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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 Brittania Vaults

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NAME BRITANNIA VAULTS
ADDRESS 38 FLEET STREET
ALTERNATIVE ADDRESSES 3 SMITHFORD STREET, 38 SMITHFORD STREET
THIS PREMISES WAS KNOWN BY DIFFERENT NAMES DURING ITS HISTORY FROM TO KNOWN AS
1574 1851 RAM INN, 38 Fleet Street, RAMME, RAM HOUSE INN
1841 1841 BEERHOUSE, Smithford Street
1851 1866 ROYAL EXCHANGE, Fleet Street
1866 1866 WINE & SPIRIT VAULTS, Smithford Street
1868 1892 BRITANNIA VAULTS, 38 Fleet Street
1868 1868 BRITANNIA MUSIC HALL
1874 BRITANNIA THEATRE OF VARIETIES
1874 VICTORIA THEATRE
1879 1879 BRITANNIA WINE & SPIRIT VAULTS
Britannia was the Roman name for Britain. The first mention of the symbolic female figure occurs in Samuel Pepys's diaries and refers to a medal struck in 1665. Many pubs refer in some way to a ship named Britannia. The Royal Navy has been using the name since 1682.

The building had become a Co-Op stores by 1896

There are references to this pub in 1574 and 1630 as the RAM in recrords held by the Coventry Records Office. It is leased in 1610, 1618 and 1634 by Coventry Corporation, who owned it at the time. In 1770 and 1800 the pub is still there but by 1808 and 1834 the Ram Society, a Friendly Society, was meeting in other pubs.

On the 1851 Health Map it is shown as the ROYAL EXCHANGE, which appears to have been a Music Hall as well as a pub !

In 1841 see the BEERHOUSE, Smithford Street, Dalton

In 1851 the Coventry Standard notes the change of name fron the RAM to the ROYAL EXCHANGE and later in the year the same paper says that Mr Miller opened a Music Hall at the inn and changed the name.

In 1866 the ROYAL EXCHANGE, previously the RAM, was demolished and re-opened as the WINE AND SPIRIT VAULTS. By 1874 this had become the Britannia Theatre of Varieties whilst the licensed premises became known as the BRITANNIA VAULTS

Known Licensees are;
1610 - 1618 William Gibbons
1634 Thomas Stiffe
1800 Mr Cheslin
1822 - 1823 John Bradshaw
1828 - 1829 James Eaves
1841 - 1850 Absolom Dalton
1851 Mr Miller
1861 Richard Miller
1868 - 1879 James Eaves
1881 William Bennett
1886 R. E. McIntosh
1890 - 1891 J. Dunnicliff
1892 H. H. Askee

Owners
1610 - 1634 Coventry Corporation


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Dict PN Britannia was the Roman name for Britain. First mentioned of the symbolic female figure occurs in the diaries of Samuel Pepys, and refers to a medal struck in 1665.

Many pubs refer to in some way to a ship which has been named Britannia. The Royal Navy has been using the name since 1682.

Previously RAM INN

1841 Wilipedia The Royal Britannia Saloon and Britannia Theaatre, 115/117 High Street, Hoxton, London, opened on Easter Monday 1841. In 1858 it was rebuilt in larger form.

The Britannia was noted for melodramas. A night's entertainment would include 3 - 4 plays, with variety acts in the intervals between. Unusually for a theatre, food and drinkj were served in the auditorium, in the style of contemperory music halls. ( was this to get round theatre licensing laws ? )

1869 TRE P111 Our first introduction to the Britannia Music Hall occurred early in 1869, when it ran nightly turns of artists. The hostelry had probably opened in the previous year, but details of the music hall irself have yet to be unearthed other than it was situated at 38 Fleet Street, a continuation of Smithford Street

1870 TRE P113 The Britannia Music Hall re-opened on September 19th after undergoing alterations

1873 TRE P116 J. G. Taylor replaced J. Eaves as the new proprietor of the Britannia in February 1873

1873 TRE P119 .....but the Britannia re-opened ( late 1873 ) under the guise of the Victoria Theatre, although the policy remained that of purveying music hall entertainment

