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Here is what we think is the only comprehensive record of pubs and beerhouses within the Coventry city boundaries going back as far as available records allow. This is an ongoing project so contributions, corrections or additions to this archive, especially anecdotes, photos and media are most welcome. Feel free to contact us for a pint and a chat anytime.

The Black Horse

The Black Horse, Spon End, Coventry

The Black Horse in better times with John William Dutson who was landlord there between 1909 and 1913
NAME BLACK HORSE
ADDRESS 73 SPON END

This is a popular sign dating from at least the fourteenth century. Its use appears to be a reflection of its convenience as a visual symbol. By the seventeenth century, the phrase had become the nickname of the 7th Dragoon Guards who had black collars and cuffs on their jackets and rode mainly black horses. The sign was also by this time being used by goldsmiths in Lombard Street, London.

I have seen claims that the pub dates from c1750 and c1800. In 1803 the annual ' Gooseberry Feast ' was held at Mrs Bant's Black Horse in Spon End. This was won by Mr Eyre's ' Spon Nocket ' at 13 lbs 4 oz, which seems a feast on its own to me, as long as you like gooseberries ! In 1818 it was kept by Mary Twigg and at this time was the centre of the Court of Charles Lilley. Lilley was a silk ribbon weaver by trade and a Director of the Poor Relief Board and was very well respected. He frequented the Black Horse and while his white horse and carriage waited outside he would settle disputes. Although he lived in lower Spon Street, he elected to pass nearly a dozen other pubs to drink in the Black Horse. His unofficial title was 'King of Spon End' and he held court at the Black Horse where he adjudicated in disputes between local residents. Llilley and his courtiers were serious drinkers and woe betide any man who couldn't keep pace and 'pay for his chair'.

In the early years of the twentieth century, the landlord was one of Coventry's best known entrepreneurs, John Dutson. His trade was nickel plating for the cycle industry. He secured business from most of the principal cycle companies as well as from a flourishing overseas market. So why go into the pub trade and why not retire to your country pile with your wealth ? It is said that the Black Horse was brewing its own beer at this time.

In 1926 the Black Horse was sold by its then owners, Charringtons, and at some time became an M&B pub. In recent decades the pub has come under threat because of yet another road widening scheme. In 1982 it was said to have a cosy bar with a distinct slope; only a skilled carpenter could have made the door fit the lopsided doorway. The lounge was a beautifully restored Victorian room with traditional wood and wrought iron tables. Over the fire was a brass-mounted oval mirror set into dark pannelling, which was not made of wood but of stained alabaster. On the end outside wall, the one facing the city centre, there was a painted representation of Mitchell & Butlers trade mark 'leaping stag' symbol. Their Cape Hill brewery was situated in a place called Deer's Leap.

In May 2012 Punch Taverns sold the pub to a property developer, Tony Harris, who owned the nearby Arches Industrial Estate. His intention was to demolish the pub and sell the land to the next door car dealership to extend their forecourt. In September 2011 the pub had been given Grade II listed building status by English Heritage, who described it as 'a rare surviving example of a relatively simple and modest urban Victorian public house, a type of public house that was once common throughout England but is now very rare'. They praised 'the intactness and good quality of the 1920's decorative scheme, particularly the lincrusta work (deeply embossed wall covering invented in 1877) in the lounge'. But Punch Taverns challenged the listing and after consideration English Heritage concluded the pub should be delisted. The pub was sold and on 17th May the city planning authorities locally listed it. However, that was too late, as within days of purchasing the building Mr Harris had gutted the interior, with what seems indecent haste. The pub is now boarded up awaiting future deveopements.

Known licensees are;
1803 Mrs Bant
1818 Mary Twigg
1822 - 1823 W. Stonier
1828 - 1835 John Rammage
1835 M. Twigg
1841 - 1845 Edward Swetnam
1850 - 1851 Elizabeth Price
1861 - 1871 John Keene maltster publican
1874 Mary Keene
1879 - 1896 Edward Knight
1903 - 1905 F. G. W. Hazelwood
1909 - 1913 John William Dutson ( J. F. )
1919 - 1922 G. H. Lowe
1924 - 1927 E. Wilson
1929 H. Wetten
1931 - 1936 T. Bromley
1962 Zigmas (Bob) Bentley
1982 John Smith
Owners;
to 1926 Charringtons
1962 Mitchells and Butlers
to 17.5.2012 Punch Taverns
from 17.5.2012 Tony Harris
newspaper clipping
newspaper clipping
map

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Dict PN A popular sign dating from at least the fourteenth century. Its use appears to be a reflection of its convenience as a visual symbol. By the seventeenth century the phrase had become the nickname of the 7th Dragoon Guards who had black collars and cuffs on their jackets and rode mainly black horses. The sign was also by this time being used by goldsmiths in Lombard Street, London.

