The Blacksmith's Arms - A Sequel

My article in the June edition of the "Community Voice" on the Blacksmith's Arms excited some interest in the photograph of drinkers enjoying a jug of beer from the beerhouse.

The photograph shows Alonzo ("Dicki") Holland and Tom Fairbrother (sitting). The photograph is believed to have been taken in 1910 and the men are standing in Lower Moor Road on the opposite side to the Blacksmith’s Arms, probably on the corner of Bradford’s Lane. The property in the background is Tudor Close, which I have been told was at one time a butchers. The property to the left is the rear of Braeside, which once housed a backroom shop kept by my great aunt Daisy Yates (nee Ward). The Blacksmith’s Arms was not a genteel establishment by all accounts as illustrated by this item that appeared in the "Lavengro" column of the Coalville Times, 29.12.67, reproduced below. The date of the events recorded is not stated, but presumably the Sally Ward referred to is my great great grandmother Sarah Ward.

"I remember an old resident telling me there were three fights a week at the Blacksmith's Arms, when Sally Ward was landlady. In one incident, Tom Knapp (whose real surname was Smallwood) called there one winter's evening, with his powder-tin tucked beneath his arm.

He found the whole place in an uproar. Combatants were milling in an almost unrecognisable mass, so many were fighting at the same time. The distraught landlady was yelling for the police, but the police and the Blacksmith’s Arms were miles apart, and when Tom arrived Sally Ward had given up all hope of assistance in quelling the disturbance.

In an instant, Tom saw it was useless to interfere with the combatants. He had the bright idea of throwing his powder tin straight into the fire. This action precipitated a speedy exodus of the combatants from the premises and within seconds Tom was left alone to sympathise with the terrified landlady.

Her gratitude took the form of a free pint of ale for Tom, who then confided to her that there had been no danger from the powder-tin, for it was empty!"

In those days miners working at the coal face were obliged to supply and look after their own explosives.

Terry Ward, Coleorton Heritage Group, July 2021