The Victoria Arms Beerhouse Eaton Bray
25 Bower Lane July 2012
The Victoria Arms Beerhouse [also the Victoria and the Victory]: 25 Bower Lane, Eaton Bray.
The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Victoria Arms was first licensed in 1867. In 1876 the beerhouse owner was Isaac Edwards of Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] who leased the property to John Edwards of Redborn [Hertfordshire]. John may, in fact, have been Isaac’s manager as the Edwards family had had a brewery in Redborn since at least 1866. The brewery was taken over by Dunstable brewer Benjamin Bennett in 1882.
The countywide register of 1891 states that Jabez Fountain was the owner and that he leased the property to Benjamin Bennett. Fountain was a former publican himself (The Hope and Anchor from 1884 to 1886) and seems to have taken over behind the bar at the Victory (as it is called in petty sessional licensing registers, though not the countywide registers, from 1877 onwards) or Victoria Arms in 1894 and 1895. Perhaps he bought the property from Isaac Edwards about the time Edwards’ brewery was sold to Benjamin Bennett and decided to lease the property to the new owner.
The countywide licensing register of 1903 gives a new owner - J. Pearce, and a new tenant Adey & White of Saint Albans. The beerhouse is described as: “clean and in good repair, sanitary arrangements not satisfactory”. The nearest licensed premises was 154 yards away (The Chequers) and the property had two front doors and one at that back.
The beerhouse was one of a number in the south of the county to be closed during World War One. The license was not renewed in February 1916. The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Eaton Bray, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting the former beerhouse, now called Victoria House, found it owned by H. Sharratt and occupied by William Nicholls.
The beerhouse had become a general shop and the tenant paid rent of 7/6 per week. The building comprised two living rooms, of which one was used as the shop, and a cellar (“neglect no window”). Three bedrooms lay above. The valuer noted: “Roof slopes at back” and queried: “Was pub?”. Outside stood a brick and slate store with a loft over, the loft being used by the landlord.
- PSLB4/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1949;
- PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956.
Licensees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds:
1876-1889: Samuel Dyer;
1889: John Copperwaite;
1890-1891: Richard Gadsden;
1894-1895: Jabez Fountain(e);
1895-1897: Arthur William Meakins;
1897: Emma Meakins;
1897-1913: George Pratt;
1913-1914: Frederick Hawkins;
1914-1916: Frank Jones
Beerhouse licence not renewed 1st February 1916.