Black Boy - Oldbury

At 5, Birmingham (Street) Road, Oldbury the Black Boy was a licensed beerhouse and for a time was run by a distant relative (by marriage) Stephen Bassford. Stephen Bassford was the Grandfather to Florence May Bassford, who married my paternal Grandfather in 1948 and remained my (second) paternal Grandmother until the death of my paternal Grandfather in 1964. After that Florence seems to have disappeared, genealogy wise.

Beerhouse Act

The Beerhouse Act 1830 liberalised the regulations governing the brewing and sale of beer. It was modified by subsequent legislation and finally repealed in 1993. It was one of the Licensing Acts 1828 to 1886.

The precursor to the Beerhouse Act was the Alehouse Act 1828, which established a General Annual Licensing Meeting to be held in every city, town, division, county and riding, for the purposes of granting licences to inns, alehouses and victualling houses to sell exciseable liquors to be drunk on the premises.

the Beerhouse Act enabled anyone to brew and sell beer on payment of a licence costing two guineas, or £2.10 in modern currency. The intention was to increase competition between brewers, and it resulted in the opening of hundreds of new beerhouses, public houses and breweries throughout the country, particularly in the rapidly expanding industrial centres like Birmingham & the Black Country.

It has to be remembered that the quality of drinking water available to many of these newly expanding commercial centres was not always the best and drinking beer instead of water was often encouraged.

The Black Boy

As far as I can tell, the premises that became the Black Boy started out as a Baker's (proberly with ovens & preparation rooms behind the shop) originally owned by Isaac Bassford. The 1841 Census shows that Isaac and his son, Stephen, were botrh Baker's at 5, Birmingham St, Oldbury.

However, by 1861 the premises had become to be named the Black Boy and was now a licensed beer house run by Stephen Bassford & his wife Mary Ann (Taylor).And continued to be run as a Beerhouse until Stephen's death on 26th July 1863. The premises, effects and less than £50.00 were all left to his wife Mary Ann.

According to other history, the owner of the premises became William Powell (of Birmingham St Oldbury) then Mrs. Susannah Moore, 24, Birmingham Road, Oldbury and eventually Holders Brewery Co. Ltd. So I am guessing that Mary Ann either married William Powell or sold the licensee/premises onto him.

And according to recorded history the licensees after Stephen Bassford (1841 - 1863) are as follows:

  • William Bates [1884] – 1885)
  • Robert Bates (1885)
  • George Wilmore (1885 – 1892)
  • Mrs. Frances Wilmore (1892)
  • Leah Charles (1892)
  • Thomas Thompson (1892 – 1893)
  • George William Lea (1893 – 1894)
  • John George Dexter (1894 – 1902)
  • Ann Maria Fox (1902 – 1906)

By 1901, Birmingham Street Oldbury had morphed into Birmingham Road, Oldbury and the premises were definitely known as The Black Boy.

20th Century - All Change

In 1901, the Intoxicating Liquor (Sale to Children) Act, also known as the Child Messenger Act was introduced and one of its explicit clauses was to probit the sale of beer to children under 14.

And in 1902 the Licensing Act was introduced. This Act amended the law relating to the sale of Intoxicating Liquors and to Drunkenness, and to provide for the Registration of Clubs'. This Act gave the Police powers to arrest anyone found drunk in the streets or any public place, including licensed premises, whilst in charge of a child under seven years of age. The husband or wife of a habitual drunkard was enabled to obtain a maintenance or separation order, and under certain circumstances a drunken wife could be committed to a retreat for inebriates. The sale of intoxicants to habitual drunkards was prohibited.

And the final nail in the coffin for The Black Boy was the introduction of the 1904 Licensing Act. This establised the system of Compensation for the suppression of redundant 'on' licences, and the payment of Monopoly Value for new 'on' licences.'

The Black Boy's license renewal was referred to the Compensation Authority on 21st February 1905. The license renewal was refused on 24th June 1905.
The license was extinguished on 4th April 1906. And the property returned to being a commercial shop premises.