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The Gardeners Arms Beerhouse Potton

The Gardener’s Arms Beerhouse: 20 Sun Street, Potton

20 Sun Street March 2007
20 Sun Street March 2007

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that a beerhouse without a sign but in the ownership of James Home of Potton was first licensed in 1838. 14 to 20 Sun Street is a terrace of four houses with a distinctive polychrome tile and brick band at first storey level. The terrace is not listed. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for 14 to 20 Sun Street [HER 7086] dates the row to the 19th century “replacing a 17th century original”.

The first reference to the Gardeners Arms in any document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1872, in a licensing register, when owned by the devisees of Thomas Strickland and run by James Jeakins. The property then passed to James Home before being bought by Alfred Richardson who had begun a brewery in Biggleswade in 1869, moving to Potton in 1880, his brewery was in King Street; he mortgaged the Gardeners Arms and three licensed houses in Potton (the Two Brewers, Cross Keys and Red Lion) and properties elsewhere to William Thomas Chapman in 1877 [X501/12]. In 1878 the Second Great Fire of Potton affected part of the premises. The Bedfordshire Mercury states that part of the roof had to have its tiles removed but was otherwise saved; however, later in the same article it describes the building as “partially destroyed”.

The countywide licensing register of 1891 gives the owner as Richardson but notes that the beer was provided by Phipps’ Northampton Brewery. In 1894 [X501/15-16] Richardson sold his business to a partnership of Samuel Fuller, George Kitchener, John Butler Johnson and Elizabeth Pope who traded as the Potton Brewery Company. The 1903 register states that the property was indeed owned by the Potton Brewery Company and required repairing; it was just ten yards from the nearest licensed premises and had one front and two back doors. Potton Brewery Company was bought by Bedford brewers Newland and Nash in 1922 when the King Street brewery was demolished. Two years later Newland and Nash was bought by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch.

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. Potton, like much of the county, was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting the Gardener’s Arms [DV1/C12/75] considered it an: "Unattractive looking place" consisting of three bedrooms and a box room upstairs with a tap room, a living room, a cellar and a kitchen below. Outside were a washhouse and W. C., a hovel and a stable. Trade was not brisk; the business sold about a barrel a week as well as four dozen bottles - about a third of the trade was bitter, the rest mild.

The Gardener’s Arms closed its doors for the last time in August 1957. It is now a private house.

References:

  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • X501/12: provisional deed of charge: 1877;
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • X501/15: mortgaged: 1880;
  • X501/16: mortgaged: 1881;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • X501/12: mortgage: 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;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • X501/15-16: mortgages redeemed: 1894;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • GK297/3: with other properties, conveyed by Newland & Nash Limited to Wells & Winch Limited: 1938;
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972.

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

1872-1876: James Jeakins;
1876-1879: Henry Parkin;
1879-1881: William Peacock;
1881-1882: Henry King;
1880s: David Savill;
1886: George Head;
1880s: Edward Williams;
1891-1898: William Barringer;
1898-1901: Rebecca Barringer;
1901-1904: William Lenton;
1904-1907: William Hutchinson;
1907-1910: William Matthews;
1910-1924: Esau Clark Jackson;
1928: James Yarrell;
1931-1940: Mrs. Annie Yarrell;
1957: Harry James Dobson;
1957: William Harry Brooks

Beerhouse closed 3rd August 1957