Some history of the Horse and Jockey Inn at Inkford in Wythall in the county of Worcestershire.
The Horse and Jockey was closed and boarded-up in 2019 and the future of the building as a public-house was uncertain. One of the problems for the pub was that, although it was not a "blink and you can miss it" building, the Horse and Jockey went largely unnoticed by motorists as they whizzed along the busy A435 on their way to the M42 motorway junction. The pub sits at the side of the old turnpike in the dip created by the River Cole but the 'new' dual carriageway was built on an embankment to level out an improved road - if you call heavy traffic an improvement. Anyway, as a result, the pub lost its traditional association with what was the turnpike road connecting Birmingham with Alcester. The old tavern would have been a noteworthy wayside hostelry where victuals could be sought by travellers.
This extract from a map published in 1831 suggests that the hostelry was once called the Bridge Inn. Rising on the lower slopes of Forhill, the River Cole flows close to the building and formed part of the county boundary. The tavern therefore stood in Warwickshire and early records for the property are included within those of Solihull. In later years the building is listed within the parish of Wythall in Worcestershire. The road to the west of the building is called Watery Lane and, at times of heavy rain the River Cole can make this route impassable. A bridge carried the turnpike road over the river rather than risking a ford crossing and perhaps the public-house bore a name to reflect the importance of this structure. I say perhaps because licensing records pre-dating this map show that the house was called the Horse and Jockey as early as 1821 when Joseph Minshaw held the licence. The building is of some antiquity and the name of the Bridge Inn may simply have been copied from earlier plans. However, the house was certainly trading as the Horse and Jockey when the map of 1831 was published.
The Horse and Jockey was kept by Joseph and Rebecca Minshaw during the early 1820s. Joseph died in 1826 and the licence passed to his Aston-born wife. She re-married in December 1827 at St. Philip's in Birmingham and her husband Thomas Dedicoat took over the licence. He was born in the locality in 1794, perhaps a little further north at Millpool Hill where the Dedicoat family operated a farm. This property appeared in Aris's Birmingham Gazette during May 1855 when a Thomas Dedicoat and his wife [parents of Thomas?] were victims of an armed robbery. The thieves broke in through the dairy window and woke Mrs. Dedicoat as they made their way up the stairs. She told Thomas Dedicoat to get his gun but, before he could reach it, one of the robbers fired his gun which floored the farmer. The thieves then seized his wife and forced her into a chair and tied up the couple by their wrists and ankles. Threatening to blow their heads off, the men demanded the couple's money. They broke open a box containing a considerable amount of money before helping themselves to breakfast in the kitchen. It was later reported that the thieves gained their entrance into the building with tools they had stolen from the workshop of Mr. Waring, a wheelwright at The Maypole.
Following their spell at the Horse and Jockey, Thomas and Rebecca Dedicoat opted for industrial grime rather than green-and-pleasant lands by moving to the historic Swan Inn on Dudley Road at West Bromwich. Another branch of the Dedicoat clan once kept the Warstock Inn at Yardley Wood.
The Horse and Jockey prospered from a fair deal of passing trade and was a key port-of-call for the traveller. It is possible that plans for highway robberies were hatched over a beer in the tavern - it was reported in December 1788 that "a waggon was robbed at Inkford Brook." In the early 19th century a daily coach service operating between Birmingham with Alcester was called The Rocket. This called at the Fox and Goose at Redditch about noon.
The inn sign possibly referred to point-to-point races held in the locality. The name certainly pre-dates the years of the tavern benefiting from a key boost in trade when, on April 1st, 1856, horse racing at Inkford was formally organised by the Warwickshire Hunt Committee. The course was on land owned by the farmer John Frappell, the Open Hunters' Plate Steeplechase being the feature event. In this year the race was won by a horse named Pat Manley, ridden by John Page, a jockey who went on to ride in eleven Grand Nationals, winning twice - in 1867 he rode Cortolvin to victory and five years later he was victorious on Casse Tete. The latter horse was owned by Teddy Brayley who reportedly backed his horse so heavily that he told John Page he must get a place to save him from ruin. The horse won by a neck, and Teddy Brayley is said to have won £100,000 and presented his jockey with £600. Born at Bannister's Farm near Shirley, John Page became a celebrated jockey in both England and France.
