In 1957 a group of under age Alcester Grammar School pupils spent the long Winter evenings visiting, in turn, every public house in the village. Typical pocket money of 5/- per week (25p) meant that half shandies at 7d (3p) had to be the drink.
The half a dozen of us, all Studley born and bred, were well known to the publicans and welcomed with various degrees of suspicion. Mr. Vernon Smith at the COACH AND HORSES was well aware that empty beer bottles disappeared from his yard and were given outside to boys who nipped to the outdoor hatch to claim 2d back on each one. Occasional credit was given to us here as we were useful in making up the darts team.
Mr. Feast at the SWAN was sweetness and tight whilst we were buying, but woe-betides to any youth who happened to beat him at Bar Skittles. If we were really hard up, a visit to the BRICKLAYERS ARMS would produce several glasses of very cheap scrumpy cider. Mr. Fred Heighway was the genial host. THE ROYAL OAK was not a favourite pub nor the JUBILEE INN. Both were (and stilt are) large Houses. The NEEDLEMAKERS' ARMS situated in Watts Road was a smart little pub run by the Lamb family and we enjoyed a drink there frequently.
We occasionally went to the RAILWAY inn in Station Road. The landlord Mr. Horatio Young, was a large pleasant man who always made us welcome.
Sometimes we walked up the Redditch Road to the GRIFFIN INN which at one time was part of Abel Morrall's Needle Factory. The pub in those days was also known as the NEEDLEMAKERS making two pubs of the same name in the village. Also in the Redditch Road were two other pubs. The SHAKESPEARE, very firmly run by Mr. Ireson who certainly was not convinced that we were over 18. The NAGS HEAD on the other side of the road was never a favourite but at the bottom of the road, we frequently used the BARLEY MOW. This 14th century building and former coaching house was always busy. The landlady was Mrs. Monica Thompson, wife of John, the local brewer. John Wesley stayed there in 1745 and again in 1748 but whether he preached on the evils of drink or not, is never recorded.
We also used the BELL INN frequently. Another Thompson house, well run by Madge Cund, very busy and well liked.
Before extensive alterations in the late fifties, the DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH was rather a grubby place. Built in 1730, it served as a hunting lodge to the Churchhill Family hence the name.
YE OLDE BArLEY MOW HOTEL We only visited there infrequently.often walked farther afield and quite often went to the THROCKMORTON ARMS at Coughton and enjoyed some cider after watching the efforts of Coughton Cricket Club across the road. A twenty minute walk across the fields would bring us to the GREEN DRAGON at Sambourne. The 16th century inn was a popular meeting place for the salt carts which gathered there for greater safety as they journeyed through the woods to Alcester in the old days. We never felt comfortable there as we were completely ignored, despite our efforts at conversation.
Another variation of our pub crawls would be past Washford (no pub there in the fifties) to the BOOT at Mappleborough Green. A quick half pint here and on to the DOG INN. The pub then was about 400 years old and had once been a coaching house providing a communal lodging room above the lounge, a common practice then. We would then walk back down the lanes past Studley College. It would have been nice to finish up at the BUG IN THE BLANKET by the college but that had long gone.
There were four clubs where you could get a drink in Studley at that time if you were a member. The Conservative Club, the Liberal Club, the Entaco Club and the Cricket Club. We never managed the first three but would enjoy a drink watching Studley Cricket Club play all the local clubs.
In conclusion, none of us has become an alcoholic but still enjoy the odd drink in Studley. The pubs now are generally much smarter, with T.V., meals, carpets, upholstered furniture, piped music, gaming machines and indoor toilets. Overalls and boots are frowned upon. Coal fires have almost disappeared and spitting is almost unheard of.
You can keep all those. I would love a few hours listening to old Studley characters with their usual greeting - "Worrow lads - 'ow am yer then."
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