Some weeks ago, regular reader and commentator [Jeepboy] posted a comment on the ‘Pubs we’ve lost’ post enquiring if anyone recalled the pub that used to stand in the cutaway to the sandstone rock face on Pipe Hill, between Lichfield and Muckley corner. The cutaway itself is usually hidden in summertime by trees and himalayan balsam, but is quite evident in winter.
The picture at the top of the post was located by the diligent research of top bloke [Howmuch?], who has spent no small amount of time in the last few weeks chasing down this elusive hostelry, mainly with the excellent Lichfield Archives and the Lichfield Heritage Centre. The image came from the now out-of-print book, ‘The Old Pubs of Lichfield’ by John Shaw, ISBN 0-9539868-0-2, published 2001 and reprinted in 2007. The book has this to say about the Royal Oak Inn, which apparently started life at the now derelict Sandyway Farm just opposite the old Three Tuns (now Panache restaurant):
Royal Oak (Sandyway) – Walsall Road
This still existing house on the opposite side of the road to the Three Tuns, is recorded in 1811 to George Holdcroft and is called the Royal Oak. Again, it’s purpose was to serve the waggoners and to provide trace horses for the climb. By 1818 it is listed to a J. Sadler who held the pub to 1860, when it was taken over by Henry Litherland. The pub appears to have closed around 1868, moved up the road and relocated to the premises that are remembered by many as the Royal Oak. The Sandyway buildings then became a farmhouse again and remained as such until a few years ago when it suffered a fire. At the time of writing (as it does now) it still remains semi-derelict.
The Royal Oak – Pipehill
Moved up the road in 1868 and first listed to Charles Small, this is one pub many people remember but cannot remember it’s name. The picture illustrates it in the 1960’s; the only remaining sign is the little lay-by on the left of the road just before the top of Pipehill. The Royal Oak was one of the last beer-only houses in the city , the last recorded landlord was Harry Wright. The pub closed in the mid-1960’s and the buildings were demolished in 1968. To look at the site it is difficult to believe that a pub stood here. Most of the rubble remained on the site, which is now overgrown giving little sign of it’s existence.
[Howmuch?] gathered some great bits of information whilst dredging the archives. He found this record of Pipehill in White’s 1854 directory of Staffordshire:
Research showed that in 1861, landlord Henry Litherland was recorded as born 1807, head of the household, publican and farmer of 60 acres, employing two men, residing at the Royal Oak Inn, Lichfield. The alehouse is also recorded on Robert Creighton and J. & C. Walker’s 1835 map of the city and it’s surrounds:
I’d like to thank [Howmuch?] for his dedicated, dogged and exhaustive research for this post. It’s jolly decent chaps like him that make writing this blog such fun. Cheers, mate.