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The Swan Public House Salford

The Swan in the 1960s [WB/Flow4/5/Sal/S1] 
The Swan in the 1960s [WB/Flow4/5/Sal/S1]

The Swan Public House: 2 Wavendon Road, Salford [previously the White Horse and The Old Swan]  

The first reference to the Swan in a document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in the countywide register if alehouse licences beginning in 1822 [CLP13]. In 1827 it appears in an inventory of premises owned by Ampthill brewers John and Joseph Morris. It then included a shoemaker's shop, a stable, a wood barn, a washhouse, a dove cote, garden and orchard, containing about an acre and also 3 acres, 1 rood, 15 poles of pasture land situated at Wavendon, just over the county boundary in Buckinghamshire and about  a quarter of a mile from the house [Z1043/1]

In 1827 the Swan was simply leased. Morris and Company bought it in 1847 from Benjamin Agutta. It was noted that the Swan had been built on the site of three cottages, one of which had been a public house or beerhouse called the White Horse [WB/M/4/1/VP2]. From the 1870s the Swan became known as The Old Swan.

The Swan remained a Morris pub until that company sold out to J. W. Green Limited of Luton in 1927. Greens merged with Flowers Brewery in 1954 and adopted the Flowers name; Flowers were then taken over by Whitbread in 1962. In 2001 Whitbread sold its brewing business and public houses and at the time of writing [2006] the Swan, having been extensively refurbished, is owned by Peach Pubs who have properties in Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.

On 6th January 1905 the Swan suffered a disastrous fire when some straw being stored on the premises caught fire and gutted the pub. However, it was rebuilt and business continued, including a butchers in the adjoining barns. The Bedfordshire Mercury of 13th January described the events as follows: "This usually quiet village was, on Friday night, the scene of an unusually destructive fire, by which the Swan Inn, a well known hostel, belonging to the Ampthill Brewery Company, was totally destroyed, the surrounding buildings being with great difficulty saved from a similar fate. The inn was in the occupation of Mr. Faulkner, who also carried on the business of a butcher. The presence of fire was first suspected about eight o'clock in the evening, and on the landlord going upstairs he found the upper storey to be alight. The alarm was at once given, and many willing helpers were soon ready to give what assistance they could, either to extinguish the flames or to prevent them spreading to adjoining property. In the meantime the Woburn Fire Brigade was sent for, but by the time they got to the scene of the conflagration the flames had got so firm a hold of the building, which was thatched and of great age, that they saw nothing could save it. Fortunately, there was a fair supply of water available, and this was poured in copious streams on the raging inferno of flame; while other helpers sat astride some adjoining thatched property pouring water on it to prevent its ignition. To add to the danger to all concerned, a very high wind was blowing at the time, and showers of sparks were carried many yards, while the weakened walls also gave a very slight resistance to the violence of the gale. Very little of the contents of the house could be saved, but, fortunately, they were insured. Many hundreds of people came from all around the district to witness the conflagration, while on Saturday and Sunday there was a constant stream of sightseers, because charred oak beams were seen in all directions, and these bore an eloquent testimony to the terrible nature of the conflagration. Valuable aid was rendered by the Fire Brigade, while P. C. Askew also gave valuable assistance. Scores of others also helped in extinguishing the showers of sparks which were continually falling on and around adjoining property. Much sympathy was felt for the sufferers from the fire, who are highly respected in the district, and many offers of temporary accommodation were made them. Pending the making of other arrangements, Mr. and Mrs. Faulkner and family are the guests of Mr. Barnard Sturges [who lived at Salford Manor]. The building was not insured".

The Swan after the fire of 1905 [Z50/98/23]
The Swan after the fire of 1905 [Z50/98/23]

Alfred Faulkner had only had the licence for a year and never ran the pub again. He had been a butcher in Wavendon [Buckinghamshire] High Street on the 1901 census, when he was 26 years old and had been born in Aspley Guise. The 1911 census sees him at New Maldon [Surrey] and a cab driver. With him and his wife in 1911 were his twelve year old son Frederick, who had been born in New Maldon and his five year old son who had been born in Salford. 

