1 Dickens Lane Tilsworth
1 Dickens Lane December 2008
In the 19th and early 20th century the Methodist Church took a strong stance against alcohol. Chapels would raise Bands of Hope, all of the members of which would sign the pledge not to imbibe the demon drink. It is, therefore, ironic that in Tilsworth an off-licence stood next to the Wesleyan chapel, at least for a time.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 ordered every piece of land and building in the country to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. Tilsworth was assessed in 1927 when the valuer visiting 1 Dickens Lane [DV1/C104/51] noted that its was owned by the executors of H.Yirrell and occupied by Mrs.S.A.King. The rent had been £6 per annum before the First World War and was now £8/13/- per annum.
The building was constructed of brick and slate and was detached. It comprised two living rooms and two sculleries it also "has very small shop". Upstairs were four bedrooms ("two very small") and a W.C. Outside stood a weather boarded and slated coal shed and earth closet as well as three hen houses. The valuer noted that the off-licence sold seven barrels a year and that takings averaged 13/4 per week. He ended his report by noting: "Was two cottages. Poor looking place".
The off-licence seems to have been of longstanding. The countywide licensing register of 1876 records an off-licence in Tilsworth tenanted by James Billington and owned by Jesse Ellingham of Stanbridge. The 1891 register records that this off-licence had been registered prior to 1869 by 1891 was owned by Ephraim Ellingham and occupied by Alfred King, the licensees being Fenny Stratford [Buckinghamshire] brewers Holdom. In 1903 Ellingham and King were still shown as owner and occupier respectively, although no licensee is otherwise noted. The comment was made "Clean, but requires repairs", the premises had two front doors and a back door. It was 269 yards from the Anchor public house.