Some Old Pubs of Bloxwich

June 5, 2017 in Bloxwich, Features, Pubs by Stuart Williams

The original pre-1834 Wheatsheaf pub, on what is now Field Road, Bloxwich, showing the landlord Mr William Purchase and a Bloxwich Peeler (policeman), about 1861. The present building is late Victorian.

The original pre-1834 Wheatsheaf pub, on what is now Field Road, Bloxwich, showing the landlord Mr William Purchase and a Bloxwich Peeler (policeman), about 1861. The present building is late Victorian.

By Stuart Williams

Senior Archives/Conservation Assistant

The old English village of Bloxwich was always famed for its historic pubs, though sadly many have been lost over time.  We will consider just a few here.

The Royal Exchange, Stafford Road, 10 May 2009 (Stuart Williams)

The Royal Exchange, Stafford Road, 10 May 2009 (Stuart Williams)

Most Bloxwich ‘locals’ date from the late 1800s-1900s, when many ancient inns were swept away.  One exception is Bloxwich’s oldest surviving pub, the fine old Georgian ‘Royal Exchange’ in Stafford Road.  Built in the late 1700s the ‘Exchange’ was added to in the early 1800s when it was described as being on the ‘Short Heath’ (the village green, now Bloxwich Park). 

The Turf Tavern, 1969 (Alan Price)

The Turf Tavern, 1969 (Alan Price)

The ‘Turf Tavern’ (popularly known as ‘Tinky’s’) in Wolverhampton Road, is famous for being unspoiled.  For many years owned by the late Doris Hiscott-Wilkes and now run by her daughter Zena, it dates back to at least 1871.  Doris’s great-grandfather purchased it in 1879.  The family, also known in the past as locksmiths and metalworkers, is descended from legendary Bloxwich rebel Samuel Wilks, who stood up for the village against Walsall in the mid-1700s.

The 'new' Bell Inn, Bloxwich, February 2009 (Stuart Williams)

The ‘new’ Bell Inn, Bloxwich, February 2009 (Stuart Williams)

The original ‘Bell Inn’, seen in the black and white featured image for this post and in an earlier article, was a Tudor building.  Run by the Beech family for most of the 1800s, it was demolished about 1900 when the present ‘Bell’ was erected on the corner of Bell Lane. It was so popular with miners and metalworkers that it closed at 11pm and reopened before 6am for the returning night shift.

The Spotted Cow In winter, 3 Feb 2009 (Stuart Williams)

The Spotted Cow In winter, 3 Feb 2009 (Stuart Williams)

The mid-Victorian ‘Spotted Cow’ in Wolverhampton Road by Bloxwich Park is another popular and historic pub.  William Roberts Brewery of Brownhills owned the ‘Cow’ (and the Spring Cottage on Elmore Green Road) from 1903.

The Prince of Wales, 1937

The Prince of Wales, 1937

On the High Street, surrounded by shops, is the busy ‘Prince of Wales’.  Built in 1928 in mock-Tudor style with a hint of Art Deco to succeed its Victorian predecessor, the ‘Prince’s’ sign derives from an old French coat of arms adopted by the Black Prince, son of King Edward III.

The Sandbank Tavern, later The Romping Cat, 30 November 1955

The Sandbank Tavern, later The Romping Cat, 30 November 1955

Last but not least, the ‘Romping Cat’, on the corner of Elmore Green Road and Clarendon Street, is a Victorian pub (1900) which changed its name from the ‘Sandbank Tavern’ in 1957.

This was done according to a centuries-old tradition that there should always be a Bloxwich pub of that name in memory of Sir Gilbert Wakering, 16th century Bloxwich landowner, Sheriff of Staffordshire and patron of Bloxwich Church. Sir Gilbert’s coat of arms included three such animals, and is described as ‘Ermine, upon a Chief Azure (blue) three lions rampant Or (gold).

A ‘romping cat’ now forms part of the new Bloxwich Flag, signifying both this tradition and the oft-told (and true!) tale of the Bloxwich Lion that went down to Church Street in the 1930s.

With these and more such historic establishments, as well as newer watering holes, Bloxwich still has many historic and lively pubs that continue to add to the character of this ancient village and town.

Stuart Williams