Open day and night

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Tamworth Herald 22nd August 1937. Click for a larger version.

Last week I featured here an interesting postcard I’d spotted for sale on eBay, featuring a cafe on the Watling Street I’d not heard of before – The Jubilee, which turned out to be what is now an Indian restaurant, but was previously the Happy Eater, and the adjacent garage of Paul Depper MGs.

It turns out lots of you  remembered the Jubilee in various forms over the years – it seems to have been a very notable transport cafe for most of it’s life which many recall fondly.

Well, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler got the scent of a good fry in his nostrils, and went archive digging, and the beginnings of The Jubilee seem somewhat remarkable.

Thanks to Peter for another fine contribution, and please, if you have any memories of this lost roadhouse, or any others locally – particularly the ones in Shire Oak and Stonnall on which we have very little – I’d love to hear them.

You can see the item that sparked this all off on eBay here – at £30 I think I’ll pass, cheers…

Beginnings of the Jubilee.

“Nearly half-a-century ago on Watling Street, between Cannock and Brownhills, the Wilkin Pit, then one of the most famous Staffordshire collieries ceased to operate, and the site, until May 9th, 1935, was a series of huge pit mounds and derelict buildings. To-day, on that site stands one of the most up-to-date social clubs and cafes thanks to the personal enterprise of a fifty-two year old man—Henry Dakin.

Mr. Dakin, who hails from Lichfield, became manager and licencee of an hotel near these pit mounds. He gave up his position, purchased the land on which these unsightly mounds stood, built himself a caravan and proceeded to bring into reality a life-long ambition. He commenced with the aid of local labour by removing more than 26,000 tons of rubbish. He then proceeded to straighten out the land, and having so done, drew up his own plans for a garage and petrol station. These he quickly erected, making even his own cement and iron work on the spot. The next move was to build the Jubilee Cafe cosy, up-to-date, comfortably furnished and complete with a day and night restaurant service. To this he added the Jubilee Social Club, which is complete in every sense of the word. The whole makes an imposing block of buildings with its roof gardens, tennis courts, lawns and other social amenities.” (Tamworth Herald August 1936)

It looks like Mr Dakin lasted until September 1944 when the Premises came up for sale….

“THE ROAD HOUSE AND CLUB known as the JUBLILEE CAFE with possession as a Going Concern.
Situate on Watling Street, 1.5 miles from Brownhills, 3 miles from Cannock.”

It seems that not all was going well. The Jubilee had been mentioned in March for obtaining feeding stuffs without coupons, and in June for the felonious receiving of wines and spirits.

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


I’d not heard of this place before. Image from seller Sanchin61 on eBay.

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7 Responses to Open day and night

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    It seems the Dakins were not exactly model subjects!

    Henry Dakin was born in the last quarter of 1883 at Lichfield, son of John, a machinist, and Jane who had died before 1901. In 1907 Henry married Annie Maria Buckley (it says in the press that his wife was the licensee of the Turf Tavern in 1935, but it appears she died in 1929). In 1911 they adopted a son named Cyril Pennall, who, in reports of misdemeanours, also lived at the Turf, but later was referred to in connection with the Jubilee café. Henry had an older brother and sometime partner named William, who would die in 1934 as a result of injuries sustained when run over by a goods train as he wheeled his bicycle over a level crossing. He also had a substantial record of offending.

    There is no record of a Henry Dakin or similar kicking the bucket in 1944 or thereabouts, but there is a death record for a man of the right name and age who died on 6 Jul 1954 age 70 at 466 Gillott Road, Edgbaston. The executor was a solicitor, which suggests he was alone. Maybe he got out before his license was revoked?

    Cyril crops up in the courts, too. It appears he had moved to Birmingham (Bromsgrove St in 1947, not very far from his father), leaving his wife and kids behind in Lichfield. Despite a maintenance order he had not paid a penny and Mrs Dakin (Beacon St, Lichfield) was trying to get her due; he was ordered to pay 10s a week and custody of children was granted to Mrs Dakin. Later, in 1949 Mrs Dakin was granted a divorce.

  2. aerreg says:

    morning bob you have stired the grey matter again there was a watering hole at one time opposite the blue bell wood on the chester road stonall i think there is a quarry entrance there now picking blue bells there was a yearly trip also in my mind i can see heavy sheffield steel laiden scamell lorries strugg ling up sandhills hoping the the traffic lights at shie oak would be green so the next stop would be an early morning mug of tea and a bostin sausige cob at dear nelly clawleys cafe high street walsall wood there was nother litle cafe along chester road on the left hand side towards brum thanks for the memory sorry about spelling just got up to me toast

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    Well, it seems I was right about Henry’s first wife. He married again to Florence Bithel in 1931 and she was the licensee referred to in the 1932 news reports about transferring the license to a new, as yet unbuilt, pub. Apparently, the Old Turf Inn stood on the north east corner of the junction of Watling Street and Walsall Road / Lime Lane. This is marked on the OS 1st ed. 1834. The current Turf Tavern was built in about 1936.

    There are few articles about the Old Turf online, but they include sparrow shooting events and another of those harrowing inquests into the death of a miner who plunged to his death at Wyrley Grove: his name was William Norris, licensee of the Queen’s Head.

    There is something on the www about excavating the foundations of the Old Turf Inn in 2014, but no reports of any results. Anyone know anything?

  4. Chris Myers says:

    In the early to mid-1950s, a neighbour of ours in Streetly decided, in middle-age, to open (or more likely, buy) a business on the left hand side of Watling Street as you head west. This was a filling station and eatery. I can’t remember its name but both “Jubilee” and the image of the building in the postcard seem vaguely familiar. I went there as a teenager and remember a similar building but one which had a further storey containing a flat. No trace of the other extensive facilities shown mentioned previously, though. I remember my father getting up at crack of dawn and driving over there to become their very first customer on the morning when they opened. They ran it successfully until retiring about ten years later. I imagine they specialised in all-day breakfasts – which would have been appropriate as their family name was Bacon! Can’t pin it down on Google Earth but we have had 60 years of progress since then, including duslisation of the road.

  5. Norton Canes Historical Society were granted permission to excavate the site, but I don’t know if they have actually started

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