1874 TRE 1874 Sept 1874 Taylor decided his best interests were to concentrate on the Britannia and he handed over the lease of the Theatre Royal to Fred Cooke, who re-opened the house to huge acclaim on September 26th

1875 TRE P120 The Victoria Theatre reverted to the name Britannia at the end of March 1875, as Ribert Leggett took over control from Taylor

1875 TREP121 Dec 1875 Burlesques were introduced at the Britannia.

TRE P124 ....the Oldbury Palace...opened in 1870 as the Museum Palace of Varieties and was an assembly hall attached to a public house in Church Street. Known as the Bird Show owing to the decorations of stuffed birds that adorned the interior, it functioned as a music hall

It is likely that this style of building resembled the Britannia and Sydenham Palace music halls, both of which were attached to public houses

28.8.1878 LJ Vol 1 P28 BRITANNIA, Fleet Street Alehouse
Owner : James Eaves, Cox Street, Coventry
later William Bennett
later Phillips & Marriott, Coventry
Licensee : Richard Leggett
10.7.1879 TOL to James Eaves
14.8.1880 TOL to William Bennett
23.4.1885 TOL to Richard Edward MacKintosh
10.3.1887 TOL to John Dunnicliff
2.8.1888 TOL to Herbert Henry Archer
-----------------Not renewed 1892

1881 - 1892 TRE P133 The Britannia Music Hall at the corner of Fleet Street and Smithford Street was bought by William Bennett in 1881. The Britannia stayed in Bennett's ownership until the Co-operative Society bought the freehold for a drapery and footwear shop in 1892

1884 TRE P139 The Britannia Music Hall re-opened as the New Gaiety Theatre on Monday 3rd Novenber 1884

1885 TRE P140 On March 22nd 1885 the Gaiety reverted to the name of Britannia.

1885 TRE P140 Later in the month a benefit production was held at the Britannia for Mr J. Wagland, retired manager at the City's Kings Head,. Whether this was the Kings Head Hotel in Smithford Street, or the Kings Head Tavern, Little Park Street, is not made clear

1887 TRE P149 Neither the Britannia nor the Sydenham Palace were mentioned suggesting both were ' dark ' at the time.

1888 TRE P150 Jamuary 15th 1888.....following week the Britannia Music Hall re- opened. On April 1st the Britannia became known as the Old City Music Hall

1892 TRE P160 On 9th May 1892 at the Britannia an enterttainmant brought the venue to a final close. The building had been purchased by the Co-operative Society for the sum of £ 1,200 at auction and ...... converted into one of their retail outlets

LICENSEES

[ b Holsworth, m Ann, 45 & 3d, 1 mother, 1 servant

1861 Census Richard Miller 35 yo publican, 38 Fleet Street, premises not named,

1868 Buchanan James Eaves Britannia Music Hall, 38 Smithford Street

1871 Census James Eaves 42 yo b Coventry m Esther, 45 & 2 servants

1874 White JA J. G. Taylor Britannia Theatre of Varieties, 38 Fleet Street
1878 LJ Vol 1 P28 Richard Leggett
1879 LJ Vol 1 P28 Richard Leggett
1879 LJ Vol 1 P28 James Eaves
1879 Stevens James Eaves Britannia Wine & Spirit Vaults, 3 Smithford Street
1879 LJ Vol 1 P28 James Eaves
1880 LJ Vol 1 P28 William Bennett
1881 C&B William Bennett Britannia Vaults, 38 Fleet Street
1885 LJ Vol 1 P28 Richard Edward MacKintosh
1886 C&B R. E. MacIntosh " " " " "
1887 LJ Vol 1 P28 Richard Edward MacKintosh
1887 LJ Vol 1 P28 John Dunnicliff
1888 LJ Vol 1 P28 John Dunnicliff
1888 LJ Vol 1 P28 Herbert Henry Archer
1890/91 R&G J. Dunnicliff Britannia, Fleet Street ( out of date with Licensing

1892 Cov Directory JA H. H. Askee ( Archer ) [ Justices Register )

OWNERS

1878 LJ Vol 1 P28 James Eaves, Cox Street, Coventry
later LJ Vol 1 P28 William Bennett
later LJ Vol 1 P28 Phillips & Marriott, Coventry
1892 LJ Vol 1 P28 Phillips & Marriott, Coventry

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