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The Royal Oak Beerhouse Kempston Rural

46 Wood End Road June 2013
46 Wood End Road June 2013

The Royal Oak Beerhouse: 46 Wood End Road, Kempston Rural

This beerhouse is known from only one source held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service – the sale catalogue of Bedford Brewery of 1874. This brewery had been around a long time. Thomas Woodward the elder was a maltster at the White Horse in Bedford and also had a brewery in Saint Paul’s Square, Bedford. He was the administrator of the estate of John Bunyan meaning he was alive in the mid 17th century. His business passed to his son Thomas Woodward the younger. He was dead by 1776 and left four daughters one of whom married James Belsham and their son William inherited the brewery. At some point before 1784 Belsham leased a new brick brewery in Saint Paul’s to William Long and the brothers Henry and James Whittingstall. Long bought the brothers out in 1803. Long was mayor of Bedford four times and was knighted in 1814. By 1830 he was in partnership with William Pestell trading as Long and Pestell. At his death he left 28 public houses and his son-in-law Robert Newland continued the business. By 1861 Newland’s son Bingham was running the business but he died in 1873, hence the auction of the business the following year.

The sale catalogue [GA487] lists a freehold beerhouse without a name in Wood End, describing it as in the occupation of James Allen and a yearly rent of £10. Most of the brewery was bought by Thomas Jarvis. He already owned a brewery, the Phoenix in Midland Road, Bedford, built around the time he took Newland’s business over and the Saint Paul’s Square brewery was discontinued. Jarvis evidently bought the beerhouse because it is listed in a mortgage of 1874 [DC/NB/E409/1] where it is described as a beerhouse at Wood End, formerly in the occupation of James Howe, then James Allen, now Chancy. The beerhouse must have closed soon after this because there is no entry corresponding to it in the countywide licensing register of 1876. However, Jarvis and Company still owned the property in 1915 when it is described [DC/NB/E409/1] as a beerhouse formerly known as the Royal Oak at Wood End, "but now unlicensed".

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the former beerhouse [DV1/C2/36] found it owned and occupied by G. Hutchins. The property comprised a living room, a front room, a kitchen and a cellar with four bedrooms on the first floor. Outside stood an earth closet, a wood and tiled barn and an earth closet. Water came from a “good well”. The valuer commented: “Very good cottage and garden (as a pub)”.


  • GA487: sale catalogue of brewery and licensed premises formerly belonging to Sir William Long: 1873;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: mortgage: 1874;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: conveyance to trustee: 1883;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: mortgage: 1883;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: assignment of mortgage: 1894;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: assignment of mortgage: 1899;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: reconveyance: 1904;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: conveyance: 1905;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: assignment of mortgage: 1905;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: reconveyance: 1909;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: reassignment: 1909;
  • DC/NB/E409/1: conveyance: 1915.

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

James Howe;
1864-1873: James Allen;
1874: Chancy.