The Bell Public House Potton
The Bell Public House: Brook End, Potton
The Bell public house in 1934 [X758/1/8/50]
The photograph above comes from the Biggleswade Chronicle of 25th May 1934 [X758/1/8/50]. The Bell may first have been mentioned in 1736 when it was part of a sale by Bromsall Throckmorton to the Duchess of Marlborough in 1736 [Z980/1/2/1-2]. It is described as The Bell Inn with barns, stables and outhouses along with 20 acres of arable and 6 acres of meadow in the possession of a man surnamed Norman.
There are not many more records of the Bell in the possession of Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service because it was a house of J. & J. E. Phillips of Royston [Hertfordshire] and the deeds and other documents are at Hertfordshire Archives Service.
The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Bell, then a beerhouse, was first licensed in 1858. The register is not always accurate when it comes to the date of the first license but this one is so recent that it suggests either that the Bell referred to in 1736 was in a different location or that it had formerly been fully licensed and was downgraded to a beerhouse in 1856..
By the time of the countywide licensing register of 1891 the Bell had become a fully licensed public house. The countywide register of 1903 states that the property was in good repair, had one front and two back doors and was 51 yards from the nearest licensed premises (the Chequers).
The former pub was valued in 1927 under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act [DV1/C9/101]. The valuer found the "plaster awful"; it consisted of three bedrooms, a living room, parlour and kitchen, on the second storey were two disused attics - Albert Norman, the last licensee, was still the occupier and Phillips brewery still the owners, despite the house's closure eleven years before. They also occupied and owned respectively farm premises adjoining consisting of a two stall stable, a barn used as a store, a barn and a cart hovel. The property has been demolished since the valuation report but, as can be seen (highlighted in blue below), it lay between today’s 2 and 4 Brook End.
The Bell on the 1925 rating valuation map [DV2/O15a]
- Z980/1/2/1-2: sold, with a considerable amount of land, by Bromsall Throckmorton to Duchess of Marlborough: 1736;
- P64/5/2/308: bill: early 19th century;
- HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
- HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
- HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
- HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
- HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
- HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessionsl Division: 1900-1914;
- PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
- X758/1/8/50: photograph: 1934
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1872-1874: David Seamer;
1874: Mary Seamer;
1874-1875: James Papworth;
1875-1882: William Seamer;
1882-1890: Joseph Hardy;
1890-1891: Annie Hardy;
1891-1894: William Huckle;
1894-1895: Joseph Hales;
1895-1897: George Collins;
1897-1898: Walter Firkins;
1898-1916: Albert Norman
Beerhouse closed 1916