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The Cock Public House Luton

The Cock about 1930 [WB/Green4/5/Lu/Cock1]
The Cock about 1930 [WB/Green4/5/Lu/Cock1]

The Cock Public House: 38 Park Street, Luton

38 Park Street was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1979s Grade II, of special interest. At the time of writing [September 2009] it is a pizza restaurant and cappuccino bar, when it was listed it was still the Cock public house. The description accompanying the listing notes a two storey timber framed building of the 17th century or probably earlier origins, the front rebuilt in red brick in the early 19th century, with an extension of one bay including a wagon-way to the left. A secondary two storey timber framed wing with straight bracing and lighter studding extends to the rear and is probably of late 17th century build. This makes the building one of the oldest remaining secular buildings in Luton.

In his 1928 book The History of Luton and its Hamlets, William Austin stated that the earliest mention of the Cock is 1671 and that in 1759 it was sold to an H. Bonner. The first mention of the public house in records held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is not until 1822 and the first surviving countywide register of alehouse licences. William Austin states: "In 1828 a coach called "The Times" started to run between Luton and London. In the coaching days it was common for gentlemen themselves to horse coaches, and in this case Mr. Charles Austin senior horsed this coach for some years, and if he happened to be a passenger handled the "ribbons". More generally the coach was driven by Mr. Clarke of the Cock Inn". The source for this information is given as the diary of T. E. Austin.

 The Cock about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/Cock2]
The Cock about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/Cock2]

William Austin goes on: "In 1828 Messrs, Frederick S. Burr, brewers in Park Street, sank a deep well on their premises. The depth of this was 465 feet, and in boring to that depth material was brought to the surface of the Lower Gault geological formation. From this Mr. Burr had a brick made and inscribed with the legend "F. Burr, 465 feet, January 1828". The brick was built into the wall of the Market Room in the Cock Inn, Park Street, the property of his firm. The depth of the boring was at that time considered a remarkable achievement".

In 1860, following the death of Frederick Burr, his brewery, along with all its tied licensed houses was conveyed to rival Luton brewer Thomas Sworder. In 1897 Sworder sold his business to another rival Luton brewer, John William Green who, at the same time turned his business into a limited company under the name J. W. Green Limited. This firm remained owner of the Cock until the company merged with Midlands brewers Flowers in 1954, the new company taking the Flowers name. In 1962 Flowers was taken over by huge national brewing concern, Whitbread.

 The rear of the Cock about 1960 [WB/Green4/5/Lu/Cock3]
The rear of the Cock about 1960 [WB/Green4/5/Lu/Cock3]

Thomas Sworder's uncle, also called Thomas Sworder, was guarantor for his nephew's purchase of Burr's Brewery and, due to his nephew's mishandling of his business, had to take an active interest in running it. In 1864 his lane agent, Robert How, reported to him: "Mr. Lane [Samuel Lane, butcher, wheelwright and coach builder of Park Street] has commenced building against the Premises next the Cock Inn and I find that when he gets the Building up it will entirely exclude the light from the window lighting the Cock Staircase. I think you had better write him in time or send me a notice to serve on him before the Building proceeds any further, he has also taken up the drain which conveyed the water from the Cock Inn premises. Notice of this ought also to be given him" [X95/292/60]. Notice was duly served but Lane ignored it and continued to build. A second notice was served and this, too, was ignored [X95/292/81].  Frustratingly the end of the saga is not recorded in the correspondence.

By the time of writing [2009] the Cock was no longer a public house but had become an Italian restaurant called ZaZa.

