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The Bedford Arms Beerhouse Eaton Bray

The Bedford Arms marked with a red dot in this postcard of 1915 [Z50/39/39]
The Bedford Arms marked with a red dot in this postcard of 1915 [Z50/39/39]

The Bedford Arms Beerhouse: 57 High Street, Eaton Bray.

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that this beerhouse was first licensed in 1859. The owner, like most of the owners of licensed premises in Eaton Bray not a Bedfordshire resident, was William Brown of Tring [Hertfordshire]. By 1891 the owner was James Batchelor of Dagnall [Buckinghamshire], who also owned the Labour in Vain Beerhouse on Eaton Green.

By 1903 Fuller, Smith & Company of Chiswick [Middlesex] was the owner. That year’s countywide licensing register described the beerhouse as “clean and in good repair” and noted that it was 59 yards from nearest licensed property (The Fountain Beerhouse). The beerhouse had one front and three back doors.

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. Like most parishes in the county Eaton Bray was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Bedford Arms [DV1/C202/108] found it was now owned by Ivinghoe [Buckinghamshire] brewers Roberts and Wilson Limited and their tenant, Alfred William Brooks, paid rent of £10 per annum, the rent before World War One having been £8.

The valuer summed the place up as: “unattractive”. It comprised a bar (“poor”), a tap room (“rather small”), a smoke room (“small”) and a cellar “not used” as well as a kitchen and three bedrooms. The valuer commented: “Rather neglected inside”. Outside stood a brick and slate WC and urinal, an open trap-shed, and stable, a brick and corrugated iron coal shed, a weather-boarded, asbestos and corrugated iron wheelwright’s shop and forge measuring 34 feet by 13 feet and, behind the property, a weather-boarded and corrugated iron open cart hovel, a two bay hovel and four bay part open hovel. All these outbuildings were described as “poor”.

Trade was hardly brisk, half a barrel of beer a week or less, as well as half a dozen bottles of beer in the same period. In the same year as the valuation Roberts and Wilson was taken over by Benskin’s Watford Brewery. Because all the brewing firms who owned the Bedford Arms were from outside the county Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no further records concerning the beerhouse, which was still in existence in 1956 but seems to have closed prior to 1974. The property was later demolished and replaced by a private house

57 and 59 High Street July 2012
57 and 59 High Street July 2012

General references:

  • PSLB4/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1949;
  • PSLB4/2: Lists of Licensed Premises - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1922-1948;
  • PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956;

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:

1877-1882: Charles Juffs;
1882-1886: Thomas Clark;
1886-1887: Charles Tibbett;
1887-1888: Robert Varney;
1888-1889: John Batchelar;
1889-1890: James Batchelar;
1890-1891: Frederick Bliss;
1891-1896: Frederick Halsey;
1896-1897: Thomas Gillett;
1897-1900: Frederick Seymour;
1900: Joseph Barrett;
1900-1901: Charles Simpson;
1901: Henry Gardner and Thomas Joseph Deverell;
1901-1902: Henry E. Forryan;
1902-1906: Thomas Joseph Deverell;
1906-1907: William John Chamberlain;
1907: Caleb Prout;
1907-1908: James Mason;
1908-1911: William John Chamberlain;
1911-1915: Hugh McIntyre;
1915-1922: George Arthur Brooks;
1922-1928: Alfred William Brooks;
1928-1955: Albert Twidell;
1955-1956: Lizzie Twidell.