The Warwickshire Hunt Committee would meet in public-houses to thrash out the details of races held at Inkford. The events became so popular that carriages were laid on from the Swan Inn on New Street in Birmingham. The Horse and Jockey probably did a roaring trade on race days. The race meetings continued until at least 1869 but the growth of other courses in the region led to its demise.
The Horse and Jockey was also the venue for other sporting events. In October 1847 there was a foot race over 180 yards between two men named Akers and McGhee who competed for a purse of £20. This drew a large crowd and the intense betting had Akers as a clear favourite. However McGhee was the first to react to the starter's pistol and flew off at great speed to claim the prize. It was reported that, on the sound of the pistol Akers "simply stood on the score as if he was electrified." However, a dispute arose between the loser and the starter. The official said that McGhee won fairly and awarded him the purse. A witness told the newspapers that Akers, was so "irritated at losing the race in this manner, that whilst McGee was running to a cab, he put his foot before him and tripped him, and at the same instant struck him a terrific blow on the mouth." This caused a right commotion and the police had to save Akers from the angry crowd. He was taken into custody and charged with assault.
As one of the principal inns of the locality, the Horse and Jockey Inn hosted many agricultural sales during which auctioneers would sell livestock, horses and farming implements. These sales would be held at particular times of the farming season or when a farm itself was being sold or disposed. Breeders, farmers and horse dealers would descend upon the Horse and Jockey, muddy boots and all, sup some ale, enjoy a late breakfast before bidding took place on land surrounding the old tavern. At other times, auctions took place at the Horse and Jockey for crops grown at nearby smallholdings such as Little Fulford Farm and Tanner Green Farm. I have also seen sale notices for wheat grown at Selly Green Farm at Beoley. When Thomas Morgan left Hayes Farm in 1863 there was a two-day sale at the Horse and Jockey where the entire stock, agricultural implements and household furniture was auctioned.
Indoor auctions were probably held in the club room of the Horse and Jockey. This room would have served all manner of roles for the locality. For example, in August 1849 the Royal Lily the Valley Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Women, Redditch Unity, held their second anniversary at hostess Edwards's, the Horse and Jockey. A newspaper article reported that "the attendance of sisters from different lodges, and friends, was very numerous, and the evening was passed with the greatest hilarity." A Friendly Society also held their meetings at the Horse and Jockey. The hostess Edwards mentioned here was Martha Edwards, wife of the licensee Joseph Edwards. The couple were in charge of the Horse and Jockey in the 1840s when there was a neighbouring shop run by John and Nanny Collins. Thomas Edwards, son the of publican, was recorded as a butcher but whether this business was conducted on the pub's premises is not clear. The toll collector on the Alcester Road turnpike at this time were John and Jane Garlick. They were succeeded by James and Mary Corbett.. The toll house was demolished when the dual carriageway was constructed.
Richard and Ann Hughes respoded to the above notice which shows that the pub was part of 46 acres of farm land which was leased by the Solihull Charity Estate. Richard Hughes was born locally but his wife Ann hailed from Yorkshire. Their daughter Caroline, who was born and grew up in the pub, married farmer Robert Martin at Wythall Parish Church in December 1874. The couple would take over the pub and farm, the licence passing to Robert James Martin. Their son, James Richard Martin, would become something of a pioneer in the automotive industry. After a period working for Daimler, he became a partner in the firm Johnson, Hurley and Martin, a company based in Coventry that concentrated on Alpha engines but were also involved in car production and motorcycle manufacturing.
Leaving the Horse and Jockey, the Martin family moved to Ladywood where Robert worked as a gardener. Frederick Summers was publican by 1888. The fact that he was also a butcher by trade does suggest that this business was being conducted on the premises. Born in 1850 at Leamington, he had earlier traded as a butcher with his father at Cheapside in Birmingham. He married the widow Charlotte Eccleston in June 1883. The couple also farmed land whilst running the Horse and Jockey. Frederick would later become the publican of the Lamb and Flag Inn on Unicorn Hill in Redditch before moving to the Bell Inn at Lapworth.
All this agricultural business is a far cry from more recent times where the building merely acted as a retail outlet for the Fayre and Square and Wacky Warehouse brands. These were once operated by the Spirit Group, a branch of Punch Taverns, and was largely within former Allied Domecq public houses. All very logical when one considers that, during the inter-war and post-war years, the Horse and Jockey Inn was operated by the Holt Brewery Company when the firm enjoyed some autonomy from Ansell's.
