Glimpse into Ironbridge's past as photos shed light on pub history

An envelope of pictures received in the post has revealed intriguing glimpses of Ironbridge of yesteryear, and in particular of one of its pubs, The Robin Hood.

At the time this photo was taken the licensee was Edwin Owen – his name is above the door, and he may be the gentleman standing in the doorway
At the time this photo was taken the licensee was Edwin Owen – his name is above the door, and he may be the gentleman standing in the doorway

The pictures were part of a large collection of Ironbridge photos and memorabilia built up by Jeff Wheeldon, who lived and worked in Ironbridge in the 1960s and 1970s before he moved out of the area to Seaton in Devon.

And on his death his widow Liz has sent parcels of her late husband's material to his great friend Paul France of Madeley, including one envelope of pictures related in some way to the pub which stands to this day in the shadow of Jackfield Bridge.

How the Robin Hood now looks. Photo: Google.

"They are all mounted on very old stiff cardboard and were in an envelope marked 'Robin Hood Collection' so were obviously given to Jeff by someone with a connection to the pub," said Paul.

One of the photos is clearly Victorian and shows a group of people outside Severn House in Ironbridge, as it was at the time – it became the Valley Hotel. It is marked, presumably by Jeff, as "Robin Hood wedding" although it is not clear whether it actually is a wedding, and any link between Severn House and the family who kept the Robin Hood is unclear, if indeed there is one.

Another of the photos shows another large Victorian group, perhaps depicting the licensee and his extended family, while a further image shows a group of children in a meadow.

A clearly Victorian picture from 'the Robin Hood collection'

Today the pub stands in isolation, but the photos demonstrate how it was once part of a line of buildings, all the rest of which have been demolished over time.

The landlord early in the 20th century was Edwin Owen, known as Ted Owen, who was very short in stature, and there was a sign displayed above the pub door for many years reading: "Now that Robin Hood is dead, Come and drink with little Ted."

An unidentified group of children and adults in a meadow

The Owen family were involved in running a number of Ironbridge pubs. Ted's sister Hannah was licensee of the long-lost Railway Tavern in the town, which she had taken over from her father George Owen, who also ran another disappeared pub, the Foresters Arms in St Luke's Road.

And Hannah's great niece Emmie ran the Horse and Jockey.

The Robin Hood is still a riverside pub today, but at some stage, perhaps in the 1960s or early 1970s, it closed as a pub and became The Old Robin Hood antique shop.

However, in November 1977 licensing magistrates gave the go-ahead to Mrs Marjorie Mercado to reopen it as a pub despite objections from local licensees and also the Wrekin Brewery, which when it had sold the Robin Hood had imposed a covenant on it to ban it from being used as a pub again.

The covenant was intended to protect the brewery's other pubs in the Ironbridge Gorge.

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