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The Plough Public House Woodside

The Plough Public House September 2012
The Plough Public House September 2012

The Plough Public House: 189 Woodside Road

The first mention of this public house in any document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1841 when, clearly already a licensed premises, it was owned by Luton brewers Frederick and Charles Burr and is described as such in a conveyance of a neighbouring property. That this is building stood on the same site as today’s Plough is shown by a sketch plan forming part of the conveyance [X173/163].

The Plough, along with the rest of the business was, in 1860 conveyed by the trustees of the late William Burr to fellow Luton brewer Thomas Sworder. Sworder sold his business to rival Luton brewer J. W. Green in 1897. J. W. Green Limited merged with Flowers Breweries in 1954, taking the Flowers name. In 1962 Flowers were taken over by Whitbread who, in 2001, divested themselves of their brewery and public house business, although the Plough remains a public house at the time of writing [2012], in fact it is now the only licensed premises in Woodside.

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Plough was first licensed in 1856 but, as we have seen, this is incorrect as the house was in existence in 1841. Perhaps the Plough was a beerhouse until 1856 when it changed to being a fully licensed public house and that accounts for the discrepancy.

The year before the Plough was sold to J. W. Green it burned down. The Luton News of 19th November 1896 reported as follows: "In the early hours of Tuesday morning [17th], a fire broke out at the Plough Inn, Woodside, which was in the occupation of Henry W. Leggetter. As soon as it was discovered, a young man named Fred Goodwin was despatched on a bicycle to the Fire Station at Luton, where he arrived about 3 a.m. The bells were at once set on motion, and the call boy sent off to the foremen's residences. Head Constable Teale (captain), Foreman Poulter, Sergeants Cowley and Bonfield and Privates Whitehead, Higgs, E. Smith, Preece, Bonfield and Walker turned up and with all possible haste harnessed the horses, leaving the fire station at about 3.30 a.m. Meanwhile Private Loose, who lives at the south-end of the town, started off as soon as called across Stockwood Park, and arrived on the scene just when the thatched roof of the property near by was beginning to ignite. He quickly obtained a ladder and put a stop to the outbreak. When the Brigade arrived they found that the roof of the burning building  had fallen in, and that the whole of the interior was a roaring furnace. Attention was at first directed to the property in the imemdiate vicinity, water being obtained from a well. This, however, was soon drained, and the suction pipe was removed to the well in the garden of Mr. D. Clark, nurseryman, from which a good supply was obtained. Just before five o'clock, about which time the Markyate strx firemen arrived, the fire was well in hand, and by 6.30, or a little later, the flames were quite subdued, and the Luton men were able to return home, reaching Luton at 7.30. The property, which was entirely demolished, was owned by Mr. T. Sworder, of Luton, and was insured in the Royal Exchange Office, of which Mr. Fred Higgins of Bute-street, is the local agent. Me. Leggetter's stock of furniture was insured in the Imperial (local agent Mr. W. W. Merchant). the estimated damage to the house and property is £400, and to stock, £10. The property in the immediate neighbourhood, which the Brigade, by attention, prevented from becoming ignited, is of the value of about £500".

The countywide licensing register of 1903 states that the Plough, newly built of course, was in good repair and clean but it only one toilet which was used both by customers and the family of the licensee. The house was 91 yards from nearest licensed premises (The Red Lion) and had a front door and a door leading from a yard at the side

1917 the public house was visited by a valuer, Arthur Walker Merry of Stafford, Rogers & A. W. Merry of Leighton Buzzard and Bedford, in regards to the renewal of its licence. He found a brick and tile building with a bar and club room, divisible into a tap room and smoke room, there was also a cellar. Private rooms consisted of a living room, kitchen, three bedrooms and upstairs parlour. Outside was a yard and large garden and orchard, there was no stabling but there was now both a public and a private W. C. He noted "This House is about 90 yards only from "The Red Lion" and affords much better accommodation, the immediate neighbourhood includes 13 inhabited houses only which can be well supplied from one house".

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. The valuer visiting the Plough [DV1/C18/99] on 24th November 1926 noted that trade was reasonable - three barrels per week with a dozen bottles of beer and four dozen bottles of minerals. In common with all the other licensees in the Caddington area the canny licensee said he did not know the gross takings! The property itself comprised a bar, a tap room, a parlour, a living room and scullery downstairs with a basement cellar below as well as four bedrooms upstairs; outside were a W. C., a well house, a store room, a small public lavatory and a public urinal.


  • X173/163: abutting land conveyed: 1841;
  • Z660/D/1/4: conveyance and mortgage: 1860;
  • BS2234: ten year lease: 1862;
  • Z660/D/1/6: conveyance: 1878;
  • WBGreen5/5/1: register of successive tenants to J. W. Green Limited licensed premises: 1887-1926;
  • WBGreen5/5/1: register of successive tenants to J. W. Green Limited licensed premises: 1887-1926;
  • PSL6a/1: Register of Alehouse Licences: c.1890-1922;
  • WB/S4/1/1/5 and X95/314: Sale particulars for sale, by auction, of Thomas Sworder & Company's brewery etc.: 1897;
  • X95/332: abstract of title of Thomas Sworder to various licensed premises: 1897;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP1: conveyance of brewery and licensed properties of Thomas Sworder to J. W. Green Limited: 1897;
  • WB/Green1/1/1: record of articles of association and licensed houses owned by J. W. Green Limited: 1897-1936;
  • BML10/45/10: Luton Licensing Sessions: 1917;
  • DV1/C18: rating valuation: 1927;
  • PSL6a/2: Register of Alehouse Licences: 1922-1964;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: trade analysis ledger of J. W. Green Limited licensed premises: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: certificate of title to licensed properties of J. W. Green Limited: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of licensed properties of J. W. Green Limited: c.1936;
  • WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of deeds to J. W. Green Limited licensed premises: c.1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter from J. W. Green to solicitors Lawrance, Messer & Company asking which licensed properties had been in continuous occupation: 24 Jul 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: Trust Deed of J. W. Green Limited with list of licensed premises: 1952-1972;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: Various loose schedules of deeds and documents: c.1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Woods/P1-2: exterior photographs: 1960s.

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

1864: John Page;
1869: Charles Dunham
1872: Robert Harding;
1872-1876: William Gregson;
1876-1881: Frederick Hoar;
1881: John Clarke;
1881: Dennington Beaver;
1881-1884: Frederick Purkis;
1884: John William Franklin;
1884-1885: George Norris Lee;
1885-1887: Edward Godfrey;
1887: Henry Jackson;
1887: James Perkins;
1887-1889: Henry Howitt;
1889-1890: Charles Frederick Burkeley;
1890: Caroline Burkeley;
1890-1899: Henry William Leggetter; ["transferred in same name to temporary building December 14th 1896"]
1899-1908: Charles Boutwood;
1908-1919: George Wood;
1919-1921: Arthur Andrews;
1921-1925: Frederick Henry Riddell;
1925-1945: William Strong;
1945-1955: Joseph Walter Blakeman;
1955-1960: Ernest Alfred Edward Earl;
1960-1964: Rupert George Moss;
1977: Brian Joseph Minnigan;
1992-1993: Alistair Bruce Wilson and Patrick Bradley Thompson;
1993: Jean Wendy Middleton;
1993: Jean Wendy Middleton and Donald Norman Middleton.