College Arms

Memories of the College Arms pub

College Arms, Kingstanding ca. 1930’s. Out of copyright


Memories from Dorothy Capewell

Talking about the whippet track at the back of the pub, Dorothy said, “The track was, of course, very narrow and not very long but ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ I think that gambling or placing bets must have been illegal except for in the bookies office because my dad always sent me with a bet wrapped around some money to be delivered to a man on the wall at the College Arms and sometimes to the mans house on Finchley Road.”

College Arms in 1989

Did this pub ever take the name “Opera House Pub”?



  1. Yes it was called the Opera House for a short time.

  2. Yes it was called the Opera House for sort time.I think it was because musical entertainment was on most evenings.

  3. I don’t remember it ever being called the opera house pub. I lived across the street between Warren Farm rd and the Co-op. I remember there was a murder there in the late 50’s. A man shot and killed another man. I wonder where he got his gun. ? Also, when my mom cooked Sunday dinner she liked to have a bottle of Nut Brown Ale. I would go the outdoor and get it for her. Penny for a returned bottle.

    • Robert Cottrell I know you.

  4. I think the name of the man shot at the College Arms pub was called Harold Cunningham, he was the barman. He lived in Twickenham Road, it was a tragedy for his family. My mother worked behind the bar when I was young, I remember in the early sixties a group called Guitars Incorporated played there every Thurday night. The singer was called Colin he had bleached blonde hair and wore a lurex suit. Great times and yes years later it was called the Opera House for a while. Avril I know your cousin Beryl, my daughter went to school with her daughter Sally.

    • yes you are right harold cunngham the one who shot him lived in the grove next to the clinic in brackenbury rd the night it happend the man pulled off a advertising clip on the beer pull and harold shouted at him and stated to argue so the man left the pub and came back at closing time with a gun and shot harold as he was closing the door for lock up. the police took that door to court for evidence with bullet holes in it .

  5. Oh my goodness. You know Beryl? I’m sure she would love to hear from you. Her daughter got married and her son is getting married in Bali. Beryl is flying out there. She’s doing ok but has the onset of Parkinson’s. She’s I touch with my sister Pat more than myself as they are the same age. How lovely to hear from you.

  6. Did we ever find out why the man was shot? How did he get a gun.

    • the man who shot the barman lived in bracken berry road he had been drinkin in the college arms and the legion oppersite the collegeand he was missing about with the signs which were attached to the pulls the barman told him to stop ,he would not ,so the barman kicked him out ,on that he went home got is gun came back ,by then the pub was closed so he knocked the side door when the barman opened it ,he shot him. i remember because that night i worked behind the bar in the legion the next morning i was waiting for my lift to work on the corner by the college went 3 police grabbed me and wanted to know what i was doing the night before,i had about 200 witneses hope this helps avril

      • Are you any relation to Brian Jarvis? A demon fast bowler at Warren Farm Junior school? The man who shot the barman was John Sprigg snr he lived at 44 Brackenbury if my memory serves me correct. The police came to our house and questioned my elder brother because he had a blue jacket.

  7. Did you get my last comment? I may have forgotten to press send😝

  8. Thanks for that explanation. All these years I never knew what happened. Was the gunman hanged or sent to prison? We didn’t have guns in England so how come he had one?

  9. Last time I saw Beryl was at Arden Hall,she is just the loveliest person. I am so pleased to hear that Sally got married she and my daughter Mary used to play together, they went to the same school. Is Beryl still in Castle Brom, I’m sorry to hear about her illness. She really was an inspiration when she raised all the money to buy the playbus it bought so much pleasure to so many kids. I hope she enjoys her son’s wedding what a marvellous place to get married.
    Is David Mitchell any relation to Sidney Mitchell who lived on College Road. I have a memory of Sid playing football with my brother. What year was the shooting at the College Arms?

  10. Beryl (Rogers) is still in Castle Bromwich. She is on face book also. She received special acknowledgement from the Queen for the work she did for the playbus. I think David Mitchell and Sidney Mitchell are related. They lived next to the British Legion on College Road.
    Not sure of the year of the shooting at the College Arms but Im guessing it must have been around the early to mid 50’s….

