This rather wry announcement was printed in the Leighton Buzzard Observer, Tuesday 19th October 1869.
CHEAP BEER Mr. E. Garnett of No. 1, Stratford Road, Wolverton, having recently obtained a licence to sell beer of the premises. the Stratford town-crier paid Wolverton a visit on the morning of Saturday week, announcing that all persons who purchased ale from Mr. Garnett on that day, would receive a pint and a half as a pint, and those who ordered a quart would receive three pints, and so on in proportion. in consequence of this somewhat startling announcement a very great number of persons availed themselves of this very liberal offer.
Garnett was an auctioneer who had moved to this address some five years before. The house still stand, and its annex, which was later known as the Drum and Monkey. Since 1900, the address has been 44 Stratford Road, when a new numbering system, moved Number 1 to the east end – The Royal Engineer in this case.
Clearly Garnett was only too aware of the effectiveness of giveaway offers. He was not wrong. The Drum and Monkey lasted for 100 years.
James Lewis Frost was born in Wolverton in 1880 and as a young lad showed great promise as a footballer. He was very fast and played mostly as a right winger.
Naturally enough he played for Wolverton LNWR (as the club was then known) but in 1900 he was scooped up by Northampton Town, for whom he was a regular for six seasons. He was transferred to Chelsea in 1906 and notably scored two goals for his new club on his debut against Clapton Orient on December 15th 1906.
A year later he moved to west Ham and in 1910 to Croydon. A year later, at the age of 31, he retired from football and became landlord of the North western Hotel in Wolverton.
From its beginning in 1838, Wolverton’s pub trade was dominated by Stony Stratford interests. The first move they made was to ensure that there was a clause in the sale of land by the Radcliffe Trust that prohibited the railway company from having a licence outlet on railway land. this was easy enough to accomplish. The Stony Stratford businessmen had a long relationship with the agents of the trustees and the Railway Company probably didn’t care very much about it.
Accordingly, Joseph Clare and John Congreve of Stony Stratford persuaded the Trust to lease them four acres in the area later known as wqolverton Park, opposite Wolverton’s first station. This was of course outside railway property, but contiguous, and would be a commercial success.
What Congreve and Clare did not anticipate was that the railway bad would build a second, permanent station at the south end. This action holed Congreve and Clare’s foolproof scheme below the waterline. Out of desperation they persuaded the Trustess to grant them another lease for an acre of land to the west of the nw settlement. The royal Engineer came into being in 1841.
This was the status quo until 1860 when new land to the west was opened up for development. Since the Royal Engineer was already on tis land it was no longer possible to argue that licensed premises had to be outside the railway. The opportunities were quickly seized and by 1861 the north Western on the Stratford Road and the Victoria Hotel on Church Street were quickly established.
Wolverton’s population continued to grow but there were no more licences to be had. Now it was the turn of the established pubs to object to new ones, but even so, the magistrates still had a Stoney Stratford orientation and di not always see things Wolverton’s way. Stony Stratford, already awash with pubs, got six new licences between 1870 and 1900. Wolverton got none.
The Railway Hotel
I have seen plans to build a railway hotel adjoining the refreshment rooms at the second station.
The plans are undated so one cannot be certain but a best guess is that they were drawn up in the 1840s. After the late 1840s engines became faster and more reliable and they could speed through Wolverton. Wolverton’s importance as a station went into slow decline. the building offered three stories above ground and a basement for kitchens and laundry. It would have been an imposing building, and at the time Wolverton’s largest building with the exception of the church and the railway workshops.
But clearly there was an intention to build the hotel otherwise why go to the trouble and expense of developing architect’s drawing, but it was never built. It is quite probable that the Radcliffe Trust prohibition against licensed premise on railway property got in the way (although there was never an objection to the refreshment Rooms serving gin to travellers) but it is possible too that the company got cold feet about the commercial viability.
Nevertheless it never got off the drawing board.
There were two attempts to get a new licence in the 1890s.
The Hotel at 49 Green Lane
William Tarry, landlord of the Victoria Hotel and by then an establishment figure, tried to get a new licence and build a hotel on the corner of Radcliffe Street and Green Lane in the 1890s. It made good commercial sense. Custom could come from the new streets as well as Bedford and Oxford Street and the upper parts of Cambridge and Windsor Street. The application was opposed by the Royal Engineer and the North Western and by several of the new residents who feared drunken and rowdy behaviour on their streets. hat In the end the application was unsuccessful.
