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The Farley Arms Public House Luton

The Highlander c.1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/High/1]The Highlander c.1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/High/1] 

The Farley Arms Public House: 15 Windsor Street, Luton [previously The Highlander]

In 1857 the Highlander was mentioned at the Bedford Quarter Sessions where a certain Albert Brooks was charged with stealing a watch from William Sargood, a Luton baker; three other men were also charged with aiding and abetting the theft. Police Sergeant George Smith and Police Constable Richard Lambert told the Court that Brooks had been taken into custody at the Wrestlers beer shop; they had then gone to the Highlanders with another police constable to watch for the other three prisoners leaving town and had taken them into custody there.

Side and rear of the Highlander from Farley Hill, c.1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/High/3]
Side and rear of the Highlander from Farley Hill, c.1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/High/3]

The Highlander was owned by Francis Parsons of the St. Albans brewery until 1885, when the St. Albans brewery was sold to Adey and White Limited. In 1920 the Highlander was considered for closure by the licensing authorities. A report to the County Council stated that at that time there were 137 licensed premises in Luton: 94 alehouses, 13 beerhouses (on or off), 24 beerhouses (off) and 6 grocers and other licenses. With a population of around 57,000 there was one licensed house for every 467 persons. The licensee of the Highlander was George Stanley and the owner a Miss Blakey who leased the premises to Adey and White as a tied house for which the licensee paid an annual rent of £10. Stanley was the eighteenth licensee since December 1884; had held the license since 26th July 1916 and had previously been employed as an engineer’s fitter. There had been two convictions and one caution against the premises, including one conviction against the current licensee. Facilities provided by the Highlander included a room with a double bed as sleeping accommodation for travellers; meals supplied if ordered (although food was not served regularly); stabling accommodation of one stable with two stalls; dominoes and a shove ha’penny board were provided for customers; there was no music license. The report stated that the Highlander was frequented by the working class and was not difficult to manage. The public house was situated at the junction of two main roads with a fair amount of traffic, but got no railway traffic and very little holiday or summer traffic. There were nineteen other licensed houses within 300 yards of the Highlander, including the Foresters’ Arms and the Compasses which were just 21 yards and 59 yards away respectively. The report concluded that “Upon this evidence and upon our knowledge of the locality and accommodation of the house in question and of the other licensed houses in the neighbourhood, we are of opinion that a licensed house at the place where the “Highlander” is situated is not required”. Despite this recommendation the County Licensing Committee subsequently decided to renew the Highlander’s licence.

The former Farley Arms on the corner of Farley Hill and Windsor Street, 2010
The former Farley Arms on the corner of Farley Hill and Windsor Street, 2010

In 1936 Adey and White Limited was sold to J.W. Green Limited who took over the Highlander. In 1978 the public house was still known by this name, but at some point after this the name was changed to the Farley Arms. Following its closure the building was used as a restaurant, latterly becoming La Sheesh, a shisha café which closed down following prosecution by Luton Borough Council for allowing smoking on the premises. The former public house has since been badly damaged by fire.


  • CL/P18: County Licensing Committee papers 1920;
  • 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/Green4/2/16: letter as to titles - J.W.Green Limited to their solicitors Lawrance, Messer & Company: 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/Flow4/5/Lu/High/1-3: photographs of the Highlander, 1960s

Licensees: Note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known

1872-1876: John Smith;
1916-1920: George Stanley
1929-1932: Arthur Cox;
1932-1934: Violet Evelyn Cox;
1934-1936: William Hill;
1936-1952: William Arthur Barton;
1959: Arthur William Hadgley Dumkin;
1967: James Joseph Clegg;
1968: Alfred Clampitt;
1971: Norman Arthur Hards;
1972: James Shirran;
1976: Melvin Shirran.