This photograph of the Horse and Jockey shows the pub's extended frontage along the old turnpike road passing over the River Cole. If you check out the building plan prepared by George Stevens [below] you can see that the main trading area of the pub was on the right, where a bar and smoke room flanked the passageway from the front door. Like most pubs of this ilk, the main entrance was been moved around the back because most, if not all, patrons arrived by car. The left-hand section of the contemporary pub was fashioned out of the old store and garage, possibly a barn in former times. The Horse and Jockey had a large club room above this part of the building.
The separate rooms no doubt fostered a cosy atmosphere in each of the drinking spaces. Note the small servery in the old bar from which drinks were dispensed. Customers in the lounge and smoke would probably have been served by a person carrying a tray of drinks from the bar. Note also the small toilet accessed by exiting the pub and walking to the next doorway.
"A fatal accident occurred on the 25th October to Mr. Jonathan Harlow, of the firm of Peyton and Harlow, Bordesley Works, Birmingham. On
the above morning, Mr. Harlow and Mr. Partridge, surgeon, of Bordesley, left the former gentleman's residence, at Moseley Wake Green, for Inkford Brook, on the
Alcester Road, where they rented the right of sporting over several farms. Several fields having been ineffectually traversed in search of game, the keeper suggested
that a neighbouring stubble field should be beaten, to reach which it was necessary to cross the turnpike road. While walking towards the gate of the stubble field,
the barrels of Mr. Partridge's gun dropped from the stock upon the road, the bolt, it is supposed, having been loosened in jumping from the gate of the field they
had left. The nipples were unfortunately capped, and on the breech striking the ground the charges of both barrels exploded, and entered the calf of Mr Harlow's
right leg, lodging behind the principal bone. Mr. Harlow exclaimed "Oh God, I'm shot," and walked back towards the gate. A chair having been procured, he
was placed in it, lifted into his carriage, and conveyed to the Horse and Jockey, at Inkford. Mr. Partridge, who had in the meantime stopped the haemorrhage by
tying a handkerchief round the leg, despatched a servant for Mr. Crompton, surgeon, Birmingham. The wound was not then regarded as serious, but in an hour Mr. Harlow
began to sink rapidly, and shortly after the unfortunate gentleman expired. An inquest was held on the body on Friday, when Mr. Crompton stated his opinion that death
resulted from the shock sustained by the nervous system, and not from the wound. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death." Mr. Harlow had for several
years represented Deritend and Bordesley Ward in the Town Council, and was deservedly esteemed by all parties in the borough."
"Fatal Accident While Shooting"
Worcester Journal : November 4th 1854 Page 3
"A prize fight came off at Inkford Brook, near Birmingham, this morning. A large number of persons assembled. Seven county policemen were
in attendance and rushed forward as soon as the ring had been formed, but they were overpowered by the people, and driven out of the field. The friends of the pugilists,
however, thought it prudent to retire further into the country. The policemen procured a cab and followed, but the people cut the traces of the vehicle. Thereupon the
policemen obtained another conveyance, and again went after the pugilists. On coming up to them they found the ring formed and the fight proceeding, but the crowd
was so great that the constables thought it unwise to interfere, and they remained passive spectators of the fight, which lasted for an hour. The people then separated,
many of them returning in vehicles to Birmingham."
"A Prize Fight Under Difficulties"
Manchester Evening News : May 2nd 1879 Page 3
"Mr. Theodore Christophers held an inquest at Inkford Brook on Monday into the circumstances surrounding the death of Elizabeth Bickley
, wife of the landlord of the Horse and Jockey, Alcester Road, Inkford Brook. Mr. John Bickley, the husband, said that on Friday last he left the
deceased in charge of the house, and when he returned about five o'clock, he found her lying on the sofa in the sitting room, where she had been placed by the
barmaid to sleep off the effects of drink. Her head was in a soft pillow. He remained in the room for some time, but did not suspect anything was wrong till about
nine o'clock, when he touched deceased's hand and found it was cold, and on medical aid being summoned, it was found that she had been dead some hours. Dr.
Stormont said deceased suffered from acute alcoholism. The post-mortem pointed to death by suffocation, accelerated by alcoholism, and the jury returned
a verdict to that effect."
"Sad Affair at Inkford Brook"
Alcester Chronicle : May 16th 1903