The Belgium Arms Beerhouse Luton
The Town Hall - the Belgium Arms was immediately left of the entrance block [Z50/75/72]
The Belgium Arms Beerhouse: George Street, Luton
The only records of the Belgium Arms held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service are references in directories, in the Luton register of alehouse licences 1872-1876 [PSL6/1], and in a pamphlet produced by Luton Borough Council in the 1990s [WB/Green7/7/1]. Between 1871 and 1876 the beerhouse was owned by Biggleswade brewers Wells & Company.
The establishment is not listed in the countywide register of licensed premises of 1828 and so must have first opened between this date and 1872. A clue may, perhaps, come in the name: Belgium declared its independence from the Netherlands in a popular uprising in 1830 and this independence was recognized internationally in 1839.
The Historic Environment Record [HER] for Bedfordshire includes most buildings of historic interest in the county and is now available on-line as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for the Belgium Arms [HER 18099] reads: "The Belgium Arms public house adjoined the previous Town Hall building on the corner of Upper George Street. It was first mentioned in 1847 and was incorporated into the Town Hall at the end of the 1880's as the weights and measures department. In 1919 it was destroyed along with the Town Hall in a fire following the Peace Day riot."
The only source mentioned for this statement is the Luton Borough Council pamphlet noted above. This pamphlet states that it owes its own entries on pubs to a book by Stuart Smith called Pubs and Pints: The Story of Luton's Public Houses and Breweries. This volume was published in 1995 and does indeed include that information on the Belgium Arms. Unfortunately the author does not quote his sources. The book is available in the searchroom library. William Austin in his 1928 book The History of Luton and its Hamlets gives the 1847 date as the oldest known for the Belgium Arms and states that it was purchased by Luton Corporation as an addition to the Town Hall in 1886.
The Town Hall June 2008
- PSL6/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Luton Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1876;
- WB/Green7/7/1: LutonTown centre Historic Pubs and Breweries Trail pamphlet: 1990s.
Licensees: Note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known
1872-1876: Frederick Rogers;
1876: William Thompson.