The Jolly Coopers Public House Wardhedges
The Jolly Coopers October 2010
The Jolly Coopers Public House: Wardhedges
The earliest mention of the Jolly Coopers Beerhouse comes in a sale catalogue of Dunstable Brewery dating to 1843. The property is described thus [BH409]:
The JOLLY COOPER, Beer Shop, at WARE HEDGES,
About one mile from Silsoe; containing Tap, Parlor [sic], Kitchen, Cellar, and three Bed Chambers, Yard and Garden.
Also THREE TENEMENTS adjoining, with Gardens and about 4 acres, 2 roods 0 poles of excellent Arable land, Tithe free
In the occupation of WILLIAM BOBERTS (Mortgagor), and of the estimated Annual value of £25
The countywide licensing register of 1876 notes that the Coopers Arms, as the establishment was then called, was owned and occupied by William Varney. The countywide register of 1891 gives the owner as William Morley of Baldock [Hertfordshire]. Morley was, in fact, the agent for William Pickering of Burton-on-Trent [Staffordshire]. The firm was known as Baldock Brewery Limited from 1898 [GK165/12]. In fact the brewers were lessors and not owners as the countywide register for 1903 still gives the owner as William Varney.
The register of 1903 notes: "repair good and clean", the house had both front and back doors. In 1904 Baldock Brewery transferred their lease of the Jolly Coopers to Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch Limited.
The Rating 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 Jolly Coopers [DV1/C270/91] found it owned and occupied by Alfred Harris. He commented: "small place, end of village". The building comprised a living room, a kitchen, an underground cellar ("no pulls"), three bedrooms, a "small room used as sweet store" and a tap room. Trade was about one barrel and four dozen bottles of beer per week; there was a small tobacco trade. Takings were roughly £140 per annum. The valuer commented: "No competition. Small room at rear used as a general shop".
Wells and Winch continued to lease the beerhouse until about 1934 when Bedford brewer Charles Wells took over [PSA5/2]. A full licence was granted on 12th February 1953 turning the beerhouse into a public house. At the time of writing  the Jolly Coopers remains a Charles Wells public house.
- BH409: sale catalogue of Dunstable Brewery: 1843;
- Z50/142/52: photograph of the owner Mrs. Varney: c. 1870;
- PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
- GK1/36: sale catalogue: 1898;
- GK165/12: conveyance from William Pickering to Baldock Brewery: 1898;
- GK165/17: assignment of lease: 1904;
- 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;
- PSA5/5: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1968-1995
- WL722/27: restoration of a Victorian well at the Jolly Coopers in Charles Wells in-house magazine Pint Pot: 1980;
Licensees: Note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known
1843: William Roberts;
1869: Joseph Fennemore;
1876-1879: William Varney;
1879-1880: Joseph Elmore;
1880-1911: Ellen Elmore;
1911-1933: Alfred Harris;
1933-1940: Ernest Walter Spicer;
1940-1952: Claude Frederic Smart Hinson;
1952-1959: Samuel William Carr;
1965-1968: Frederic James Nash;
1968-1973: John George Keogh;
1973-1976: Stanley Simpson;
1976-1995: Ronald Anthony Billings