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The Blacksmith's Arms Ravensden

The Blacksmith’s Arms, Bedford Road, Ravensden

This page was written by Trevor Stewart

The Blacksmiths Arms is located on the opposite side of Ravensden cross roads to the Old White Lion. It was initially a beerhouse previously known as "The Cross" and gained its full licence as a Public House in 1940.

Ravensden Crossroads Z1306-93-1-1

The Crossroads, Ravensden 1905. The White Lion P.H. is on the right and the Blacksmiths Arms P.H is on the left [Z1306/93/1/1]

The building appears to have been constructed just before 1890 with yellow bricks made at one of the small local brick works, possibly that owned by Francis Wythes, adjacent to the site, and which it is known ceased operation in 1890.  The new building replaced the earlier unlicensed beer house.

There are deeds from 1899 which are held at Bedfordshire Archives showing that the Public House was then owned by Bedford brewers, Higgins and Son.

The 1890 building resembled a small house with a tiny bar on either side of the front entrance door, but attached to it was a blacksmiths forge which until the 1980’s still contained the forge and equipment.

These dates would entirely reconcile to the evidence that the public house was built after the construction of the Bedford to Kimbolton Road in order to afford travellers the facility of a place to take a drink while their horse was being re shod or the wheels of the carriage repaired. The Victorian equivalent of a modern service station with refreshment facilities one could say!

In the late 1890’s the Fensome family had a total monopoly of three of the pubs in Ravensden as three brothers held the licences for three of the houses, William - the Blacksmiths Arms, David - the Horse and Jockey, and James - the Case is Altered.

During the Second World War the Blacksmiths Arms was very popular with American servicemen from Thurleigh taking the opportunity for one last drink while on their way back to base from a night out in Bedford. It was also frequented by girls from the Womens Land Army training unit at Ravensden House, some of whom it is said met their future husbands there.

In 1991 the whole place was enlarged and refurbished. The forge equipment was removed, the archway giving access to the rear was filled in. All of this newly gained space was encompassed into the pub proper, thereby increasing the overall size of the establishment three fold and providing room for a restaurant area.

Blacksmiths Arms May 2008

The Blacksmith's Arms 2008

After some difficult years in the early 2000’s the pub was eventually sold and is now an Indian Restaurant.

 References of Documents held by Bedfordshire Archives:

  • GK298/2: Conveyance of Blacksmith’s Arms and adjacent wheelwright’s shop to Higgins & Sons 1899;
  • GK298/3: Letter from  Conquest & Clare, Mill St to Higgins & Sons re Ravensden beerhouse, 1899;
  • BTNegOB39/2: Blacksmith's Arms, Ravensden. Poster 'vote for Sells' on wall c.1931;
  • Z1169/8/59/1: Plan of Blacksmith's Arms PH [as existing] for Wells & Winch Limited, 1940;
  • RDBP3/249: Plan. Alterations to "The Blacksmith's Arms", Ravensden, 1940;
  • Z1169/8/59/2: Plan of Blacksmith's Arms PH.  Proposed alterations for Wells & Winch Ltd., 1940;
  • PCRavensden9/13: Notice of application for full transfer of licence in respect of the Blacksmith's Arms 15 August 1983;
  • BorBTP/91/0501: The Blacksmith's Arms, Bedford Road, Ravensden:  plan of extension and proposed alterations including change of use from stables to public house,1991;
  • BorBTP/92/0945: The Blacksmiths Arms Public House, Kimbolton Road, Ravensden:  plan of proposed extension to restaurant, 1992

Licencees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds:

[Higgins & Sons then Wells & Winch; then Greene King; then Raymond Joseph Munday] [full licence 9 Mar 1940]

  • 1901 James Fensome
  • 1903-1904: William Fensom junior; [convicted on 18 Jul 1903 of permitting           drunkenness - fined £1 with 7/6 costs]
  • 1904: William Vine;
  • 1904-1924: William Fensom;
  • 1924-1925: Harry Page;
  • 1925-1940: Alfred Fensome;
  • 1961-1972: Bert Allen Crick;
  • 1972-1974: Frederick Frank Sturge;
  • 1974-1978: Basil Bryan Paul Weston;
  • 1978-1983: Ronald Eric Fox;
  • 1983-1987: Thomas Edward Williams;
  • 1987-1988: Robert Dougal Jenkins;
  • 1988-1991: Terry Booth McCarthy;
  • 1991: Peter Gravestock;
  • 1991-1995: Raymond Joseph Munday