 The former Cock Public House July 2008
The former Cock public house July 2008


  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • G/DDA150/114: meeting at: 1834;
  • G/DDA160: meeting at 1844;
  • LHE39: Demise from Frederick Burr to trustees: 1851;
  • Z660/D/1/4: conveyance of brewery and licensed premises from executors of Frederick Burr to Thomas Sworder: 1860;
  • BS2234: lease from the trustees of Edward Burr to Thomas Sworder and his trustees: 1862;
  • X95/290/1/5 and X95/292/60-61, 75, 77-78 and 81: letters regarding adjacent building: 1864;
  • X95/292/113: letter to Thomas Sworder of Hertford from his agent noting that tenant of Cock, Congreve, " makes use of the Yard for setting waggons Carts &c and he informs me that you gave him leave to do so": 1864;
  • WB/Green4/1/Lu/PSW13/1: auction sale held at Cock: 1864;
  • X95/283: account of rents of Thomas Sworder's properties: 1867;
  • X95/304: rent share in barrels of public house belonging to Luton Brewery: 1867;
  • Z660/D/1/6: conveyance of brewery and licensed premises from executors of Frederick Burr and Thomas Joseph Sworder to Thomas Sworder: 1878;
  • X95/270: copy mortgage from Thomas Sworder to William Anstee and Benjamin Bennett secured on brewery and licensed premises: 1878;
  • WB/Green5/5/1: register of successive tenants of J.W.Green Limited licensed houses: 1887-1926;
  • X95/309: Abstract of title of Thomas Sworder to brewery, public houses and premises at Luton: 1889;
  • X95/296: schedule of deeds of properties held by William Anstee as security for £14,000 loan to Thomas Sworder: 1889;
  • X95/287: proposed arrangement of loans of Thomas Sworder & Company: 1889;
  • X95/322/20: draft mortgage from Thomas Sworder to William Anstee secured on brewery and licensed premises: 1889;
  • X95/312: plans of Thomas Sworder & Company public houses: 1897;
  • X95/346: opinion on title by T.R.Colquhoun Dill of Lincolns Inn as to title of Thomas Sworder to brewery and public houses: 1897;
  • X95/298: schedule of deeds of Thomas Sworder & Company property: 1897;
  • X95/332: abstract of title: 1897;
  • X95/322/33: draft reconveyance of properties from William Anstee to Thomas Sworder: 1897;
  • X95/313-314 and Z210/84: sale catalogue: 1897;
  • X95/315: copy draft conveyance of brewery and public houses from Thomas Sworder to John William Green: 1897;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP1: photocopy conveyance of brewery and public houses from Thomas Sworder to John William Green: 1897;
  • WB/Green1/1/1: J.W.Green Limited articles of association, trust deeds etc.: 1897-1936;
  • 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/B7/2/1: Photocopied cutting from Evening Telegraph about Burr's well of 1828: 1939;
  • WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of J.W.Green Limited deeds and documents: c.1949?;
  • WB/Green4/2/13: Schedule of Deeds and Documents of J.W.Green Limited property: c.1949?;
  • WB/Green4/5/Lu/Cock1: photograph: 1950s;
  • 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/Flow4/5/Lu/Cock1-3: photographs: 1960s;
  • WB/Green7/7/1: LutonTown centre Historic Pubs and Breweries Trail pamphlet: 1990s

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:

1806: J. Woodward;
1811: William Clark(e);
1861: Charles Keep;
1864: John Congreve;
1869: W. Funnell;
1872: Matthew Francis Collins;
1894: Howe;
1896: Henry Brough;
1898: George Neale;
1904: Henry Orman;
1921: Bertie William Hubbard;
1953: William Alfred George Smith;
1960: Leslie Cyril Booth;
1961: Leslie Cyril Booth and Kenneth Bentley;
1961: Robert William Allen and Kenneth Bentley;
1963: Robert William Allen and Patrick Gerald Kelly;
1964: Robert William Allen and Dermot Mooney;
1966: Robert William Allen;
1967: Norman Arthur Hards;
1969: Norman Arthur Hards and Leslie John Sargeant;
1971: Norman Arthur Hards;
1971: Norman Arthur Hards and Eric McKee;
1973: Norman Arthur Hards and Thomas William Mountcastle;
1974: Norman Arthur Hards and Desmond Francis Perry;
1975: Dudley John Holton and Patrick Joseph Connolly;
1979: Norman Leslie Anthony Staples and Frederick John Glanville;
1980: Richard Owen West and Thomas William Maddon.
1983: Andrew Denham Talkington and Malcolm Magford;
1984: Andrew Denham Talkington and Keith Terrence Buckle;
1986: Kenneth John Fulkes and Keith Terrance Buckle;
1986: Kenneth John Fulkes and John Harry Malin;
1987: Graham Colin Jones and John Harry Malin;
1989: Robert Michael Pickering;
1989: David Evans and Robert Michael Pickering;
1989: David Evans and Christopher John Corboy;
1991: Peter Lindsay Smith and Christopher John Corboy;
1991: Peter Lindsay Smith and Timothy Andrew Innes-Noble;
1991: Peter Charles Crabbe and Timothy Andrew Innes-Noble;
1992: Daniel Thompson and Timothy Andrew Innes-Noble;
1993: Daniel Thompson and Linda Valerie Noble.