One side effect of this attempt to get a licence was that the houses that were built on this corner are numbered 49, 49A and 49B. The lots were reserved for the hotel but in the meantime other houses to the west were built and numbered so rather than change everyone else’s numbers this stratagem was adopted.
The Stallbridge Arms
The second attempt came from Michael McCaughan, a former landlord at the North Western who was then living in retirement in Leighton Buzzard. He was still connected to the trade as his widowed daughter, Sarah Dewson, was the licensed victualler at the Ewe and Lamb. In July 1895 he made an application for a new licence at Wolverton. The premises were to be located on the corner of Windsor Street and the Stratford Road, presumably on the eastern corner as the land where the Craufurd Arms was built was not available in 1895. The new house was to be known as The Stalbridge Arms. The origin of that name is unknown.
The application was heard at the General Annual Licensing Meeting for the district of Stony Stratford on August 23rd. He had many signatures in support of the bid but he ran into opposition from the Royal Engineer and North Western and the police. After some deliberation the magistrates decided that another licence in the town was not required.
The Working Men’s Social Club moved to its present location on the Stratford Road in 1898. Ten years later the Central Club opened on Western Road. Slightly earlier, the Craufurd Arms opened in 1907. No further licences were ever granted in Wolverton even as it expanded to the south over half a mile away from the Front. When the Southern way development was added it seemed not to have occurred to anyone to provide shops, let alone pubs. Today, as pubs are in general decline, this issue is perhaps irrelevant, but for 100 years the natural growth of public house in Wolverton was stymied by commercial self-interest.
The building that was formerly the Royal Engineer has stood at the beginning of the Stratford Road since 1841. In fact it pre-dates the Stratford Road by 3 years. With the exception of part of the Library (built in 1840) it is now Wolverton’s oldest surviving building, although I doubt if it gets much credit for that. The Engineer was something of an afterthought The Stony Stratford businessmen who sought to establish a monopoly in Wolverton John Congreve and Joseph Clare, persuaded the Radcliffe Trust to place a covenant against the building of pubs on railway property and further to lease them about 4 acres of land beside the railway line. This was the land which later became the park and was directly opposite the first railway station. They lost no time in building the Radcliffe Arms and having it up and running in 1839. They were too hasty. In 1840 the London and Birmingham railway moved their station further to the south, leaving the Radcliffe Arms isolated.
Angry at this turn of events but not beaten, Congreve and Clare prevailed upon the Trust to lease another acre of landau the back of the school. At this date this was outside railway land (just) and would not be subject to the embargo against pubs on railway property.
The first licensee was James Salmon who stayed there until 1863 when the license was transferred to William Webb. The house was supplied by the Stony Stratford Brewery operating as Revill and Thorne from the back of the Bull Hotel. Edwin Revill owned the hardware business next door to the Bull and in 1863 it was sold to James Odell. It is of course still in the family today. In the adjoining wall between the two properties you can see a blocked-up doorway which once allowed access to the brewery. After Edwin Revill died in 1853 the brewery passed into the hands of Thomas Phillips. He was a member of a brewing family with extensive interests across the land. He renamed it the Britannia Brewery and was run for about a year or two until he foundedfounded the Northampton Brewery Company with his brothers. It is no surprise perhaps that NBC had a close interest in the Engineer and later in the century they became leaseholders. (The land was still the property of the Radcliffe Trust.)
This plan here, drawn in December 1861, shows the Royal Engineer buildings and yard at that date. The block on the right, marked “1”, is the site for the house which Number 6-7 Stratford Road The space in between, which would make up the one acre, may have been used for the grazing or the exercise of horses. In the 1890s the hotel was extended and the space filled with four lock-up shops.
So this building, which has been a restaurant for a number of years, is the oldest building on the Stratford Road and one of the few surviving from the 1840s. For 20 years it stood on the edge of a field and there was no Stratford Road in existence.