The Swan was rebuilt on the same site and its footprint on Ordnance Survey maps of the 1970s was still the same as that on the map of 1901. However, it was no longer known as The Old Swan for obvious reasons!

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Salford, like much of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Swan [DV1/C57/45] found that the yearly rent was £60, the same as in 1914 and the premises consisted of a kitchen and scullery, storeroom, bar and taproom downstairs, with a cellar beneath and four bedrooms upstairs; outside were a granary, four pigsties, two store barns, an open cart shed, a coal barn, a stable for two horses, a loosebox, a double coachhouse and a corn store. Water was from a well and lighting from lamps, thus no electricity was laid on. The landlord also rented the grass field from J. W. Green Limited.

Takings were about £380 per annum, with seventy barrels of beer and twelve gallons of spirits sold in the course of a year – over twenty times the sales of the Red Lion! The valuer was clearly impressed noting that it was a "Very good modern house. Excellent buildings. Good draw up". Perhaps he was a bit too impressed as he gave the place a rateable value of £24 which was reduced, on appeal, to £21.

The Swan in February 2007
The Swan in February 2007


  • CLP13: countywide registers of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • Z1043/1: listed in inventory of John & Joseph Morris of Ampthill, brewers: 1827;
  • X21/629: conveyance of properties from Joseph Morris to devisees under the will of John Morris, deceased: 1828;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP1: Mortgage for £30,000 from John Morris to Mary and Catherine Morris of various properties including Swan, formerly White Horse with 1 acre, in occupation of Robert Emerton: 1831;
  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP2: Mortgage from John Thomas Green to Susanna, Mary Jane and Sophia Morris of a number of properties including Swan, formerly site of three cottages including White Horse conveyed by Benjamin Agutta to John Morris in 1849: 1882;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP8: Abstract of Title of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited to various properties including Swan, butcher's shop and close of 1a 0r 2p, tenant in 1907 Alfred Henry Allen: 1900-1926;
  • Z50/98/23: postcard of ruins of Swan after fire: 1905;
  • Z50/98/24: postcard of newly rebuilt Swan: 1906;
  • CC5304/1: conveyed, with other properties, to Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1907;
  • WB/M/4/2/1: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: c.1926;
  • WB/M/4/2/2: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited (licensee B .E. Lett): 1926;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP12: conveyance of various properties from Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited to J. W. Green Limited including Swan, butcher's shop and 1a 0r 24p in occupation of Bertie E. Lett: 1926;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of properties of J. W. Green Limited, tenant: Major S. H. West: c.1936;
  • WB/Green/6/4/1: J. W. Green Limited trade analysis ledger for various properties: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: Certificate of title of J. W. Green Limited to various properties: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/9: Schedule of deeds of properties owned by J. W. Green Limited: 1949;
  • PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: list pf properties owned by J. W. Green Limited: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: Second schedule of trust deed showing properties owned by J. W. Green Limited: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/18: certificate of title to J. W. Green Limited properties: 1954;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: lists of properties owned by J. W. Green Limited: 1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Salford/S1-3: photographs taken for Flowers Limited: 1960s;
  • PSA5/5: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1968-1995;
  • PCHulcote&Salford6/4: refusal by Whitbread Limited to allow grounds to be used as a play area: 1991-1993

Licensees: 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:

1822-1827: Robert Emerton;
1847-1853: Mrs. Mary Emerton;
1854-1869: Robert Emerton;
1877-1887: Robert Odell;
1887-1902: Charles Denton (also butcher);
1902-1904: William (or Arthur) Woodbridge;
1904-1905: Alfred John Faulkner;
1905-1913: Alfred Henry Allen;
1913-1917: Bertie Edward Lett;
1917-1920: Emily Lett;
1920-1941: Bertie Edward Lett;
1941-1948: Albert Leslie Dyer;
1948-1974: Samuel Horace West;
1974-1982: Robert Ian Fessey;
1982-1985: John Jackson;
1985: Terence Edward Taylor;
1985-1987: Steven James Leonard and Keith Douglas Smith;
1987-1992: Kenneth James Hendry Gillies;
1992-1993: Nicholas Hall and Christopher Edward Hall;
1993-1996: Richard James Salisbury and Susan Lynn Salisbury