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The Fedora and Firkin Public House Luton

The Griffin about 1900 immediately right of the sign for T Welch [Z50/75/85]
The Griffin about 1900 immediately right of the sign for T Welch [Z50/75/85]

The Fedora & Firkin Public House: 9 Chapel Street, Luton [previously the Griffin, then the Bitter End]

9 Chapel Street is no longer a public house. The structure, however, was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1981 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing describes the building as an early 19th century public house with high quality brick detailing. It is built mainly of grey brick with red brick dressings under a Welsh slate roof. The building has three storeys and a three window bay facade.

The first mention of the establishment held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is in 1858 when Thomas Sworder of Hertford, uncle and business partner of Thomas Sworder of Luton stated in a letter to Frederick Burr's executors: "I propose to borrow £10,000 including the £2,500 now paid this day on security of the Crown, the Black Swan & the Griffin Public Houses" [X95/291/209]. This indicates that the Griffin had either been built by Sworder himself or had been a public house attached to the brewery of Frederick Burr which the Sworders were in the process of acquiring (negotiations had opened in 1857 and the final conveyance would be 1860).

Thomas Sworder's business was adversely affected by purchasing Burr's brewery and for most of the rest of its existence hovered close to bankruptcy. In 1897 Sworder decided to retire and put his business up for sale. It was purchased by Luton rival John William Green [WB/Green4/1/VP1] who immediately floated his company as J. W. Green Limited.

The sale particulars for Sworder's business describe the Griffin as follows [WB/S4/1/1/5]:

known as
Situate facing the new improvements for the widening of the street 

It is brick-built and slated and contains -

ON THE THREE UPPER FLOORS. - ten Bed Rooms, Large Club Room (with 2 moveable partitions forming 3 rooms, the front partition extending over the greengrocer's shop). Landing, Cupboard and w. c.
ON THE GROUND FLOOR. - Bar, Bar Parlor [sic], Smoking Room with range and cupboard, Passage with folding doors, and entrance to Yard, China Closet and 2 Cupboards under stairs, Luggage Room, Kitchen with range, sink and copper and cellarage in the Basement with cask entrance. 

Asphalted Yard in the Rear with Coal Shed, Weatherboarded and slated erection of stable affording standing for 6 horses and Loft, Urinal and w. c. Front Yard with large gates and pump, Stable with standing for 5 horses.

N. B. - The Greengrocer's Shop on the Ground Floor, under front portion of the Club Room, is not included in the sale.

Tenant, Mr. Thomas Rowe. Rent £30 per annum.

Reference in the particulars to three upper floors is puzzling as the building has two. It is possible that attics in the roof space were included.

The Griffin about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/Griffin2]
The Griffin about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/Griffin2]

In 1954 J. W. Green Limited merged with Midlands brewery Flowers and the new company adopted the Flowers name. In 1962 the company was taken over by Whitbread. By 1995 the Griffin had been renamed The Bitter End and was to be renamed once more, to the Fedora and Firkin on its sale to the Firkin Brewery of Burton-on-Trent [Staffordshire], part of the Allied Domecq Group, in 1996. The pub, along with many others in the chain, brewed its own Real Ale. The Fedora and Firkin's microbrewery closed in 1999 with the sale of the Allied Domecq licensed houses to Punch Taverns. By 2006 the pub had become a night club. In June 2010 the building was for sale.

The former Griffin June 2010
The former Griffin June 2010


  • X95/291/209: mentioned in a letter: 1858;
  • Z660/D/1/4: conveyance by Edward Burr and Richard Hatley Crabb of Frederick Burr's brewery to Thomas Sworder: 1860;
  • X95/283: account of rents: 1867;
  • X95/304: rent of licensed houses: 1867;
  • Z660/D/1/6: conveyance from Edward Burr and Richard Hatley Crabb to Thomas Sworder of Frederick Burr's brewery: 1878;
  • X95/270: mortgage from Thomas Sworder to William Anstee and Benjamin Bennett: 1878;
  • WB/Green5/5/1: register of successive tenants: 1887-1926;
  • X95/296: schedule of deeds of mortgaged properties held by William Anstee: 1889;
  • X95/309: abstract of Thomas Sworder to licensed premises: 1889;
  • X95/287: proposed arrangement of loans for Thomas Sworder & Company: 1889;
  • X95/322/20: draft mortgage of licensed premises from Thomas Sworder to Charles Elton Longmore: 1889;
  • X95/322/33: reconveyance of properties from William Anstee to Thomas Sworder: 1897;
  • X95/332a-b: abstracts of title of Thomas Sworder to licensed premises: 1897;
  • X95/346a: opinion of counsel on Thomas Sworder's title to licensed premises: 1897;
  • X95/313-314, Z210/84 and WB/S4/1/1/5: sale catalogues of Thomas Sworder's brewery and licensed premises: 1897;
  • X95/315 and WB/Green4/1/VP1: draft conveyances of licensed premises from Thomas Sworder to J. W. Green Limited: 1897;
  • X95/312: file of plans of public houses: 1897;
  • WB/Green1/1/1: record of J. W. Green Limited properties: 1897-1936;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: list of properties belonging to J. W. Green Limited: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: trade analysis ledger: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of J. W. Green Limited deeds: c. 1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of J. W. Green Limited licensed houses: c. 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter as to J. W. Green Limited title to properties: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: J. W. Green Limited trust deed: 1952-1972;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: J. W. Green Limited schedules of deeds: c. 1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Lu/Griffin1-2: photographs: 1960s;
  • WB/Green7/7/1: LutonTown centre Historic Pubs and Breweries Trail pamphlet: 1999.

Licensees: Note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known 

1854: Thomas Puddephatt;
1861: John Pugh;
1869: George Howard;
1872: John McBride;
1873: Thomas Rowe;
1903: George Thomas Belshaw;
1909: Thomas Samuel Willford;
1912: Walter Samuel Crossman;
1924: Genders;
1925: Frederick John Reed;
1944: William Leonard Sanderson:
1945: Charles William Barnett;
1963: William Charles Warner;
1975: Richard John Morris and Brian Oakley;
1975: Dudley John Holton;
1979: Dudley John Holton and Daniel Doherty;
1981: Richard Owen West and Royston Martin Beal;
1983: Mark Douglas Ashley Strachan and Royston Martin Beal;
1985: Leonard Charles Savage;
1992: Thomas Loughead.
Public House closed between 1999 and 2006