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The Fir Tree Public House Flitwick

The Fir Tree about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Fli.FT1]
The Fir Tree about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Fli.FT1]

The Fir Tree Public House: Dunstable Road opposite Church Street, Flitwick

The land on which the Fir Tree later stood was assessed for Land Tax in 1797. The owner and occupier was William Fane and the assessment £2 [QDL]. Fane was still owner and occupier in 1800 and in 1807 when the assessment had gone up to £2/3/6 [QDL]. In 1813 Flitwick was inclosed and Fane was still the owner, the property being designated a homestead [farm buildings - the later public house certainly resembled a farmhoouse, see above] and close of 3 acres, 15 poles [MA68/2]. William Fane obviously died in 1813 as the Land Tax assessment describes the owner as his executors. In 1832 the land Tax assessment gave the owner as Thomas Fane.

This is probably the same Thomas Fane who owned an unnamed beerhouse in Flitwick at the time of the countywide licensing register of 1876. He lived in Bedford and the licensee was William Billington, as sub-tenant of Charles Wells Limited of Bedford. The register, which is not necessarily accurate in such matters, gives the date of first licensing as 1857.

By the time of the countywide licensing register of 1891 the no sign beerhouse had become the Fir Tree and had been sold to Ampthill brewers Morris and Company, which became a limited company in 1907 as Morris and Company (Ampthill) Limited [CCE5304/1]. In 1926 Morris and Company was sold to Luton brewer J W Green Limited [CCE5304/3].

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. The valuer visiting the beerhouse [DV1/C272/5] found that the tenant paid rent of £30 per annum to J W Green Limited. He commented: “Pretty old fashioned place, very good draw-up, cross-roads, Bedford-Dunstable main road”.

Accommodation comprised a tap room and parlour (“fair public rooms”), a living room, scullery and pantry downstairs with three bedrooms above. Trade was three-quarters of a barrel of beer per week on average, though the valuer commented: “A lot of stuff in cellar, say one barrel”. Two dozen bottles of minerals were sold per month and two dozen half-pint bottles of beer per week.

A “good” corrugated iron two-bay open cart shed stood outside, along with a corrugated iron poultry house, three condemned brick, weather-boarded and thatched cottages (“absolutely no good”), a large weather-boarded and thatched house for fowls and a brick and tile four-stall stable - “all practically unused”.

In 1954 J W Green Limited merged with Midland brewer Flowers, the new firm taking the Flowers name. In 1962 the firm was taken over by Whitbread. It was probably around this time that the Fir Tree closed and was demolished. The site is now beneath modern houses in Pope Close, the name is preserved in the Fir Tree Garage.

Sources:

  • CRT130Fli8: notes on the Fir Tree;
  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • SF20/59/1-4: inventory and sale of effects of outgoing tenant William Billington: 1883;
  • Z50/50/4: photograph: c. 1900;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP8: Abstract of Title of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited to various properties: 1900-1926;
  • CCE5304/1: conveyed to Morris and Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1907;
  • CCE5304/3: sale to J W Green Limited: 1926;
  • WB/M/4/2/1: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: c.1926;
  • - WB/M/4/2/2: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1926;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: Certificate of title of J.W.Green Limited to various properties: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of properties of J.W.Green Limited: c.1936;
  • Z1105/1: liquor licence traders survey form: 1941;
  • X291/201: rear view: c. 1944;
  • PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s;
  • WB/Green4/2/12: schedule of deeds of various J.W.Green Limited properties: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: list pf properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: Second schedule of trust deed showing properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 1952;
  • WBGreen4/2/18: certificate of title to certain properties of J.W.Green Limited: 31 Mar 1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Fli/FT1-2: photographs: 1960s;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1961.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1864-1883: William Billington;
1883-1900: Cecil Dillingham;
1900-1922: William George Odell;
1922-1923: Elizabeth Annie Odell;
1923-1959: Ernest Dix;
1961: George Albert Reed.