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The Black Horse Beerhouse Kempston

Picture of the site of Black Horse beerhouse taken in October 2007
Site of Black Horse beerhouse October 2007

The Black Horse Beerhouse: 80 Bunyan Road, Kempston

Recitals in a mortgage taken out on adjoining properties in 1867 suggest that this beerhouse was built by John Walker in 1820 [GK132/7]. The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Black Horse was first licensed in 1830. It was mortgaged by John Walker in 1837 [CCE2838/1] and sold by him to its tenant, George Hart, in 1846 [CCE2838/]. Hart immediately mortgaged the property to Bedford brewers William Jones Johnstone and Frederick Redden [CCE2838/2 and WL121]. Hart died in 1850 and left the beerhouse to his wife Mary Ann, with the stipulation that after her death it was to pass to their son William [CCE2838/3].

William Hart had the Black Horse in 1875 when he mortgaged it to Bedford auctioneer Robert Barry Stafford [CCE2838/8]. In the meantime Johnstone had died and his share of the business had been sold to Frederick Redden [CCE2838/4] and, after Redden's death in 1851, his widow had sold it to other Bedford brewers Joseph Allen Piggot and Henry Collings Wells [CCE2838/5]. Piggot bought out his partner Wells in 1862 and then he was himself bought out by Bedford brewer Charles Wells in 1875.

William Hart was declared bankrupt in 1876 [CCE2838/10] but seems to have continued to occupy the Black Horse until at least 1885 as directories indicate. No records exist at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service for the fate of the beerhouse over the next twenty years but it seems reasonable to assume that Hart's trustee in bankruptcy sold the beerhouse to the new brewery tenants Charles Wells because in 1898 they gave the Black Horse to Bedford rivals Newland & Nash in exchange for the Smith's Arms beerhouse in Margetts Road [CCE2838/12].

The beerhouse closed in 1921 and was later demolished, the site now being occupied by a petrol filling station. The property number, 80 Bunyan Road, is rather confusing because the later 80 Bunyan Road was Kempston Lodge, formerly a children's home, on the corner of Elstow Road and Bunyan Road whereas a plan in the exchange of 1898 [CCE2838/12] shows quite clearly that the premises lay at the junction of Bunyan Road and Woburn Road.


  • GK132/7: recital: 1820;
  • CCE2838/1: recited mortgage: 1837;
  • CCE2838/1: recited further advance: 1842;
  • CCE2838/1: conveyance: 1846;
  • CCE2838/2 and WL121: mortgage: 1846;
  • GK132/7: recital of sale: 1847;
  • CCE2838/4: conveyance of half business by William Johnstone: 1849;
  • CCE2838/3: probate of will of George Hart: 1850;
  • CCE2838/5: conveyance of business by Penelope Corrie Redden: 1851;
  • CCE2838/6: mortgage of Black Horse: 1859;
  • CCE2838/8: mortgage: 1875;
  • CCE2838/10: bankruptcy of William Hart: 1876;
  • CCE2838/11: reconveyance: 1877;
  • ST/U3/4: valuation notes: 1887;
  • CCE2838/12: Black Horse exchanged: 1898;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • Z720/1/35: sale catalogue: 1924.

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

1846-1850: George Hart;
1850-1869: Mary Ann Hart;
1875-1885: William Hart;
1891: Richard Seal;
1898: Joseph Davenport;
1903-1921: William Bichener
Beerhouse closed 31st December 1921