The Half Moon Beerhouse Kensworth
56 Common Road February 2013
The Half Moon Beerhouse: 56 Common Road, Kensworth.
Kensworth had two drinking establishments called The Half Moon, one, this one, a beerhouse; the other a public house. It seems, at first glance, very strange to have two licensed premises of the same name in the same parish but they were a long way apart. The Half Moon beerhouse was in the village whereas the Half Moon Public House was at the extreme north-east tip of the parish and, today, since boundary changes in 1985, is well inside Dunstable.
Kensworth was in Hertfordshire until transferred to Bedfordshire in 1897. In 1857 land and property including a tenement in Kensworth used as a beerhouse, but unnamed, was conveyed by Thomas Robert Rackstrow to Ivinghoe [Buckinghamshire] brewer Charles Meacher [RY1045]. The house had been built by a man named Robert Obee on a plot of ground measuring 56 feet 6 inches by 16 feet and was bounded to the north by cottages formerly used as a workhouse or almshouse, east by cottages belonging to William Taylor, west by a three foot wide passage from Common Road to ground still belonging to Obee and south by Common Road itself.
A countywide licensing register of 1903 states that the Half Moon Beerhouse was owned by Ivinghoe brewers Roberts and Wilson, who had taken over Meacher's business, and had been licensed prior to 1869 (as can be seen by the conveyance above). It was in good repair, clean and sanitation was satisfactory. It was only eighteen yards from the nearest licensed premises – the Rose and Crown – and had a front door as well as one at the side.
The beerhouse closed in 1908. The Luton News reported: “This is an ante-1869 beerhouse belonging to Messrs. Roberts and Wilson, of Ivinghoe, and occupied by John Hutchins. According to the evidence of Superintendent Panter, the present tenant went there in January this year, and there had been five changes in the last ten years. The annual rent is £2 12s. and the rateable value is £10. the back entrance leads into a passage which is a right-of-way for six cottages. There is a small tap-room, and a passage which is used as a bar. The tenant has a small kitchen behind the bar. The general structure of the house is not convenient for public-house purposes. During the tenancy of Henry Wellman from August 1904 to December 1906, the house was invariably closed during the day-time, while the tenant was at work. The nearest house is the Rose and Crown, seventeen yards away, with three private houses between. In the opposite direction, the Old Red Lion is 136 yards away, with eighteen private houses between. Mr. Blow said that structurally the Half Moon was the worst of the six licensed houses he investigated in Kensworth”.
We can pinpoint the Half Moon as being 56 Common Road by reference to the 1910 Domesday Survey, when all properties in the country were assessed for rateable value. The Rose and Crown is identified as 48 Common Road which means the Half Moon, three doors further on, must be number 56 (50 Common Road stands on the site of the three old cottages, which were demolished).
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. Kensworth, like much of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 56 Common Road [DV1/C110/73] found that it was now owned, and occupied, by S. Willis. His accommodation comprised a reception room, a living room, a kitchen and a scullery with three bedrooms and a box room above. Outside stood a brick and slate washhouse, barn and earth closet. The valuer commented: “Good”. Next door was a garage with a loft over measuring 12 feet by 10 feet which Willis also owned.
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1871-1902: Gabriel Woodham;
1902-1904: Arthur Walker;
1904-1906: William Henry Wellman;
1906-1907: William Henry Price;
1907-1908: Joseph King;
1908: John Hutchings;
Beerhouse closed 1908
- RY1045: conveyance: 1857;
- PSL6/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Luton Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1901.