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The Sportsman Public House Shefford

Sportsman about 1925
Sportsman about 1925 [WL800/5]

Sportsman: 43 Hitchin Road, Shefford

This public house was in Clifton before 1933 at which date a major change in the parish boundaries between the two parishes brought it into Shefford. The first mention of it is as a beerhouse in a licensing register of 1872 [HF143/1]. It is likely that the beerhouse was one of the four cottages "lately erected" by George Kempson on land acquired by him in 1841 [WL1000/1/Cli/1/1] and mortgaged in 1849 [WL1000/1/Cli/1/2]. Kempson mortgaged the property to George Crouch and at some point must have sold the place to him as Crouch devised it in his will of 1873 (proved in 1875) to his niece Sarah Boys [WL1000/1/Cli/1/5] who then sold it by auction in 1877 to Thomas Brittain [WL1000/1/Cli/1/6] who sold it to Charles Wells, following an auction, in 1890 [WL1000/1/Cli/1/10]. At this auction the property was described thus: "The HOUSE is well situate, and doing a fair trade, and is substantially built of brick and slate, and contains Tap Room and Bar Parlour with bow windows, Living Room, Kitchen, Scullery and Coal Place, 4 good airy Bedrooms, and Cellar; it is well fitted with Cupboards and Grates, and there is a 6-pull Beer Engine. A covered Entrance from the road, and 2 Rooms over. Large Yard with brick and pantiled Wash-house (Copper and Sink), a 2-stall Stable, and W.C. In the rear is a productive piece of GARDEN LAND, in the occupation of Mr.William Trueman. Adjoining the foregoing are 3 brick, rough-cast, and slated COTTAGES with 2 Rooms down and 2 up stairs, 2 brick and tiled Wash-houses (Coppers and Sinks), and timber and pantiled Barns and W.C., and useful Gardens occupied by George Aldridge, James Dunton, and Amos Hills. The whole property embraces an area of about 11 Acres and is let to the Cardington Brewery Company, at an Annual Rent of £30. It is bounded North by property of the Feoffees of Lucas' Charity, South by Mr.Richards and late Mrs.Brown, East by Mr.Sears, and West by the capital High Road leading to Hitchin and Bedford. No Land Tax".

In 1927 the Sportsman was valued under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act, the valuer described it [DV1/C229] as a brick and slate "modern place, looks more like a private house…on outskirts of Shefford". The place consisted of a living room (converted into a servery for the tap room by 1937), kitchen, scullery, bar parlour, tap room and cellar; upstairs were four bedrooms; outside were a store, two stall stable, small barn and pig sty. Trade was decidedly slack and consisted of only half a barrel a week with a dozen bottles and takings were only £1 per week. Adjoining and occupied with the pub was 0.888 acre of grass and arable.

The last mention of the Sportsman in a document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service comes in an uncatalogued licensing register going up to 1995. It is now [2008] occupied by John Needham and Company, chartered accountants.

 former Sportsman January 2008
Former Sportsman January 2008


  • WL800/5 pg 8 photo c.1925
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/1: land part of marriage settlement between Mary Jeeves and William Bowyer: 1825;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/1: conveyance of land from William Bowyer to George Kempson: 1841;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/2: mortgage of four cottages lately erected by George Kempson from George Kempson to William Henry Barker: 1849;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/3: second mortgage from George Kempson to George Crouch: 1850;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/4: transfer of mortgage from William Henry Barker to George Crouch: 1851;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/5: will of George Crouch devising beerhouse in Clifton to his niece Sarah Boys, remainder to her husband Henry, remainder to his nephews in trust for sale: 1873 (proved 1875);
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/5: recited death of Henry Boys: 1877;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/6: auction sale particulars: 1877;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/7: power of attorney stating that Sarah Boys had requested sale of real estate devised to her for her life: 1877;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/8: agreement by Thomas Brittain of Hackney [Middlesex] to deposit deeds with Locke & Smith of Great Berkhamstead [Hertfordshire] as security for a loan: 1878;
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • WL1000/1/Cli/1/10: auction sale from Thomas Brittain to Charles Wells: 1890;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914; PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • DV1/C229: rating valuation: 1927;
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980

List of Licensees:

Note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1851-1875: Thomas Brown;
1875: Elizabeth Brown;
1875-1877: David King;
1877-1878: Thomas Brittain;
1878: Charles Cooke;
1878-1880: James Diggins;
1880: Samuel Shaw;
1880-1881: Booz Hunt;
1881: Samuel Waller;
1881-1882: Thomas Langman;
1882-1885: James Clarke;
1885-1887: William Trueman;
1887-1888: George Goodman;
1888-1892: William Trueman;
1892-1895: Herbert George Edward Whitbread;
1895-1896: Harry Lewis;
1896: Robert Cowridge Henderson;
1896-1897: George Peacock;
1897-1905: Rolloffe Hammond;
1905-1913: George Henry Fossey;
1913: George Bowskill;
1913: William Francis;
1940: Percival Sidney Kitchen
1957-1960: William Henry Davis;
1960-1962: John Leonard Nolan;
1962-1965: Adam Marshall Askew;
1965-1991: Michael Ian Campbell;
1991: Anthony William Thornton;
1991-1993: Elizabeth Holmes Hutchinson;
1993-1994: Anthony William Thornton;
1994-1995: John William Simons and Charles Brian Douglas Lennie