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Where it all started for legendary Black Country landlady Ma Pardoe

By Liam Keen | Netherton | News | Published:

The family of local legend Ma Pardoe have been tracing their roots – visiting the birthplace of the famous landlady in her honour.

Doris Pardoe, also known as 'Ma Pardoe', right, as a baby outside her family's shop Bridgtown, top left, and The Old Swan pub, bottom left

Doris Pardoe ran The Old Swan, or Ma Pardoes, in Netherton, from 1931 until her death in 1984, aged 85.

Now family members have traced her history back to her birthplace in Bridgtown, Cannock – and with the help of the local history society have learned more about their famous relative.

Her story began in Staffordshire in 1899 when she was born to Edward and Erena Jones, who owned and lived in the convenience store in Bridgtown.

When Doris was 11 years old the family moved to the Black Country and entered the pub business.

Doris Pardoe as a baby outside her family’s shop in Bridgtown

In October 1918, when she was 19 years old, Doris married Fredrick Pardoe and the pair lived at the Hollybush pub in Wolverhampton, which was one of a number of pubs they managed before moving to The Old Swan in 1931.

Her birthplace on North Street is now a business called Heat Tanning Studio – but is still recognisable as the shop formerly owned by the Jones family.

This week Doris’ granddaughter Ruth Tanner was given a tour around the area by members of Bridgtown and District Local History Society.

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Ma Pardoe’s granddaughter Ruth Tanner with members of Bridgtown and District Local History Society

She chatted to staff at the tanning studio, and owner, Hayley Childs, said: “I’m very proud, it’s nice to hear the shop’s history.

“I’ve heard lots of stories over the years about the different owners of the shop but never this story

“I wasn’t aware.

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“It’s nice to see the old photos and the front of the shop all those years ago. The original woodwork is still there so it’s a little surreal to see it.

“Doris obviously became very successful and well known in the Black Country, so it’s really good for our community to have her originally based here.

Tanning assistant Billy-Jo Rowley with Ruth

“I’ve had the shop for 11 years now so it’s great to see the history.

“The blue plaque is a lovely idea and a fitting tribute. It’s great to think my shop will go down in history.”

Derek Middleton, secretary of the history society, said: “It was an emotional visit.

“We’re extremely proud. It’s a proud time for the village to know we had a Black Country legend living in our village for so long.

“We’re planning to put up a blue plaque in honour of her.

"I used to travel over and drink in her pub and I just wish I knew at the time that I lived 20 yards away from where she was born.”

A car crashed into The Old Swan in Halesowen Road in March

Built in 1863, the Old Swan is famous among real ale drinkers and is one of the few pubs in the West Midlands that still brews its own beer on the premises.

The popular pub was loved so much that when it came up for sale in 1985, shortly after Doris’ death, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) set up a company to purchase and run it.

Although the company was short lived, the pub was able to survive and has been run by landlord Tim Newey for the last 18 years. In 2001 it was registered as Grade II listed.

In March it opened as usual despite the fact a car had driven off Halesowen Road and smashed through the pub wall when the driver suffered a medical episode.

Luckily the pub's rare vitreous enamel tiled roof appeared not to have been damaged.

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Reporter - @LiamKeen_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, primarily covering Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319688.

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