They say that every family tree has a character that stops your research in its tracks and that character in the Young tree is undoubtedly Arthur Young, son of William Young and Elizabeth Howell and uncle of my Grandad Arthur Young who married Elsie Boulton …… still with me ?!!!
I was already aware of the “legend” of Arthur from my father who recalled that he ran his own businesses and was a greyhound and racehorse owner of some repute but also that he had spent time in prison and was also allegedly responsible for mis-using the funds from William Young’s will in 1925 for his own businesses when they were intended for William’s children …… more on that one later !
Arthur was born in 1897 in Sherbourne Road, Kings Norton where his entrepreneurial spirit was soon in evidence when he secured a position selling newspapers on the street corner. As soon as he left school at age 14, he entered an apprenticeship with the Wolseley Motor Company where he remained until 1914 when a new and far more exciting opportunity presented itself to the ambitious and adventurous youngster …… the outbreak and subsequent enlistment for World War One.
To enlist in 1914 required a minimum age of 18 but Arthur was a big 16 year old and was quick of thought and tongue and found little difficulty in convincing the recruitment officer that he was of required age and he joined up with the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the RAF. During service, Private Arthur Young was credited with over 50 hours of flying time in testing planes that he had helped repair after being damaged in action. Arthur was also an accomplished footballer, having played at international level in his school years and even spent some time with Fulham Football Club during their early Division Three South days ….. these skills also saw Arthur pick up a runners-up medal in the big Forces football tournament held at Blandford Camp.
Back on civvy street, Arthur married Winifred Newey in 1919 at St Saviours Church in Saltley. At this time, Arthur was living in the Youngs family home at 56 Raymond Road while Winifred was living just around the corner at 40 Hartopp Road.
At the time of his marriage, Arthur was helping in his brother’s business of providing sawdust to industries via horse drawn carts ….. initially one cart but with rapid growth of the business, soon to be many. With the arrival of motor driven transport, Arthur saw his opportunity to break out and go his own way with a similar sawdust based business but using the services of a motor lorry. Arthur’s first sawdust business was established close to home on Adderley Road, Saltley but he soon expanded to a second business on Ashted Row in Aston Cross and by 1939 was boasting two flourishing businesses and a nice family home on Pershore Road.
It was during his time at Ashted Row that Arthur invested in a new business that was to make great gains from the growing obsession with motorised travel. Red Warrior Coaches (see below) was established in 1934 with the purchase of a single 20-seat coach and by 1937 had set up base in the city centre at Hurst Street, doing a great trade via the additional purchase of some luxurious vehicles that Arthur boasted were the very first to offer shaped seats and a “sunshine roof” !
Life was good in business and life was good socially as Arthur established himself as a succesful greyhound owner with dogs such as Red Warrior Spitfire, Red Warrior Collar and Red Warrior Still Leads. He also owned racehorses (see below left) Avon Prince, Chivagi The Great, Lode and Pea Soup. Having his own petrol pumps at his Hurst Street base meant that Arthur was able to provide “un-rationed” fuel to many of the stars appearing at the Hippodrome next door in return for their attendance at many a great party night at their Pershore Road home !
The outbreak of the second world war dealt a devastating blow to Arthur’s business as nearly all of his luxurious fleet of coaches were commandeered for the war effort – some staying at home to be used by the US Post Office, others sent overseas where one even featured in a US magazine having just been recaptured from the Germans ! Fortunately, while 17 of his fleet were lost to him, he did manage to keep the two most recent additions and was able to stay in business – at least for a short while.
The business finally drew to a close when Arthur was found guilty of tax evasion to the princely sum of £16,000 in 1945 which gained him a three year prison sentence albeit he was to serve only two of those. His surviving coaches were sold to a Tommy Allen who owned Allenways Coaches and then, in turn, Allenways was taken over by Claribells who still operate today in the area.
After the war, Arthur’s new venture was to establish the Red Warrior Sportsmens Club in Earlswood (see below) – a quiet countryside retreat that was increasingly popular with day-tripping Brummies. The venue had a reputation as a lively hostelry and was never very popular amongst the sleepy lanes of Earlswood and it eventually closed down in the early 1960s when Arthur made good money from selling the land for residential use. Under the name Young & Sons, Arthur also ran his own sawmill business at nearby Brookhouse Farm which he also went on to sell to the Stanford family that went on to make a fortune from the sawdust industry.
Arthur and Winifred had thirteen children, the first two both being christened Arthur and both living tragically short lives. The first Arthur, born in 1920, died as an infant, the second was born in 1921 and died as a nineteen year old in a car crash – his loss having a profound affect on Arthur at the time.
Arthur himself died in hospital at Solihull in 1970, aged 73.
As for the family legend regarding the monies from the will of Arthur’s brother, William Young, in 1925, the will makes no reference to Arthur and the executor is given clear instruction that the monies should be split equally among William’s children. By 1925, Arthur was already making his way in business and whilst conspiracy theorists might point out that the executor of the will was also the witness at Arthur’s wedding thus was clearly of close acquaintance, there is no evidence to suggest the myth is anything more than that !