Black Swan, 123 Spon Street
|These premises have been known by different names during their history:||FROM||TO||NAME|
|1850||?||BEERHOUSE, Spon Street|
Black Swan Terrace.
At the beginning of the 20th century this was The Black Swan pub which closed in 1903. The building was split into two units and the corner shop's last incarnation before closure was as "Moira's Wet Fish" so named from the shop sign which read "Fruit & Veg MOIRA'S Wet Fish". The green tiles from this period have been retained although the underlying building is medieval.
Source: Spon End & Spon Street by John Ashby (2003).
The Black Swan was one of the many pubs that used to stand in Upper Spon Street, all of them now gone. The Black Swan was a mythical beast that first appeared in the works of the Roman satyrist, Juvenal, who was quite ignorant of the fact that such a beast actually existed in the then undiscovered parts of the world. He jokingly referred to a 'black swan' as an example of a rara avis, a 'rare bird'. The Black Swan appeared as a pub sign in the sixteenth century, when it was meant to be a signal of the phenomenon or prodigy of the pub or landlord. Later references may well be to Australia since a black swan is the emblem of Western Australia
The Black Swan was the end property in a row of mediaeval houses that was once intended to be removed to Lower Spon Street. By the 1990s the attitude to the moving of buildings had changed; it was now thought that a building should not be divorced from its archaeological and physical context. A Buildings Preservation Trust was set up in the mid 1990s to restore the buildings in situ. Black Swan terrace was built as six cottages in 1454 and rented out to tenants by Coventry Priory, who were the owners until the dissolution in 1536. The terrace then passed to the ownership of the Mercer's Company in the late 16th century and from 1678 the onership of the houses passed to a series of individuals. On the 2nd May 1791 the Black Swan was used for an auction and this is the first definite reference to the pub. In 1823 Isaac Abel Kevitt bequeathed the Black Swan to his daughter, Ann Lees. Ann Lees and her husband sold the pub to Edward Phillips in 1825 and he passed it on to his eldest son, also Edward, on his death in 1855/6. By 1878 it was in the hands of James Eadie's brewery from Burton on Trent. The Black Swan closed c1903. In 1909 the Glover Brothers, Hubert and Henry, were using stables to the rear of the building as a small factory to build cyclecars. They also started to build an aeroplane in order to compete for the £10,000 prize for the first flight over the English Channel. They were probably at a disadvantage starting from Coventry and were beaten by some French bloke called Monsieur Bleriot! Now the restoration of the terrace has been completed according to current conservation principles by the Spon End Buildings Preservation Trust. These are rather compact mediaeval buildings with the hall at the front and an interior jettied chamber occupying part of the hall space at the rear. See the BEERHOUSE, Spon Street, Wall.
Black Swan, Spon Street c1860. (Photo courtesy of Mick Pye from www.urban75.net forum.)
LICENSEES:1850 Sarah Wall (Beerhouse) 1778 Ann Pickering 1822 - 1823 W. Saunders 1828 - 1829 Ann Bradshaw 1835 - 1841 William Wall 1851 Elizabeth Wall (widow) 1861 Frederick Wall to 1864 Vincent Page (moved to the Swan Inn, Yardley Street) 1864 Josiah Morton 1868 John Timms 1871 William Mason 1874 - 1879 Charles Jones 1881 Josiah Hart 1886 - 1903 S. Fox
OWNERS:1778 Ann Pickering to 1823 Isaac Abel Kevitt 1823 - 1825 Ann Lees & husband 1825 - 1855/6 Edward (I) Phillips 1855/6 Edward (II) Phillips ? George Septimus Phillips 1878 James Eadie Brewery
Street plan of 1851