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The Dick Turpin Public House Girtford

39 Tempsford Road - the former Dick Turpin March 2010
39 Tempsford Road - the former Dick Turpin March 2010

The Dick Turpin Public House: 39 Tempsford Road, Girtford.

The former Dick Turpin public house stands on the Great North Road, the A1, on the western side. The premises was listed by the former Department of Environment in December 1979 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th century, noting that it was a timber-framed building which had been refaced in colour washed brick in the 19th century. The building comprises two storeys and has a concrete tile roof.

The premises was not named the Dick Turpin until well into the 20th century. Turpin was a famed highwayman, born in 1705 at the Blue Bell Inn, Hempstead [Essex] and became a butcher in Buckhurst Hill [Essex]. In the early 1730s he became involved with a gang of poachers and deer thieves and later the gang turned to house breaking. When the gang was smashed in 1735 Turpin turned to highway robbery in and around Epping Forest. He was said to have ridden up the Great North Road to York in a single night. Sadly this is fiction and, despite his legendary association with the road, there is no evidence that he ever road past the cottage which one day became the public house which bore his name. He was hanged in York for murder in 1739.

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1876 states that the premises opened, as a beerhouse, in 1846. The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1903 reveals that  the nearest licensed house was three quarters of a mile away, that the state of repair of the “No Sign Beerhouse” was good and that it had one front and one back door..

An abstract of title [GK305/2] reveals that the Dick Turpin was built by a man named John Moore. By 1877 it was, with other property, owned by a man named Richard Morton Bell, late of Sandy, then of Wood Green [Middlesex], auctioneer and valuer and Elizabeth, his wife. Bell had filed a petition for bankruptcy in that year and he and his guarantor, solicitor Edward Thurlow Leeds Smith issued two joint and promissory notes to creditors secured on Bells’ property, including the beerhouse. In 1882 Bell took out a mortgage with Leeds Smith secured on the beerhouse, then in the occupation of Samuel Medlock and leased to Hertfordshire brewer Simpson of Baldock. This mortgage was redeemed by Bell’s wife Elizabeth in 1900 when she took out another one with someone else, this one being repaid by her executors in 1921.

In 1922 Elizabeth’s executors conveyed “two cottages of tenements, of which one is a beerhouse in the occupation of James Truin” to the partners in Simpson’s Baldock Brewery for £1,150 [GK305/6]. Simpson’s Brewery was taken over by Suffolk firm Greene King in 1954.

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 Dick Turpin, then so-called [DV1/C92/80] found it owned by Simpson’s Brewery and occupied by F. J. Fage, who paid rent of £20 per annum, fixed in 1925.

The brick and slate property comprised a living room, a tap room, a scullery and a cellar with three bedrooms above. Outside stood an earth closet and urinal. Water was laid on. Trade was nine gallons of mild and three dozen bottles of beer per week. Takings were £4 per week.

Farm buildings adjacent to the house were also owned by Simpson’s and occupied by Fage, being paid for in the rent of the beerhouse. They comprised a wood and tile stable, a wood and tiled barn, a wood and tiled two bay hovel, two wood and corrugated iron sheds and a wood and corrugated iron open shed.

A letter to Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service in 1983 [CRT13-Sandy19] states: “The Landlord who took over from our son-in-law was awakened one night by what he thought “shuffling of feet and jingling of keys”. He got up in a fright, walked through the lounge to see if his son was walking about, he had been a sleep walker, finding him asleep, he went back to the bedroom and found the glass ash tray in two pieces, one half on the floor. The previous owners to our son-in-law also had strange happenings”.

The beerhouse became a public house with the granting of a full licence on 11th March 1959. The Dick Turpin closed in 1992, becoming a Chinese restaurant which it remains at the time of writing [2010].

Sources:

  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • GK305/2: abstract of title: 1921;
  • GK305/4: conveyance: 1922. 
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980.

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

1862-1869: Richard Hall;
1876-1877: Isaac Hall;
1882: Samuel Medlock
1890-1924: Thomas Truin;
1925-1940: F. John Fage;
1957: Charles John Ball;
1957-1964: Dennis Ball;
1964-1965: David Quenby;
1965-1966: Gwynne Jones;
1966-1981: Leslie Douglas Thompson;
1981-1983: John McPherson;
1983-1984: Kenneth Lewis Payten;
1984-1988: Kenneth Leslie Fox;
1988-1992: Antonio di Benedetto;
Public house closed 1992 becoming a Chinese restaurant