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The Clifton Arms Public House


Former Clifton Arms 2007
The former Clifton Arms in March 2007

Clifton Cuisine: 39 Broad Street, Clifton [formerly the Fox & Duck then the Clifton Arms]

The name of this public house is new, having been the Fox & Duck until 1983/4. It is first mentioned in any document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service in 1857 when it was mortgaged by James Smith Wright, who is described as innkeeper, having previously been just a beer retailer. The absence of the public house from the licensing register of 1822 to 1828 suggests that it was set up as a beerhouse some time after 1828 before becoming fully licensed before 1857. The public house was sold at auction in 1869 and purchased by James Joseph Weston, though James Smith Wright continued as licensee. The sale particulars are as follows:

"…a capital partly brick and stud-built and slated FREEHOLD DWELLING AND PUBLIC HOUSE known as the "Fox and Duck" containing 4 Bed Rooms, Tap Room, Bar, Parlour and large newly erected Club Room, Kitchen and Scullery, a capital sunk Cellar brick-built and tiled wash house with soft water tank in same, wood Barn, capital wood-built and tiled cart shed or skittle alley with onion loft over, a newly brick and wood-built and slated detached Brewhouse, with a nearly new 120 gallon copper and 2 deal doors as fixed, force pump, well of good water, coal shed, closet, yard and premises, situate with a frontage on the south-west to the Arlesey and Shefford Road, near the centre of the village, and is now in tenure of Mr.James Smith Wright, who has occupied the same for many years, doing an average business of about 3 barrels per week…the premises are in good repair and being an old-licensed free house, having a club of about 40 members, offers an opportunity for investment in property of this description not often brought before the public".

Weston sold his business in 1875 and the Fox & Duck was purchased by Mansel Millard, a brewer in Meppershall who leased it first to George Loake then to William Cranfield in 1885. Pryor Reid & Company of Hatfield [Hertfordshire] must have purchased the property from Millard since they were owners in 1919 when they conveyed it to Luton brewers J.W.Green Limited.

Fox Duck Clifton
Fox & Duck c.1960s [Ref.WB/Flow4/5/Cli/FD1]

In 1927 the Fox & Duck was valued under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act - the valuer thought it a "poor looking place" and had evident doubts about Mr.Soul, the licensee as he also noted "I think lack of personality here". The property, of brick, roughcast and slate, consisted of a bar ("poor"), taproom ("fair"), parlour, living room and kitchen downstairs and three bedrooms and a bathroom above; outside were a washhouse, coal barn and barn divided into three partitions for pigs. Water was laid on. Trade was hardly brisk - just half a barrel of beer, three dozen bottles of beer and a quart of spirits per week on average with takings averaging £6 per week.

Green's merged with Flowers Breweries Limited in 1954, the new company taking the Flowers name until 1962 when they were taken over by Whitbread, which sold off its public house business in 2001. At the time of writing [Jan 2007] the property is an Indian restaurant.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1851-1869: James Smith Wright (& brewer & bird stuffer);
1872-1873: Albert Balls Garrard;
1873-1877: Jonah Collip/Cullip;
1877-1903: Samuel Musgrove;
1903-1905: Emma Elizabeth Musgrove;
1905-1908: James Walter Gray;
1908-1909: Joseph Enzor Ludford;
1909-1911: Bertram Ludford;
1911-1919: Henry Richard Frost;
1924-1925: J.A.Smith;
1925-1926: A.O.Cope;
1926: J.W.Soul;
1927: A.Soul;
1931: Charlie Hill;
1936: T.Martin;
1940: Herbert Blofield;
1957-1963: John Raymond Ramsey;
1963-1968: Alfred Richard Desborough;
1968-1976: William James George Stanton;
1976-1993: Edward Ernest Cutler
public house closed 1993 becoming Clifton Qorai Indian Restaurant


  • WJ149: mortgage of Fox from James Smith Wright, innkeeper (formerly beer retailer) to William Daniel: 1857;
  • WG2332: sale particulars of Fox & Duck and adjacent brewery: 1869;
  • WG2333: sale particulars of household and brewery utensils: 1869;
  • X481/40: Agreement to rent James Smith Wright from James Joseph Weston: 1870;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • WG2563: sale particulars of Biggleswade Brewery and premises including Fox & Duck: 1875;
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • WJ150: lease for 21 years from Mansell Millard of  Meppershall, brewer to William Cranfield of brewery in Clifton, Fox & Duck and Woolpack: 1885;
  • WBGreen5/5/1: register of successive tenants to J.W.Green Limited licensed premises: 1887-1926;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP3: public houses conveyed by Pryor, Reid & Company to J.W.Green Limited: 1919;
  • DV1/C186: rating valuation: 1927;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: certificate of title to licensed properties of J.W.Green Limited: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of licensed properties of J.W.Green Limited: c.1936;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: trade analysis ledger of J.W.Green Limited licensed premises: 1936-1947
  • WB/Green4/2/8: Schedule of Deeds and Documents regarding properties of J.W.Green Limited: c.1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter from J.W.Green to solicitors Lawrance, Messer & Company asking which licensed properties had been in continuous occupation: 24 Jul 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: Trust Deed of J.W.Green Limited with list of licensed premises: 1952-1972;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: Various loose schedules of deeds and documents: c.1954;
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Cli/FD1-3: photographs: 1960s; - PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980;
  • PCClifton9/14: change of name from Fox & Duck to Clifton Arms: 1983-1984;
  • PCClifton18/11: application and plans for an extension: 1985