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The Swan Public House Bromham

Swan Public House: Bridge End, Bromham

The Swan August 2007
The Swan August 2007

The Swan public house is first mentioned on a record held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service on the earliest map of Bromham dated 1798. This map shows a bar on the turnpike road which is now termed the A6 which was adjacent to the inn. At this bar travellers would have to stop and purchase a ticket for the next part of their journey along the road and so the site was a shrewd choice for a place of refreshment.

The inn is shown on map of about 1810 showing the estate belonging to Mr William Stains. The farm belonging to the Swan is also shown on this map. The first written record of the public house occurs in 1810 when the Quarter Session minutes for Easter read: "On this Sessions The Articles and Rules of a Friendly Society held at the Swan Inn Bromham were Confirmed by the Justices and ordered to be filed".

The public house formed part of the Bromham Hall Estate for most of the 19th century. The public house was a free house in 1891 but shortly thereafter the estate leased it to Bedford brewers Newland & Nash, who bought the house from the estate in 1924, the same year in which Newland & Nash itself was bought by Biggleswade brewers Wells & Winch Limited. This firm was itself taken over, by Suffolk brewers Greene King, in 1961. The public house remains a Greene King house at the time of writing [September 2007].

In 1924 a large slice of The Bromham Hall Estate was put up for sale by auction, including The Swan. The sale particulars read as follows [AD1147/4]:

known as
situate at Bridge End in the Parishes of Bromham and Kempston

It occupies a commanding pisition at the junction of the Bedford and Kempston Roads, is built of stone, wit hslate roof, and contains: Rustic Porch, Dining Room, Sitting Room, Smoking Room, Public Bars and Jug Department; Large Kitchen, Commodious Cellarage, Fibe Bedrooms, Store Room, Bathroom with W. C., and Four Attics; Two Staircases. Water is obtained from a well and pumped into a tank in the roof. cesspool Drainage. The Telephone is connected: No. "Bedford 11Y2"

Near to is A PRETTY TEA GARDEN with Lawn, Fruit Trees, Herbaceous Borders, etc.

THE OUTBUILDINGS comprise: Workshop, Bicycle House, Store House with Loft over, Wood Shed, Corn Store, Coach House, Two-stall Stable, Pig Box, two-bay Open Shed, Barn, Four-stall Stable with Loft over; also Large Enclosed Yard with brick washing space; the whole covering an area of

.283 of an Acre

In 1927 the public house was valued under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act. At this time the premises was partly in Kempston Rural (in Bromham Bridge End) and partly in Bromham - boundary change in 1948  means that it is now well inside the parish of Bromham. The valuer found a stone and slate building with a saloon bar (4 pulls), smoke room ("good"), 2 living rooms ("good"), kitchen and cellar and, upstairs, 5 bedrooms and a bathroom with wc. Outside were an earth closet, two barns, a coach house and stable for four horses. The valuer noted: "Very good house with a good position for Summer. Winter trade rather poor". This trade averaged three barrels of beer a week, 12 dozen bottles of beer, half a gallon of spirits and a bottle of wine.

The Swan about 1903 [Z50/95/67] 
The Swan about 1903 [Z50/95/67]

The rear of the postcard shown above reads: "Please send about 3 lbs of cheese (pale) like the last I had & oblige G. Quenby" posted on 13 Mar 1907 to Fox's Stores, Iddesleigh Road, Queen's Park, Bedford.

References of Documents held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service

  • X152: map of Bromham: 1798;
  • CRTBROM130/3: Notes on the Swan: 1798-1942;
  • X1/4: map showing land owned by William Staines: c.1810;
  • QSM23 p.130: Quarter Session minutes mention the Swan: 1810;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822 – 1829;
  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
  • GK114/1: yearly tenancy of George Quenby of Bedford Arms, Oakley from Newland & Nash of 13 acres of land near Swan at £25 per annum: 1903;
  • GK114/2-4: 60 year lease of Swan by Newland & Nash from trustees of will of Eleanore Mary Rice Trevor at £80 per annum: 1904;
  • Z50/95/67: postcard of Swan about 1907;
  • Z50/21/72: Oakley Hunt near pub c.1909;
  • Z730/11: Photographic postcard of hunt meet near The Swan public house, Bromham with crowd, huntsmen and cars. By F. Sweetland, Bedford, photographer: 1909;
  • Z155/7, AD1147/4 and GK114/4: sale catalogue of Bromham Estate including Swan: 1924;
  • GK114/5: abstract of title of Bromham Manor, including Swan, from 1862: 1924;
  • GK114/6: conveyance of Swan for £1,170 from trustees to Newland & Nash: 1924;
  • Z1091/4/1/11 Sale catalogue of Bromham Estate 1924;
  • GK3/3: schedule of deeds of properties of Wells & Winch including Swan: 1925;
  • DV1/C/3: rating valuation: 1927;
  • GK297/2: conveyance of all property from Newland & Nash to Wells & Winch: 1938;
  • GK114/7: tithe redemption certificate: 1940;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • Z1105/1: liquor licence traders survey including Swan: 1958;
  • X535/3 History of Bromham by Women's Institute: 1958;
  • PC Bromham 9/4 Transfers of licence 1975 – 1987;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980;
  • BorB/TP/91/0259: eight plans and elevations for general refurbishment and rear extension of the Swan Public House: 1991

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:

1823-1853: Anthony Chibnall;
1854-1865 John Hart;
1869-1890: Samuel Harrison;
1891 Frank Harrison;
1898-1903: Eliza Maria Harrison;
1903-1935: George Quenby;
1935: James and Annie Quenby;
1940-1955 William Jackman;
1958-1968: Leslie Thomas Stalley;
1968-1969: Mabel Stalley;
1969-1982: Edna Mabel Finch;
1982-1983: Herbert Sansom;
1983-1991: Richard James Gooding;
1991-1993: David Arthur Nicholson;
1993-1995: Paul Edward Fairweather