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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 Royal Exchange


Etching / engraving from 1906 during the tenure of Stephen George Robins


As King William Street was amongst the first part of Hillfields to be developed, the Ivy Cottage opened c1840. Victoria Street and Castle Street followed later as Hillfields grew towards the city and the Royal Exchange opened c1868.

The name 'Royal Exchange' refers to the building in Cornhilll, London, originally built in 1568 by Sir Thomas Gresham as a place for London merchants to transact their business.

Phillips and Marriott bought the pub at an unknown date for £500 16s 6d and by 1900 valued it at £2000. Although pub prices were increasing rapidly due to the reduction of licenses by the authorities, this four-fold increase may be partly explained by its rebuilding. The building as it stands at present is in the style we now term 'Brewers Tudor'. A pub built in Hillfields in 1868 would not look markedly different to any of the other buildings, as with the Ivy Cottage, whilst Brewers Tudor appeared in the last years of the century as the authorities encouraged a move away from terracotta and tiles and recommended the virtues of oak instead, leading to the 'Reformed pub', which was meant to be a suburban 'inn or tavern of Olde England' as opposed to the unseemly and depraved aberration of the gin palace. Before 1900 would have been an early date but certainly the Royal Exchange was a forerunner of the style that became universal in the area a decade later.

The pub stood on the corner of Castle Street and Victoria Street with a row of outbuildings extending along Victoria Street which contained the kitchen, toilets, and urinal with a yard to the rear. In 1919, Phillips and Marriott submitted plans to make alterations to the outbuildings, part of which became two-story. The work was completed on June 12th 1920.

Yet on April 7th 1921 the pub closed. I have no authoritative reason for this but the Report of the Police Establishment in 1921 states that one public house was closed in that year for ' ill conduct'. Perhaps this was the Royal Exchange. The Royal Exchange's closure came just three years before Phillips and Marriott's demise, at a time when they were in desperate competition with Mitchells and Butlers, so this loss cannot have helped.

Following closure, the pub was occupied from 1923 to 1926 by the Howitzers Club, who moved from an outbuilding in Lower Ford Street and later moved on to premises in King William Street. At this time No.4 Castle Street next door to the pub was a decorator's owned by Thomas Harper. In 1926 he took over the pub as a showroom, which later became known as 'Brightwalls'. In 1928 the outbuildings were rebuilt to make shop premises. Then in the 1950s and 1960s Brightwalls extended their premises by building a warehouse on to the pub in Castle Street and buying other properties on both sides of Victoria Street. They must have been a big concern then.

From the Second World War the building was protected by planning blight. All of Brightwall's submissions for planning permission carried the rider that the building was in an area of comprehensive redevelopment. This was particularly aimed at 1960-62 and 1968 so nothing happened. The building still stands there at the top of Primrose Hill Street (see 1940s and 1960s photos below).

1868 Miss Emma Elton
1874 - 1896 Alfred Borton
1899 - 1903 William John Goodwin
1903 - 1905 Mark Watts
1906 Stephen George Robins
1908 - 1913 Joseph Briggs
1913 John Henry Faulconbridge
1916 - 1919 Charles Thomas Alfred Buckwell
1920 - 1922 John Leeson
before 1899 - 1921 Phillips and Marriott




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Dict PN normally refers to the building at Cornhill, London, but the painters of inn signs often refer to other royal ' exchanges ' i.e. Richard III's kingdom for a horse, or Charlse I's execution exchanging a monarchy for the Commonwealth.

28.8.1878 LJ Vol1 P6 Owner : Thomas Newman, Leicester Row, Coventry
later Phillips & Marriott Ltd
Licensee : Alfred Barton
27.6.1899 TOL to William Jonathan Goodwin
28.9.1882 fined 10/- & costs for keeping open
9.10.1884 fined £ 5 & costs & license endorsed for permitting gaming

1892 JA48 PA56/7/15 A number of people had shares in the Royal Exchange -

Lawrence Bright, Louisa Wagstaff, Edward Taylot, Joseph Bright, Julia Taylor, Henry & Mary Ann Brothers, Martha Johnson, Thomas Newman.

11.11.1892 JA48 PA56/7/15 Phillips & Marriott purchased for £ 960 through their agent, Joseph Baker Comley

? P&M PR Purchased by Phillips & Marriott for £ 520/16s/6d

30.9.1899 P&M PR Value £ 2,000

? COOPP Photo 33
S. G. Robins

1911 GH P21 Photo

1919 Source 13 Plans for alterations

7.4.1921 Closed

1923 - 1926 Ron Frost Premises of the Howitzers Club

Directories after the pub closed

1924 P. James 2 Coventry Howitzer RFA Old Comrades Club and Institute

4 Harper, Thomas, decorator etc.

1926/27 P. James 2 Bates, Thomas William

2 Coventry Howitzer RFA Old Comrades Club and Institute

4 Harper, Thomas, decorator etc

1929 P. James 4 Harper, Mrs E., wallpaper dealer

1931/32 P. James 4 Harper, Mrs E., wallpaper dealer

1933/34 P. James 4 Harper, Mrs E., wallpaper dealer

1935/36 P. James 4 Brightwalls, wallpaper dealer

1937/38 P. James 4 Brightwalls, wallpaper dealer

15.8.1950 Source 12 There are plans for the development of other buildings in Victoria Street or Castle Street c1940's to 1960's, not the Royal Exchange. However, there is some mention of it.

Brightwalls extended along Castle Street c1950 for deliveries ( ' a garage ' ), new retail showroom and warehouse.


1868 Buchanan Miss E. Elton High Street, Hillfields

23.11.1868 Lantern Emma Elton " " "

1871 Census Henry H. Bailey

1874 C&B A. Borton High Street, Hillfields
1878 LJ Vol1 P6 Alfred Barton
1879 Stevens Alfred Borton 2&3 Castle Street

1881 C&B A. Borton 1&2 Castle Street

1886 C&B A. Borton Victoria Street

1890/91 R&G A. Borton " "

1893 Reporter A. Borton " "

1894 R&G A. Borton " "

1896 R&G A. Borton " "
1899 LJ Vol1 P6 Alfred Barton
1899 LJ Vol1 P6 William Jonathan Goodwin

17.7.1899 P&M PR William John Goodwin

5.11.1901 P&M PR Mark Watts

1903 R&G William John Goodwin Victoria Street

1905 R&G Mark Watts

10.5.1906 P&M PR Stephen George Robins
? COOPP S. G. Robins

29.9.1908 P&M PR Joseph Briggs

1909 R&G Joseph Briggs

1.6.1910 P&M PR Joseph Briggs new agreement

1911/12 Spennell Joseph Briggs

1912/13 Spennell Joseph Briggs

30.9.1913 P&M PR John Henry Faulconbridge manager

27.4.1916 P&M PR Charles Thomas Alfred Buckwell

1919 Spennell C. T. A. Buckwell

22.6.1920 P&M PR John Leeson

1921/22 Spennell J. Leeson


28.8.1878 LJ Vol1 P6 Thomas Newman, Leicester Row, Coventry
later Phillips & Marriott Ltd
1892 JA48 PA56/7/15 A number of people had shares in the Royal Exchange -

Lawrence Bright, Louisa Wagstaff, Edward Taylot, Joseph Bright, Julia Taylor, Henry & Mary Ann Brothers, Martha Johnson, Thomas Newman.

1892 - 1921 P&M PR } Phillips & Marriott

JA48 PA56/7/15 }

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