History of The Pub

The further back in history you go, the harder it gets to piece things together. We know that there was a Jones’ Liquor Vaults on the Tavern site in 1870, and that the following year an advert in the Birmingham Post announced that a Mr Lawrence had bought the premises from William Jones, was selling off his old stock, and planned to make alterations to the building. In 1877, it was known as Lawrence’s Spirit Vaults. By 1896, the Staffordshire Advertiser referred to it as The Board. When the name changed – or whether this had been a colloquial name for it all along – we don’t know. By the turn of the 20th century, The Board was owned by Harmer & Co., and sold Harmer’s home-brewed ales – finest in the world.

Most pictures we’ve found of Queen Square face the wrong direction for our purposes, but there is one very early photo that we’ve come across from 1867, when the building on the Tavern site seems to have been a low one with a sloping roof. 

A second image shows the site in 1904, when the building seems to have been either altered or rebuilt. It has two floors rather than the later three, and the signage across the top says Lawrences. The premises next door to the left is The Midland Café. 

In a later picture, which looks to be 1920s by way of the cars and clothes, the third floor has appeared and the site looks, as it does now, to be more in keeping with the property to the right. At this time the pub would have been known as The Shakespeare – we know it had been renamed by 1924 – and the signage on this picture is for Atkinsons Brewery. Next door, The Midlands Café has become Lyons’ Tea Rooms. We’d love to know when the third floor came into being so if you know, then do get in touch with us. 

When we visited Wolverhampton Archives to research this further, the incredibly helpful staff dropped a large file onto the table in front of us. It contained letters and plans relating to 17/17a Queen Square, the site of the Tavern in the Town. This was a goldmine of information and enabled us to establish exact dates of name changes and refurbs. It also enabled us to establish a timeline for some of the changes of landlords (but more of that in a moment).

From the files and papers, we know that The Shakespeare closed in the 1960s and was refurbished before re-opening under a new name. M&B now owned the pub, having acquired Atkinsons Brewery in 1962. In a letter to the Clerk of the Licensing Justices, M&B wrote …the name we have in mind is ‘The Bermuda Tavern’. It is felt this will be an apt choice having regard to the proposed decor of the public accommodation. The newly christened Bermuda Tavern opened on Monday 24 th June 1963. According to newspaper reports of the day the Bermuda Tavern was accused at one point of operating a colour bar.

Towards the end of the ’60s the pub closed again for another refurb. It reopened as the Tavern in the Town on 29 th August 1969, before trading for eighteen years under that name. It became Moriarty’s on Friday 2nd October 1987. Moriarty’s shut for good on Thursday 3rd January 1991, and the property was then put up for sale. It hasn’t been a pub since that point.