The first road atlas of England was published in 1675. It was called The Travellers Guide by John Ogilby, and showed the main trunk roads in a series of strip maps. The only one of Ogilby’s trunk roads to pass through Sutton Coldfield in 1675 was part of the Holyhead Road (now the A446), which forms the Sutton boundary just north of Bassetts Pole, and is still known as London Road.

Bishop Vesey had a strong interest in this locality, lying between his Canwell estates and his mansion at Moor Hall, and from about 1530 he introduced a scheme to make the road less dangerous to horse traffic. Innumerable loose stones and pebbles on the road were causing horses to stumble, so Bishop Vesey hired poor labourers to gather the loose stones and pile them in heaps - these heaps of stones were a landmark on the road worthy of note over 100 years later on Ogilby’s 1675 map.

Travellers on the road were welcome at Canwell Gate Inn, standing on the Staffordshire side of the road, but only just outside Sutton. Richard Tunkes was the landlord in 1666 when a traveller stayed there with a sick child. The burial of this child is recorded in Sutton Parish Register “Thirteenth of August 1666 there was buried a child of a stranger who died at Mr. Tunkes named Mark Allen.” The old Canwell Gate inn was taken down in 1769 and replaced by a plain brick building designed by local architects Benjamin and William Wyatt, and this in turn was partly rebuilt in the nineteenth century.

There is a bill in the Sutton Borough Records for a dinner held at Canwell Gate Inn in May 1835, so it must have had a good reputation locally as well as serving travellers. The landlord in 1835 was Thomas Cammack, who had been butler to Sir Robert Lawley of Canwell Hall at one time. Thomas Cammack inherited the Bassetts Pole Inn, and was living there in 1851; shortly afterwards Canwell Gate Inn ceased trading and became a private house, as it still is to this day. (Article based on research by Michael Vowles)

Ogilby’s road map near Bassetts Pole.
Canwell Gate House