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The Nags Head Public House Westoning

The Nags Head Public House [WL800/3]
The Nags Head Public House [WL800/3]

The Nags Head Public House: 14 Greenfield Road, Westoning.

In May 1811 Richard Hine, or Hindes, a Baptist who had moved to Westoning about 1795 [WL1000/1/WEST1/19] bought four roods of land in Greenfield Road from Westoning butcher Edward Aldridge [WL1000/1/WEST1/12]. In October he borrowed £60 by mortgage, having built a cottage on the land [WL1000/1/WEST1/13]. In his will of 1830 he devised his real estate to his wife Elizabeth, then to his two sons William and John, who were to sell it and divide the profits between themselves and their three brothers and two sisters [WL1000/1/WEST1/16]. Hindes died in 1831.

In 1851 William and John Hindes conveyed the land and cottage, now a licensed property called the Nag's Head to Woburn brewer James Fowler for £500 [WL1000/1/WEST1/17]. The earliest mention of the Nags Head in any directory is in 1839, when John Hindes was licensee. It did not appear in the countywide licensing register of 1828 and so must have been established at some time between 1828 and 1839.

Peter Burton was licensee for over sixty years but his tenure did not get off to a good start. The Bedfordshire Times of 22nd January 1853 reported:

Ampthill Police Court 20th January 1853

CAUTION TO INNKEEPERS – Peter Burton, landlord of the Nag’s Head Inn; in the parish of Westoning, was charged upon the information of Superintendent Bates, with allowing drunken and disorderly conduct in and upon his premises on Christmas Day last. P. C. Scott, stationed at Westoning fully proved the offence, and remarked that although he had been stationed at the above village for a number of years past, he had never seen such a row as occurred on Christmas-day last. The court iinflicted a penalty of £2 and 18s 6d costs.

Peter Burton was then charged with allowing gambling in and upon his premises, on Christmas Day last. The witnesses in this case proved that the defendant was not present when tossing was going on in his house, and when it again commenced in his presence he immediately put a stop to it. The chairman remarked that this case must be dismissed, as there was nothing to shew the that the defendant had a knowledge of the company having been tossing; had that been proved a fine must have been inflicted.

A fortnight later he was, again, up before the Beak as reported by the Bedfordshire Times of 5th February 1853:

Ampthill Police Court 3rd February 1853

CAUTION TO INNKEEPERS – Peter Burton, of the Nag’s Head Inn, Westoning, was charged with selling beer during the hours of divine service, on Sunday the 9th ult. Mr Greene defended. It appeared from the evidence that a number of persons attended a Calvinist Chapel near the defendant’s house, and coming from an adjoining village went to defendant’s house for a small quantity of beer with their dinner, which they sat and ate in the house the time being directly after twelve and before the termination of divine service at the parish church. Fined 20s and 14s 6d costs, which was paid immediately.

In 1881 James Fowler sold his business at auction [WL1000/10/1/1]. Lot 20 was the Nags Head. It was described as containing a bar, parlour, tap room, cellar, washhouse and back parlour with five bedrooms above. A yard at the side and rear contained a barn, stable and open cart lodge with a loft over the whole. There was also a piece of land at rear. Peter Burton was still the tenant at £14 per annum rent. Most of Fowler's properties were bought by Allfrey & Lovell of Newport Pagnell [Buckinghamshire] and Charles Wells of Bedford and it was, indeed, the latter who purchased the Nags Head.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. Westoning, like most of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting The Nag's Head [DV1/C135/128] noted that it was owned by Charles Wells and occupied by Arthur Nicholls. The brick and slate building comprised a parlour ("fair"), tap room ("fair"), bar ("small"), living room and scullery with five bedrooms above. Outside lay a brick and tiled coal barn, a stable for three horses, a coach house and a small grass paddock.

The rent was £10 per annum and trade comprised 18 gallons of beer per week, and a "small trade" in wines, spirits, tobacco and minerals. The valuer commented: "+2 hoardings (Carter's Liver Pills) 15 feet by 6 feet". He also commented: "Good house but poor trade".

The public house had closed by the middle of 2009 and was demolished in the late summer of that year. New houses are currently [2010] being built on the site.

All that was left of the Nags Head in August 2009
All that was left of the Nags Head in August 2009

General References:

  • WL1000/1/WEST1/12: conveyance of the site to Richard Hine/Hindes: 1811;
  • WL1000/1/WEST1/13: mortgage of a newly erected cottage: 1811;
  • WL1000/1/WEST1/16: will of Richard Hindes: 1830, proved 1831;
  • WL1000/1/WEST1/17conveyance of the Nags Head to James Fowler: 1851;
  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • WL1000/10/1/1: Lot 20 in sale catalogue of James Fowler's Woburn Brewery: 1881;
  • SF71/46: auction sale held at the Nags Head: 1894;
  • WL800/3: photograph album: c. 1925;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s.

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:

1839: John Hindes;
1847: William Hindes;
1850: John Hindes;
1853-1911: Peter Burton;
1911-1913: Edward Keech;
1913-1924: John Edward Warner;
1924-1927: Arthur Joseph Nicholls;
1927-1931: Francis Lane;
1931-1961: Francis Vivian Burton;
1961-1968: Edward Albert Walter Curtis;
1968-1972: Roderick Bennison;
1972-1976: George Russell Sharman;
1976-1980: Edward James Haythorn;
1980-1983: Brian Anthony Bates;
1983-1987: Alan Anderson Malcolm;
1987-1989: Anthony Stapleton;
1989-1995: Ian Hansford