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The Commander in Chief Public House Maulden

The Commander in Chief about 1925 [WL800/1]
The Commander in Chief about 1925 [WL800/1]

The Commander in Chief Public House: 200 Clophill Road, Hall End

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Commander in Chief opened as a beerhouse in 1868. By 1876 the owner was James Davis of Bedford and he leased the house to Baldock [Hertfordshire] brewer John Steed. It is interesting that Steed had two other licensed premises called the Commander in Chief – in Sawston [Cambridgeshire] and in Shillington – he must have liked the name.

Steed died in 1877 and the firm was taken over by his son Oliver who died in 1888 when the firm was purchased by Charles Morley on behalf of William Pickering of Burton-on-Trent [Staffordshire]. The firm became known as Morley and Company, later being renamed Wilson and Company, still brewing at Baldock.

By the time of the countywide register of 1891 the Commander in Chief was still owned by James Davis. The beerhouse included a brewhouse, premises and garden and the lease had been made by James Grant Davis to Oliver Steed on 2nd February 1885, rent being £22 per annum [GK165/12]. When the Baldock Brewery was put up for sale in 1898 the Commander-in-Chief was one of the houses with its lease included in the sale [GK1/36].

The countywide licensing register of 1903 states that the owner was Bedford brewer, Charles Wells, which, unusually, continued to lease the place to Wilson & Company. The following year the lease was assigned to Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch [GK165/17]. The 1903 register notes: “repairs fairly good and clean”. The beerhouse stood 230 yards from the nearest licensed premises and had public doors both front and back. The establishment was rebuilt by Charles Wells in 1907.

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 Commander in Chief [DV1/C259] found that Charles Wells was still the owner and charged its tenant, Archibald Green £12 per annum in rent (only just over half the figure in 1885).

The valuer noted: “Modern double fronted house. Detached. Brick & slate. Very good building”. It comprised a tap room (“fair”), a smoke room (“good”), a kitchen and a reception room on the ground floor with a cellar down three steps. Upstairs lay four bedrooms and a box room. Outside stood a brick and tile range of three pig sties, a brick and slate stable and loft and an open coach house and cellar.

The valuer noted that trade comprised half a barrel of beer per week – a total of £4, as well as a dozen large bottles and two dozen small bottles - £1 in all. There was also a small trade in tobacco. He commented: “This is a new tenant and has only been here 5 weeks. Came here 12 May 1927. Have not sold an 18 gallon these past few weeks”.

On 12th February 1953 the Commander in Chief became a fully licensed public house. The business closed early in the 21st century.

Licencees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds:

1871-86: Robert Logsdon;
1886-1901: Elizabeth Logsdon;
1901-1912: William George Appleby;
1912-1915: Arthur Walter Gibbs;
1915-1925: Charles Dix;
1925-1927: Arthur Head;
1927-1931: Archibald A. Green;
1931-1936: Arthur George Head;
1936-1946: Ernest John Harris;
1946-1950: Frederick Hammond Cowell;
1950-1951: Thomas Greenwell Coates;
1951-1952: Edgar Henry Valentine;
1952-1955: Thomas Cecil Izzard;
1955-1956: Charles William Davenport;
1955-1959: Alfred John Adamson;
1959: Harry Edward Salisbury;
1966-1978: Denis Charles Garrard;
1978-1984: Alan Wicks;
1984-1996 John Richard Stanley Higson

Sources:

  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • GK165/12: conveyed to Baldock Brewery: 1898;
  • GK1/36: bound sale catalogue of Baldock Brewery: 1898;
  • GK165/17: assignment of lease from Baldock Brewery to Wells and Winch: 1904;
  • Z50/31/68: postcard: c. 1910;
  • Z1306/77/4: postcard: c. 1913;
  • WL800/1 page 36: photograph: c. 1925;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • PSA5/3: list of premises taken over by Wells & Winch on voluntary liquidation of Newland & Nash: 1936;
  • PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s;
  • WL724/1: photograph: 1972;
  • Z1309/1/17: drawing: 1980s-1990s.