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The Yorkshire Grey Public House Luton

The site of the Yorkshire Grey August 2011
The site of the Yorkshire Grey August 2011

The Yorkshire Grey Public House: 8-10 Welbeck Road, Luton

The Yorkshire Grey is first mentioned in a directory of 1869 when Henry Taylor was licensee. The public house was leased by Luton brewer Thomas Sworder in 1873 [Z210/81].

The countywide licensing register of 1876 shows that it was then owned by Walkern [Hertfordshire] brewer Samuel Wright. He died around this time and one of his sons took his business over.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has some correspondence from 1924 relating to the Yorkshire Grey [Z210/85/1-5]. Charles Anstee of Finsbury Pavement, City of London wrote to Dunstable solicitor Albert Gutteridge [Z210/85/1] in February that year: “Yorkshire Grey, Luton - Am sending for my estimate of the value of above in Compensation lines. You will notice that there has been a consistent drop in the trade during the last two years, so have made two computations viz. A in the average for last 3 years and B in last year’s figures which to my mind are the best guide from a purchasing point of view. You will note that 84 less barrels of Beer & 36 gals less spirits were sold in 1923 compared with 1921. Am quite prepared to meet you at Stevenage Stn. next Saty”. The letter was written because Anstee was an executor of Benjamin Bennett. He was an established brewer in Dunstable when he sold a number of public houses to Thomas Sworder in 1857 and in 1862 was one of the creditors making an arrangement with Sworder to help him stay in business including the mortgage by Sworder of eight premises in Manchester Street, Luton. He died in 1906 but his brewery in Dunstable continued until 1938 when it had 59 public houses and was taken over by Mann, Crossman & Paulin.

Clearly Anstee was thinking of buying the Yorkshire Grey from Wright & Company on behalf of Benjamin Bennett. He was disappointed. A letter of 29th February 1924 on Benjamin Bennett headed notepaper reads [Z210/85/3]: “This has just arrived. They have sold all their houses in one deal so it will be useless to go to Walkern tomorrow. I expect it is Benskins who have bought them”. In this the writer was wrong, it was Simpson’s Baldock Brewery.

The letter which prompted the letter of 29th February was this, on S. Wright & Company headed notepaper: “Since my last letter to you we have had an offer for the whole of our houses which we did not feel justified in expressing. Now it is evident from your letter that you would not want all of our houses & we could not get the offer left open till we had seen you, so we had no option but to accept. Under the circumstances perhaps you will not think it worthwhile to come to Walkern on Saturday though we shall of course be pleased to see you”.

Anstee’s figures for the Yorkshire Grey state that on 11th August 1914 the lease of the Yorkshire Grey could have been purchased for £375. His figures for 1923 show that 452 barrels of beer were sold, at 15/- each along with 68 gallons of spirits at 2/6 each giving a total of £347/10/-. The tied rent was 320 per annum.

The Yorkshire Grey remained open until March 1959. It was demolished shortly after closure.


  • PSL6/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Luton Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1876;
  • Z210/81: in draft agreement between Thomas Sworder of Luton and Thomas Sworder of Hertford: 1873;
  • Z210/85/1-5: correspondence, valuation etc.: 1924

Licencees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds: 

1869-1872: Henry Taylor;
1872: Samuel Wright Walker
1873-1877: William Coleman;
1894-1898: George Jackson;
1903: Ralph Cottard;
1906: George A. Marchant;
1914: John J. O’Connor;
1920: Charles Baker;
1924-1940: Alfred Skipp;
1940-1959: Frank Edward Sewell
Public house closed 31st March 1959 and licence transferred to the Hansom Cab