1750 CSubs P112 Pub claimed to be open then. See below

23.8.1803 JA34 JCM At the annual Gooseberry Feast held at Mrs Bant's at the Black Horse in Spon End prize winners were Mr T. Eyre, ' Spon Nocket ' 13lbs 4 oz and Mr John Joyce's ' Sceptre ' 13lbs 2 oz

1818 CSubs P112 Kept by Mary Twigg. See below

Spon P132 No 73 is still there, the Black Horse pub. It was well established by the middle of the eighteenth century. Charles Lilley, one of Coventry's ' characters ' was a regular customer. Although he lived in Spon Street in one of the houses near Bird's he elected to walk past nearly a dozen other pubs to take his tipple in the Black Horse. Lilley was aribbon and silk weaver by trade and a Director of the Poor Relief Board. His unofficial title was ' King of Spon End ' that derived from the fact that he could poll nearly all the votes in the area during local elections. He held ' court ' at the Black Horse and adjudicated in disputes between local residents. Lilley and his ' courtiers ' were serious drinkers and woe betide any man who couldn't keep pace and 'pay for his chair '.,

In the early years of the twentieth century the landlord of the Black Horse was John Dutson one of Coventry's well known entrepreneurs. The prosperity that came to the city with the rapid development of the cycle industry obviously made itself felt in ancillary trades - one being nickel plating. It was not until 1879 that plated parts came into general demand and at that time the lions share of the neccessary work was being sent to Birmingham. Mr Dutson was regarded as the founder of the industry as far as Coventry was concerned. He was the first man to convince the cycle makers that the work could be carried out just as well in Coventry. In 1903 his business was at Mo 105 Gosford Street. He prospered and was well rewarded as he secured business from most of the principal cycle companies. This led to a flourishing overseas market and made Dutson a wealthy man. Also in 1903 there was Dutson & Ward, Motor Cycle Mfrs shown at No 105. Being a shrewd businessman there was no doubt some advantage in going into the pub trade. Of course in those days the Black Horse was also brewing its own beer.

1851 Source 49 Board of Health Map

10.5.1861 JA141 CS Transfer of license from William Stenier to John Keene

28.8.1878 LJ Vol 1 P49 BLACK HORSE, Spon End Alehouse
Owner : Edward Wright
later Charrington & Co, Burton on Trent
Licensee : Edward Wright
27.7.1899 TOL to Louisa Wright
21.12.1874 fined 20/- & costs keeping open

c1907 E&CE P78 Photo

1911 CMCarH P60 John Dutson, with his son, John William Dutson,were specialists in enamelling and electro-plating for the cycle trade. By the mid 1880s it had been reported that Dutson was the first ot introduce electro- plating to Coventry, where he would not have been short of customers. The company of Dutson, J. & Co, were known to have been first based at the ' Plating Works ' in West Orchard but by the mid 1890s at Gosford Street, by that time managed by John W. Dutson. they were listed for one year only, 1903, as motor manufacturers in the Coventry Trade Directory. The business closed in that year. John William Dutson was known to have become the owner and landlord of the Balck Horse in Spon Endby 1911.

CMCar H P64 This was not the end of General Automobile Panels though. Instead they moved one final time, to Court 7, Spon End, next to the Black Horse Inn. After 1932 no further records have been sourced.

1912 COCIP P67 Photo

Looking towards Spon Arches from Allesley Old Road in 1912

All these cottages are now gone and standing alone is the last of the row, the Black Horse Inn, which dates from around 1800. The Black Horse has come under threat in recent years because of an unwanted scheme to widen the road.

2.1926 News 86 Sold by Charrington

1947 CSubs P112 Photo

Houses below Spon Viaduct in 1947. The tallest building is the Black Horse, a popular Spon End pub since Georgian times.

One of the best known inns in Spon End still syands despite attempts to have it demolished for road widening. Men were supping ale in the Black Horse back in 1750. In 1818 it was kept by Mary Twigg and was said to be the centre of the Court of Charles Lilleyt. Lilley was a director of the poor and well respected. He frequented the Black Horse and, while his white horse and carriage waited outside, he would settle disputes. All knew Lilley as ' The King of Spon ' and a saying developed ' Go to Lilley, he will settle your arguements '.

20.4.1962 Citypubs 76 The Black Horse in Spon End, Coventry, is owned by Mitchells and Butlers.

This is an old house and is reputed to be almost 200 years old. All the rooms are small but comfortable. There is a bar, the smoke room and a room styled ' the hen pen ' usually reserved for ladies.

