Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > GreatBarford > The Golden Cross Public House Great Barford

The Golden Cross Public House Great Barford

The Golden Cross about 1900 [Z1306/5/5/4]
The Golden Cross about 1900 [Z1306/5/5/4]

The Golden Cross Public House, 2 and 4 Bedford Road, Great Barford  [originally The Cross Keys, later the Cross]

The Golden Cross opened for business in late 1835 or 1836. Certainly the first known licensee was William Hillyard who is entered as licensee of the Cross Keys on 10th September 1836 [PSB1/2]. By September 1837 his establishment was known simply as the Cross.

The countywide licensing register of 1876 notes that at that time the Cross was owned by William Paine, brewer, of Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire]. By 1885 the Cross had been renamed the Golden Cross.

In 1920 Walter Molesworth Peacock carried out a number of surveys of licensed premises in North Bedfordshire for the magistrates [PK7/4/6]. One of them was the Golden Cross, still owned by Paine & Company of Saint Neots and tenanted by A. A. Wharton who had been there nineteen years and paid £30 per annum in rent. The brick and tiled structure was characterised as “Good”, decorative repair as “Moderate” and cleanliness as “Good”.

The public rooms comprised: a tap room measuring 13 feet 7 inches by 13 feet 9 inches; a bar measuring 11 feet 7 inches by 12 feet 2 inches; a cellar “capable of holding 10 or 12 barrels”; a wine closet and a club room measuring 28 feet 5 inches by 16 feet 2 inches “Seats all round, only room in district suitable for holding Auction Sales, etc.”. The private accommodation comprised: a sitting room measuring 12 feet 2 inches by 12 feet 1 inch; a kitchen measuring 11 feet 3 inches by 10 feet 1 inch with an adjoining dairy; a china and glass pantry; three “good” bedrooms and one in the attic. Outbuildings included: a brick and tiled range with a stable, three loose boxes, a two bay shed, a stable at the front for two horses (which was let) and a covered urinal, all with lofts over; a brick and tiled hen house and three bay hovel; a timber and tiled open hovel and coach house and a brick and tiled public closet, coal place and washhouse. He included the cottage attached to the Golden Cross and extending up Green End Road which was “let to A. Fitch has a right-of-way through Yard for means of reaching pump only, not as exit”. It contained three rooms and a bakehouse.

A letter from Paine and Company gave the trade of the Golden Cross for the previous three years. It was as follows:

  • 1918: 133.125 barrels and 96 dozen bottles of ale; 1,036 four quart crates and 53.3 gallons of spirits;
  • 1919: 202 barrels and 247 dozen bottles of ale; 1,199 four quart crates and 53.6 gallons of spirits;
  • 1920: 180.5 barrels and 534 dozen bottles of ale; 871 four auqrt crates and 85.5 gallons of spirits.

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. Most of Bedfordshire was valued in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Golden Cross [DV1/C125/19] found it still owned by Paine & Company Limited and occupied by Frank Victor Pitts (“been here since 1921”) who paid £23 per annum in rent.

The brick and tile premises comprised a club room (“large”) on the first floor, a bar (“fair”), a tap room (“fair”) and a cellar beneath. Three standings lay outside as did a two bay trap hovel with a hayloft over, a urinal and a w. c.

Private accommodation comprised a living room with a grate, a kitchen with a sink, a dairy, three bedrooms above and an attic above that. A copper for heating water lay outside as did a coal and wood barn, an earth closet and a water pump.

Trade comprised two 36 gallon barrels of beer, three dozen bottles of beer, four dozen bottles of stout, with three bottles of gin, Irish and Scotch whisky and two doze bottles of minerals per week. One box of cigars was sold per annum with one box of Woodbines per week, two hundred Wills, four hundred Players and one hundred Black Cat cigarettes per month as well as half a pound of Saint Julian tobacco. The valuer commented: “Keeps place very clean”.

The house on Green End Road attached to the public house was also owned by Paines and was tenanted by Arthur Pitts. It comprised a living room with a range, a kitchen which had been an old bakehouse and a bedroom “over pub” with a double attic over that. The valuer noted “club room over cottage” presumably meaning that the Golden Cross’ first floor club room lay over part of the Green End Road premises, hence why it only had one bedroom. A coal place and a washhouse with a copper lay outside as did a water pump. The valuer commented: “Bad old place, spare pub accommodation”.

In 1947 plans were submitted for planning permission [RDBP2/890]. They involved a reorganisation of the public space including creating space for playing games. At the time of writing [2010] the Golden Cross is a Chinese restaurant.

The Golden Cross about 1910 [Z1306/5/5/5]
The Golden Cross about 1910 [Z1306/5/5/5]


  • PSB1/2: magistrates’ minutes: 1835-1843;
  • GA2154-2155: auction sales held at public house: 1875;
  • X65/37: auction sale held at public house: 1875;
  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935
  • Z1306/5/5/4: postcard: 1903;
  • Z1306/5/5/5: postcard: 1913;
  • P28/2/1/10, P23/2/1/5 and Z720/1/29: sale of Roxton and Great Barford glebe held at public house: 1918;
  • PK7/4/6: Evidence and report given by W.M. Peacock on Great Barford licenses - including details on trade, rental and license: 1920-1921;
  • RDBP3/890: plans for re-organization: 1947;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • Z1306/5/5/6: postcard: 1956;
  • PCGreatBarford31/11: correspondence regarding the removal of a wall posting box at the Golden Cross: 1975;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980;
  • PCGreatBarford30/5: transfer of licence: 1977.  

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

10 Sep 1836 - 1844 :William Hillyard;
31 Aug 1846 - 2 Jan 1847 John Duncombe;
2 Jan 1847 - 28 June 1851 :Elisha Brown;
28 June 1851 – 1857: George Jarvis, plumber and glazier;
25 Aug 1860 – 1864: William Chapman;
1869-1876: George Smith;
1885-1894: James Read;
1898: Charles Henry Clarke;
1901-1920: Albert Arthur Wharton; [convicted 9 Jul 1903 for selling beer to a   drunken person - fined £2 with 6/6 costs];
1920-1940: Frank Victor Pitts;
1976-1977: William Joseph Bowles;
1977-1985: Michael John Horton;
1985-1986: Christopher Munson;
1986-1989: Michael Allen Bedson and June Mary Ann Bedson;
1989-1992: Michael George Holmes and Patricia Adelaide Holmes;
1992: Liam Macnaly and Anthony Sweeney;
1992-1993: Raymond Joseph Munday and Neil Charles Sedgwick;
1993: Raymond Joseph Munday and Raymond Spencer;
1993-1995: David Edgar Weir

The Golden Cross March 2010
The Golden Cross March 2010