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The King Harry Public House Hitchin Road Luton

The former King Harry from Hitchin Road June 2010
The former King Harry from Hitchin Road June 2010

The King Harry Public House: 59 Hitchin Road, Luton [formerly King Henry the Eighth, then Henry the Eighth, then the King's Head]

The site for the King Harry was conveyed in March 1851 by George Bailey to Henry Sibley of Luton for £45. It was described as "land of 326 square yards in Luton, part of Bridge Field". In January 1852 Henry Sibley mortgaged the new building [X95/337], which was described as a public house called the King Harry, on the corner of Scholefield Place and York Street.

Henry Sibley died in 1862. In his will of 1858 he devised all his real estate in Luton, including the King Harry, now known, according to directories as King Henry the Eighth, to his brothers Thomas, Joseph and Robert and his sister Frances Best [X95/337]. On 3rd August 1867 William Bradberry or Bradbury took his last drink at the King Harry before going on his way along Hitchin Road towards Lilley [Hertfordshire]. He was attacked at Round Green, badly beaten and robbed and died at 8.20 am on the morning of Sunday 4th August at the Jolly Topers public house. William Worsley was hanged for his murder on 31st March 1868, the last public execution in Bedfordshire and very nearly the last in England.

The King Harry remained in the Sibley family, under various names, which can be traced in contemporary directories, and in 1875 was leased to Luton brewer Thomas Sworder for £36 per annum. In 1893 Emma Sibley conveyed the King Harry to Thomas Sworder for £900 [X95/337]. Thomas Sworder sold his brewery and licensed houses to Luton rival John William Green in 1897 and the newly enlarged company was immediately floated as J. W. Green Limited.

The sale particulars for Sworder's business [X95/313] describe the King Harry as follows:

known as
"The King Harry"

Situare at the corner of York Street, it has a good frontage to the 2 Roads is brick built and slated, has a double bay front and contains: - Bar with 2 entrances, Smoking Room, Kitchen, Scullery with copper, sink and dresser, cellar with cask entrance and 4 Bed Rooms. Bakehouse with oven, coal cellar, 2 w. c.'s, urinal and Yard with carriage gates to York Street. Brick waetherboarded and tiled Coach House and timber and slated 2-stalled Stable and loft.

Tenant, Mr. S. Cook. rent £20 per annum.

This House has recently been repaired at a cost of £140.

J. W. Green merged with Midlands brewer Flowers in 1954 and took the Flowers name. This firm was, in its turn, taken over by Whitbread in 1962. The year before this the King Harry closed and its licence was removed to a new King Harry in fermore Crescent. It was intended to demolish the pub to make way for the widening of Hitchin Road. In fact the house still remains [2010], as can be seen below.

The former King Harry seen from York Street June 2010
The former King Harry from York Street June 2010


  • X95/337: abstracted conveyance of the site: March 1851;
  • X95/337: mortgage: January 1852;
  • X95/337 abstracted will of Henry Sibley: 1858, proved 1862;
  • X95/337: abstracted lease: 1875;
  • WBGreen5/5/1: register of successive tenants to J.W.Green Limited licensed premises: 1887-1926;
  • X95/337: abstracted conveyance: 1893;
  • X95/299: schedule of deeds of Thomas Sworder's licensed premises: 1897;
  • X95/346b: 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;
  • X95/333b: abstracts of title of Thomas Sworder to licensed premises: 1897;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP1: conveyance of brewery and licensed properties of Thomas Sworder to J.W.Green Limited: 1897;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: certificate of title to licensed properties of J.W.Green Limited: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: trade analysis ledger of J.W.Green Limited licensed premises: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of licensed properties of J.W.Green Limited: c.1936;
  • WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of deeds to J.W.Green Limited licensed premises: c.1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter from J.W.Green to solicitors Lawrance, Messer & Company asking which licensed properties had been in continuous occupation: 24 Jul 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: Trust Deed of J.W.Green Limited with list of licensed premises: 1952-1972;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: Various loose schedules of deeds and documents: c.1954;
  • WB/W4/5/Neg1: negatives of various premises, including the King Harry: late 20th century.

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

1852-1854: Henry French
1861: James Rumbles;
1864-1876: Edward Fox;
1885: Thomas Dowden [King's Head];
1890: Thomas Armitage;
1894: J. Parrott;
1898-1931: Samuel Cook [Henry VIII, King Harry by 1924];
1931-1935: Charley Waller;
1935-1937: Frederick Ernest Peach;
1937-1940: William Frederick Bateman;
1940-1946: Horace Pakes;
1946-1953: Cyril Charles Titmus;
1953: William Parr.
Public house closed 1961 and licence removed to King Harry in Fermore Crescent.