Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Luton > LicensedinLuton > The Heights Public House Luton

The Heights Public House Luton

The Heights in July 2008
The Heights in July 2008

The Heights Public House: 1 George Street, Luton [previously the Crown, then the Nickel Bag then the Heights, then the Dog & Donut]

The Heights was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1981 as Grade II, of special interest. The Department describe the building as being early 19th century, greatly extended in 20th century. The building is made of Luton grey bricks with red brick dressings and has been colour washed. It has a Welsh slate roof. Interestingly the first reference to the establishment is in 1782 [X95/200] when Lydia Hubbins probably mortgaged it to Richard Gutteridge - the reference is simply to a deed between the two of them, recited in a later deed without giving details of the transaction recorded. Presumably either the 18th century building was demolished and rebuilt or the Department of Environment's date is out by a few decades.

In 1795 Lydia Hubbins conveyed the Crown to Luton brewer Thomas Godfrey Burr, whose brewery was in Park Street [X95/300]. His grandson, Frederick Burr died in 1858 and his executors sold the brewery and its licensed houses to Thomas Sworder, whose Crown and Anchor Brewery was at the junction of New Bedford Road and Bridge Street. By 1869 Sworder's uncle, also called Thomas Sworder, was running much of the brewery business as his nephew had embroiled him in the financial woes of the firm. By 1869 Sworder senior was thinking of selling the Crown as he said to his estate agent [X95/290/1/63]: "To sell the Crown Inn which is I believe at the top of the [Market] Hill and close to the new Corn Exchange and also to sell the Black Swan, which is also I believe very near the same market and in a very excellent situation for Business would require great consideration and the price would depend in some degree, perhaps, upon the Persons who want to buy them. When you have a real application for them or either of them, I will go carefully into the question and give the price of each but I should like, if possibly to know who the real intended Purchaser is".

In 1870 Sworder's estate agent wrote to him that the licensee, James Burge "wishes to an alteration made to the Bar at his house.  The present one being very inconvenient.  He will make the alteration himself if allowed for in case of his having to leave the house". In fact, in 1878, Sworder sold the Crown to John Burge for £2,800 [WB/Green4/1/Lu/Crown1]. The premises was described as having stables, a yard, gardens and outbuildings in Market Hill, Luton with frontage of 45 feet and depth of 205 feet containing 31 poles and bounded north-west by Market Hill, north-east partly by premises formerly forming part of Crown but recently sold to Henry Gibbons and partly by the property of Henry Gibbons, Dr. Melson and Joseph Dancer, south-east by Vyse & Company's hat factory and south-west partly by property of the trustees of the late James Cook and partly by other property of John Burge.

In 1900 Burge's widow, Emily Ellen, sold the Crown to the Northampton Brewery Company [WB/Green4/1/Lu/Crown1]. In 1929 land at the rear of the Crown was sold by the brewery company to J. W. Green Limited (to which Thomas Sworder had sold his business in 1897 and the Phoenix Brewery of which was in Park Street West). This land was at the rear and was: "used as part of the yard with a manure pit, fowl run, shed and store".

By the time the public house was listed in 1981 it had changed its name to the Nickel Bag. It then underwent a quick succession of name changes to the Heights, then the Dog and Donut and then back to the Heights again following refurbishment in 2007. The pub is called the Heights at the time of writing [September 2009].


  • X95/300: mortgaged by Lydia Hubbins to Richard Gutteridge: 1782;
  • X95/300: conveyed by Lydia Hubbins to Thomas Godfrey Burr: 1795;
  • LHE72: auction sale at the Crown: 1796;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • LHE39: demise from Frederick Burr to trustees: 1851;
  • X95/291/209: used a part security for a loan: 1858;
  • Z660/D/1/4: conveyance of Frederick Burr's brewery and licensed premises to Thomas Sworder: 1860;
  • Z713/18: auction sale held at the Crown: 1861;
  • X95/290/1/2: note that the Crown had been let to James Burge for £80 per annum: 1863;
  • X95/254: auction sale held at the Crown: 1865;
  • X95/283: rent of the Crown £140 per annum: 1867;
  • X95/290/1/56: proposed rent increase: 1868;
  • X95/290/1/63: consideration of selling the Crown: 1869;
  • X95/292/242: proposed change to the bar: 1870
  • CCE3865/16/4: auction sale at Crown: 1877;
  • X95/242: Crown assured by Thomas Joseph Sworder and the executors of Frederick Burr to Thomas Sworder: 1878;
  • WB/Green4/1/Lu/Crown1: recited conveyance by Thomas Sworder to John Burge: 1878;
  • WB/Green4/1/Lu/Crown1: recited lease by John Burge to Samuel Lipscombe Seckham; 1885;
  • WB/Green4/1/Lu/Crown1: recited will of John Burge leaving his real estate to his wife: 1896, proved 1897;
  • X95/333b: abstract of title to Thomas Sworder's properties to be sold: 1897;
  • WB/Green4/1/Lu/Crown1: Crown conveyed to Northampton Brewery Company by Emily Ellen Burge, widow: 1900;
  • X95/264: hand drawn plan of the Crown site in poor condition: late 19th century or early 20th century;
  • WB/Green4/1/Lu/Crown1: recited conveyance of land at the rear by Northampton Brewery Company to J. W. Green Limited: 1929;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: negative photocopy certificate of title to properties belonging to J.W.Green Limited: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/13: schedule of J. W. Green Limited deeds and documents: c.1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: various loose schedules of deeds and documents to J. W. Green properties: c.1954;
  • WB/Green7/7/1: mentioned in 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:

1822: William Burge;
1839: James Burge;
1878: John Burge;
1890: George Sibley;
1924: Clara Burke;
1929: Reginald Walter Cowley;
1941: Ruby Cowley;
1946: Reginald Walter Cowley;
1951: Arthur George Bailey;
1964: Peter William Frederick Ward;
1971: George John Moore;
1973: Paul Raymond Rayner;
1975: Neil Hughes Speirs;
1975: David George Thomas;
1977: Sidney Varey;
1979: David Edwin Strange;
1980: Peter James Flynn;
1983: Brian Bechielli;
1984: Leslie David Churchley;
1986: David Boggins;
1987: Robin Tidd and David Boggins;
1988: Alan John Freeman and Robin Tidd;
1988: Augustine McGrath;
1991: Richard John Bodek and Majaead Mntache;
1992: Richard John Bodek and Kevin Joseph Dobson