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How Old Is The Gate?
Just how old is The Gate?
It hasn’t been the easiest question to answer and we may not have a definitive answer to it; but thanks to some efforts by local historian Marion Baxter of what was Sutton Coldfield Reference Library we know that the pub dates back at least as far as 1855. But NOT on this site. The Rate Books tell an interesting, if somewhat ambiguous, story. In 1800 The Gate was a gate which led into the Reddicroft Fields. See map on The Past. Behind the present Gate at this time were no buildings at all. The Gate was not on this site until the 1920s, previously it was in Reddicroft, behind here on where now stands the Telephone Exchange.
From 1850 through to 1854, the plot is shown as being owned by John Roderick and occupied by Walter Willmore with the property being described simply as “house and land.” The 1855 listing shows the same owner but this time, the description reads “Gate Inn.” 19th century listings from 1860 onwards describe the property as “Public House and Cottage” and an increase in rateable value from £13 4s 3d to £16 2s in 1860 suggests that either there was further building on the site during that period or at least, that the living accommodation was separated from the rest of the premises.
Curiously, though, the rateable value from 1850 to 1860 remains static in spite of the apparent change in usage of the building. Ownership changed hands four times during the 1860’s and early 1870’s but significant changes seem top have occurred in 1876 when Edward Davenport purchased the property. The famous Davenport’s brewery didn’t start brewing until 1896 so it’s rather interesting to see that the family’s connection with The Gate predates that by two whole decades.
Massive increases in the rateable value during 1876, when Edward Davenport bought the premises and again in 1885, when he brought in Joseph Davenport as tenant suggest significant alterations. The building took shape in 1922. The building was substantially extended, giving us the building of two halves that we have today. Whilst the “Case is Altered” brigade made significant internal changes - raising the floor level; combining the lounge and bar into one room and losing the much loved alcove.
Gate Planning Letter 1922
Why “The Gate?”
Aside from a few dark years of mismanagement when the establishment was operated as a third-rate wine-bar called “The Case is Altered” (what a terrible idea that was!! - mk) (referred to by local residents at the time as “The Gate is Broken” or by slightly less polite variations, thereupon), The Gate has always been The Gate. The proper name having being restored by the current landlord, Nigel Traylor in 2006.
But why “The Gate?“ The simple answer is it used to be the location of a gate from Mill Street through to the Park but subsequent town planning and road construction has isolated the Gate from the Park. The map below, showing Sutton in 1811, shows the Gate's location but the lower half of Mill Street, containing the Smithy, is now the Gracechurch shopping precinct.
The original site of The Gate was actually further back, now the site of the GPO. See this map. The present Gate is Edwardian
As with any other aspect of the history of the pub, I'd be delighted to hear from anyone who either knows something that I don’t or can correct anything that I have got wrong.
Many thanks go to Marion Baxter and all at Sutton Coldfield Reference Library for their contributions before it closed down.
And a millon thanks to: David Wilcox
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