in the guard's van and the guard informed him there was a woman ill in the train. The
Coroner: "Why didn't you stop the train?" Witness: "The train was out of the station travelling between Brettell Lane and Stourbridge
Junction." Witness, continuing, said "it took about four minutes to run to the Junction. When he reached the Junction he went to the compartment, and found
deceased leaning forward in a corner of a carriage. He lifted her out carefully as possible and got her into the waiting room. She was not then dead. John Yeomans,
guard on the 7.55 train from Wolverhampton to Stourbridge Junction, said he reached Brettell Lane about 8-35. When be gave the signal to the driver to start he
saw somebody by the train and directly afterwards he heard a woman behind him say, "Stop the train; she's in a fit." He turned his lamp with the red
light towards the driver, but he did not seem to notice it. He could have pulled up the train with the vacuum brake outside the platform, but it would have almost
broken the train in two, and he considered they would be able to deal with her more quickly and better at the Junction than at Brettell Lane. It would have taken quite
three minutes to get back to Brettell Lane. He did not blow his whistle as he had a lamp in his one hand and held the carriage door with the other. By Mr. Evers:
"Witness knew that at Stourbridge Junction there was a refreshment room where brandy would be on sale, and it was also an ambulance centre. Neither of three
advantages was possessed by Brettell Lane. He did not know that the woman who shouted was related to the deceased in any way. He did the best he possibly could, and
used his beat discretion in the affair." In reply to the Coroner, witness said that to see what was the matter and get back into the station, would have taken
quite four minutes. Police Constable Broad deposed to being called to the station and seeing the body of deceased in the waiting room. Dr. H. H. Rose Clark said he
was called by telephone to deceased about a quarter to nine o'clock. When he arrived he examined the body and found deceased dead. With the assistance of Dr.
Gifford he had since made a post-mortem examination, and found the internal organs healthy. Death was due in his opinion, to syncope, and failure of the
heart's action. There was nothing to indicate the cause of the failure of the heart. The Coroner briefly summed up the evidence, and the jury returned a verdict
of "death from natural causes."
"Sudden Death of a Young Woman"
County Advertiser & Herald : June 3rd 1905 Page 5
"There was a large assembly of Great Western men on Monday night, at the Seven Stars Hotel, Oldswinford, to do honour to the Railway
Ambulance Brigade, who recently won the Corbett Hospital silver challenge cup and other trophies. Mr. E. Murphy [divisional superintendent] was to have presided,
but being called to London, his place was taken by Mr. Pulling, assistant superintendent, and Mr. J. S. Williams-Thomas was in the vice-chair. Messrs. A. W.
Worthington. J. S, Evers-Swindell, F. P. Evers, J. Holt, J. D. Harward, J. Moseley, Dr. Freer, and others were present. Mr. Dunn [Junction station master]
expressed himself as more than pleased with the interest and energy manifested in Stourbridge and throughout the district in learning how to treat cases of accident.
He wished his congratulations to be conveyed to the team that won the Corbett Hospital cup and other trophies. The Chairman, in speaking of the value of ambulance
training, said that the movement had now spread to such an extent among railway men that more than 12,0000 Great Western men now had ambulance knowledge. [Cheers.]
Inspector J. Jones gave an interesting account of how the ambulance movement was taken up on the Great Western system in the district. Another railway man and himself
talked over the question of a starting a class among railway men, seeing the police and fire brigades had been getting ambulance training. They went to the late Dr.
Eager, and he said he would begin a class if 25 members would enter, the fee being 5s. each. They could only find 13 railway men who would join, but they got others to
join and made up a class of 21. They had to pay for their own appliances, but the movement grew, and about three years later Snow Hill took up ambulance, and generally
the movement spread till the Great Western men trained in ambulance work grew to thousands, and Mr. Murphy was one of those who did all they could to further it. The
toast of "The Team that Won the Corbett Hospital Cup" and other toasts were honoured, and there was an interesting musical programme given."
