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The Drovers Arms Public House Steppingley

The Drovers Arms December 2016
The Drovers Arms December 2016

The Drovers Arms Public House and Indian Restaurant: Flitwick Road, Steppingley

The Drover’s Arms appears to have begun life in 1837 when John White conveyed one acre, one rood, nineteen poles in Middle Field to Woburn brewer James Fowler for £109 [WL1000/1/STEP/1/5]. The countywide licensing register of 1872 tells us that the Drovers Arms was first licensed as a beerhouse in 1849, although dates given in the register are not always accurate.

In 1881 Fowler sold his business. The sale particulars [WL1000/10/1/1] tell us that the property contained a bar and parlour, a general shop and pantry, a cellar, a tap room and washhouse with a club room above and four bedrooms. The yard was walled-in and contained wood and coal houses. There was also a detached two-stall stable with a loft and a skittle shed. The tenant, J Fasey, paid rent of £12 per annum. The Drover’s Arms was purchased by Bedford brewer Charles Wells.

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 Drover’s Arms [DV1/C81/44] found that it was owned by Bedford brewer Charles Wells. The tenant, George Sinfield, paid rent of £3 per annum.

The beerhouse stood in just under half an acre and comprised a “fair” tap room, a “small” bar, a kitchen, a scullery and a ccellar. Four bedrooms and a boxroom lay on the first floor. Outside stood a brick and slate wood barn, coal barn, stable, hovel and garage. Trade was said to be two barrels of nine gallons per week.

At some point the Drovers Arms became a fully-licensed public house, probably in the 1950s when all the old beerhouses seem to have been so converted. In 1994 the Drover’s Arms closed its doors and was sold by Charles Wells [PSA5/5]. However, it reopened as a restaurant and at the time of writing [2017] is an Indian Restaurant. 

References:

  • WL1000/1/STEP/1/5: land conveyed by John White to James Fowler of Woburn, brewer: 1837
  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • WL1000/10/1/1: auction sale particulars of brewery in Woburn and 26 public houses formerly of James Fowler of Woburn, brewer: 1881;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1961;
  • PSA5/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessions: 1968-1995.

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

1876-80: Joseph Billington;
1880-1915: James Fasey;
1915-1925: William Blackman;
1925-1936: George Sinfield;
1936-1953: George Chandler;
1953-1955: Daisy Chandler;
1955-1956: Herbert John Charles Blunt;
1956-1971: Horace Attle Farmer;
1971-1984: Arthur Vernon Sendall;
1984-1989: Gary William Coster;
1989-1994: George James McLeod;
Public house closed 3rd February 1994.