The Seven Stars is one of Derby’s oldest public houses with a long history of brewing on the premises. Brewing continued during World War I only ending when the brewing licence and brewer transferred to The Friary Hotel in 1962.
As was the case for many businesses, the shortage of fit young men was one of the problems produced by the war. In 1916 and again in 1918 George Bates, licensee and brewer, advertised for an Ostler (man to look after horses) also willing to help with brewing. Presumably his 1916 recruit was called up because the later advertisement stressed that only men who were ineligible for military service should apply. As brewing continued it can be concluded that such a man was found.
Bates was clearly a man to be reckoned with, when one of his customers, a Mr Cahill of Spondon, was asked to leave due to his drunken state and refused Bates threw him out dodging Cahill’s blows as he did so. Cahill did not take kindly to this and responded by kicking in one of the pub windows. To add further misfortune Cahill’s vandalism was seen by a special constable who promptly arrested him. In court Cahill pleaded not guilty but was fined 15s (75p) plus 3s 6d (18p) to repair the window.
At their annual dinner In January 1916 (see DWWIPP 4) Strettons and Altons reported that every eligible member of “staff” (non-manual workers) had attested (pledged to serve, if called up) and 66 were serving, of whom at least four had died. In the case of “employees” (manual workers) the numbers were 73 attested and 30 serving.
Precise numbers are not known, but if Derby followed the national average, about 19,000 Derby men of military age (70%) would have joined the armed services. Of these about 1900 (1 in 10) would have died. The number of men joining up was a major factor in increasing the employment of women. Strettons advertised for a strong youth or woman for dray work, also for a “capable woman chauffeur”, who “must [be able to] do minor running repairs”.
Labour shortages continued to increase as the war progressed. The Derby Daily Telegraph, as it was then, started to carry advertisements from brewers as far afield as Manchester, Birmingham and Reading “headhunting”, as we would say today, experienced brewery workers and coopers. Generous bonuses and rail fares were offered as inducements.
The Seven Stars continues to shine as a popular pub despite the efforts of 1970s town planners who saw it as an inconvenience. The northbound lanes of the A6 (Quaker Way) now cut through part of its original yard where the stables would have been.
Details of the opening hours and facilities of the Seven Stars can be found using the CAMRA Good Beer Guide app, which can be obtained free of charge (basic version) at https://gbgapp.camra.org.uk/, or (free of charge) from WhatPub https://whatpub.com/
This Wonder is one of a series of thirteen researched by the Derby World War One Pubs Project (DWWIPP). In describing the wonders, we also develop an underlying narrative on how the war lastingly affected pubs and the brewing industry, and society itself. For this reason, it may be preferable to read them in sequence, DWWIPP-1 to DWWIPP-13.
The thirteen wonders in this series and other stories featuring the effects of WWI on pubs and breweries can be found in a special Armistice Centenary Edition of Derby CAMRA’s magazine, Derby Drinker. https://derby.camra.org.uk/derby-drinker/DerbyDrinker/DerbyDrinker_WW1special.pdf . You can also download an ‘Ale Trail’ leaflet featuring the thirteen Wonders in this series from https://derby.camra.org.uk/
The brewhouse of the Stars is now a cosy snug, which became the de facto home of the Derby World War One Pubs Project (DWWIPP) Group. The DWWIPP team are grateful for this and for the support and encouragement of many organizations and individuals, in particular to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and all National Lottery players, for the funding; the Derby Branch CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale); the Derby Local Studies Library; and the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery (Wonders of the Peak).
Images may be subject to copyright.