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68 High Street

This property was researched by John Thurston. 


Bedford High Street, West Side. View of no 68 Cadena Cafes, c1924-1928 [BTNegOB8/5]

While the current building at No 68 is probably early 20th century, records show the site has been occupied since at least 1850. Rober Couchman, a Surgeon and General Practitioner who also had the role of surgeon to Bedford Jail was on site at this date.

From the mid 1860’s to 1871 there is some confusion as to the occupiers. In some directories Robert Couchman is named while in others Alfred Bourcher Clarabut, a Grocer and Provisions Dealer is shown. Either both were sharing the same premises or, more likely as the 1861 Census shows, Clarabut was at No 66 while Couchman was at No 68. Around 1876 William Greaves Johnson, also as Surgeon, had taken over and would remain until his death in 1903 when the property was auctioned.

A copy of the sale catalogue described 68 High Street as a "very valuable freehold property comprising a substantially built residence with stabling and extensive gardens..." The property contained a stone-paved hall, drawing room, dining room, breakfast room, consulting room, side entrance and lobby, kitchen, china pantry, scullery and wash-house, larder and three cellars. The first floor comprised of five bedrooms, dressing room, W.C. and two iron safes built into a wall in the corridor. There were an additional five floors on the second floor. 68 High street also had a brick-built surgery with ante-room and dispensary. [CRT130BED/219]. 

The premises were then occupied  by Thomas Coombs, a Draper, who renamed the building the “Arcadium”.

By 1914 the premises had again changed hands with Cadena Cafes Co Ltd taking over. The Café remained for at least 62 years being shown in Kellys Directories until 1976.

Latterly Pizza Hut (C1991) and the Coffee Republic (2021) have been the owners.

Summary of Occupiers

1850 – C1876: Robert Couchman, Surgeon, General Practitioner and Surgeon at Bedford Jail

1864 – 1871: Alfred Bourcher Clarabut, Grocer & Provisions Dealer (Probably at No 66, see above)  

1876 – 1903: William Greaves Johnson, Surgeon at Bedfordshire County Infirmary and Fever Hospital

1903 – 191: Thomas Coombs, Draper

1914 – 1976: Cadena Cafes Co Ltd

C1991 - 2008: Pizza Hut

2021-2023: Coffee Republic

See here for a more detailed list of the owners and occupiers of 68 High Street