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The Steamer Beerhouse Aspley Guise

  The Steamer about 1920
This postcard of The Steamer also shows Alice Holmes, who commissioned the series c.1920 [Ref.Z818/9]

The Steamer Beerhouse: 18 West Hill, Aspley Guise

The Steamer was listed by the former Ministry of Works in 1961 under its former name of Easter Cottage, being given Grade II status ("of special interest, which warrant every effort being made to preserve them"). The property is 16th century, reworked in the 20th century. It is timer-framed with colour-washed plaster infill and a thatched roof. It is built in an L plan, the left-hand block being a single storey with attics, the right-hand cross-wing two storeys. All windows are 20th century.

Its use as a beerhouse only began in the mid 19th century (as the name indicates). The first mention in a Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service document is in 1843 when it is described as a farmhouse. By 1866, when it was sold to the Bedford brewer Joseph Allen Piggott, it was described as "lately a farmhouse but now a public house", the licensee at the time, sadly, was not noted. In 1875 Piggott's business passed to Charles Wells and this brewery continued to own the premises until it ceased to be a beerhouse in 1927.

In that year this part of Bedfordshire was valued under the terms of the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and property was inspected to determine the rates to be paid on it. the building then consisted of a bar, tap room and kitchen downstairs, with a cellar beneath; upstairs were three bedrooms and outside were a stable, two coachhouses, a piggery and washhouse. The rent was £16 per annum, that same as in 1914. The building was described by the valuer as a "Very old poor looking place". Trade was clearly in decline as it took three weeks to get through one nine gallon barrel of beer. It was noted that "This house will be sold shortly. Licence expires April 1928. Place for sale". After closure the building was known as Easter Cottage, but was renamed The Steamer in the 1990s though still a private house.

Steamer Modern Photo
The Steamer, now a private house, in March 2006

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list ; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

1885: Daniel Juffs;
1885: David Rich;
1885-1892: James Meacham;
1892: William Turner;
1892: John Johnstone;
1892-1894: Charles Edge;
1894-1926: William Lane (died Sep 1926 aged 74);
1926-1927: Johanna Lane
Beerhouse closed 31 Dec 1927

List of Sources at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service:

  • R6/2/8/19: beerhouse with two acres in occupation of Joseph Allen Piggot (of Bedford, brewer) in Succession Account: 1 Oct 1860;
  • R6/2/8/24: noted in covenant to produce deeds: 10 Dec 1866;
  • WL/Introduction/2: note of purchase by Piggot & Wells in 1866;
  • PSW3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1868-1949;
  • WL73: one of 35 public houses sold at auction by Piggot & Wells: 17 Dec 1875;
  • WL85: abstract of title of Joseph Allen Piggot (1843-1866): 1875;
  • Z818/9 and 11: postcards: c.1910;
  • WL800/5: photograph taken for Charles Wells Limited: c.1925;
  • WL801/82: negative of WL800/5;
  • PSW3/8: expiration of licence: 1 Dec 1927.