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The Eagle Public House Leighton Buzzard

The Eagle about 1930
The Eagle about 1930

The Eagle Public House: 31, later 57 Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard

The first mention of the Eagle is in 1861 in the Register of Alehouse Licences kept by Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division [PSLB4/1]. The countywide register of licences of 1876 notes that the premises was then owned and occupied by Elizabeth Jane Bishop and that it was first licensed in 1856. The date given for first licensing in the register is not always accurate but this date seems plausible.

On 24th August 1869 the Leighton Buzzard bench heard a licence renewal application for Leonard Bishop. The renewal was not signed by the justices of the peace and was retained until the next sessions in consequence of him having been convicted on 12th January 1869 of assault and drunkenness by the Leighton Buzzard sessions and of furious driving at the Linslade sessions of 20th August 1868. He duly received his licence renewal, after a special caution by the justices, at the sessions of 14th September [PSLB1/2]. By 1876 Bishop's wife, Jane Elizabeth was owner and licensee though she too had a brush with the law, being convicted on 30th May 1893 of being drunk on her own licensed premises; she was fined 10/9 with 7/6 costs [PSLB4/1]. One wonders if this was a symptom of a deeper problem as in July of that year she sold the Eagle by auction. The sale particulars [BML10/42/96] describe the public house as: "all that old-established free and fully-licensed roadside public house known as The Eagle situate and being Number 31 Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard. The House is Brick-built and Slated, and has on the Ground Floor Entrance Lobby, Bar, large Tap-room, 20 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 6 inches, Parlour, and Sitting-room, with lean-to Office. On the First Floor are two Bed-rooms, and a large Bed-room over; and a capital dry Cellar in the Basement. Under the same roof, at the back of Tap-room, is a place used as a Pipe Manufactory, with Workshop over Tap-room, which can be easily converted into more household accommodation. The Premises at back, to a depth of about 82 feet 9 inches, consist of large Yard, enclosed by a pair of boarded gates, brick-built and slated Brew-house, and enclosed Shed, suitable for stable and chaise-house, Closet, Manure Pit, and a Well of Water. The Property is Copyhold of the Manor of Leighton Buzzard, otherwise Grovebury. Quit Rent, a Peppercorn. The Fixtures and Brewing Plant will be required to be taken to and paid for by the Purchaser, at a Valuation made by the Auctioneer, and which will be produced at the time of Sale. The Vendor reserves a right of cartway and footway through and over the Yard belonging to this Property, at all times and for all purposes, from and to the Billington Road, to and from the remaining Properties belonging to her, situate at the rear; and also the right to lay a gas pipe in the said yard, to supply gas from the main to the same properties". A pencil annotation reads: "Also reserves a right to remove the interior casing of the Pipe Kiln". A final summary states: "The Property has been in the occupation of the Vendor upwards of 40 years, and she is now retiring from business". The property was purchased by John Stairs for £500.

The Eagle about 1980 [Z1432/2/2/22]
The Eagle about 1980 [Z1432/2/2/22]

It is interesting to note that the Eagle is here described as 31 Billington Road. The higher numbers in the road were renumbered between 1914 and 1920, the Eagle becoming Number 57. The Northampton Brewery Company later either owned or leased the Eagle and further records relating to the public house are presumably with that company's archive at Northamptonshire Record Office. Licensing registers reveal that the Eagle closed in 1980 but re-opened again in 1982. It closed for good some time after 1990 and was subsequently demolished, the site now being private housing.

 The site of the Eagle in June 2008
The site of the Eagle in 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;
  • BML10/42/96: auction sale particulars: 1893;
  • HN1/20-1-3: position shown on annotated Ordnance Survey maps compiled for licensing purposes: early 20th century;
  • 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:

1861-1871: Leonard Bishop (and pipe maker);
1876-1893: Jane Elizabeth Bishop;
1893-1894: Thomas Hester;
1894-1898: William Long;
1898-1901: George Taylor;
1901-1902: George Harper;
1902-1905: Lewis Alexander Taylor;
1905-1907: Richard Kenrick Williams;
1907-1908: Frederick Joseph Miller;
1908-1911: Stephen King;
1911-1915: Albert Edward Hodson [convicted 24 Aug 1915 of contravening a Military Order; fined £10];
1915-1916: Robert Hampton;
1916: Benjamin Garrett;
1916-1923: Frank Jones;
1923-1926: Frederick Thomas Hopkins;
1926-1956: Percy James Anderson;
1965: John Henry Burgin;
1969: Henry John Talbot
Public house closed 1980 

Reopened 26th March 1982
1982: John Robert Worboys;
1982: John Robert Worboys and Christopher Turner;
1984: Ernest Terence Walker-Spiers and Geoffrey James Bottoms;
1985: Ernest Terence Walker-Spiers and Hamish McKee;
1987: David John Adamson;
1990: Jenette Walker-Spiers