Coventry Road from the river to Shipway Road
In some ways it is easier to follow the history of the north side of the road, because it was not demolished for road widening. Old postcards, the Hay Mills Project photographs, and those taken by the late Brian Matthews show what changes have taken place. The latest photographs we have from him date from a period between winter 2015 and early summer 2016: detective work using the sequence on Google Streetview has established this. Other photographs outside the Project were taken at several intervals.
Strictly speaking outside Hay Mills, as they were on the other side of the river, were circuses on the Heybarnes Recreation Ground, and a short-lived helicopter service to London from the Hay Mills Rotor Station, also from there.
The Tithe Map shows an encroachment with cottage by a Thomas Astbury between the River Cole and the tailrace from Hay Mill. This would later be the site of the Plough and Harrow and numbers 1002-8. The Plough and Harrow took a long time to be established as a full competitor to the Hay Mills Tavern across the road which was in the habit of objecting to licences being granted or renewed. For example a spirits licence was finally granted in 1895 and a full licence a few years later.
The Plough and Harrow could go back to 1855 as a beer house occupied by James Allcott/Allnott. It was up for sale in September 1864 and was described as an excellent roadside tavern with large pleasure gardens, fishing, etc. A few months earlier the Irish Giant, Master McAloon, only twenty years old and weighing thirty stone, had appeared there. Whoever took the tavern on, it was up for sale again in 1871. From about then, Thomas Dunn was the licensee as a 'beer retailer', and he remained there for most of the rest of the century, with directories until 1897 still calling him a beer retailer and not listing the establishment by its name. By 1901, Benjamin Bullock was the licensee. Previously Mr Dunn had been a provision dealer. The 1888 O.S. map also shows the Plough and Harrow as a beer house with a main block and a row of small cottages to the west. By 1905 the main block had been enlarged and the cottages were still there, but they were gone by 1916, and the main building stood alone. New shops numbered 1004-8 were there by 1897. Previously this side of the road had odd numbers starting at 1.
Annual dinners of the Hay Mills Conservative Association were held at the Plough and Harrow, with reports on lectures, inquests and a starling shoot also appearing in local newspapers. In the late 1920s the Hay Mills Lodge of the royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes had their annual dinners there. Other reports include a charity concert in 1959 for the Give a Girl Health fund and Billy Smart's circus using the Plough and Harrow for auditions for girls aged fifteen to eighteen in 1971.
When dating the shops to Shipway Road, some of the names are in a directory of 1896, so that seems a reasonable date. However the numbering changed between 1900 and 1903. In 1900 the shops ended at number 63, but in 1903 at 69. When matching the sequence of names it appears that three shops next to the Plough and Harrow were built between those dates. However there are four shops, including the single storey one, number 1010! A mere detail, but the basic point remains.
The Birmingham Industrial Co-operative Society had a butcher's shop at number 1066 from c. 1902, but they took over number 1068 for a grocery shop a few years later, c. 1910