The Toll Collector and the Red Cow

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The old Toll House on Anchor Bridge as shown on a classic local postcard. Today, the photographer would be stood in the middle of the Lindon Road Junction looking over Anchor Bridge towards the High Street. And no, Dick Turpin never did jump the tollgate on his hoss. Image from eBay seller.

A bit busy this week to be honest, but I’ve had this pair of enquiries in for a week now, so I thought that this would be an opportune moment to throw them out to the audience both have come in via Facecebook.

First off, Pat Upstone Pond is interested in her great great uncle William Sidney Smith who was a Toll Collector in Brownhills around 1851. She asked:

Hi Bob

My 2x great uncle William Sidney Smith had come up from Oxford with his wife Mary. He was listed as a Toll Collector in Brownhills in the 1851 Census.

I wondered if you had an history on him or his wife? I think he died 1853. Not sure what happened to wife Mary.


Also, Victoria Power asked:

Hi Bob

This is a bit of a long shot, but I wondered if anyone would have, or know where I can find, information about the Red Cow pub in Heath End from about round 1870-1895.

I’ve been tracing my family tree and have very recently found out that my ancestors used to run it during that time. I’ve so far tried the history centre, Walsall Museum and Staffordshire archives with no joy.

Joseph Dixon is listed in the Local History Centre as starting his license in 1870. He’s definitely living there on the 1891 census, but his employment is written as retired publican. His son John Dixon and his family are also living at the pub with John listed on the census to be the licensed member of the family. Joseph died there on Christmas Day December 1893 with his probate still referring to him as ‘…of the Red Cow Inn, Pelsall.’


If you can help with either of the above enquiries, please do comment here of mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!


The Red Cow, Heath End near Pelsall has been converted to flats since this photo was taken by  Adrian Rothery and posted on Geograph under a Creative Commons license. / CC BY-SA 2.0

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7 Responses to The Toll Collector and the Red Cow

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Lichfield Mercury 11 May 1894
    Rushall Petty Sessions. Application for transfer of license from John Dixon to William Ford granted.

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    The William Sydney Smith in the 1851 census was a toll collector at Browmhills, Burslem, which is near to Stoke on Trent, in the Potteries. Have you tried Rootschat dot com?

    • Pat says:

      Hi Andy

      Thx. I found census on Ancestry. Do you know of something of Roots Chat?

      • Andy Dennis says:

        Rootschat is a useful forum for family historians. Basically, you post a request for help in the relevant county to find out about a person or place and (almost always) someone will help you out with local knowledge. For example, there might be someone who has already researched the toll gate. The lengths people will go to are quite extraordinary, including visiting local archives or burial grounds. And it is free.

        If you do have a go, before you post a request, search to see if it has been looked at before.

  3. Clive says:

    Hello Victoria. From the licencing ledger kept at walsall Local History Centre: Joseph Dixon, 1919 to 1938 was the licensee of the Red Cow. he may have been there before this date and after, but this is the only record I can find. also he was fined in 1921 for permitting gaming; fined £5 + £2.20s costs. hope this is of use to you.

  4. Clive says:

    I should of said also, I wonder if this Joseph Dixon is another member of the family!

  5. Pat says:

    No Andy. As I’m down south was confused by two Brownhills.

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