The Craufurd Arms was only the fifth public house to be granted a licence in new Wolverton. Its predecessors were the Radcliffe Arms (1839), the Royal Engineer (1841), the North Western (1861) and the Victoria Hotel (1861). Despite Wolverton’s spectacular growth the magistrates were very reluctant to grant licences in Wolverton; in fact a condition was imposed on Wolverton by the Radcliffe Trustees that no licensed premises should be allowed on railway property, that is the original 22 acres that they sold to the London and Birmingham Railway Company. Both the Radcliffe Arms and the Royal Engineer were built on Radcliffe Trust land outside Wolverton as it then was.
Stony Stratford interests were paramount in this. Despite the spectacular growth of Wolverton, which outstripped the older town’s population with its first decade, Stony Stratford was awarded six new licences, apparently without objection. The original covenant was probably introduced by John Congreve, a Stony Stratford solicitor who did a lot of work for the Radcliffe Trust. He teamed up with Joseph Clare, the owner of the Cock, to build the Radcliffe Arms and the Royal Engineer, and were naturally anxious to rule out any competition. the situation was relaxed in 1860 when Wolverton was finally allowed to expand and licences were awarded to the North Western and the Victoria Hotel, but thereafter the embargo on new licences was once more instituted. An attempt to build a new public house on Green lane in the 1890s was firmly vetoed.
The People’s Refreshment House Association was a movement with temperance objectives, but rather than take a hard line against the sale of alcohol they decreed that they wold make no profit from the sale of alcohol and instead make their profit from hotel rooms, meals and the sale of non-alcoholic beverages. How they managed that is uncertain. If they made no profit on alcohol then the price would be cheaper, and, in theory ate any rate, encourage people to drink more. The chairman of this organisation was Lieutenant Colonel Henry Craufurd, who was to give his name to the new establishment when it was built.
The PRHA began to show an interest in Wolverton as a possible site in 1901. They first latched on to the Green Lane site which had been the objective of William Tarry a few years earlier and was still vacant. These negotiations came to nothing. Meanwhile the Radcliffe Trust had decided to open up new land to the west of Windsor Street for new housing, and unlike of previous occasions where they had sold land to the LNWR, they were advised to develop the land themselves. They now had full control of this development, which is why the new streets were named after Radcliffe Trustees.
They appeared to look kindly on the PRHA and no objections would be raised against a new licence. The PHRA hired an architect, mr. C.V. Cable of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire, and eventually the new house was built at a total cost of £7000. It was an elegant three storey brick building much in the style of the times. Apparently habitable attic space was part of the original design but this was eliminated to reduce the total cost.
A licence was approved in 1906 and the Craufurd arms celebrated its opening day on July 7th 1907. The first manager was Mr. H.C. Wood who was already an employee of the PRHA. In 1911 he was succeeded by Arthur O’Rourke, a Wolverton native, (and incidentally a friend, colleague in the railways accounts office and fellow Thespian of one of my great uncles) who worked there for five years until he volunteered for military service.
The building was much enlarged in 1936 with the addition of a large hall measuring 50 feet by 30 feet and an expansion of the dining room. The work was undertaken by the local builders Winsor and Glave. In the same year another building, separate from the main one, was erected in part of the garden for the use as a Masonic Lodge. This was paid for by the PRHA at a cost of £1000. The Masonic Lodges would have a prior claim to its use at an annual rental of £25. The building was completed in February 1936.
This arrangement fell apart in 1953 when one of the senior masons and the new tenant of the Craufurd Arms “had serious differences”, according to Percy Sykes History of the Scientific Lodge. The subtext of this was that the Craufurd Arms manager was having an affair with the mason’s wife. In these circumtances a continued business relationship was untenable and the masons departed, first for temporary accommodation in Haversham, and later for their own property on the Square.
1953 was also the year that the PHRA ceased to have any control over the Craufurd Arms. It was taken over in May 1953 by Wells and Winch, the Biggleswade brewing company. They brought in the new manager, above mentioned, who succeeded in ruffling more than a few feathers. He lasted just over a year and was replaced by Wally Odell in November 1954. He was a former Tottenham Hotspur footballer and he and his wife managed the Craufurd until February 1965 when they retired from pub life for the more conventional hour offered by the Green Lane stores.
They were not there for long. After only two months they decided that they were not cut out for the grocery business and returned to pub life at the Embankment Hotel in Bedford.
Wells and Winch were taken over by Charringtons in 1962 at the beginning of a series of acquisitions which reduced pub ownership to a handful of large companies. During this period the hotel went through a £60,000 re-fit which included a new sign. The new sign was mis-spelled “Crawford”. It was soon corrected.
