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The Three Blackbirds Public House Potton

The Three Blackbirds Public House [also the Blackbirds]: 9 Blackbird Street, Potton

The Three Blackbirds in 1910 [X758/1/8/105]
The Three Blackbirds in 1910 [X758/1/8/105]

This public house is first mentioned in any record held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service in the licensing records of 1822-1828 and is, presumably, the genesis of the street name. The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that it had, by then, been licensed for over a century.

In 1837 Elizabeth and William Tear surrendered the property to Biggleswade brewer Wells and Company [Z1039/34/1]. The property was copyhold, that is to say, it was part of a manor. People held copyhold properties from the manor and instead of conveying them to someone else had to surrender them to the Lord of the Manor at a manor court and the new owners then had to seek admission from that manor court or a subsequent one. This allowed the manor to claim a fee (or fine) for the privilege.

In 1891 new landlord James Stewart was fined five shillings with 10/6 costs for selling beer during prohibited hours on 7th January [HF143/5]. In 1898 Wells and Company was put up for sale by auction. The particulars [GK1/36] describe the Blackbirds, as the pub was the known, as follows: “A brick and tiled House, containing Bar, Parlour, Kitchen, three Bed Rooms, two Attics; Billiard Room; Yard, Stabling, Coach-house, Garden, Pig Stye, W. C. &c. ALSO A Cottage adjoining, containing four Rooms. Let to Mrs. Ann Giles, at £14, and £2 extra for Billiard Room and use of Billiard Table. Copyhold of the Manor of Potton Much Manured”. The company was bought by Kent businessman George Winch for his son Edward Bluett Winch and so became Wells and Winch.

The countywide licensing register of 1903 states that the house was in good repair. It was 69 yards from the nearest licensed premises (The Duke of Wellington) and had one front and two back doors. The public house closed its doors for the last time on 23rd October 1914, becoming a private house. That same day 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was in front line trenches near Festubert and 2nd Battalion was in action at Gheluveldt near Ypres. The following day Potton man Herbert Hutchinson of 2nd Battalion died of wounds and was buried at Ypres Town Cemetery. Ten days before the pub closed Private Charles Nicholas Hutchinson of 1st Battalion was killed in action at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée.

9 Blackbird Street March 2007
9 Blackbird Street March 2007

References:

  • CLP13: Register of Alehouse Licenses: 1822-1828;
  • Z1039/34/1: epitome of surrender: 1837;
  • Z1039/34/1: epitome admission of William Hogg and Robert Lindsell: 1838;
  • 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;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • Z1039/34/1: epitome admission of Frederick Archdale: 1895;
  • GK1/36: three sales catalogues bound together: Wells & Company of Biggleswade 1898;
  • Z1039/34/1: epitome enfranchisement to Frederick Archdale: 1899;
  • Z1039/34/2a: conveyance: 1899;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • X758/1/8/1-5 and 106: photographs: c.1910.

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

1822-1830: Elizabeth Tear;
1839-1847: William Tear;
1861-1864: David Dear (also whitesmith, gunsmith and general smith);
1869: William Armond;
1872: David Ibbott;
1872-1885: George Kitchener junior;
1885-1887: Charles Huckle;
1887-1890: Anthony G. P. Scard;
1890: Charles Brown;
1891-1892: James Stewart;
1892-1894: Annie Maria Milton King;
1894-1895: Joseph Hartill;
1895-1896: William Henry Austin;
1896: Joseph Lilley;
1896-1901: Ann Giles;
1901-1907: George Andrew MacCord;
1907-1908: William John Green;
1908-1911: Edwin Ellis;
1911: Thomas M.Lamb;
1911-1914: Alfred James Harris
Public house closed 23rd October 1914