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The Duke Public House Kempston

The Duke public house about 1900 [Z50/67/66]
The Duke public house about 1900 [Z50/67/66]

Duke Public House: 10 Woburn Road, Kempston

This public house first appears in directories in 1885. It seems to have been built on or partially on the site of the Quart Pot public house, the last reference to which occurs in 1881. The previous directory held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service, that for 1877, does not mention the Duke, nor does the countywide licensing register of 1876 which does mention the Quart Pot. 

The Duke was a licensed house of Bedford brewer Thomas Jarvis, who had owned the Quart Pot, and was bought out by Charles Wells. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has very few documents about the Duke, but a planning application to Kempston Urban District Council shows that a club room, the single storey extension on the right as you face the front of the building, was added in 1901 [UDKP137].

 The interior of the Duke about 1910 [Z50/67/64a]
The interior of the Duke about 1910 [Z50/67/64a]

In 1927 Bedfordshire was valued under the terms of the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every building and piece of land was visited and valued for rates. The valuer visiting the Duke noted that accommodation consisted of a bar, smoke room, cellar, kitchen & scullery, small club room and 2 W. Cs. downstairs with four bedrooms above; outside were a coach house and loose box. Weekly trade consisted of about two barrels of beer in winter and three in the summer as well as three dozen bottles of beer and half a gallon of spirits. The valuer noted: "Good pull up. Just off bus route".

About 1938 the new tenant Edward Field enacted some further internal alterations [UDKP863] which the rating valuer of the time noted. The bar became a smoke room and the 1901 club room became a barn. The old smoke room became a cellar and the old cellar became lavatories. The valuer noted that Field had not held a pub before but that his father did and that he was a Kempston man and well known. Trade was now three and a half barrels, sixty dozen half bottles and three-quarters of a gallon of spirits per week. The valuer concluded: "Internal rearrangement only – now very nice, capability must now be greater than before", and added £5 to the rateable value.

The Duke remains a public house at the time of writing [2013]. It is still owned by Charles Wells.

 The Duke in October 2007
The Duke in October 2007


  • UDKP137: plan of additional club room: 1901;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • Z50/67/64a-b: photographs of interior of Duke: 1910;
  • Z50/67/66: photograph of exterior of Duke: c.1910;
  • DV1/R/25: rating valuation: 1925;
  • UDKP863: plans of alterations: 1938;
  • DV1/X/268: rating valuation: c.1938;
  • PSB9/2: register of licences: c.1955-1995;
  • Z808/2/11: snapshot of cottages next to Duke: 1960s;
  • WL722/81: refurbishment noted in Charles Wells in-house magazine Pint Pot: 1995;
  • WL722/98: winner of the Cask Marque award noted in Charles Wells in-house magazine Pint Pot: 1999 

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

1885: John Cheney;
1894: Edward D Blayland;
1903-1905: Joseph Rowlett; [convicted 2 Mar 1901 of selling adulterated rum - fined 1/- with 13/6 costs]
1905-1912: Frederick Brown;
1912-1919: Charles Thomas Packwood;
1919-1936: William John Pedrick;
1940: Edward Field;
1963-1975: Thomas Richard Poole;
1975-1976: Hubert Crowsley and Thomas Charles Roberts;
1976: Hubert Crowsley and Leslie Edmund Hooper;
1976-1978: Richard Rawson Wolstenholme Hancock and James Philip Wooven;
1978-1980: Richard Rawson Wolstenholme
Hancock, Terence John Rose and John Russell Crouch;
1980-1981: Richard Rawson Wolstenholme Hancock and James Anthony McCartney;
1981-1982: Richard Rawson Wolstenholme Hancock and Thomas Peter Bardwell;
1982-1983: Richard Rawson Wolstenholme Hancock and James Herron;
1983-1985: Derek Charles Gibbs and James Herron;
1985-1988: Derek Charles Gibbs and Peter Leslie Ganson;
1988: David Borelano and Kenneth Frank Martin;
1988-1989: William John McKeating and Raymond Reginald Sydney Wheldal;
1989-1991: Raymond Reginald Sydney Wheldal, John George Jones and Douglas John Baker;
1991-1992: Stephen Edward Aldridge and Douglas John Baker;
1992: Stephen Edward Aldridge and Barry J.Walker;
1992: Stephen Edward Aldridge and Douglas John Baker;
1992-1996: Charles Pickering and Douglas John Baker;
1996: Charles Pickering and Peter Horace Grazier