Now, after over 100 years, the Craufurd Arms is still in operation but it remains the last pub in Wolverton to be granted a licence.
In September 1861 the Phipps family of Northampton were awarded a licence to sell beer, wines and spirits at their new hotel in Wolverton. This was a period of rapid and aggressive brewery expansion after they had discovered that the acquisition of inns and public houses meant that they had ready outlets for their beer production. In the case of the Victoria Family and Commercial Hotel, the Phipps brothers went one stage further and capitalised the project from the beginning. Wolverton was clearly destined to be a promising market.
From the beginning, the Vic was a Phipps outlet, and so it remained until various mergers in the 20th century diminished the Phipps brand. The hotel was built on a large new lot at the corner of Church street and Radcliffe Street with a large yard and stables. It is still in business today although parts of the building complex have been sold off in recent decades.
The first licensee was Berkeley Hicks who for some years had been the licensee of the Radcliffe Arms. He held the licence for five years and then it was transfered in 1866 to his brother Henry who had worked as a barman for his brother at both the Radcliffe Arms and at the Victoria Hotel.
In this period this was regarded as Wolverton’s premier hotel. When dignitaries visited the town they were regularly taken here for refreshment. It was probably better appointed than the North Western and the older houses, the Radcliffe Arms and the Royal Engineer.
It was not impervious to disaster. In August 1865 the roof was struck by lightening during a thunderstorm. One chimney was cracked and parts of the upper storey of the building were reduced to rubble as bricks tumbled to the ground. The report in Croydon’s Weekly Standard (Bucks Standard) mentioned that one room was filled with ‘electric fluid’. Fortunately the room was empty.
No one was hurt or injured by the incident and the building was hastily restored. No mention was made of the absence of a lightening conductor, but it is quite possible that there was not one provided for the original building. No doubt that was rectified in the restoration.
Henry Hicks, who was born in 1832 at Maidenhead, ran the hotel with his wife for many years. During their occupancy the hotel was enlarged with additional rooms and a billiard room. Times change, and this room was given over to a juke box and dancing in the 1950s.
In 1894 William Tarry came to be the licensee. 1894 was an eventful year for Mr Tarry. He was a sales representative for a Northampton company of Corn Merchants, Wesley Brothers. In January the founder of the firm, Joseph wesley, died, and it is possible that this unsettled William Tarry. In June he moved to Wolverton and in August was granted the licence for the Victoria Hotel. In October he married Emma Darnell from Northampton. She was the sister of a Northampton solicitor. By far the most dramatic of William Tarry’s adventures in 1894 occurred on February 26th while he was driving his horse and gig along the Northampton road near Gayhurst. He saw a boat capsize on the River Ouse and drove over to assist. He was able to pull out the occupant of the boat and told a nearby farm labourer to take his horse and gig and fetch help. Meanwhile he revived the man who was unconscious when he found him.
The man was none other than Walter Carlile, resident of Gayhurst House. Unfortunately he was too late to save the woman in the boat who was Alice Cadogan, Mr Carlile’s 21 year old sister in law.
The story that later emerged was that Walter Carlile had taken his sister in law out for a ride in the boat. As they were turning in the river to return to the house a sudden gust of wind caught the sail and the boat keeled over taking on a lot of water. Exactly what happened next is unclear because Mr Carlile, probably unconscious from a knock on the head, was not able to control the boat. Alice must have fallen out and unable to swim and hampered by a heavy Victorian costume, drowned.
William Tarry was a prominent figure in Wolverton at the turn of the century. He had a fine baritone voice and often performed at concerts. He was a promoter and participant for the Wolverton and Dstrict Choral Society and he involved himself with the affairs of his adopted town. The photograph below shows the Wolverton Victorias Football team in 1899. The photograph is of poor quality but you can see Mr Tarry centre in the back row. tall, heavily moustached, bowler hatted, he must have cut an imposing figure in his day.
He did attempt to establish another public house on the corner of Green Lane and Radcliffe Street when that street was being developed but he was unsuccessful in getting a licence. Undeterred he established an off licence on the corner of Green Lane and Oxford Street. That was first licence about 1902.
In 1924 Tarry retired from the hotel and simply occupied himself with the of licence on Green Lane. His successor at the Vic, Fred Kettle added a car hire business.
