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The Dew Drop Inn Luton

The Dew Drop Inn, 16 Upper George Street [previously Dunstable Lane], Luton

The Dew Drop Inn was first licensed in 1864. By 1876 it was owned by brewer Henry Fowler of Woburn, before passing into the hands of Luton brewer Thomas Sworder. In 1892 the landlord of the Dew Drop, Mr. Stevens, decided to let the premises and became the victim of a fraudulent would-be purchaser. The Luton News of 5th May 1892 carried the following article:


Mr. Stevens the landlord of the Dewdrop Inn, has had a rather unpleasant experience. Wishing to make a change, he placed the house in the hands of a London agent to let, and some days ago a young man of gentlemanly appearance came down with a card from the agent for the purpose of viewing the premises. The visitor, who gave the name of Roberts, was about thirty years of age, smart, and well-dressed, and said that his father, on whose behalf he made the negociations, lived at Grimsby, where he was well known as a breeder of Shire horses. He also spoke airily about a trawler which they had been running between Grimsby and Hull, and generally gave Mr. Stevens to understand that his family were in fairly affluent circumstances. Mr. “Roberts” went through the books relating to the business very carefully, looked over the premises, and expressed himself as thoroughly satisfied, eventually making out a cheque for £20, and handing it to Mr. Stevens as a deposit on his purchase. There was one draw back, however, as far as Mr. “Roberts’” ideas were concerned, and that was that the outbuildings at the rear of the house were not sufficiently extensive to accommodate the horses he and his father would wish to bring. But this was a difficulty which might be obviated by the purchase of the adjoining premises, and accordingly Mr. “Roberts”, to whom money was apparently no consideration, went with Mr. Stevens to the London and County Bank to make inquiries as to whether the property might be acquired. The two gentlemen also went to the brewers, Messrs. Sworder, where the prospective tenant completed his investigations, and gave his name and address, together with his references, which seemed to be all satisfactory and above board. Mr. “Roberts” stayed in Luton that night, and the next day he was so exuberant at having come across a house which suited him so admirably that he hired a horse and trap, and he and Mr. Stevens went to Leighton Buzzard for a drive. Subsequently he again produced his cheque book, and got the landlord of the Dew Drop to cash a cheque for him for £7 which, like the one he made out for the larger one, was drawn on the Grimsby branch of the Hull Banking Company. Unfortunately for Mr. Stevens when these cheques were presented for payment they were returned marked “no account” and perhaps it is hardly necessary to say that Mr. “Roberts” has not again visited Luton for the purpose of completing the arrangements for taking over the Dew Drop Inn. The local police are on the look-out for him, and so also are a good many other persons for the operations gone through here are only a repetition of those performed by the same gentleman at a number of other places”.

In 1897 rival brewer John William Green took over Sworder's business and the new firm was turned into a public limited company as J. W. Green Limited. It appears that Sworder had previously agreed another sale for the Dew Drop and was selling the lease to Green rather than the freehold. A letter from the auctioneers to Sworder states that the sale was “to include the ‘Dew Drop’ subject to the contract which you have entered into for the sale thereof and for taking the Lease”. The sale particulars show that the Dew Drop was one of eleven premises held by Sworder on leases and yearly tenancies which were then sub-let on yearly tenancies.

The Dew Drop was demolished in 1953 as part of road widening scheme and the licence was transferred to the newly opened Wyvern Inn on Eaton Green Road. A list of the licensed houses of J. W. Green drawn up c.1952 includes a note against the entry for the Dew Drop that it is "to be replaced by pre-fab in Eaton Green Road, Luton". The site of the Dew Drop is now occupied by an extension to the Town Hall.


  • WB/Green5/5/1: register of successive tenants of J.W.Green Limited licensed houses: 1887-1926;
  • X95/301: schedules of deeds relating to Luton Brewery and public houses: 1897;
  • X95/313: sale catalogue of Thomas Sworder & Company brewery and public houses: 1897;
  • X95/314: sale catalogue of Thomas Sworder & Company brewery and public houses: 1897;
  • X95/316: copy draft conveyance: 1897;
  • X95/357/16 & 35: letters to Thomas Sworder re sale negotiations: 1897;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: J.W.Green Limited trade analysis ledger for individual licensed premises: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: certificate of title to properties belonging to J.W.Green Limited: 1936-1952
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of licensed houses of J.W.Green Limited: c.1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: Second Schedule of Trust Deed from J.W.Green Limited to London Assurance to secure 1,205,000 5% First Mortgage Debenture Stock: 1952-1972;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: various loose J.W.Green Limited schedules of deeds and documents: c.1954;
  • WB/Green7/7/1: Luton Town centre Historic Pubs and Breweries Trail pamphlet: 1990s

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:

1869: George Gregory
1872-1875: Joseph Thomas Fox;
1875-1876: Thomas Coates Johnson;
1876-1877: Maxwell Edwin Bainbridge;
1877: John Sellick;
1887: Spencer;
1887-1888: Parker;
1888-1890: Charles Semple;
1890-1892: Stevens;
1892-1894: Alfred William Bache;
1894-1896: Boutwood;
1896: Gray;
1896: Marshall;
1896-1897: Draper;
1897: Dungey;
1897-1898: Hartley Noble;
1898-1902: Hyde;
1902-1903: Horace Batkin;
1903-1905: Small;
1905-1909: Alexander Brown;
1909-1912: Percy Harvey;
1912-1924: James Henry Hutchings;
1924: Mrs.Hutchings;
1924-1931: Frederick Charles Latham;
1931-1953: Percy Whitcombe [or Whittemore]
[public house closed and licence transferred to Wyvern Inn 1953