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The Bedford Arms Public House Husborne Crawley

The Bedford Arms in 1931 [BTNegOB50/3]
The Bedford Arms in 1931 [BTNegOB50/3]

The Bedford Arms Public House: Station Road, Husborne Crawley [also The Richmond Arms]

The Bedford Arms stood near Ridgmont Station. Both the station and the public house were, in fact, in the parish of Husborne Crawley. Although it was suggested that the Duke of Bedford build a public house near the station [R3/5114] no document in Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service states when it was built. The Richmond Arms is first listed in a directory of 1850. Ridgmont Station opened in 1846. In 1861 a mortgage taken out by Joseph Norris of Ridgmont, farmer, includes the Richmond Arms, deacribed as "lately erected by Joseph Norris" [R6/29/3/23] though, as can be seen from the photograph above, the public house was built in the same style as a Bedford Estate cottage.

When Joseph Norris died in 1866 he still owned the Richmond Arms though his will [R6/29/3/25] tasked his executors with selling it. By the time of the countywide licensing register of 1876 the name had changed to the Bedford Arms, reflecting the change of owner, who was now the Duke of Bedford. The Bedford Arms continued to be owned by the Duke of Bedford but was leased to the Bedford brewers Higgins & Sons until they were taken over by Biggleswade brewers Wells & Winch in 1927. Later The Bedford Arms was owned by Bedford brewer Charles Wells. A packet of deeds from 1949 to 1955 is still held by Charles Wells Limited and it seems likely that the Bedford Arms changed hands on one of these two dates. It was certainly in the hands of Charles Wells, and newly refurbished, in September 1981 [WL722/32]. The public house closed at the end of the twentieth century and the building was demolished around 2000. 

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. Husborne Crawley, like much of the county, was listed in 1927. The valuer visiting the Bedford Arms [DV1/A8/34] noted that the rent was £2/6/8 per month. The public premises comprised a parlour and a taproom; there was a cellar beneath. Takings were about £20 per month from the sale of two 36 gallon barrels of beer and a gallon of spirits. water was laid on but there was no electricity, lighting being by oil lamps. Outside the public house stood a brick and slate fowlhouse, two pigsties, two 2 bay open sheds, a washhouse with a lost over, an earth closet and a stable for four horses.

References:

  • R3/5114: suggestion that Duke of Bedford build a public house near Ridgmont Station: 1846;
  • PSLB4/1: Register of Licences – Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1860s-1949;
  • PSW3/1: Register of Licences – Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1868-1949
  • GK4/4: agreement by Laurence Read Colbourne Higgins and Cecil Charles Norman Colbourne Higgins to convey, with others, to Higgins & Sons:1902;
  • BTNegOB50/3: negative of the property: 1931;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • PSW3/2: Register of Licences – Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1949-1953
    Z1105/1: liquor licence traders survey form: 1950;
  • PSA5/5: Register of Licenses - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1968-1995;
  • WL722/32: article in Charles Wells in-house magazine Pint Pot on refurbishing of public house: 1981;
  • WL722/44: article in Charles Wells in-house magazone Pint Pot on public house: 1984.

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

1850-1853: William Norris;
1854: Charles Wills, coal merchant;
1864-1889: George Taylor;
1890-1903: William Carley;
1904-1930: Henry Francis;
1931-1937: Charles Francis;
1937-1939: Betty Matilda Francis [5 Sep 1939 Fined 31 costs 11/6 in each of 6 cases. Selling Intoxicating Liquor during non permitted hours];
1939-1941: George Powell;
1941-1950: John Ralph Gilbert;
1950-1964: Basil George Martin;
1964-1974: George Henry Clare;
1974-1978: Michael John Hughes;
1978: William Thomson;
1978-1979: Dennis Henry Mason;
1979-1983: Michael John Robinson;
1983-1989: Anthon Philip Board;
1989-1991: Keith Andrew Parker
1991-1995: Leonard Robert Wheeler;
1995: Paul Elyston White Archer