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The Black Horse Public House Wootton

Drawing of the elevation of the Black Horse in 1912
Elevation of Black Horse 1912 [RDBP1/216]

The Black Horse Public House: 7 Potters Cross, Wootton [formerly The Cherry Tree Beerhouse]

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Black Horse was first listed in 1830. This date is somewhat suspect as it is given as the date of first licensing for a number of Wootton pubs. The house was certainly not licensed in 1828 as it does not appear in that countywide register [CLP13]. It is, perhaps, safest to say that the beerhouse, as it then was, was first licensed about 1830. In 1876 it was owned by Bedford brewer George Higgins.

The register of alehouse licences of 1903 notes that the beerhouse had previously been called the Cherry Tree. Bedford brewer Charles Wells is now given as the owner and the premises are described as being in good repair, clean and “apparently sanitary”. The Black Horse was 210 yards from the nearest licensed premises and had a door at the front and at the back.

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. Wootton was, like most of the county, largely assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Black Horse [DV1/C51/50] noted that it was a beerhouse owned by Bedford brewers Charles Wells. The premises consisted of a tap room, kitchen, cellar and smoke room ("very low pitched") downstairs with three bedrooms and a box room above; outside were a barn and earth closet as well as two pigsties, a two bay hovel, and meal place ("awful"). Trade consisted of 18 gallons of beer, 4½ gallons of bitter and 3½ dozen bottles of beer per week. Summing up the valuer noted: "Very old pub indeed. Poor position".

Existing ground floor plan in 1912
Existing ground floor plan in 1912 [RDBP1/216]

At some point in the next decade Wells obviously sold the house to Luton brewer J. W. Green Limited because it appears in a schedule of deeds and documents of that brewer in 1940. Green merged with Warwickshire brewer Flowers in 1954, taking the Flowers name, only to be taken over by Whitbread in 1962. Whitbread sold off their public houses in 2001.

The Black Horse March 2012
The Black Horse March 2012


  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences, Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
  • RDBP1/216: plans for additions for Charles Wells Limited: 1912;
  • WB/Green4/2/10: Schedule of Deeds and Documents - J.W.Green Limited: 1940-1960;
  • Z1105/1: entry on liquor licence traders survey form: 1954;
  • PSB9/2: Register of Alehouse Licences, Bedford Petty Sessional Division: c.1955-1995;
  • 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:

1876-1877: George Trueman (also a butcher);
1881-1906: Isaac Tompkins;
1906-1911: Jesse Thomson;
1911-1928: William Redhead;
1928-1933: Alfred Smith;
1933-1936: Percy George Caves;
1940: George Baxter;
1954-1981: William Frederick Burraway;
1981-1986: Anthony Derek Weddell;
1986-1988: John Orwin;
1988-1993: Richard Bigley;
1993-1995: Dina Smith and Mark William Smith