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The Albany Hotel and Rugby in Coventry (1908-1919)

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Malvern
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1 of 4  Fri 29th May 2020 11:19pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2016  Total posts:64

Whilst researching my family history, I discovered that in the 1901 census my grandmother was working as a domestic servant in the employ of John Henry Bates, a Wine and Spirit Merchant living at 18 Regent Street. I decided to do a bit of delving and uncovered some fascinating links to the sporting history of Coventry. John Henry Bates was born in Hull in 1865. His father, a dock labourer, had died before he was 6 years old and he was brought up by his mother Jane A. and step father Alfred Taylor, a house(?) painter. At the age of 16 he was a Commercial Clerk in Hull but by 1881 he had married Betsey (née Ostick b 1861 North Frodingham, East Riding) and moved to Coventry where he was living at 12 Grosvenor Street working as a wine merchants manager. In the 1900s John Henry Bates was licensee of the Old Turks Head in Warwick Lane but in May 1908 he opened the newly built Albany Hotel in Albany Road. (He also held the license for the Ball Inn in Walsgrave Road in 1911.) He died on 7th January 1935 at 19 Albany Road leaving an estate of £6,183 19s 11d. From the outset the Hotel incorporated the dressing rooms for the Butts Cricket Ground. Coventry Football Club had held a meeting in February 1908 to consider whether to continue to lease the Rugby pitches at the Butts for £210 per season or whether to take out a loan for £1,000 and build new pitches at a site on London Road. The cost was calculated at £130 per annum. They decided to remain at the Butts. The Albany Hotel became the Headquarters of not only Coventry Football Club but also the Coventry and District Rugby Union, (which ran the junior clubs in Coventry), The Coventry Schools Rugby Union and also the Coventry Rugby Union Referees Society. However in December 1908 there was an unfortunate rugby match against Rugby in which two Coventry players were severely injured. At the bottom of the report is a simple statement "Two officials of the Northern Union were in Coventry today". In response to the injuries Coventry threatened to withdraw from future fixtures with Rugby as well as Leicester and Northampton. In July 1909 the RFU launched an enquiry into events surrounding the 1908-1909 season, which resulted in the former Club Secretary being expelled from the RFU as well as 2 players R.W. Dakin and A.W. Rose being declared professionals and three further players were also suspended. Subsequently Coventry were also suspended from playing until 1 January 1910. During the suspension period Coventry's fixtures were met by a Coventry and District Union side, however attendances were poor. A loss of £70 was recorded. There was much consideration of Coventry breaking away and joining the Northern Union. In the end the club accepted the RFU's punishment and the suspension was shortened with the club returning to action with a match against London Irish in December 1909 - Players to meet at the clubs headquarters, The Albany Hotel, Tuesday night for training. The Northern Union did however arrange two exhibition matches in Coventry played at Little Heath and a Coventry Northern Union club was formed. For the 1910-1911 season and two further seasons Coventry Northern Union played their home games at the Butts Ground and Coventry were forced to move to the London Road pitches they had earlier rejected. The Midland Daily Telegraph of 23rd December 1911 show that the half time score at London Road was Coventry leading Northampton by a dropped goal to nil and at the Butts Batley were leading Coventry by 8-5 (Dakin was playing for Coventry Northern) The Albany Hotel however remained the Headquarters of the Coventry and District Union as well as holding Coventry Northern Union events and also hosting meetings of the Coventry branch of Small Heath Harriers and then Godiva Harriers, Coventry Bowling Club (based in Spencer Park). The hotel also hosted the finals of the Warwickshire Amateur Billiards Championships in the war period. During the war rugby was suspended and it was in March 1919 that a meeting was held, again at The Albany Hotel, to recommence junior rugby in the City. Coventry Football Club played from a couple of different pitches between 1919 and 1921, when Coundon Road became its home for the next 83 years, before returning to the Butts in 2005. Coventry Northern Union did not reform and it was not until 1998 that Rugby League returned to the city with the Coventry Bears playing initially at Coundon Road and then moving to the Butts Park Arena. There is still a lot to go through so I'll update this as I find further information but if anyone has anything they can contribute about this period please do so. Edited by member, 30th May 2020 8:30 am
Malvern

The Albany Hotel and Rugby in Coventry (1908-1919)
Malvern
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2 of 4  Sat 30th May 2020 2:21pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2016  Total posts:64

