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The Sheep Shearers Beerhouse Slip End

The Sheep Shearers Beerhouse: Front Street, Slip End

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service does not have many records relating to this beerhouse which was in operation for about forty three years. The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Sheer Shearers was first licensed in 1862, though it should be noted that dates given in this source are not always accurate.

In 1876 the owner was stated to be Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] brewer Henry Parsons but he is more likely to have been the tenant of private owners judging by information given in the countywide licensing register of 1903. In fact Henry Parsons had died in 1870 and been succeeded by his son Francis. When he died in 1885 the firm was sold to Adey and White, who are stated to be the owners of the Sheep Shearers in the countywide licensing register of 1891.

The countywide licensing register of 1903 states that Adey and White were, in fact, the tenants of the owners Miss Blakeley and Mrs. Parsons of Lincoln and so it is likely that the house was owned by someone other than a brewery in both 1876 and 1891, these two registers are not always accurate about such things. The house was stated to be in fair repair and a satisfactory sanitary state. It was 56 yards from the nearest licensed premises (the Shepherd’s Crook) and had a front door and a yard open to other cottages and right of way at the rear.

By 1905 the four licensed premises in Slip End along with the three in nearby Woodside (not to mention the Half Moon in nearby Pepperstock, then in Hertfordshire) were giving the licensing magistrates pause for thought and it was decided that one at least should be closed. The report to the licensing magistrates [CLP1] stated: “The premises are difficult of Police supervision owing to the fact that there is a back entrance to which the Police cannot gain access without going a distance of about 530 yards unless the gateway of the premises is left unlocked. The back way is used by customers of the house” “This was the house which should be least spared”. The house’s license was, therefore, not renewed in May 1905.

Neither the licensing registers nor the licensing magistrates’ material tells us where Sheep Shearers was. However, we can might be able to make an educated guess based on the fact that it was 56 yards from the Shepherd’s Crook, which licensing records from 1915 reveal was at today’s 37 and 37a Front Street. Measuring the distance on a map suggests that the Sheep Shearers may have been 49 Front Street which seems to have had a back way as described in the report to the licensing magistrates. Alternatively it may have been at 13 Front Street as the current [2015] owner states that the house has: "a big cellar and a grate on the pavement in front of the house which would have been used for access. It also has a huge front window that doesn't go with the other houses on the street. Lastly, it has a little serving hatch connecting the kitchen and the lounge. The previous owners when selling it to us, told us it used to be a beer house, with the barrels rolled in to the cellar from the street. It also explains the large window and serving hatch, as they explained the main drinking area was the front room".

Without more detailed information, such as might be found in deed to the premises, at present the location of the Sheep Shearers must remain a mystery.


  • PSL6/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Luton Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1901;
  • PSL6a/1: Register of Alehouse Licences: c.1890-1922

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1864-1869: Henry Hull;
1872-1877: Ann Hull;
1877: John Wood;
1877-1879: Jessie William Holt;
1879-1882: Stephen Emerton;
1882-1885: Albert Slade;
1885-1887: Obed Jones;
1887-1890: Benjamin Viner;
1890-1892: Hannah Mary Viner;
1892-1895: Alfred Mayes;
1895-1899: Benjamin Clark;
1899-1901: Thomas Briggs Holdsworth;
1901-1902: Walter John Spittle; [convicted of selling during prohibited hours]
1902: William Herring;
1902-1905: Herbert Hunt;
1905: Joseph Chambers;
1905: Benjamin George Kitchener;
Beerhouse closed May 1905.