Yew could be right…

Here’s an interesting theory from David Evans regarding Walsall Wood High Street, and the recent debate over pubs, beer-houses and other purveyors of the holy pint.Not sure I totally agreed with this hypothesis, but I’ll chuck it out there and we can see what shakes out.

Please do comment or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

David wrote:

Hi Bob

in 1841 census a James Smart, teacher , was shown living in Yew Tree Cottage in the Turnpike Road, Walsall Wood. We have explored the school building in earlier articles but I was intrigued to realise that this good member of the teaching profession, may have left us an enduring legacy.

The cottage, Yew Tree cottage, and its exact location has puzzled me for some time. There was a cottage, it had a small tree in front of it, it seemed to be in the location… but was this the one?

The post-war War High Street had Ecobs chemist which many readers will remember, and doubtess the WhyNot fish and chip shop cum cycle spares shop. By this shop was Nicholls builder’s yard, subsequently a tyre depot which flourished. Its own old building was there, a sort of office, with its door near the road.

Surely this was the Yew Tree Cottage, then?

Yet, 1891 census , the base-line census, shows a Yew Tree Inn… thereabouts, on that side of the Lichfield Road, as it was called then, and Yew Tree Cottage is no longer mentioned by name anywhere in the village.

Folk from ‘up the Wood’™ will no doubt recognise the frontage of this pub as the Duck; now, of course, the building has been considerably extended and painted a cream colour, but it’s the same place alright. Picture from ‘Memories of Old Walsall Wood’ by Bill Mayo and John Sale.

The 1901 census has no record of an inn by that name, or of a cottage of any name in that part of Lichfield Road (not yet called High Street). Instead there is a Hawthorn Inn. Locals knew the pub by its correct name, the Hawthorn Tree Inn, as does one of the Litherland family who owned the inn for many years, and who still lives in the village. She is the baby in arms in the 1930 wedding photo.

The Hawthorn Tree Inn is of course, now know as The Drunken Duck, still a popular watering hole.

So, perhaps we have a very old relic of pre-1841 Walsall Wood, alive, well and hopefully doing a good trade…

I thought I’d also point out that ‘The Compensation Authority’ discussed previously in the article relating to The Royal Oak at Bullings Heath existed to compensate those landlords who lost their livelihoods in response to the control on pub numbers after the licensing acts – the relevant one being the Compensation Act of 1904.

The following is from an excellent site I found by chance about Norwich (of all places!) history, which goes into some detail about this process and its effects.

The author seems known only as Terry, but my hat is doffed to him. He writes about the Compensation Authority:

Forced Closures

For all that had happened throughout the 19th Century, it was –

‘generally accepted that there were more licensed premises than were really justified’. [Derek McDonald]

This was Parliament’s view, so it gave Licensing Justices the power to put the kybosh on houses they considered surplus to local requirements.

Fortunately, as the title of the Compensation Act 1904 suggests, pubs were not simply extinguished; but the Compensation Authority would make the final decision – then award compensation to both landlord and brewery.

Further, he goes on to say:

It is important to note that compensation did not necessarily mean that the premises were all closed; as some remained in business, downgraded to mere “beer-houses”. They clearly believed in having their cake and eating it!

Hope that helps folks understand what may have gone on to clear the area of some of its pubs within this period.

Mine’s a pint of coke, please. I’m cycling.

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7 Responses to Yew could be right…

  1. Pedro says:

    Oct 1901 Lichfield Mercury

    Transfer of licence of the Hawthorn Tree Inn, Walsall Wood, from Thomas Dalton to William Purslow.

    Mar 1912 Lihfield Mercury

    Granted renewal and transfer of the Hawthorne Tree Inn, Walsall Wood from Mr HH Jackson, being convicted during the year for opening during prohibited hours.

    • Pedro says:

      Hawthorne Tree Cottages at Walsall Wood,producing at weekly rentals £55 18s per annum. The very satisfactory figure of £815 was realised.

      Aug 1902 LM

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    The correct title of the act is The Licensing Act 1904, which introduced compensation. If you really want to get stuck in there is an ebook at

    Also a question in Parliament at

  3. Pedro says:

    The Hawthorne Inn must predate 1887 as it appears on the OS Map for that year.

  4. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    a big thankyou, please, to Rita Friend for identifying the location of Yew Tree Cottage, in her kind comments in the article ” Walsall Wood’s lost beer houses”

  5. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    Yew Tree Inn,not yet shown as such in 1881 census; Matthew Cherry, publican. 1891 census, the Inn is named now ,as the “Yew Tree Inn”, Charlotte Sivorn widow of Matthew Cherry, is licensee. 1901 census shows she had re-married, to Thomas Dutton, and the inn is shown now named as” Hawthorn Inn”. The Yew Tree Cottage was by the Red Lion pub, on the opposite side of the road.

  6. Pingback: Walsall Wood 1911, before and beyond | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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