It's funny how things can lead off in some surprising directions. I decided to look into John Henry Bates life in Coventry before he became landlord of the Albany. There does not appear to be much about him whilst he was a Wine and Spirit Merchant, so I decided to look into his family. He married Betsey Amelia Ostick in Hull in 1887 and soon moved to Coventry. His first daughter Jessie Winifred was born in 1889 (baptised 11th April 1889) whilst they were living at Grosvenor Street, Maud was born in 1891 (baptised 7th February) and Florence Amelia was born in 1892 (baptised 28th August 1892). Their son Sydney was born on 23rd May 1897 (baptised 14th June 1897) and they were now living at "Westmere" Regent Street. Jessie Winifred married Percy Charles Major in 1910. Percy Major was a member of the Major family of Smith, Major, and Stevens (SMS Lift Company). The company was founded as Archibald Smith and Co in Princes Street, Leicester Square London in 1770, becoming Archibald Smith and Stevens in the 1880 making elevator lifts. In 1909 Percy's father Charles Major joined the company and it moved from the Janus Works in Battersea to Northampton eventually becoming part of Express Lifts. In the early 20th century it was manufacturing lifts to go all around the world and some of its notable lifts are still in existence in Auckland and Singapore. When John Henry died in 1935 he left his estate to his widow Betsey Amelia and daughter Jessie Winifred Major. The 1939 Parish Register shows Percy and Jessie living at "Ashtrees", Duston, Northampton with Betsey. Betsey died on 17th March 1944 at Ashtrees. His second daughter Maud's, story is more tragic. Prior to the commencement of war, early in 1914, soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers were billeted in Coventry. A number of the Battalion lodged with a Mr C Andrews at 17 Gosford Street. In March 1914 one of these soldiers Lieutenant Timothy Sullivan from Cork married Maud Bates at St Osburg's church. The 1st Battalion was one of the units virtually wiped out in the Gallipoli landings in April and May 1915. A letter from Quartermaster-Sergeant S Ahern to Mr Andrews published in the CET on 7th June 1915, tells the fate of the lads billeted at 17 Gosford Street. Lieutenant Sullivan was fatally wounded and was buried on the beach. Lieutenant Watts (Tim Sullivan's best man at the wedding was wounded - he had "seven wounds in addition to six through his pack, but I hear that he is still living" and all of the others were dead or wounded. He goes on to state that of the original Battalion numbering around 800 only 400 were still alive of which only 5 were not wounded. The battalion was so depleted that it was subsequently merged with the 1st Batallion Royal Dublin Fusiliers and was known as the "Dubsters". Maud remarried James Baillie Sneddon in 1920 and the electoral roles show they lived first in Longbridge, Birmingham and then Binley through the 1920s. However by 1939 Maud is a patient at a sanitorium in Stroud and she died on 19 December 1958 at St Andrews Mental Hospital in Northampton. Florence Amelia Bates married Frederick Cummings, a Company Secretary, in 1915. They had two children Peter, a Chartered Surveyor and Vera a technical drawer, Frederick died on 20 May 1963 at Gulson Hospital and Florence died on 2 March 1970 at 48 Styvechale Avenue. I am struggling to find information on Sydney Bates after 1911 but he may have died in 1930 (aged 32). John Henry himself retired from the Albany Hotel in October 1919 and transferred the license to Herbert Brown. He seems to have lived a quiet retirement at 19 Albany Road until his death in 1935. Edited by member, 30th May 2020 4:16 pm
Malvern

The Albany Hotel and Rugby in Coventry (1908-1919)
Malvern
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3 of 4  Sat 30th May 2020 2:35pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2016  Total posts:64

And a further update: A bit more trawling has led me to discover that prior to taking on the licence of the Albany Hotel, John Henry Bates was the "Rep" for John Thompson and Son Limited which became John Marston, Thompson, and Son Limited in 1898 and then Marston, Thompson, and Evershed Limited in 1905. A lot of his dealings reported in the papers seem to involve the transfer of licences to Marstons Pubs and attempts to block licenses for other breweries such as Atkinsons (later to become Mitchell and Butlers); hence his dealings with the Old Turks Head and the Old Ball Inn amongst others. The proposal to build the Albany Hotel was first put forward by Marstons in March 1903 and would involve the surrender by Marstons of the licences of the Old Turks Head in Warwick Lane and The Pilgrims Rest in Ironmonger Row. It was opposed by their arch rivals Robinsons Brewery of Burton-on-Trent (later Ind Coope) who owned the Royal Oak in Earlsdon. The application was submitted each year at the Brewster Sessions (there are detailed newspaper reports of each submission), until the application was eventually granted in April 1907, with two licences being surrendered - The Blue Pig in Gosford Street and the Sun Dial in Lord Street. The Albany Hotel finally opened in May 1908. Edited by member, 30th May 2020 2:44 pm
Malvern

The Albany Hotel and Rugby in Coventry (1908-1919)
Harrier
Coventry
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4 of 4  Sat 30th May 2020 4:36pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:220

A bit peripheral but I have a photo of members of the Small Heath branch sat outside the Albany. Two Birmingham clubs, Birchfield Harriers and Small Hath Harriers set up branches in Coventry with the single intention of poaching the Godiva runners before WW1. It took Jimmy Winter until 1922 to put a stop to this activity. Jimmy Winter was by this time the licensee of the Rising Sun Hotel. The Midland Counties change of law demanded that no club could set up a branch within 5 miles of an existing club . Small Heath cut its loses and closed down the branch abandoning the Albany after more than a decade in 'residence'. But Birchfield Harriers being Birchfield Harriers, turned its branch into 'Coventry Birchfield Harriers' an independent club. Well that's what it said on the tin!! However, post 1922, whenever an athlete with potential joined Coventry Birchfield Harriers, they soon metamorphosed into a Birmingham Birchfield Harrier!! Not quite in the spirit of the new athletics' law. Coventry resident, Olympian, and city sports shop owner was one such athlete - despite living most of his life in and around Coventry, the City of Coventry has never acknowledged what a great athlete Billy Green was. He continued to be a second claim member for Godiva for many years, officiating at Godiva's sports' events etc. and no doubt partaking of a little liquid refreshment in the Albany. The Royal Munster Fusiliers and two other regiments, used the Butts for more than one of their cross country races, for which Godiva always gave silver medals, the presentations taking place at the Albany after the competitions ...and few celebratory drinks?? By the mid 1920s, Godiva Harriers Godiva had accepted Lady members, had a men's cycling group, and a women's cycling section, as well as a very good set of Walking competitors. The disparate interests of athletic activity meant that the organisation of the club was becoming unwieldy. In the interests of efficiency, the membership was split into different, semi independent sections controlled by a General Committee and it was the Harriers male section which used the Albany Hotel as its headquarters, the Rising Sun being the de facto Godiva Club Headquarters. And surprise, surprise, the Albany was still used for refreshments after training for very many years until the Coventry Athletic Track was built on the Westwood Campus of Warwick University in 1984, where Godiva Harriers built its first independent headquarters.
The Albany Hotel and Rugby in Coventry (1908-1919)

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