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City Arms, 1 Earlsdon Street

Alternative Addresses:Earlsdon Lane
Original City Arms Earlsdon The name comes from the Coventry Coat of Arms. As Earlsdon was being laid out in 1852, the two corner plots that the City Arms stood on were purchased by Thomas Dylke, a Coventry watchmaker, for £55 5s 0d each. The following year these plots were sold to Benjamin Bird for £110 7s 6d in total. This Gentleman's address was then Smithford Street where he had the license for the Queens Arms, Cross Cheaping (1841). He had also been living in Longford where he held a farm and also ran the Engine Inn in the village (1850). Because he had only rented the 'Engine', the thought of owning an inn of his own naturally appealed to him and seeing newly developed Earlsdon then without a pub and obviously in need of one, he lost no time in getting a house built which he named the City Arms. He installed a bar and the necessary stock and opened for business. As his wife, Amelia, died soon after the move, his daughter and son-in-law came to help him run the business but by 1861 he had remarried and now with his new wife, Ann, and a little maid of all work aged 11, he settled down to enjoy Earlsdon life for the next few years. With the local population totalling five or six hundred and with the opening of the Royal Oak and the Earlsdon Cottage, custom at the City Arms must have been somewhat limited. But pubs were not used merely for social needs; they also served as useful business venues for the local watchmakers and as convenient places for the carrying out of inquests. In November, 1861 an inquest was held at the City Arms on Elizabeth Hawkins, aged 32, who was burnt to death at her home in Warwick Street when her skirt caught fire. This was the age of crinoline and in those days when open fires were the only means of heating and cooking, many women lost their lives in the same way. However, by 1872 the brewing plant were offered for sale with Bird claiming that it was a declining business. The City Arms was purchased by the Flowers family, the Stratford-upon-Avon brewers, who had probably been his suppliers, for £700. Benjamin, now aged 64, felt it was time to retire and sold the business as a going concern. Now began a succession of lesser landlords, Johnathon Hawley, Edwin Pitman and John Merifield. It was while Merifield was there that in 1889 a bowling and skittle alley was erected for which Flowers paid £50 with the landlord paying them an annual fee of £2. It became a very welcome relaxation and favourite pastime for the local watchmakers. In succession to Merifield came the City Arms's most famous and popular incumbent, Mrs. Mary Jane Cooper or 'Ma' Cooper as she was always known. 'Ma', born in Coventry, had been a nursemaid to the six children of Edgar Flowers and his wife, then living in Warwick, but when the children no longer needed a nanny, at the age of 45 she left and married Robert Cooper, landlord of the Lamp Tavern in Market Street, also a Flowers House. City Arms 'Ma' took over the licence of the pub when Robert died in 1891 but after caring for children in the cultivated atmosphere of the Flowers' home, the hurly-burly of life in a city centre pub must have been quite a strain and when the City Arms in Earlsdon became vacant, Flowers suggested she should take over and she gratefully accepted. For the next 25 years, short, stout 'Ma' reigned supreme in her little kingdom and soon became loved and respected by all her patrons. Many a tale has been told about her strictness, never suffering fools or drunks lightly, and her many kindnesses and sympathy to those in trouble or in need. It was not uncommon for her to tell a man that she considered he had drank enough and should go home to his wife and family; young men who entertained young women in the pub would be told to stop wasting their money. The garden was her pride and joy and woe betide any man, woman or child who trespassed on her beloved flowers. She died at the pub in 1921 of simple old age and was buried at London Road Cemetery, her funeral attended by hundreds of mourners. William Tansy was the next landlord, followed in 1929 by Leonard Chambers during whose time (1931) the old building was demolished and replaced by the present grand 'Tudorbethan' structure with prints in almost every room depicting Shakespeare plays and erected slightly further back away from the road. In the 1960s the tenants were Reg Suffolk and his wife. The Suffolk family had been in the licensing trade for about 300 years. In 2000 it was sold to Wetherspoons along with a pub in Newcastle on Tyne for £900,000. A ground floor extension to the bar took away the car park to the rear and the City Arms reopened after 3? months closure.

LICENSEES:

1853 - 1872 Benjamin Bird (see also Queens Arms, Cross Cheaping 1841 to c1849 and the Engine Inn, Longford in 1850) 1874 - 1881 Jonathan Horley 1882 - 1885 Edwin Pitman 1886 - 1893 John Merifield 1894 Mrs. E. Merifield 1896 S. E. Merifield 1896 - 1921 Mary Jane Cooper (see also Lamp Tavern, Market Place) 1924 - 1927 William Tansley 1926 - 1949 Les S. Chambers 1959 - 1961 Reg A. Suffolk (see above and also Rose and Crown, and Craven Arms both High Street) 1961 - 1962 W. J. Butcher c1972 - 1978 Kenneth Frank Grenwell 1985 Ken Greenwell

OWNERS:

1853 - 1872 Benjamin Bird 1872 - 1961 Flowers 1998 - 1999 Crooked House 1999 - 2000 Receivers 2000 - present JD Wetherspoons
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