The Prince Albert Beerhouse Luton
The Prince Albert Beerhouse: New Town Street, Luton
The Prince Albert beerhouse was mentioned in a case brought to the Bedford Quarter Sessions in 1852 in which a certain Louisa Williamson was accused of stealing a chemise. Susannah George, who lodged with a Mrs Sarah Kingham in New Town Street, stated that she had given Mrs. Kingham various items to wash, including the chemise. The chemise went missing and Mrs. Kingham suspected Williamson, a relative of hers who had been alone in the room where the washing had been laid on a table to dry. Williamson at first denied having the clothing, but when Mrs. Kingham went to her lodgings with a policeman she was found to be wearing it under her clothes. Williamson’s version of events was that when she came from London she left her box at her aunt’s for more than two weeks. She then asked a boy to take it to the Prince Albert, where she was lodging. The next day she found the chemise in the box. She had left it clean for over a week but nobody had made enquiries for it. The jury found Louisa Williamson not guilty.
In its early years the Prince Albert appears to have been owned by Burr’s Brewery. A document held by Bedfordshire Archives [X95/303] which lists public houses to be sold “by” Luton brewer Thomas Sworder in 1859 includes “The Prince Albert, New Town”, giving an estimated value of £250. it would appear that “by” may be an error for “to” as Burr’s Brewery and associated public houses were purchased by Thomas Sworder in 1860, and the Prince Albert is found among Thomas Sworder’s properties later in the nineteenth century. A second document [WB/B4/2/1] provides a list of licensed premises put up for sale by Burr’s Brewery; this list is very similar to the first but includes a “dwelling house formerly Prince Albert beerhouse” in Luton. Possible explanations are that the location of the Prince Albert beerhouse changed, or that the beerhouse closed temporarily.
In June 1864 the Prince Albert was mentioned again at the Bedford Quarter Sessions when Joseph Wright, the keeper of the beerhouse, appeared as a witness. A man named Henry Johnston was accused of stealing two pairs of shoes a year before from the shop of Luton shoemaker Joseph Bush at 2 Upper Bute Street. John Pratt, the keeper of the Robin Hood public house told the Court that on 12th June 1863 Johnston had come into the house with a pair of boots and had asked him to buy them. He refused, but lent Johnston five shillings, taking the boots as security. The next day Pratt returned with another man, William Dumpleton, who repaid the five shillings and left with the boots. Dumpleton said he had been at Peach’s beerhouse in New Town when Johnston asked if he wanted to buy a pair of boots. He went with Johnston to the Robin Hood and bought them for six shillings and a pint of beer. Later the same day he sold the boots at the Red Cap beerhouse to Joseph Wright for eight shillings and sixpence. Wright, who kept the Prince Albert beerhouse, wore the boots for two or three days before handing them to Police Constable James Haynes. Johnston was arrested by PC Haynes, though the policeman had to wait until April 1864 when the suspect, who had been serving time in Northampton Gaol, was released. The prisoner said he knew nothing about the boots and although the shoemaker’s wife identified the boots shown to her by PC Haynes as one of the stolen pairs, he was found not guilty.
The Prince Albert was still licensed as a beerhouse in 1876 but no later reference has been found so it is likely it closed soon after this date.
- QSR1852/3/6/23: depositions in case of Louisa Williamson, charged with theft of clothing, 1852;
- WB/B4/2/1: List of properties sold by F. Burr to Thomas Sworder, 1859;
- X95/303: List of public houses proposed to be sold by Thomas Sworder, 1859;
- QSR1864/3/5/2: depositions in case of Henry Johnston, charged with theft of shoes, 1864
Licensees: Note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known
1863: Joseph Wright
1872-1875: Joseph Wright;
1875-1876: Francis Cook