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The Five Bells Public House Meppershall

The Five Bells about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Me/FB2]
The Five Bells about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Me/FB2]

The Five Bells no longer exists. It used to stand between 97 High Street and Taylors Close. The countywide licensing register for 1876 states that it was first licensed over a century before. This seems to contradict other evidence as the countywide licensing registers for 1822 to 1828 do not include any licensed properties in Meppershall. However, at this date Meppershall was partly in Hertfordshire which may explain the discrepancy.

The earliest mention of the establishment in records held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service is in 1843 when an auction sale for a cottage was held at there. In 1874 the licensee James Harris was convicted of using short weight [HF147/1/422]. In 1876 the owner was brewer William Lucas of Hitchin. In 1898 the company was floated on the stock exchange as W & S Lucas Limited [WB/L4/1/VP1]. In 1923 this company was taken over by Luton brewer J W Green Limited [WB/Green4/1/VP3].

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 Five Bells [DV1/C161/15] found that the public house was owned by J W Green of Luton and tenanted by William Taylor who, like all Meppershall landlords at this date, had been there a very long time. His rent was £12 per annum and his licence £9/5/3 per annum. He gave his trade as half a barrel and six dozen bottle of beer per week along with half a gallon of spirits, though the valuer commented: "I think trade under-estimated" and reckoned another three-quarters of a barrel of beer should be added. Takings were reckoned to be £5 per week on average.

The property comprised a parlour, kitchen, cellar and three bedrooms with a small bar parlour and a "fair" taproom. Outside stood an old stable used for pigs, an old shed, a washhouse and a garage. The valuer considered it a slightly better position than the Sugar Loaf.

The landlord evidently did other work on the side. In 1933 he drove a school coach going from Henlow Camp to the schools in Henlow. He should have done this in two journeys but as the children were late they were all crammed into the one coach. There were 64 children between the ages of 5 and 11 and one adult with a baby in arms.  The bus was allowed to carry thirty children in a twenty-seater bus [HF147/41/6].

In 1954 J W Green merged with Midlands brewer Flowers, the new company taking that name. Flowers was then taken over by Whitbread in 1962. The Five Bells closed in 1972, a year after the Barley Mow which was not far away. It was subsequently demolished.

References:

  •  HE235: auction sale at property: 1843;
  •  HF147/1/422 Fine of James Harris for deficient weights and measures: 1874;
  •  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;
  •  WB/Green5/5/1: register of successive tenants: 1887-1926;
  •  HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  •  WB/L4/1/VP1: conveyance to W & S Lucas Limited: 1898;
  •  WB/Green4/1/VP9 photocopy of conveyance 1898;
  •  WB/L4/1/VP3 photocopy of conveyance 1898;
  •  HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  •  PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  •  WB/Green4/1/VP3 and 9: conveyance from W S Lucas to J W Green: 1923;
  •  HF147/41/6: overcrowded school coach driven by the landlord: 1933;
  •  WB/Green4/2/4: certificate of title of J W Green properties: 1936-1952;
  •  WB/Green4/2/7: schedule of deeds and documents: c. 1949;
  •  WB/Green4/2/8: schedule of deeds and documents: c. 1949;
  •  WB/Green4/2/12: schedule of deeds and documents: c. 1949;
  •  WB/Green4/2/16: letter regarding J W Green titles: 1952;
  •  WB/Green4/2/17: J W Green trust deed: 1952;
  •  WB/Green4/2/5: list of licensed J W Green houses: 1952;
  •  WB/Green4/2/18: J W Green certificate of title: 1954;
  •  WB/Green4/2/19: schedule of J W Green deeds and documents: c. 1954;
  •  PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
  •  WB/Flow4/5/Me/FB1-3 Black and white photographs of exterior side and front c.1960s

Licensees: 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:

1853-1873: James Parrott
1873-1894: James Harris[convicted on 4 February 1880 of permitting drunkenness on 20 January 1880 - fined £2 with 9/6 costs]
1894-1936: William Charles Taylor;
1940: William H Lamb;
1952: J. Taylor;
1957-1959: Andrew Millar;
1959: Richard James Gooch;
1959-1963: Cyril Bertram Dilley;
1963-1965: Jessie Thomson Dilley;
1965-1968: Fred Ernest Kriel;
1968-1972: George Albert Reed

Public House closed 1972