The Bridge Hotel Luton
The George II and 66 Bute Street June 2001
The Bridge Hotel: 66 Bute Street, Luton
An abstract of title of the Bridge Hotel [X95/341] states that in 1844 John Lane, a straw hat manufacturer mortgages land and two cottages then being built to Gibbon Newman Walker. Two years later Lane redeemed the mortgage and surrendered land “with cottages lately erected thereon” to Rev. Thomas Sikes of Luton and his trustee Frederick Burr, a Luton brewer. It does not seem as if either of these cottages was used as licensed premises, however, despite Burr being Sikes’ trustee, because neither a licensing register extending from 1872 to 1876 nor the countywide licensing register of 1876 lists a Bridge Hotel in Luton or, indeed, any licensed property in the town belonging to Rev. Sikes.
In 1879 [X95/231] a property was leased to Luton brewer Thomas Sworder for twenty one years by Rev. Sikes. This suggests that one of the cottages had now been turned into a beerhouse or public house, probably the former as Kelly’s Directory for Bedfordshire for 1885 does not list a Bridge Hotel in Luton. Beerhouses were not listed by name in directories, the name of the licensee is given with the description of beer retailer and there were a number of beer retailers in Bute Street.
The first reference in a directory to the Bridge Hotel, obviously by then a public house, is in Kelly’s for 1890. In 1889 [X95/341] the executors of Rev. Sikes, who had died in that year, sold a property described as: a plot of land with two messuages, workshops and other buildings erected thereon known [respectively] as the Bridge Hotel and the Railway Coffee Tavern, 74 and 76 Bute Street, Luton (there has obviously been renumbering since) extending on the north-west next to Bute Street 43 feet, on the south-west, next to land formerly of Frederick Gee, then Joseph Mardle, then Charles Haddon Osborn 55 feet 3 inches; north-east next to the George II public house 78 feet, south-east next to property of [blank] 47 feet 6 inches and containing 10 poles 8 yards 3 feet.
This shows that the Bridge Hotel stood next door to the George II public house, which survives until the time of writing . The right hand side of the present George II (as seen from Bute Street at the front) is clearly a different building to the left hand side because the roof is lower as are the windows. This right hand side seems to share the same architecture with the building on its right (again as seen from the street), now 66 Bute Street and at the time of writing  an Italian restaurant called la Trattoria.
An insurance plan of 1895 [Z561/3a] shows the George II with a gun shop immediately next door and another public house next door to that. This evidence confirms that the Bridge Hotel was the present 66 Bute Street, la Trattoria. The building which now forms the extension of the George II must, therefore, have been the Railway Coffee Tavern. The George II was built in the 1870s (although a George II in Upper Bute Street is listed in the Post Office Directory for Bedfordshire of 1864), according to its listing by the former Department of Environment, whereas the Bridge Hotel was built, as the evidence of the deeds shows, about 1845. This would account for the difference in architecture.
The Bridge Hotel remained part of Thomas Sworder & Company’s brewery business until 1897 when Sworder sold out to Luton rival J. W. Green, which immediately became a limited company as J. W. Green Limited. The public house remained in Green’s ownership until it closed in 1937. The 1897 sale catalogue described the Bridge Hotel as follows [X95/313-314, WB/S4/1/1/5 and Z210/84]:
A FULLY-LICENSED PUBLIC-HOUSE
“THE BRIDGE HOTEL”
Bute Street, Luton
Situate in the Main Road leading to the Great Northern Railway Station and opposite the Foot-bridge to the Midland Station and HighTown.
It is Brick-built and Slated, and contains: -
ON THE SECOND FLOOR – Four Rooms
ON THE FIRST FLOOR – Three Rooms, Bath Room and w. c.
ON THE GROUND FLOOR – Bar with two entrances, bar Parlour, Kitchen, Scullery with sink and copper, Small Conservatory and w. c., Two Cellars in Basement with cask entrance.
Yard at the Rear with coal place and Side Passage from Bute Street.
Tenant, Mr. S. Boutwood. Rent, £30 per annum
ADJOINING HOUSE AND SHOP
In Bute Street, Luton
ON THE SECOND FLOOR – Two Bed Rooms
ON THE FIRST FLOOR – Large Room or Workshop, Store Cupboard, Sitting Room, Bed Room, Bath Room with bath and w. c.
ON THE GROUND FLOOR – Shop, Office with stove, Sitting Room with stove and two cupboards, Kitchen with sink and water laid on, w. c. and Workshop.
IN THE BASEMENT – Workshop
Small Yard and Side Entrance from Passage.
Let to Mr. Langley [listed as a gun and bicycle maker in Kelly’s Directory for 1898], on a yearly tenancy, at a Rental of £45 per annum. Land Tax, 16s. 7d.
The Hotel and Shop have a total Frontage of about 42 feet 9 inches to Bute Street, affording great advantages for enlarging or rebuilding the present Hotel.
Special Condition – The title to this property shall commence with a conveyance of 1st December 1846, made between John Lane of the first part, Gibbon Newman Walker of the second part, the Rev. Thomas Sikes of the third part, and Frederick Burr of the fourth part.
- X95/341: conveyance of land and cottages being built: 1844;
- X95/341: mortgage of the Bridge Hotel: 1844;
- X95/341: conveyance of land and cottages: 1846;
- PSL6/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Luton Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1876;
- X95/341: lease of premises to Thomas Sworder: 1879;
- WBGreen5/5/1: register of successive tenants to J. W. Green Limited licensed premises: 1887-1926;
- X95/341: conveyance of the Bridge Hotel: 1889;
- X210/84: Particulars, plans and conditions of sale of Messrs T Sworder & Co's Brewery, Luton: 1897;
- WB/S4/1/1/5: sale particulars of brewery and licensed premises of Thomas Sworder: 1897;
- X95/313-314, WB/S4/1/1/5 and Z210/84: sale catalogue of Thomas Sworder & Company: 1897;
- X95/299: schedule of deeds of Thomas Sworder's licensed premises: 1897;
- X95/341: abstract of title: 1897;
- WB/Green4/1/VP1: conveyance of brewery and licensed properties of Thomas Sworder to J. W. Green Limited: 1897;
- WB/Green1/1/1: record of articles of association and licensed houses owned by J. W. Green Limited: 1897-1936;
- BML10/45/10: listed in a report: 1917;
- WB/Green6/4/1: trade analysis ledger of J. W. Green Limited licensed premises: 1936-1947;
- WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of deeds to J. W. Green Limited licensed premises: c.1949;
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1890-1891: Sidney Webb;
1891-1909: Samuel Boutwood;
1909-1915: George Alcock;
1919-1926: Archibald Stannard;
1929-1936: William Masson;
1936-1937: Herbert William Bland
Public House closed 3rd February 1937 and licence transferred to Somerset Tavern