Helen Rees recounts the history of the Waggon and Horses, and its long association with the Talbot family.
Today, the Waggon and Horses stands on the corner of Forge Lane, Cradley Heath, Sandwell, West Midlands. Two hundred years ago, that particular piece of land was in the parish of Kingswinford, Staffordshire, owned by the Earl of Dudley and tenanted by the Talbot family.
The earliest detailed map of the parish of Kingswinford is by William Fowler, drawn in 1822. At the southernmost tip of the parish is shown plot 1373 'The Hammer Inn', proprietor John Talbot. Licensing records are difficult to come by for this period. Staffordshire Records Office holds a list of licensees from 1782-1792, which includes the regular listing of a licence to James Talbot of Kingswinford. Other evidence (maps and parish registers), place James firmly in Cradley Forge. He had other interests, including working at the forge and farming a few acres. Small pubs at that time rarely provided enough money to support a family, the landlord generally supplemented his income by outside work, leaving his wife in charge in the day.
James and Phyllis (who both died in 1801) had seven children, including sons John and James. Fowler's map of 1822 shows James as tenant of various plots and John at the Hammer Inn. (John never appears in any other records - this could well be a mistake and should read James.)
James died in 1827 leaving a widow, Lucy. White's Staffordshire directory of 1834 lists Lucy Talbot as landlady of 'Board' at Cradley Forge whilst Pigot's Directory of 1835 lists Lucy as landlady of 'The Hollybush'. Despite the different names, I am sure that the Hammer Inn, Board and the Hollybush are all the same building, which ultimately became the Waggon and Horses.
Lucy died in 1837, whereupon her son Thomas took over the running of the pub. He is listed on the 1841 and 1851 census returns as a publican and farmer. William Fowler's map was updated in 1840, and the plots renumbered, the pub now being number 1729. In Kelly's Directory for 1850 it is actually referred to as 'The Waggon and Horses', proprietor Thomas Talbot. Like his father and grandfather, Thomas worked at the forge, farmed some land (10 acres in 1851) as well as running the pub. Thomas lived there until the mid-1860s. On the 1861 and 1871 census, his youngest son George is landlord.
A study of Fowler's maps will show that Forge Lane was not built, and that the Waggon and Horses was one of a row of cottages next to a field. It undoubtedly had a yard out the back, a cellar underneath and accommodation for all the family. James and Lucy had nine children, Thomas and Elizabeth had twelve.
In 1861 the Stourbridge Railway Company purchased land to build a new railway linking Stourbridge and Old Hill. This plan involved the closure of the old road to Rowley, and the creation of a new one (Forge Lane) going right past the pub, with the railway being built near to the Stour.
The connection with the Talbot family ended some time in the 1870s. George moved to Birmingham and Thomas to Netherton. The Waggon and Horses, along with 10 others, was sold by the Earl of Dudley to Atkinsons's Brewery on July 2nd 1897. It fetched £15,000 and was referred to as - The Waggon and Horses, Hammer Bank, Cradley Forge in the parish of Kingswinford. It is nice to know it is still going strong.
This essay is © Copyright Helen Rees,
who has generously granted permission to
Cradley Links to reproduce it on this web site.