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The Three Fishes Beerhouse Kempston

The former Three Fishes Beerhouse July 2007
The former Three Fishes Beerhouse July 2007

Three Fishes Beerhouse: 110 High Street, Kempston

This former beerhouse was built by Thomas Francis, bricklayer, in 1829 on a piece of orchard formerly belonging to the King William IV public house next door [CRT130Kem35]. The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that The Three Fishes was first licensed in 1830, around the same time as its neighbour.

Francis had bought the orchard in 1828 from Thomas Lambert whose ‘freehold homestead and part of close’ is no.419 in the Kempston Inclosure map of 1804. The whole site is first mentioned in the will of John Watts, yeoman, made in 1748, by which it was left to his daughter Winifred Craddock. By her will, proved in 1766, the property passed to Thomas Lambert [CRT130Kem35].

Thomas Francis immediately mortgaged his newly built public house to Thomas Sanders, maltster, for £80. Further capital was required in 1831 when the borrowing doubled to £160 and the debt transferred to Francis Green. The business was apparently successful, since the whole mortgage had been paid off by 1847 [CRT130Kem35].Thomas Francis died in 1858 and left his ‘freehold premises…occupied by him as a public house’ in trust for sale. The auction duly took place on 12 August 1858. The highest bidder, at £520, was Francis’ son in law Thomas Sergeant, a maltster of Bedford. The auction sale catalogue notes that the property had 33ft frontage to the High Road and 82ft 6inch frontage to Mill Lane on the West side. Thomas Francis’ son William remained as tenant, and bought all his father’s stock and equipment by hire purchase from his new landlord. William Francis undertook to promote the business as far as possible, and was bound to purchase his malt and hops only from Serjeant, or pay a fine of £20. William Francis, brewer of the ‘Fish’ appears in The Post Office Directory of 1864.

On the death of Thomas Sergeant in 1873, the estate was left in trust to his wife Ann (daughter of Thomas Francis) for her life. When she died in 1883 the trustees sold to Messrs Jarvis, brewers, of Bedford, taken over by Charles Wells in 1910. The Three Fishes was sold by auction in 1917 [CRT130Kem35] In 1903 the premises were described as "good, clean, apparently sanitary" but it was noted that they were only 55 yards from the King William IV.

The purchaser at the 1917 auction was John Blakeman, who bid £165 [CRT130Kem35]. He may have been the agent for Mrs. Jane Watts, a widow to whom the premises were conveyed eight weeks later. The deed of conveyance describes the premises as ‘formerly the Three Fishes, now unlicensed' [CRT130Kem35]. Mrs Watts sold to E. A. Arlington and J. C. A. Glaisyer in 1933, and they were still in possession in 1949 [CRT130Kem35].


  • CRT130Kem35: notes: 1830-1947;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • POE119/1: mentioned in deed of King William IV: 1900;
  • Z50/67/10 Beard Bros standing behind the pub: C20th;
  • CLP23: Licensing Committee refusal to renew licence: 1914

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

1830-1858: Thomas Francis;
1858-1871: William Francis;
1876-1877: Robert Rignall;
1881 Levi Gore;
1885 John Morris;
1890-1894: Eliza Pool Willison;
1903-1908: Amos Lowe;
1908-1909: Thomas Giggle;
1909-1910: Ernest Johnson;
1910: George Pateman;
1910-1911: Alfred Williams;
1911-1913: Arthur Massey;
1913: Herbert Peach;
1913-1914: Stephen James Hoole
Beerhouse closed 26th December 1914.