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The Carpenters Arms Leighton Buzzard

The Carpenters Arms in the 1920s
The Carpenters Arms in the 1920s

The Carpenters Arms Public House: 38, now 18, Bassett Road, Leighton Buzzard

The countywide licensing register of 1876 notes that the Carpenters Arms was first licensed in 1836; this source is not always accurate and the figure should be treated with some caution but seems plausible. The owner in 1876 was John Loke senior of Leighton Buzzard. By 1891 Phipps and Company of Northampton were listed as owners. Because of this Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has very little material on the public house, archives such as the deeds, presumably, being at Northamptonshire Record Office.

The 1851 census states that David Cook was also a carpenter, hence the name of the public house. It was common for small public houses and beerhouses to be run as sidelines to other businesses such as carpentry, baking, butchery or coopering. In such cases other members of the family, often the wife, took the lead in running the drinking establishment.

The Leighton Buzzard Observer for 27th July 1869 related an unfortunate incident at the public house: "On Sunday [25th July] afternoon, between five and six o'clock, a fire of an alarming character occurred on the premises of Mr. David Cook, builder. The circumstances of the case are somewhat curious. At about the time mentioned, Miss Cook went into the yard attached to the house - the Carpenter's Arms Inn - and took a quantity of shavings from a large heap situated immediately beneath the workshops, and, placing them in the grate, lighted them with a match, for the purpose of boiling the kettle for tea. A little boy, about five years of age - a grandson of Mr. Cook - watched this proceeding with apparent interest, and, in a short time afterwards, he went into the yard and subsequently returned to the house, giving the alarm of a fire. It seems that, seeing his aunt light a few shavings in the kitchen, he thought that he would try an experiment with the bulk in the timber-yard, and ignited a very large quantity of them, which were lying just beneath the carpenter's workshops. The flames had gained a considerable ascendancy, when the youthful incendiary became frightened at the consequence of his childish freak, and ran into the house with the intelligence of the fire. Mr. Cook, an old member of the fire brigade, was equal to the emergency. The loss of a few minutes, or any blunder in going about the work would, in the existing state of affairs, have resulted in the total destruction of the workshops, but Mr. Cook went about his work with professional skill, and, with the assistance which ultimately came to hand, succeeded in extinguishing the flames before any considerable injury was done. Had Mr. Cook been apprised of the fire a few minutes later, the damage must have been extensive; but we are pleased to add that, under the circumstances, it is trifling. The premises are uninsured. Great praise is due to the neighbours of Mr. Cook for the prompt assistance they rendered in a time of need".

The public house closed at the end of 1929. It is now a private house.

 The former Carpenters Arms June 2008
The former Carpenters Arms June 2008


  • PSLB4/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1949;
  • PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956;
  • HN1/20-1-3: position shown on annotated Ordnance Survey maps compiled for licensing purposes: early 20th century;
  • BML10/42/376: inventory and valuation from H. Brown to G. Smith: 1912;
  • BML10/42/383: inventory and valuation from G. Smith to Phipps & Company: 1913;
  • PSLB4/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1922-1948  

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

1836-1887: David Cook;
1887-1888: Jane Cook;
1888-1897: Henry Brown;
1897-1912: Henry George Brown;
1912-1913: George Smith;
1913-1915: John Palmer;
1915: Mary Palmer;
1915-1921: Thomas Biggs;
1921-1922: Samuel Chiswell;
1922-1929: William Blake
Public house closed 31st December 1929