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The Wheatsheaf Beerhouse Girtford

The junction and closest house are on the site of the Wheatsheaf - December 2010
The junction and closest house are on the site of the Wheatsheaf - December 2010

The Wheatsheaf Beerhouse: 70 London Road, Girtford.

The deeds to the former Wheatsheaf Beerhouse on the Great North Road, now London Road, go back to 1696 and are part of the Greene King archive [GK]. Robert Wilshere of Cardington, yeoman conveyed a cottage and hempland in Girtford formerly in the occupation of Richard Sharpe to Walter Wynn of Girtford, carpenter and Mary, his wife for £19 in 1696 [GK147/1].

Wynn’s will left the cottage to his wife and then to their son Francis [GK147/2]. Francis died childless and the cottage was inherited by his brother John and sister Elizabeth. In 1727 the cottage was purchased by Stephen Hardin of Girtford, labourer and he sold it in 1769 to John Jarvis of Girtford, labourer [GK147/12]. In 1786 Jarvis’ son James conveyed the cottage to John Braybrook of Girtford for £30 [GK147/15].

In 1862 John Braybrooks (presumably son, grandson or similar of the John Braybrook of 1786) made his will devising the house in Girtford in which he lived along with 2 acres, 3 roods of land behind it, to William Cooper of Girtford, son of his niece Sarah Cooper [GK147/25]. Cooper mortgaged the property in 1869 for £600 [GK147/29]. The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1876 states that the building was first licensed in 1868 and so this mortgage may have been to pay for the erection of the new beerhouse.

The property was sold at auction in 1870. The particulars [GK147/30] described it as being newly erected, so presumably the 17th century cottage had been pulled down, built in brick and comprising a tap room, a living room, a kitchen and cellar with yard and buildings at the back including a scullery, tool house, boarded and pantiled shed, pigsty and hovel, large barn, stable and cart shed, onion loft and enclosed stock yard. A second yard was reached by an entrance from the Great North Road and had onion lofts, sheds, a small barn and a well. The beerhouse was leased to brewers Cleaver & Company of Baldock [Hertfordshire] for £45 per annum. The purchaser was Joseph Sutton, who owned the Greyhound Inn on Sandy High Street. In 1895 he sold the Wheatsheaf to Bedford brewers William Pritzler Newland and Susan Nash, whose firm became Newland and Nash Limited two years later, for £1,250. The sale included two acres at the rear.

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1903 reveals that  the nearest licensed house was 52 yards away, that the state of repair of the Wheatsheaf was good and that it had two front and two back doors.

Newland and Nash was bought by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch in 1924, together with its licensed houses. 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 Wheatsheaf [DV1/C29/26] found it duly owned by Wells & Winch and occupied by Fanny Odell who paid rent of £30 per annum.

The brick and tiled, detached house comprised a tap room (annotated “now living room”), a living room, a kitchen and a cellar with two bedrooms on the first floor. Outside stood a brick building (“once a washhouse”), a w. c. and urinal and an old pail closet. Farm buildings comprised: an old wood and tiled two stall stable; a “very old” two bay cart shed and a “very bad” old barn and old brick and slated shed.

The beerhouse’s trade was just half a barrel of beer per week which the valuer considered “very bad”. Takings were just twelve shillings per week in tobacco. The valuer added, not surprisingly, “not a prosperous house”. The brewery also owned 2.074 acres of adjacent market gardening land, also leased by Fanny Odell, rent being included in that for the beerhouse.

The Wheatsheaf did not last much longer. It was sold at auction, along with the Swan, in 1931. The particulars [Z1039/16/2] noted that it was at 70 London Road, was now unlicensed and was constructed of brick and slate, containing three bedrooms, a living room, a parlour, a kitchen, a tap room, a w. c., a large yard at the rear approached by a cartway and with a four bay cart shed with a loft over, a two bay cart shed and a barn. The property included 1 acre, 32 poles of garden land adjoining and was “recently in the occupation of Fanny Odell”. The building no longer exists. The site is partly beneath the splayed junction of London Road with Allhallows and partly beneath the modern house, Number 1 Allhallows.

References:

  • GK147/1: conveyance of a cottage: 1696;
  • GK147/2: will of William Wynn: 1719, proved 1720;
  • GK147/5: conveyance of a cottage: 1727;
  • GK147/12: conveyance of a cottage: 1769;
  • GK147/15: conveyance of a cottage: 1786;
  • GK147/25: will of John Braybrooks: 1862;
  • GK147/30: sale catalogue of the Wheatsheaf: 1870;
  • GK147/31: conveyance of the Wheatsheaf: 1871;
  • 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;
  • GK147/32: conveyance of the Wheatsheaf: 1895;
  • GK3/1a: conveyance of licensed premises to Newland and Nash Limited: 1897;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • Z1039/16/2: sale particulars: 1931.  

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

1868-1881: Charles Crawley;
1881-1895: Frederick Ball, market gardener;
1895-1896: S. York;
1896-1904: Frederick Ball the elder, market gardener;
1904: Louisa Ball;
1904-1913: James Odell, market gardener;
1913-1928: Fanny Odell.