Coventry man who made history as city’s first Black pub licensee

Rudolph Green ran the Wheatsheaf public house on Foleshill Road

A cursory internet search for Rudolph Green, Coventry, brings up very little.

But Mr Green made history in Coventry by becoming the city’s first Black licensee in 1969.

‘I thought I would experience some resentment’

Mr Green then made history in Coventry by going on to manage to the Wheatsheaf public house on Foleshill Road, which still stands today.

Coverage from the Coventry Evening Telegraph at the time gives us an insight into how race stories were reported back in the 1960s.

Using what is now a slur, we reported Mr Rudolph’s story on the front cover of the Coventry Evening Telegraph on Friday, January 17, 1969.

The front page headline read: “First coloured licensee in city”.

Speaking to our reporter about his new role at the Wheatsheaf pub, Mr Green said: “I thought I would experience some form of resentment at my being at the pub. That was my biggest worry.

“But nothing like that has happened and the atmosphere is very friendly.”

Rudolph Green makes history in Coventry, by becoming the city’s first black licensee in January 1969 (Image: Mirrorpix)

Mr Green worked as a government worker in Jamaica before coming to Coventry, and with wife Eileen, who worked at Coventry’s Owen Owen store, had a two year old son at the time.

Giving us a view to what opportunities were like for people from ethnic minorities in Coventry, Mr Green said: “I used the cafe as a stepping stone for a pub. I felt there should be coloured people in various forms of business in Coventry and life behind a bar is something I have been thinking about for years.”

It would have been rare to see people like Mr Green occupy traditionally white spaces such as pubs.

But moves like this from minorities, such as setting up businesses, buying houses and engaging with unions, helped diversify the local community.

Why the language we use has changed

Coloured might be a term you associate with your grandparents or parents saying, but it is an outdated slur.

We would not use the word in our reports now, but why is it considered a slur?

Harking back to a time when segregation existed, the term coloured groups any non-white person into one group, which at the time, were persecuted for the colour of their skin.

Charity Show Racism the Red Card has said of the term: “[It] was used to describe anybody who was not white, which may imply that to be white is ‘normal’ or default,” says the

“If we consider it, every human has a skin colour, so technically we are all coloured.”