  11. Hello i am david mitchell sid was my younger brother sid passed away 10years ago

  12. Sorry to hear about Sid when he was young he played football with my brother David Lloyd. I remember having to come down to your house to ask Sid to come and make up the team one day. David passed away in 2009. I ahve a copy of the 1953 school team from Twickenhm Road, your Sid is on there.

    • i remember david you also had another brother john is that correct

      • David, Have you seen the old school photo I put on the Twickenham Road site, you will see your Sid sitting on the front row grinning. It was a brilliant achievement for the lads that year.

  13. Jennifer can you put that photograph on this site ?

    • Avril, I have put the photo on the Twickenham Road school site on this website. Do take a look all the lads are named.

  14. I remember David Lloyd too. Losing Sid and David is sad.

    • Yes, John now lives abroad, we are not in contact but he is ok as far as I know. I am not very good on the computer but will try to get the old photo put up asap.

  15. Happy days at the College Arms when we sang along to piano and drums on Sat/Sun

  16. I remember the shooting at the College Arms so well. It was the first time that we (I) had ever known of such an enormous crime in our area. The man who was shot was the father of one of my friends and the man who did the shooting was the father of a friend in my class.
    The College Arms was ony so successful because my father spent all of his money there! I used to be given some money wrapped in paper to take to ‘uncle Tom’ who sat on the wall at the pub.I din’t know at the time that I was delivering a bet to be placed on the dogs or horses for my dad.

    • Hi Dorothy. You must have known my brothers Frank and Michael Keeling

      • did your brother Michael play football for Nuneaton borough in the late 60s

  17. Hello Dorothy. Avril Jarvis here. How are ?

  18. How are you ?

  19. Hello Avril, I’m doing terrific thank you. How about you? Are you in Florida?

    I only found this section of Friends Reunited yesterday-I really like it.

  20. Hello Dorothy so glad to hear from you. I am in Virginia…..Neil my brother is in Sutton Coldfield…We are all scattered here and there….My daughter lives in California, might as well be another country….A long way from Virginia. How about you?

  21. Hello Avril, it’s nice to be able to make these connections every once in a while.

    I’m in Oregon, my oldest son is in Virginia (pilot in the army), my daughter is in California (but only a 6 hour drive away) and my youngest son lives about 30 minutes away-so scattered too :O)

    My oldest sister,Kathy, lives in Sutton Coldfield, youngest sister,Janet lives in Kingstanding. Do you make trips home at all?

  22. Unfortunately no. I have several animals and can’t get away. It seems like we have similar lives. My daughter is in LA and is a flight attendant with American Airlines. I only have one child she is 44 yrs old and married to an IT guy. Her children are her dogs. Do you go on Facebook. I have a video of us.

  23. My daughter is 43. I’m on Facebook every day. Are you on there under Jarvis or Purvis?

  24. Purvis

  25. Dorothy, is your son at Ft Eustis?

  26. I smiled when I read Dorothy’s comment about betting, I remember there being a track at the back of the College Arms where they raced whippets. The land was sold there are flats there now.

  27. Oh my gosh! I used to love to watch those whippets racing-it seemed like number 6 always won :O)

  28. The shooting at the College Arms pub was in 1957 the shooter was not hanged but went to prison, released late 60s, to 70s there abouts
    Later while living in Cardiff he murdered his landlady. After that I dont know.

  29. I used to go in the off licence for my Dad and get them to pull pints into a bottle, that was real beer then. I also recall seeing the racing. I lived at Neasden Grove just off Bexley in the 50’s and 60’s

    • hi kieth do you remamber the jacobs in your grove tommy with the one hand or arm tony and charlie charlie died a fer years ago with a blood clot after being examinged by the hospital doctor who said it was indijesten and tony lives in blackpool playing in the clubs singing with his giutar

  30. Hi Keith, you probably don’t remember me, but I was best friends with Lynn and Jill Morgan. I remember your sister Jackie very well. I’m in touch with Jill still. You had a little sister but I can’t remember her name. She was much younger.