1977 WRAG1

1979 WRAG2 Local pub, mixed trade. Excellent beer.

1982 WRAG3 Popular pub in a popular drinking area. Live folk music on Friday nights.

1982 Pubscrawl 121 Nice pub, the Black Horse. Cosy bar with a distinctive slope to it that suggests this building must have been on the move for years. Only a skilfull piece of carpentry could have made the door fit the topsided doorway.

The lounge is a sensitively restored Victorian room with traditional wood and wrought iron tables polished to perfection. Over the fire is a beautiful brass mounted mirror set into dark panelling. I haturally assumed this was carved oak or mahogany, but according to long standing regular Len Bendall its of moulded alabaster blacked up with shoe polish. He knows because he helped to polish it. He also knows part of it is missing where a bus ran into the corner of the pub some years ago.

1985 CCRAG A popular old pub with a ' leaping stag ' symbo;painted on the side. Good beer in pleasant surroundings.

5.2012 News 2-73 The future of the historic Black Horse Inn in Spon End is in doubt after it was sold by its owners, Punch Taverns.

The pub, which was first built in the mid 18th century, was substantially rebuilt in the 19th century.

Only months ago ( September 2011 ) the pub was given Grade II listed building status by English Heritage who described it as ' a rare survivng example of a relatively simple and modest urban Victorian public house, a type of public house that was once common throughout England but is now very rare '. English Heritage praised ' the intactness and good quality of the 1920's decorative scheme, particularly the lincrusta work ( deeply embossed wall covering invented in 1877 ) in the lounge.

But Punch Taverns challended the listed status. After consideration English heritage concluded that the pub should be delisted. It is due to close on 1st May.

17.5.2012 News 2-69 The Black Horse, Spon End, which dates back to the 19th century, was protected after planning chiefs locally listed it. Developer Tony Harris, who bought the pub earlier this month, had aimed to knock it down and sell the land to a nearby car dealership to extend its forecourt. Mr Harris....owns the nearby Arches Industrial Estate.

12.7.2012 News 2-75 The historic interior of a Coventry pub was ripped out before city planners could slap on an order preserving it.

Former owners Punch Taverns successfully appealed against the listing by proving the interior was instaled in the 1920's. They sold the pub to Mr Harris in May. The 1920's interior was ripped out in the days immediately after the purchase.

There has been a public house on the site since 1750 and the present three storey brick building dates from 1825 - 1850

LICENSEES

1803 JA34 JCM Mrs Bant

1818 CSubs P112 Mary Twigg

1822/23 Pigot W. Stonier

1828/29 Pigot John Rammage

1835 Pigot M. Twigg

1835 Pigot John Rammage

1841 Pigot Edward Swetnam

1845 Kelly E.Swetnam

1850 CS Elizabeth Price

1851 Census Elizabeth Price 52 yo b Coventry alone
1861 JA141 CS William Stenier

1861 JA141 CS John Keene

1861 Census John Keene 54 yo maltster publican b Bedworth & 1d,

1868 Buchanan John Keene [ 2 boarders

1871 Census John Keene 63 yo b Bedworth m Mary,59 & 2d,, 1gd, 1 lodger

1874 C&B M. Keene
1878 LJ Vol 1 P49 Edward Knight
1879 Stevens Edward Knight

1881 C&B E. Knight

1886 C&B E. Knight

1893 Reporter E. Knight

1894 R&G E. Knight

1896 R&G E. Knight
1899 LJ Vol 1 P49 Edward Knight
1899 LJ Vol 1 P49 Louisa Knight
1903 R&G F. G. W. Hazelwood

1905 R&G F. G. W. Hazelwood

1909 R&G J. F. Dutson

1911 CMCarH P60 John William Dutson

1911/12 Spennell John W. Dutson

1912/13 Spennell John W. Dutson

1919 Spennell G. H. Lowe

1921/22 Spennell G. H. Lowe

1924 P. James E. Wilson

1926/27 P. James E. Wilson

1929 P. James H. Wetten

1931/32 P. James T. Bromley

1933/34 P. James T. Bromley

1935/36 P. James T. Bromley

1937/38 P. James Not listed in street section

1939/40 P. James

1953 LTSD

1962 Citypubs 76 Zigmas ( Bob ) Bentley

1982 News 21 John Smith

OWNERS

1878 LJ Vol 1 P49 Edward Wright
later LJ Vol 1 P49 Charrington & Co, Burton on Trent
1898 LJ Vol 1 P49 Charrington & Co, Burton on Trent
to 1926 News 86 Charringtons

1962 Citypubs 76 Mitchells & Butlers

to 2012 News 2-73 Punch Taverns

2012 News 2-69 Tony Harris

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