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The Griffin Public House Kempston

Picture of the Griffin public house in October 2007Griffin public house October 2007

The Griffin Public House: 174 Bedford Road, Kempston

Evidence points to the Griffin first being licensed in 1870. This is the date given in the countywide Licensing register of 1876 for a no sign off-licence in Kempston owned by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Company [see below]. It was the only house they owned in Kempston at the time. By the time of the countywide register of 1891 the only licensed property owned by Wells and Company is the Griffin.

In October 1884 a beerhouse licence was granted to Alfred Barker [CLM1]. The site of the house had been sold to brewers Frederick Archdale and R. H. and C. S. Lindsell in 1869 [GK25/1]. Archdale and the Lindsells ran Wells and Company (as it had been founded by Samuel Wells in the mid 18th century; it was not related to the surviving Bedford firm of Charles Wells). Wells and Company was purchased by Kent businessman George Winch for his son Edward Bluett Winch in 1899 from which point the firm was known as Wells and Winch Limited. The firm was taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961 and at the time of writing [2007] the Griffin remains a Greene King house.

In 1898, in the sale catalogue of Wells & Company property [GK1/36], the property was described as: "The Griffin Beerhouse, Bedford Road, Kempston. A neat brick and slated corner house, containing Bar, Tap Room, Living Room, Scullery and Cellar and four bedrooms; small Yard. W. C. &c. Gates at side of House, with Barn, Paddock, and a good piece Garden. In the occupation of Mr A. Barker at £8 per annum. Freehold".

In 1927 Bedfordshire was valued under the Rating Valuation Act 1925, every piece of land and building was valued to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Griffin [Dv1/R25] noted that accommodation consisted of two bars, a bottle and jug room (for off-sales), tap room, parlour and kitchen downstairs with three bedrooms upstairs and a coal shed and barn outside. Weekly trade amounted to three barrels of beer, five dozen bottles of beer, two dozen half bottles of beer and tobacco. Weekly takings averaged a healthy £20 gross. In conclusion the valuer noted: "At corner. Rather a dull looking place". Following alterations in 1934 [UDKP640] the valuer called again noting: "As before. Tap room enlarged and now good games room. Brick open fireplace" [DV1/X122]. A full licence was granted on 4th March 1948 turning the beerhouse into a public house.

In 1968 police cadets at Mander College visited a number of public houses in Kempston, they then wrote short descriptions which were not always complimentary, of the Griffin however, they said: "Landlord: Herbert Glass. Height 5 feet 7inches; Well built (12 stone weight approximately); receding hair. Well spoken, Well dressed. Approximately 45 years of age".

"The trade of this public house was brisk for a Wednesday lunchtime. The house was well decorated with a good general appearance. The house had a juke box, a fruit machine, and hot snacks at very good prices were served. About twenty persons were in the house at 1.45 p.m. The pub had an extremely large car park. The Landlord informed us he had been in the public house for quite a time and had found the people of Kempston to be very friendly". 

The pub closed around 2010 and, after being empty for some years, became a restaurant serving Indian and Gurkha food in November 2016.


  • GK25/1: recited conveyance of land: 1843;
  • GK25/1: recited conveyance: 1869;
  • GK25/1: conveyance of land: 1869;
  • Z1039/34/1: sale to Wells and Company: 1869;
  • CLM1: grant of licence to Alfred Barker: 1884;
  • GK1/36 in sale catalogue 1898;
  • Z1039/34/2a-b conveyance to Wells & Winch 1899;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • UDKP640 plans for additions 1934;
  • DV1/X/122: rating valuation: 1934;
  • UDKP925 plan of alteration 1940;
  • UDKP930 plan of new cellar 1941.
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • Z1301/1: police cadets' summary description: 1968;
  • BorB/TP/90/1446 plan of extensions 1990 

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1876: Ruth Jiggins;
1884-1907: Alfred Barker;
1907-1908: Samuel William Smith;
1908-1910: Gilbert Hinton;
1910-1920: Charles Fisher;
1920-1931: Amelia Fisher;
1931-1936: John T.C.Williams;
1940-1955: Edwin J Scrivener;
1961: Gerald T Dancer;
1965-1971: Herbert Francis Glass;
1971-1989: Peter Edward Cleaver;
1989-1995: Ian John Martin Taylor