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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 Brewers Arms

photo of craven street coventry
At the end of the 19th century, Chapelfields had seven pubs. Since that time two have closed, the Sun Dial and the Brewers Arms.
The Brewers Arms must have opened soon after the building of Chapelfields in 1846. The first mention I have found is in 1868 when the landlord was the appropriately named John Beers! In 1879 it came into the possession of the Gorsuch family, who kept it until its closure. In 1909, Coventry magistrates closed three public houses and it seems that the Brewers Arms was one of these.

The attitude of the government to the liquor trade over the centuries has swung between restriction and liberalisation. As a response to the decline of the publican brewer and rise of the common brewer with their tied estates, the Duke of Wellington pushed through parliament the Beer House Act of 1830. Under this act any householder could sell beer on the purchase of a 2 guineas license from the excise. In the first year of the act, 24,000 new licenses were taken out. By 1836, 46,000 beerhouses had opened.

A reaction was inevitable. The 1869 Wine & Beerhouse Act began to reduce the number of pubs by bringing them under the purview of the magistrates and away from the excise. The 1871 Aberdare Act introduced the suppression of 'surplu ' houses without compensation. This gave magistates a free hand to suppress houses, and the lack of compensation for the loss of livelihood involved caused much resentment in the trade.

In 1904 the government brought in a system of compensation paid for by a levy on all public houses. The closure of the Brewers Arms in 1910 was no doubt due to its surplus status in such a small yet heavily pubbed area. There is no mention of the license lost being used to justify the opening of a new pub in the suburbs as with the Sun Dial. I have found no mention of brewing being carried out so is the name just a pun on the first owner's surname?

Note that William Laxton was also involved in the local watch trade, as a watch case springer, as well as running the pub. After 1910 it became Powers' butcher's shop, retaining the pub frontage. It was a general store until the 1980's, when it was converted to a private house. It still retains the pub frontage to this day.
Known Licensees are;
1868 - 1869 John Beers
1869 - 1870 Joseph Salt
1870 - 1874 William Laxton, Watch Case Springer and publican
1876 - 1896 William Gorsuch
1898 - 1909 Caroline Gorsuch
map of Craven street

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Beer July 2008 P9 The Board identified a person selling beer form their home - the first ( Whats Brewing Supplement ) public house - as in the 1839 Beerhouse Act

Dict PN Means ' to board intoxicating liquor '. In some cases the need for an inn to have ' a board ' suggested the name, since some inns did in fact display a blank board.

28.8.1878 LJ Vol1 P12 BOARD, High Street Alehouse - 6 days
Owner : Ralph Smythe, Coventry
later Rev. William C. Barker, Sidcup, Kent
Licensee : Jane Ruskin Cambray
6.11.1884 TOL to Thomas Bunney
3.12.1885 TOL to Matthew Blythe
27.2.1896 TOL to Frederick Underwood
29.10.1896 TOL to Herbert Lindon Collingbourne
? Minnie Underwood
29.7.1897 TOL to Alice Minnie Melross

from 1913 See WATERS


1878 LJ Vol1 P12 Jane Ruskin Cambray
1884 LJ Vol1 P12 Jane Ruskin Cambray
1884 LJ Vol1 P12 Thomas Bunney
1885 LJ Vol1 P12 Thomas Bunney
1885 LJ Vol1 P12 Matthew Blythe
1896 LJ Vol1 P12 Matthew Blythe
1896 LJ Vol1 P12 Frederick Underwood
1896 LJ Vol1 P12 Herbert Lindon Collingbourne
? LJ Vol1 P12 Minnie Underwood
1897 LJ Vol1 P12 Alice Minnie Melross
1898 LJ Vol1 P12 Alice Minnie Melross
1903 R&G T. A. Hibell

1905 R&G T. A. Hibell

1909 R&G H. Freeman

1911/12 Spennell Licensee not named

1912/13 Spennell Licensee not named


1878 LJ Vol1 P12 Ralph Smythe, Coventry
later LJ Vol1 P12 Rev. William C. Barker, Sidcup, Kent

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