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The New Inn Girtford

The former New Inn March 2010
The former New Inn March 2010

The New Inn: 144 London Road, Girtford

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1876, when the New Inn was owned by William Paine of Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire] states that the building was first licensed in 1836. Today’s building does not look this old, but that is due to alterations carried out in 1931 [CDE408/1-26].

The name of the licensee in 1866 is not known but he clearly had problems as this short article from the Bedfordshire Mercury of 28th August 1866 shows: "A DISCONSOLATE HUSBAND. - Some little excitement has been occasioned in this village amongst the lovers of gossip by the mysterious disappearance of the spouse of "mine host" of the New Inn, who, on Saturday night, the 18th inst., after treating her husband to several extra glasses of gin, suddenly disappeared, - leaving the forsaken home, it is said, liquorless and moneyless, as well as wifeless. For some men to be deprived of drink, cash and help-meet at a stroke, would doubtless prove a serious misfortune - demanding the patience of Job. It remains, however, to be seen whether the bereavement of "mine host" is more than temporary; but, from the latest accounts received, nothing as been heard of the runaway".

In 1877 there was trouble of a different kind at the New Inn as witness depositions [HF147/7/1363-1367] reveal. P. C. James Watts, who was involved at a fracas at the King’s Arms during Girtford Feast that year, was called to the inn where John Wiltshire was sitting in the road “very drunk and disorderly with a crowd of about twenty persons round him”. He had already pulled out a handful of publican George Cox’s whiskers as he threw him out of the New Inn, having refused him a drink because he was in such a state.

Wiltshire refused to move and made a great disturbance. As the policeman tried to take him into custody Wiltshire became violent and had to be thrown to the ground to be handcuffed. Another drunk, JamesSpring, then attacked P. C. Watts who summoned George Cox to help him and both men were overcome and taken away. Wiltshire was not yet finished, however, punching P. C. Watts in the mouth as they neared the police station in a cart. A bystander remarked that he thought P. C. Watts “was more lenient than he should have been”. Wiltshire got three months hard labour and Spring two months.

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1903 reveals that  the nearest licensed house was 90 yards away, that the state of repair of the New Inn 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 New Inn [DV1/C28/113] found it still owned by Paine & Company of Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire] and occupied by John C. Gaunt, who paid rent of £24 per annum, fixed six years before when he took the tenancy. The valuer made the somewhat ambivalent remark: “?Tenant’s personality”. Yet Gaunt was still licensee in 1940 when the final Kelly’s Directory for Bedfordshire was published.

The brick and slate, detached building, described by the valuer as an “old fashioned place”, comprised a tap room, a bar, a reception room, a kitchen, a scullery and a pantry. Upstairs were three bedrooms. A washhouse, w. c. and urinal lay outside along with a wood, brick and tiled open cart shed with a loft over, a brick and tiled three stall stable and shed and an open-fronted shed.

Trade was about two barrels of beer per week and “hardly any spirits”. Takings were about £15 per week including what must have been a substantial tobacco trade. The New Inn remained in the possession of Paine & Company until that company was taken over by Tolly Cobbold in 1987. The New Inn was later owned by Pubmaster but closed in the early 21st century and by the time of writing [2010] had become an Indian restaurant called The Akbar.

References:

  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • P9/8/1: a new drain dug from the New Inn to Cubbard's Lane, Girtford: 1872;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • HF147/7/1363-1367: drunk and disorderly men outside the New Inn: 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;
  • CDE408/1-26: proposed alterations for Paine and Company: 1931;
  • Z1169/8/63/8: new bathroom, urinal and w. c.’s: 1938;
  • 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:
1872-1892: George Cox;
1892-1894: Sarah Jane Hendry;
1894-1897: Robert Armsby Hendry;
1897-1899: Thomas White Holmes;
1899-1900: Herbert Stutchbury;
1900-1904: William Leonard;
1904-1914: George Gill, market gardener;
1920-1921: John Bennett;
1921-1940: John G. Gaunt;
1956-1963: Ronald Walker;
1963-1980: George Ernest Litchfield;
1980-1982: Stanley Atkinson;
1982-1983: Peter Dawson;
1983-1993: Paul Shergold;
1993-1995: David Hugh Gilbert.