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The Gardeners Arms Beerhouse Girtford

Plan of the site of the Gardeners Arms [GK307/10]
Plan of the site of the Gardeners Arms [GK307/10]

The Gardeners Arms Public House: corner of Great North Road and Cottage Road, Girtford.

In 1863 a piece of land of 1 acre, 1 rood, 20 poles, recently part of an allotment of 3 acres, 12 poles, the rest of which had been sold to the Bedford and Cambridge Railway Company, was conveyed by William Randall of Biggleswade, victualler, and Ann, his wife to Fred Hogge, R. H. and C. S. Lindsell of Biggleswade, brewers, the partners in Wells & Company for £210. The land was described as abutting north-east on the railway, south on a private road [now Cottage Road] and west on the Sandy to Tempsford Turnpike Road, now The Great North Road [GK30/1]. The plan accompanying the deed is preserved elsewhere in the Greene King collection [GK307/10].

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1876, when the Gardener’s Arms was owned by Wells & Company states that the building was first licensed in 1863. Clearly Wells & Company built on the site as soon as it was conveyed to them.

In 1898 Wells & Company with their Biggleswade brewery and all licensed premises was put up for sale by auction. It was bought be Kent businessman George Winch for his son Edward Bluett Winch and in 1899 the company name changed to Wells & Winch, which it remained until taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961. The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1903 reveals that  the nearest licensed house to the Gardeners Arms was 90 yards away, that the state of repair of the Gardeners Arms, noted as at “Girtford Siding”, was good and that it had one front and one back door.

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 Gardeners Arms [DV1/C145/18] found it owned by Wells and Winch and tenanted by Fred Sawford, who paid rent of £26 per annum, fixed five years before.

The brick and slate, detached premises comprised a tap room, reception room, kitchen and cellar with three bedrooms above. Outside stood a public urinal, a pail closet, a washhouse and a shed. There were also farm buildings comprising: a brick, wood and slated open three bay shed with a loft over and an old wood and tiled stable with two stalls (“very dilapidated”).

Trade consisted of a thirty six gallon barrel of beer per week. Takings were about £4 per week. The valuer commented: “No trade here”. Sawford also leased an acre of adjoining land as part of the rent of the beerhouse.

The Gardeners Arms remained a beerhouse until it closed in 1958. It was then demolished and the site, today, lies under the southbound carriageways of the A1 opposite the junction with Cottage Road.

References:

  • GK30/1: conveyance: 1863;
  • GK307/10: plan of the site of the Gardeners Arms: 1863;
  • 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;
  • GK1/36: sale catalogue of Wells & Company and its licensed premises: 1898;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • PK1/4/108(f): land adjoining the inn described in a sale catalogue: 1934;
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972.  

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

1872-1876: John Henry Patrick – Wells & Winch
1876-1903: Robert Cannon;
1903-1914: Mrs. Elizabeth Cannon;
1920: Mrs. Violet Favell;
1924-1928: Frederick Sawford;
1936-1940: George Lintott
1957-1958: Joyce Ball
Beerhouse closed 16th July 1958