Black Boy (Chelmsford)
Black Boy Inn and Brewery, Springfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex.
The origins of this property go back to the De Vere family prior to 1560, at which time it had become the Crown Inn, later in the same century it was known as the New Inn. It was in 1642 that the now large three storeyed building became known as the Black Boy, and as such it became renowned as a substantial coaching Inn, as it stood on the junction of the High Street and Spingfield Road which was the coach road from London to Colchester and Harwich. The brewery was in evidence in 1790, catering for the large trade in travellers, which included changes of horses and their provisions.
On 15th July, 1793, a meeting was held in one of the many rooms, which resolved that a canal should be built between Chelmsford and the sea, named the "Company of Proprietors of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation" this is the oldest active canal in the country. (Chelmsford Brewery (Wells & Perry) Ltd purchased a wharf on the canal and were coal factors.)
In 1810, Robb Dixon was the common brewer owner of the Black Boy Inn and Brewery, a detailed plan drawn up in 1817 indicates the commodious accommodation. This plan was probably made following the death of Mr Dixon, as a sale document of the premises dated 22nd January, 1818, indicates that the firm of Dixon and Carter were the trading firm, and that the sale was arranged by the Executors of Mr Dixon. There were 15 lots, 8 of which were public houses, the fifth being the brewery, which was 54ft in depth, on the West 13ft, adjoining the River Chelmer 100 feet. "A large Mill House with the brewery over the same. Tun room - Table Beer room. First store room - Second store room. Wine Vault with Granary over same with right to load and unload by the Black Boy yard. A large Malt and Hop Chamber. A commodious Spirit warehouse with a warehouse over the same. A Bottle House, an Accounting House with a small room adjoining. The very complete plant with several leashold public houses may be taken by valuation or not at the option of the purchaser - Land Tax redeemed."
The licensed houses were:-
- The Black Boy (the Black Boy Tap, adjoining), High Street, Chelmsford
- The Blue Lion, Galleywood
- The Half Moon, Rayleigh
- The King's Arms (formerly The Three Blue Lions), Moulsham
- The King's Head, Braintree
- The Three Tuns, Duke Street, Chelmsford
As the coaching trade gave way to the railways, so business fell and the Black Boy was auctioned in 1857 and most of the buildings demolished. In 1868 the Barnard Temperance hotel was built on the corner of the High Street and Springfield Road, this was renovated in 1982. A blue wall commemorative plaque erected by the Council indicates the three hundred year existence of the Black Boy Inn.
From ESSEX BREWERS - The Malting and Hop Industries of the County by Ian P Peaty 1992 now out of print ISBN 978 1 873966 02 4