"Great Western Ambulance Men"
County Advertiser & Herald : June 3rd 1905 Page 5
"Thieves broke through padlocked gates at a Stourbridge pub stealing furniture including patio heaters and heavy 6ft long tables from its
beer garden. The raid happened at the Seven Stars in Glasshouse Hill. Caretaker John Taylor has now put notices up in the windows asking for information after
the thieves made off with four 6ft tables and benches, a patio heater and four 3ft high aluminium plant holders. The 54-year-old, who has been looking after the
alarmed property for Scottish and Newcastle brewery, was asleep upstairs when the raiders cut through the padlocked gates and emptied the garden. He is asking residents,
who may have seen suspicious activity on the night of June 2nd, to help catch the criminals. Mr Taylor said the attack was "really upsetting." He said:
"I woke up in the morning to find everything had gone. They threw the plants on the floor but took the holders. Obviously it doesn't look good on me as I am
the caretaker so it would be nice if somebody had seen something. I was frightened to tell my boss. It's a shame as it was a lovely pub. What's strange is that
they never tried to get into the pub."
"Thieves raid pub beer garden"
Express & Star : June 26th 2009
"A Stourbridge man who left a pub manager in the town with a fractured skull after knocking him out with a single punch has avoided
a spell behind bars. When Rob Eaton's skull hit the ground it "literally cracked," Daniel Oscroft, prosecuting, told Wolverhampton Crown Court. He said
46-year-old Gary Redmond had lashed out with an "almighty punch" after arguing with his then partner in the Seven Stars pub in Oldswinford. The
row resulted in Redmond then swapping insults with another woman who was the girlfriend of pub manager Mr Eaton. She complained to Mr Eaton at closing time that
Redmond had also slapped the back of her head, added Mr Oscroft. It was when Mr Eaton approached Redmond outside the pub moments later that he punched him before
quickly fleeing from the scene. Then, just days later, after learning about the seriousness of Mr Eaton's injury, he sent his victim a sympathetic message
expressing his sorrow. Redmond had himself been beaten by attackers four months earlier and he was still on edge, said Mr Anthony Cook, defending. Mr Cook said:
"His perception at the time was that he was under threat and he thought it better to get in first. He is not a big drinker and he is not the sort of man who
goes out looking for a fight but his reaction on this occasion was affected by the earlier incident." Redmond, of Church Road, admitted causing grievous bodily
harm and he was given a 21 month jail term suspended for two years. He was further ordered by Recorder Christopher Falk to carry out 150 hours unpaid work in the
community and to pay Mr Eaton £600 compensation for his injury. The court was told the pub manager - he no longer works in the trade - had to be
treated in hospital for four days for the skull fracture which also left him with vertigo and memory loss. In a victim impact statement he later told police
officers he had no recollection at all about the incident adding, "I know I did not deserve this."
"Court told man's skull "cracked" in attack at Seven Stars"
Stourbridge News : July 23rd 2018
"The Seven Stars pub in Brook Road has been bought by Black Country Ales, who have promised to return the railway-side watering-hole
to it's 'former pomp.' Black Country Ales, which is based in Pensnett and brew their own ales in Lower Gornal, run 33 pubs around the Midlands. Taking to
Facebook, the company wrote: "We are absolutely delighted to announce that Black Country Ales has agreed the purchase of The Seven Stars. The Seven Stars Hotel
has a long and glorious history serving the drinking folk of Stourbridge and alighting rail passengers from the nearby Stourbridge Junction station. BCA plans a
sensitive refurbishment of the listed 19th Century pub and a significant spend to return the Seven Stars to its former pomp." Refurbishment of the pub is expected
to take several months. The news was hailed as 'fantastic' by Stourbridge and Halesowen CAMRA. Tim Cadwell, chair of the group, said: "It is fantastic
news that Black Country Ales have bought the Seven Stars in Stourbridge. While it was for sale, the branch were concerned about the future of this pub as it is listed
by CAMRA as having a historically important interior, as well as being grade II listed. It is hoped that the pub will become popular again with commuters being so close
to Stourbridge Junction station. BCA have an excellent track record with resurrecting pubs with a full refurbishment and restoring them back to award-winning
community pubs so we are sure this will continue here in line with the listed building status."
"Seven Stars in Stourbridge to be reopened by Black Country Ales"
by Danielle Poole in Stourbridge News : July 15th 2019