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The Golden Ball Beerhouse Girtford

58 London Road March 2010
58 London Road March 2010

The Golden Ball Beerhouse: 58 London Road, Girtford

In 1840 a cottage “now divided into two” with a homestead, orchard and hempland in Girtford was conveyed by Robert Morris of Northill, gentleman to James Weston of Biggleswade, gentleman for £189 [HF40/2/16/1]. Morris had purchased the property from Joshua Malden in 1829. This was the genesis of the Golden Ball Beerhouse.

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1876, when the Golden Ball was owned by Charles Christopher Jeeves, states that the building was first licensed in 1856. Clearly, if this is so, Weston waited for sixteen years to convert the cottages into a beerhouse.

In 1873 James Joseph Weston mortgaged a number of licensed premises to Cherry Hinton [Cambridgeshire] brewer Robert Charles Catling [CD660]. Included in the mortgage was a piece of land at Girtford abutting west on the Great North Road, south and east on property in the occupation of James Yerrill, north on Cupboards Lane, Mrs. Adams’ cottage and property of Marsom. This land included a property built on part of it called the Golden Ball beerhouse.

In 1875 James Joseph Weston of Biggleswade conveyed the cottage bought in 1856, now converted into a beerhouse called the Golden Ball to the partners in the Biggleswade brewing firm of Wells & Company for £550 [HF40/2/16/2]. The house was abutted the property of John Barker to the south and east, property of Joseph Marsom and George Wright to the north and the Great North Road to the west. This puts the property on the east side of London Road.

The sale particular pf the property at the auction at which Wells & Company bought it [WG2563] described the beerhouse thus:


Containing tap room, parlour, kitchen, cellar and 4 bedrooms, capitally situate in the centre of the village, with frontage to the North road, together with a convenient yard having gateway entrance at side, pump and well of water, a stud-built and thatched cottage used as a barn, a brick and timber-built and slated hovel with boarded onion loft over same, brick-built lean-to pigstye, brick-built and slated stable with chaff house and newly built barn with asphalte [sic] floor and pantiled roof, farm yard and capital piece of garden ground at the back, the whole occupying a site of about 3 roods, bounded on the South and East by property of Mr. John Barker; and North by property of Mrs. Marsom and Mr. George Wright, and now in tenure of Mr. Christopher Jeeves, at a nominal rent of £16 per annum. 

A very good business is done at this House, and the whole being in a good state of repair with many advantages, makes it a very desirable Property for use as a Gardener’s Homestead in connection with the license for sale of beer.

In 1898 Wells & Company was put up for sale and was purchased by Kent businessman George Winch for his son Edward Bluett Winch. In 1899 the company changed its name to Wells & Winch. The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1903 reveals that  the nearest licensed house was 70 yards away, that the state of repair of the Golden Ball was good and that it had one front and one back door.

The last known licensee was William Pyant who was listed in Kelly’s Directory for Bedfordshire of 1914 and last listed in an electoral register at the Golden Ball in 1915. A number of Bedfordshire beerhouses closed during World War One, a number in 1917 and this may have been one of them. There is no trace of a beerseller in Kelly’s next directory for the county, 1920, who could have operated from the Golden Ball, all being known to be licensee elsewhere, and Pyant himself is not listed. A schedule of deeds of Wells & Winch properties drawn up in 1922 still includes the Golden Ball but with no indication if it was necessarily still trading.

David Lloyd-George's pioneering 1909 budget, in many ways the beginning of social welfare in this country, needed money to pay for his reforms. One of the ways to raise funds was to increase rates and to do this a survey of all property in the country was needed. This survey, carried out in 1910, was the most detailed land ownership survey since the Domesday Book of 1086 and the survey was thus known colloquially as the 1910 Domesday Survey. The survey for Sandy shows the Golden Ball was at the property today numbered 58 London Road, on the northern edge of the junction with West Road.

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. Sandy, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 58 London Road [DV1/C29/51] found it owned by the executors of George Emery, presumably he had purchased the place from Wells & Winch in 1922 or some time thereafter.

The house was occupied by G. W. Wagstaff who paid rent of £32/10/- per annum, including the farm buildings and land behind. Rent in 1920 had been £25. The brick and slate, detached building comprised two living rooms, a kitchen and pantry with four bedrooms above. A w. c. stood outside. The house was, in the valuer’s opinion, “Rather dilapidated” and “Very poor”.

Farm buildings comprised an old timber cart shed, a brick and slate two-stall stable, a brick and tiled storage shed, a brick, timber and slate three bay cart shed with an onion loft over, a brick and tiled pigsty and a timber and corrugated iron two bay cart shed. One rood of arable ground lay behind.


  • HF40/2/16/1: conveyance of a cottage: 1840;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • CD660: mortgage: 1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • WG2563: sale catalogue: 1875;
  • HF40/2/16/2: conveyance of the Golden Ball: 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;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • GK1/36: sale catalogue of Wells & Company and its licensed premises: 1898;
  • Z1039/34/2a: conveyance of properties by Wells & Company to Wells & Winch: 1899;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • Z1039/34/1: schedule of deeds: 1922.

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

1872-1882: Christopher Jeeves;
1882-1884: Eliza Jeeves;
1884-1888: John Goss;
1888-1899: George Mayes;
1899-1900: Ann Haynes;
1900: James Thomas Sutton;
1900-1904: Harry Ryecraft;
1904-1905: William Leonard;
1905-1906: William Vine;
1906-1915: William Pyant.
Beerhouse closed between 1915 and 1920