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The Jolly Topers Public House Stopsley

The Jolly Topers June 2010
The Jolly Topers June 2010

The Jolly Topers Public House: 369 Hitchin Road, Luton

The first mention of this house is in 1822 when it was listed in the countywide register of alehouse recognizances [CLP13]. In 1867 William Bradberry or Bradbury died at the Jolly Topers. He had been set upon about a hundred yards further long Hitchin Road towards Stopsley by local ne'er-do-wells William Worsley and Levi Welch, just after midnight on the morning of Sunday 4th August, beaten and robbed. He was carried back to the Jolly Topers but died at 8.20 that morning. The inquest was held at the Jolly Topers on Tuesday 12th August. Worsley was subsequently hanged for Bradberry's murder, the last man to be executed in public in Bedfordshire and one of the last in the country as a whole

In 1885 the Jolly Topers was leased by owner Arthur William Lines to brewer Oliver Steed of Baldock [Hertfordshire] for 21 years at £27 rent per annum [Z1039/21/1]. In 1876 the owner had been George Lines of Shillington. Oliver Steed died in 1888 and the firm was purchased by Charles Morley for William Pickering of Burton-on-Trent [Staffordshire], the Baldock firm becoming known as Morley & Company. In 1898 the company became the Baldock Brewing Company [GK 165/12] but was put up for sale in 1903 due to bankruptcy, being bought by Biggleswade brewers Wells & Winch [GK165/17]. At this time the Jolly Topers was still owned by Arthur Lines and leased out.

Stuart Smith in his 1995 book Pubs & Pints a history of licensed premises in Luton (available on the searchroom shelves) states that in 1946 Wells & Winch purchased the Jolly Topers from George Sibley. In 1961 Wells & Winch merged with Bury Saint Edmunds [Suffolk] brewers Greene King, adopting the Greene King name two years later. The Jolly Topers remains a Greene King house at the time of writing [2010].


  • CLP13: register of alehouse recognizances: 1822-1828;
  • Z1039/21/1: lease: 1885;
  • GK165/12: conveyance: 1898;
  • GK1/36: three sales catalogues bound together: Wells & Company of Biggleswade 1898; Henlow Brewery 1899; Baldock Brewery Limited 1903;
  • GK165/17: assignment of leasehold premises: 1904.

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

1822: Henry Miller;
1826: Sarah Miller;
1827: Edward Parrott;
1847: William King;
1864: T. Kirby;
1869: John Smith;
1877: Henry Cokayne;
1885: Richard Byers
1890: Samuel Bodsworth;
1894: Frederick Hildebrand;
1903: Thomas Sibley;
1920: Sarah Sibley;
1931: George William Sibley;
1946: Joseph Kelenn Vine;
1950: Nellie Vine;
1962: Sidney Waddoups;
1965: Dennis Danaher;
1968: Evelyn Danaher;
1970: William Tillbrook;
1970: Derek Montague;
1986: John Stanley Hebden and Anthony Eckersley;
1987: Philip Michael Baldwin;
1992: Peter Mullally;
1993: Barry Kirk and Elizabeth Jane Adams.