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The Swan Public House Clapham

The Swan about 1925 [WL800/5]
The Swan about 1925 [WL800/5]

The Swan Public House: 3 High Street, Clapham

In 1813 a cottage and an acre in occupation of widow Mary Wooding was conveyed by the Earl of Ashburnham to William Eling of Clapham [WL593]. Interestingly a William Eling was tenant of the Horse and Jockey at this time. In 1821 Eling sold the cottage to Thomas Chappell of Middlesex [WL594-595]. The Swan probably first opened its doors in 1829 or 1830. It is not listed in the countywide licensing records of 1822-1828 [CLP13].

In 1841 Thomas Chappell sold the Swan to Bedford brewer Sir William Long of Long and Pestell [WL598]. On Long;s death later that year his son-in-law Robert Newland took his share in the firm. Bingham Newland succeeded his father and died in 1873 when his company was bought by Thomas Jarvis whose firm was sold to Charles Wells in 1917.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Swan [DV1/C276/17] described it as a public house and advertisement hoarding. Charles Wells had set the rent at £10 per annum in 1906. The pub stood in just under three-quarters of an acre.

The ground floor comprised a tap room (“good”), a parlour (“good”), a small bar and off-licence, a private kitchen and scullery. There was a cellar. Upstairs were three bedrooms and a boxroom. Outside was a stable, a cart hovel and two pigsties - all “poor”.Trade was less than one barrel per week on average, with two dozen bottles of beer per week and no spirits. The valuer commented: “Rent absurd” and “Wall of Building against Road used as advert hoarding”. His final comment was: “Ought to be as much as Vicar of Wakefield and Star Inn but tenant is honest and I believe trade correct”.

The Swan was still open in 2000 [WL722/102] but by 2010 had closed and was derelict. No doubt it was uneconomic to have three Wells houses (also the Fox and Hounds and the Star) in Clapham. The building was knocked down and is today the site of housing.

The former Swan April 2010
The former Swan April 2010


  • WL593: conveyance of cottage: 1813;
  • WL594-595: conveyance of cottage: 1821;
  • WL596: abstract of title to the Swan: 1830;
  • WL598: conveyance: 1841;
  • GA487: sale particulars: 1873;
  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
  • WL800/5: photograph: c. 1925;
  • RDBP2/267: plans for alterations: 1933;
  • RDBP2/935: plans for alterations: 1936;
  • PSB9/2: Register of Licensed Premises: c. 1955-1995;
  • Hi/PH12/3: photograph: c. 1950s-1960s;
  • WL722/35: Pint Pot (Charles Wells magazine) feature article on the Swan: 1982;
  • X907/47: photograph: 1990s
  • WL722/102: Pint Pot mention of a new landlord at the Swan: 2000

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:

1834-1853: John Bazely or Basley;
1859-1862: Sophia Foxley;
1864-1865 William Newman
1869: Hanry Manton;
1871: John Cave;
1873: Charles Martin;
1876:  Edwin Preston;
1876-1877: John Pettit;
1885: Charles Bardell;
1890-1891: Thomas Lane;
1903-1906: Isaac Bryant;
1906-1932: Alfred Nicholson; [convicted 19 Oct 1907 of selling brandy fined         £2 with 13/6 costs]
1932-1933: Emma Nicholson;
1933: Laurence Charles Cook;
1940: Albert Edward Linford
1973: Frederick Thomas King;
1973-1975: William Kennedy Stewart Jamieson;
1975-1977: Geoffrey Ernest Baines;
1977-1982: David William Walser;
1982-1983: Anthony Rudkin;
1983-1986: Graham John Wooding;
1986-1989: Alan John Fraser;
1989-1990: Jacqueline Fraser;
1990-1991: Stephen Edward Aldridge and Douglas John Baker;
1991: Richard Keith Jess and Douglas John Baker;
1991-1992: John Boyd Wheatley and Andrew Robert Henderson;
1992: Michael Sliney and Andrew Robert Henderson;
1992-1994: Ian Michael Cakebread;
1994-1995: Terence James Williams