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The Heath Hotel Heath and Reach

The Cock Hotel April 2008
The Cock Hotel April 2008

The Heath Hotel: 76 Woburn Road, Heath and Reach [earlier The Cock Horse Public House and The Cock Hotel]

Because the Cock Inn, a beerhouse, (later called the Cock Horse Public House) was owned by an out of county brewery, Benskins Watford Brewery, from 1889 Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service does not have many records for it besides directories and registers of licences. The countywide register of licences of 1876 notes that Thomas Reeve was both owner and occupier and that the house was first licensed in 1838. Reeve had been the man who first licensed the premises. Censuses show that he was born in Leighton Buzzard in 1811. At that date Leighton Buzzard included the hamlet of Heath and Reach. Reeve had a wife, Elizabeth, four years his junior who had also been born in Leighton Buzzard. Their children were all born in Heath and Reach: William in 1837, Elizabeth in 1840, Ann in 1842, John in 1844, Sarah in 1847 and Thomas in 1850. Thomas Reeve junior, his son, later took over the business and was also a blacksmith.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 ordered every piece of land and building in the country to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Cock [DV1/C233/79], noted that the rent was £16 per annum, as it had been since 1890. The house was described as brick and slate detached and "Fairly clean outside but dirty in". It comprised a public bar ("fair"), a front room ("used as shop"), a store room; a ground floor cellar ("fair"), a small back room and kitchen. There were four bedrooms upstairs. Outside were a stone and tile three stall stable ("unused"), a wood and tile barn and coachhouse, two brick and slate pig pounds ("all dilapidated"), an old brew house, a brick and tile washhouse and a coal house.

Trade, which had been three barrels of beer per week before the First World War was now just one 36 gallon barrel per week with "practically no bottled trade". The tenant could not say how much the average takings were. The valuers comment was: "Could do a better trade if cleaner". The Cock became a fully licensed public house after World War Two. According to information provided by a family member Angus Macdonald was due to take over as licensee on 8th May 1945, but due to the VE day holiday this was postponed until 9th May. By this time the front room was no longer used as a shop and had been turned into a saloon bar. 

In the late 20th century was known as the Cock Horse, before being renamed the Cock. In March 2012 the name changed once again - to The Heath Inn, despite the fact that the inn is in Reach!

The Cock Hotel in 2007
The Cock Hotel in 2007


  • PSLB4/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1949;
  • PSLB4/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1922-1948;
  • PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956;
  • DV1/C233/79: rating valuation: 1927;
  • Z1309/1/6: pen and ink drawing by Trevor Best: c.1980s.

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: 

1838: Thomas Reeve;
1889: Hannah Reeve;
1890: Thomas Reeve;
1915: Edith Gurney;
1935: Frederick Alexander Cooke;
1936: George Frederick Pearce Young;
1942: Joseph Woodley Bennett;
1944: Albert Edward Piggott;
1945: Angus Macdonald;
1959 (Apr-Sept): Florence Ellen Macdonald
1962: Andrew Ramsey;
1971: Joe Leach;
1980: John Harold Stevens.