Pint Pot Poetry!
The following poem about Sedgley pubs is over 100 years old and was apparently written for Victorian smoking room concerts. [Submitted by founder member Eunice J. Thompson as told to Dorothy Aitcheson by Mrs V. Mills who was taught it by her mother as a small girl at the end of the last century (about 1900)].
shall bite the Lion
the Old Swan fly
shall turn the Court House
and drink the Junction dry.
I can tie him
to the Stump
he is worth more than a Crown
he can toss the Pig
and tup the Bull
if he's on equal ground.
He will then put
out the Beacon lights
and cut thye White Lion's mane
then off he'll rush
unto the Bush
leaving The Stars to blink in vain
Footnote [amended in Autumn 2003]
The Crown and The Seven Stars have been rebuilt. The original Seven Stars, at the top of Gospel End Street, became a private house before demolition in the mid 1990s; the Bush Inn was across the road from the old Seven Stars and disappeared in 1925. The Pig & Whistle stood opposite Townsend Avenue and was demolished in 1968. The Blazing Stump changed its name to Mount Pleasant, yet the pub is often referred to as The Stump.
Similar poems detail public houses in other Black Country villages. One of the best known, the 'Tour of Bilston', mentions every pub in the town!
[In July 1968 The Blackcountryman, magazine of The Black Country Society, published a very similar version of the poem - again dating it around 1900. The article suggested the rhyme featured in the entertainment at annual meetings held by local farmers on Lady Day, March 25th. Needless to say the get together took place at the Bull Ring's Red Lion - the Lion of the poem.]
Fifteen Miles to Cover .......
The late Andrew Barnett, then President of the Society, recalled the toll roads and turnpikes in Sedgley Parish.
Through Sedgley passed several important Toll Roads and by the 1840s there were thirteen toll houses within the area. The Streetways Toll Road came south via Fighting Cocks' Gate into Sedgley where horses changed at the Red Lion before dashing on to Dudley and finally to Worcester where the coach turned for the return journey. On its way through the parish there were gates at Upper Gornal and Shaver's End. Another road crossed from west to east, coming via Gospel End to a toll-bar at the junction of Cotwallend Road and Gospel End Street. It passed through the Bull Ring and had a Toll House opposite Castle Street. The road was then cut through The Gorge at Hurst Hill, as until then Bath Street and Hall Lane had been the way to Bilston. At the foot of the hill was Cann Lane Toll Gate. At Deepfields was another toll after crossing the Birmingham Canal Navigation. The next Toll House was in Ladymoor, where a branch road led to Bradley and Darlaston. On passing through Broad Lanes, a Bilston toll-bar stood on the boundary of the two parishes. This road was called 'The Old Line'.
The New Inns Toll Road entered Sedgley at Askew Bridge from Himley and there today can be seen the only Toll House remaining in situ, as the Littleworth Toll has been re-erected in the Black Country Museum. Cooper's Bank and Dibdale tolls were on this winding road up to Dudley.
The Dudley/Wednesbury toll road touched our eastern border at Prince's End toll and Gospel Oak gates where it connected with the Bilston/Great Bridge just before Toll End, Ocker Hill. The most recent road was the Sedgley/Tipton Road, opened as late as November 11th 1843. It connected with the Tipton Hurst Lane toll at Five Ways, Tipton, then passed on along the Tipton/Tividale road through Oldbury to Birmingham. On this road were the Bunker's Hill, Sedgley, and Littleworth, Woodsetton, toll houses.
The last road to close was the Wolverhampton to Dudley ridge road which was announced on November 4th 1876.
Toll-bars and Turnpikes were looked after by women as well as men - a widow usually being paid five shillings (25p) per week. Once the Commissioners of Roads had resigned the burden of road repairs fell on the local Council, and as Sedgley had at least 15 miles to maintain, the ratepayers were not too pleased.
John S. Roper
Trevor Genge, Chairman of the Society in 1989 and still in the job, quoted Roper's concern at losing important houses.
J. S. Roper was a well-known Black Country historian. In his 'History of Coseley', he lamented the destruction of many buildings of important historical and architectural importance in modern industrial areas such as Coseley. 'Too few examples of English domestic architecture remain', he wrote. 'Coseley has suffered no less than other districts of Staffordshire but a few notable houses have escaped the hands of speculators and development enthusiasts, and these, along with a number of other buildings which have not had so happy a fate, are worthy of a place in our history'. Since he wrote this, more historic buildings in the area, including Woodsetton House, have been destroyed and Coseley Windmill is one of the few examples to survive.