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The Cardinal Public House Luton

The site of the Cardinal lies behind the sixth pair of windows looking from the camera August 2009
The site of the Cardinal lies behind the sixth pair of windows looking from the camera August 2009

The Cardinal Public House: 6 Brache Street on the corner with Wood Street, Luton

According to the countywide register of alehouse licences of 1876 the Cardinal was first licensed as a public house in 1865. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has the deeds for the Cardinal from 1862 to 1970 received from the British Records Association [Z1211/3].

The site of the Cardinal was conveyed, along with that whole area of the town, from the executors and trustees of the Marquis of Bute to Luton builder James Hopkins in April 1862 [Z1211/3/1]. The land conveyed was part of a close of arable land called Brown Brick Field containing ninety five poles and twenty two square yards.

On 2nd July 1863 Hopkins conveyed part of this land, described as fourteen and a half poles in West Hyde forming part of a close of arable land called Brown Brick Field to Luton butcher Thomas Durrant for £60/5/- [Z1211/3/1]. The land was bounded to the north-west and south-west by roads leading to Park Road (today's Park Street). On 20th July Durrant took out a mortgage for £150 secured on the land [Z1211/3/2] and, at that stage it was described as before but with the addition of the following: "together also with the messuage or shop and two cottages now erected or in the course of erection". A later deed makes it clear that the shop was the Cardinal - in 1880 Durrant borrowed £400 secured on land given the same description as in 1863 but with the additional detail that the land included a "public house with outbuildings and yards known by the name of the Cardinal, situate on the corner of Chapel Street and Wood Street in Park Town (formerly known as Brown Brick)" occupied by William Medhurst and two cottages adjoining numbered 20 and 22 Wood Street. The form of wording used in the deed is ambiguous - was it referring back to ParkTown having been Brown Brick Field or that the Cardinal was previously known as the Brown Brick? If the latter then the name lasted less than fifteen years.

By 1889 the Cardinal was owned by Mary Durrant and Thomas Cox, as executors of Thomas Durrant (who had died in 1886) and they leased the public house (now described as on the corner of Brache Street and Wood Street - obviously Chapel Street had been renamed) to Luton brewer John William Green for ten years at a rent of £40 per annum [Z1211/3/7]. Mary Durrant died in 1897 and Thomas Cox, her brother, conveyed the Cardinal, along with 22, 24 and 26 Wood Street, to Francis Alexander of the London and Beeston Brewery of Ratcliff [Middlesex] for £3,390 [Z1211/3/11].

In 1921 the London and Beeston Brewery conveyed the Cardinal to Benskins Watford Brewery Limited, along with the Star and Garter, Dog, Painters Arms and Great Northern Inn, Luton [Z1211/3/12] and in 1970 Benskins, by direction of its owners, Allied Breweries (UK) Limited of Burton-on-Trent [Staffordshire], sold the Cardinal and the shop at 22 Wood Street to the County Borough of Luton for £20,575 [Z1211/3/13]. The public house closed its doors for the last time on 29th may 1970. The old pub was demolished two years later to make way for the current housing development on the site.

 The Cardinal inn sign 1949
The Cardinal inn sign 1949


  • Z1211/3/1: site conveyed: 1862;
  • Z1211/3/1: site conveyed: 1863;
  • Z1211/3/2: mortgage on site and buildings under the course of erection: 1863;
  • Z1211/3/6: mortgage: 1880;
  • X329 and Z1211/3/7: lease: 1889;
  • Z1211/3/11: conveyance: 1897;
  • Z1211/3/12: conveyance: 1921;
  • Bedfordshire Magazine Volume II page 96: photograph of sign: 1949;
  • PY/E16/10: correspondence: 1969;
  • Z1211/16/11: conveyance: 1970

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: C. Wiseman;
1872: William Medhurst;
after 1880 and before 1889: Emily Irons
1889: William Wright;
1894: Robert Chart;
1910: James Aldam;
1914: Robert Strange Peer; [convicted 9 Mar 1938 for selling adulterated brandy - fined 40/- with 13/- special costs]
1940: Arthur Edwin Warren;
1942: Nellie Louisa Warren;
1942: Frank Ashpool;
1957: Joseph Leslie Channer;
1958: Sidney Donald Pinel;
1961: Alfred James Fincham;
1962: Leonard Hall;
1965: Albert Victor Morris;
1968: Patrick James Lenehan;
1970: John Kay
Public house closed 29th May 1970