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The Tiger Beerhouse Luton

The site of the Tiger Beerhouse in Taylor Street June 2010
The site of the Tiger Beerhouse in Taylor Street June 2010

The Tiger Beerhouse: 4 and 6 Taylor Street, Luton

In August 1867 a man named William Bradberry or Bradbury was beaten and robbed, dying of his wounds a short time afterwards. His assailants were brought to trial in 1868 and one of them, William Worsley, hanged for his murder. The newspaper account of the trial records that Worsley's sister-in-law was called to give evidence as follows: "Mary Ann Worsley: I am sister-in-law to Worsley, the prisoner. My husband keeps the Tiger beerhouse, at Luton". Under cross-examination Mary Ann said: " We (William and she and her husband) both live in Layton-street, Luton, though his house is not very near mine".

No Layton Street can be traced and it may have been an earlier or alternative name for Taylor Street. Perhaps more likely is the newspaper report is simply inaccurate; it is noticeable that one of the other witnesses is a man named Layton. The 1871 census has Mary Ann and John Worsley living at 4 Taylor Street, the entry being as follows:

John Worsley, 44, manufacturer, born Harpenden
Mary Ann,  43, born Westoning
Thomas, 19, blockmaker's apprentice, born Luton
Sarah Ann, 14, seiver, born Luton
Sophia, 12, scholar, born Luton
Emily, 10, scholar, born Luton
Jane, 8, scholar, born Luton
Agnes, 4, scholar, born Luton 

The Tiger is listed in directories of 1864 and 1869 and both of these give George Worsley as the licensee. This may simply be a mistake or it may be that George was the licensee but John, for some reason, stood in for him at the time of William Worsley's trial. The Tiger is stated by both these directories to be in Taylor Street.

A Tiger Beerhouse in Luton is listed in the countywide register of alehouse licences but the entry says that it was first licensed in 1874. It was owned by Fordham of Ashwell [Hertfordshire] and kept by a man named James Day. Coincidentally, he was of the men associated with William Worsley in the murder of William Bradberry, though he was quickly found to be innocent of any wrongdoing. He is listed as a beerhouse keeper in Taylor Street in a directory of 1885. The 1881 census has him living at 6 Taylor Street, though he is recorded as manufacturer of hats rather than beerhouse keeper.

The likeliest interpretation of this evidence is that the Tiger at 4 Taylor Street closed at some point, perhaps between 1869 and 1874 or between 1871 and 1874 (as we have seen keeping a beerhouse was a secondary activity not necessary one captured in a census). Thus, Day merely re-opened it next door at 6 Taylor Street in 1874, keeping the same name. Directories after 1885 list no Tiger anywhere in Luton, nor any beerhouse in Taylor Street.

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

1864: George Worsley;
1868: John Worsley;
1869: George Worsley;
1876-1885: James Day.