    • I remember your name well, I am still in touch with the Morgans, both on Facebook. My younger sister was Louise, lives in Derbyshire. She trains managers for Mirror Group, used to head up Nat West Home Loans. She did well. I work for EE, configuring their Mobile Networks still. Came back from Oz 30 years ago, been in Bristol ever since.

  31. Lynn and Jill lived at 20 Neasden Grove next to Mrs Bath

    • I went to junior school with Lynn Morgan. She was big mates with a girl that lived in a grove off warren farm road. I think her name was Christine. she went back to teach at Warren Farm school.

  32. Thank you

  33. Hi Keith, I used to visit Jill and Lynn Morgan every day. 20 Neasdon Grove. I remember your sisters and your mum very well

    • I will mention you to my eldest sister Jacky, she lives in Rednal with her daughter, she still helps out at a Primary School there. She was a secretary down at the Dairies in Perry Barr. Mom worked at Sketchleys for a while then a shop on the roundabout in Birchfield. My youngest daughter is about to go to Uni there. You came up trumps then…

  34. How did this man get a gun back then?

  35. As kids we didn’t have a lot, but getting in touch with our class mates and neighbors it sounds like we did well. Remember me to Louise

  36. By the way Keith, my nephew Ian Jarvis wrote the new comedy ” Job Lot” it’s on ITV 9:30 on Monday night. There are 6 episodes if you have time, will you watch it and let me know what you think. If the public like it he can write 6 more episodes. It’s all about the ratings! Please pass this on Ian needs all the help he can get.

  37. I meant hello to Jackie. Louise was still a toddler at the time.

  38. Concerning the shooting at the College Arms, I believe the son of the victim, Mr Cunngham, went to our school, because I recall the callous kids running up to him and asking him what it was like to have your dad shot and did you see it !
    Changing the subject slightly. Am I right in remembering that the first house on the hawthorn road side after the pub housed a Spitfire in the back garden? I remember coming home from the Saturday Matinee at the Mayfair heading up to Kingstanding Road, and we gathered at a hole in the fence to see the famous fighter plane.
    Tell me I’m not dreaming !

  39. Bar Killer Kills Again

    It was a trivial argument that began on NOVEMBER 14th, 1957, about a beer sign at a bar in Erdington, Birmingham. But John Spriggs, a 29-year-old factory worker, became so incensed that he produced a gun and shot the barman four times at close range.

    Arrested at his home after he tried to commit suicide, he was charged with the murder of 43-year-old Harold Cunningham. Why did he do it? At his trial at Birmingham Assizes it was claimed that he was mentally ill, having been discharged from the RAF as abnormal. But the jury rejected this defence, and Spriggs was convicted and sentenced to death.
    His mental condition gained him a reprieve, however, and he was released in 1978 after serving 20 years. He committed suicide in 1984 with an overdose of painkillers…after using a steam iron to beat his mistress Mrs. Margaret Larkin, 53, to death at their home in Cardiff.

  40. I remember the murder at the College Arms. I was born in Rawdon Grove in 1952 and we lived there until 1966. I think the man who committed the murder went to prison. He lived on Brackenberry Road opposite the Church and the old oak tree, which is still there. I was at school, Warren Farm, with his son who used to talk about when his dad comes home. So presumably he went to prison – but I can’t be sure. My mom told me not to ask him anything about the murder.

  41. Hi everyone, I am trying to find out when the College Arms/Opera houise was changed to a Macdonalds, can anyone help.

  42. Harold cunningham was my grandad

  43. No I’m not Billy, as I remember you being called. My brother was Neil and he went to Handsworth Grammar. I was in the same class as your sister Pat.

  44. I’m in touch with Lynn and her sister Jill Morgan

  45. Hello Paul, I met you at my brother David Lloyd’s funeral, back in 2009. I speak to your aunt Kathy and we do meet up with others who were brought up in the same grove. I remember your mom Pauline, Kathy let us all have a copy of the Coronation Day photo with a lot of the kids on from the grove. Your mom is on there, don’t know if you’ve seen the photo.

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