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The Mad Dog Public House Odell

The Mad Dog in 1897 with Jabez Clayson and the Coleman Family
The Mad Dog in 1897 with Jabez Clayson and the Coleman Family [Z50/86/38]

The Mad Dog Public House: 212 High Street, Little Odell

212 High Street was listed by the former Department of Environment as Grade II, of special interest. It is a late 17th or early 18th century building, constructed, like most of that age in the area, of coursed limestone rubble. It has a thatched roof. The building is in an L-plan with a rear wing attached on the east side with a pantiled extension. The Department noted: "Several indications of blocked openings".

In Volume XIII of the Bedfordshire Magazine of 1972 (page 227) is reproduced a photograph of the Mad Dog [Z50/86/38] in 1897, all decked out for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, with Jabez Clayson, next door neighbour, posing at the front with the licensee, Thomas Coleman and his family. The writer of the letter noted that the Colemans had been landlords for a number of years and that they ran a wheelwright and carpenter's business from the back of the house.

The writer goes on to mention the story that the beerhouse, as it then was, received its name. The story is repeated, with variations by another writer and a contributor to the next issue (page 280) goes some way to correcting the two earlier accounts. The Return of Licensed Premises for 1876 notes, without naming its source, that the beerhouse was first licensed in 1831. The story goes that the first licensee had a recipe for the bite of a mad dog and named his establishment accordingly. Certainly a mad dog recipe was owned by a Thomas Wells in 1827 when he advertised it in the Northampton Mercury noting that it came from William Hartwell, deceased. A directory of 1847 names Thomas Wells as landlord of the Mad Dog and it therefore seems likely that it was he who established the beerhouse in 1831. Certainly the Mad Dog is no older than this as the only licensed premises in Odell between the years 1822 and 1828, as listed in the successive Registers of Alehouse Licences [CLP13] is the Bell.

In common with the Bell the Mad Dog was owned by the Alston family, owners of the Odell Castle Estate, and therefore most of the parish, until sold to Bedford brewers Higgins & Sons Limited in 1926. In 1927 Odell was valued under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building in the country was valued to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Mad Dog [DV1/C166/5-6] noted that rent had been £40 per year as a free house and included 1.369 acres adjoining before house - it had been £30 in 1914. The new rent had yet to be fixed by the new owners Higgins & Sons

The beerhouse comprised a living room, tap room, bar and kitchen downstairs with four bedrooms above. Outside were a tile and corrugated iron paint shop, a washhouse, a wheelwright's shop measuring 36 feet by 14 feet with a four horsepower engine, a smithy with one forge, measuring 25 feet by 12 feet, a brick and tile pigsty, a chaff house, a small store, a two stall stable.

The valuer noted that the building was "old". He also noted: "Trade very bad" estimating it at about one barrel and two or three dozen bottles of beer per week, further noting: "depends on wheelwright's trade for living. Nice tenant".

In 1931 Higgins & Sons sold their business to Biggleswade brewers Wells & Winch Limited who, in turn, were taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961. At some point after 1927 the Mad Dog became a fully licensed public house but is now a private house.

 The Mad Dog in 1977 [Z50/86/34]
The Mad Dog in 1977 [Z50/86/34]


  • Z50/86/20: postcard: c.19/20;
  • Z50/86/33-34: photographs: C19/20;
  • Z50/86/38: photograph: 1897;
  • PSS3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1901;
  • PSS3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1903;
  • PSS3/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: 1904-1930;
  • GK4/6: schedule of deeds: 1926-1927;
  • GK83/2: conveyance from Roland Crewe Alston, mortgagees and trustees to Higgins & Sons Limited: 1926 ;
  • GK297/1: conveyance from Higgins & Sons Limited to Wells & Winch Limited: 1931;
  • Bedfordshire Magazine Vol.III.p.13 and V.p.36: photograph: 1951;
  • PCOdell9/9: changes of licensee: 1967-1969;
  • Bedfordshire Magazine Vol.XIII.pp.227, 228 and 280: letters about public house and name: 1972;
  • Bedfordshire Magazine Vol.XIII.p.345: photograph: c.1973;
  • CRT130ODE6: extracts from letter regarding name of inn: 1975;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980;
  • PCOdell9/9: correspondence regarding car parking: 1977

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:

1831-1847: Thomas Wells;
1853: George Wells;
1854; Edward Coleman;
1862-1890: Thomas Richardson;
1891-1919: Thomas Coleman;
1919-1934: Thomas Alfred Coleman;
1934- 1940: Charles Frederick Skevington;
1964-1967: John Byron Gulliver;
1967-1968: Lyall Percy Musselle;
1968-1969: Colin Charles Humphries;
1969-1982: David Robert Reynolds;
1982-1993: Kenneth George Parry;
1993-1994: Raymond Spencer and John Ernest Gibbs

 former Mad Dog May 2008
The former Mad Dog in May 2008