In 1955 Enie Wilford and his wife Mabel came to the Vic from Coventry. Willard was a former miner and a very thrifty man who already owned several properties in Coventry. He and his son len used to make weekly visits to Coventry to collect rents. He was also familiar with the pub trade and had been running the Miners Arms in Coventry since 1921.
Len Wilford, his son, joined his parents in the business and he and his wife Joan ran the public bar. Len Wilford had at one time been a professional football player for Coventry City.
Ernie and Mabel Wilford continued at the Vic until their deaths. Mabel died in 1975 and Ernie in 1977.
Since then the Victoria Hotel has lived with uncertainty and since 1982 has been owned by a series of companies. It has been closed, refurbished, re-opened and been through this cycle several times.
Green Lane, as I have said before, is a very ancient trackway that is at least 1000 years old. It followed a line that was slightly at an angle to the rectangular grid pattern that was the model for Wolverton. Thus when Radcliffe Street, Bedford Street and Oxford Street were built the end houses had yards that were shaped like a quadrilateral than a rectangle.
The house at the end of Oxford Street on the east side ended up with an extra large garden. It was owned by William Tarry who was the licensee of the Victoria Hotel and was given the name “Mount Pleasant.”
In 1903 William Longhurst applied for a licence to sell beer to be consumed off the premises. Longhurst was renting the property from Mr Tarry and it is probable that Tarry built this flat-roofed extension around this time. A few years earlier Tarry had tried to get a licence for a new hotel or public house on Green Lane at the corner of Radcliffe Street and had reserved a lot for the purpose. He was unsuccessful and probably determined that an off-licence was the next best thing.
In the 20th century this off licence was on of two in Wolverton; the other was known as the Drum and Monkey in a back alley just off the Stratford Road. Both off licences lasted for many decades in the 20th century until the regular sale of alcohol in supermarkets and convenience stores pushed them out of business.
In 1860 the Radcliffe Trust finally agreed to provide more land for Wolverton’s expansion. Up to that date Wolverton was restricted to the original 22 acres acquired by 1840 and it was the intransigence of the Radcliffe Trust on these matters that led to the creation of New Bradwell in the 1850s.
Wolverton was also restricted as far as pub licences were concerned. A condition of sale to the railway company by the Radcliffe Trust was that there were to be nolicenced premises on railway land. Accordingly, the two hotels that Wolverton had up to that point were the Radcliffe Arms and the Royal Engineer. Both were built outside railway property.
The land sale of 1860 changed that and two new hotel licences were applied for, successfully, – one for the North Western, another for the Victoria Hotel.
The lots for the North Western were purchased by Thomas Davies. He was a Euston railwayman, who had had some brief exposure to Wolverton in 1854, when he was brought in temporarily to act as Station Master after the sacking of Samuel Shakespeare. One assumes that he kept an eye on Wolverton activities and in 1859 saw an opportunity for some risk-free speculation. In 1861 he sold the property to the Newport Pagnell Brewery who then set about building the new hotel. They were granted a licence in September of that year.A month later Michael McCaughen was granted a license and he proudly announced the opening of the new hotel, “replete with every accommodation.”
The Newport Pagnell Brewery was sold to Charles Wells of Bedford in the 1920s and thereafter they supplied beer and other alcoholic beverages to the North Western, as they do to this day.
Today, and for most of the last century, the North Western presents a plain font to the Stratford Road. When it was built however, there was access from the street to the stables at the back.Once the age of horse-drawn transport was over the two passages were in-filled with the two narrow properties you can now see. They were built in the 1890s. The one on the east side, which later was numbered 10,was for some years the home and workplace for Alfred Davies, a hairdresser. Later it was occupied by On the west side of the North Western a jeweller by the name of was the first occupant. He was succeeded in 1896 by Emil Sigwart a german immigrant who established a thriving business here and in Northampton with his son and daughters. The Wolverton shop finally closed in 1972.
The North Western also had assembly rooms at the back. One of the earliest events featured the clairvoyant Madame Card. The lady was billed as an‘illusionist, mesmerist, clairvoyant and electro biologist,’ It appears that everyone was suitably astonished by the performance of Madame Card.
Michael McCaughen was called up before the magistrates two years later for serving drinks outside of licensing hours. Apparently on Sunday afternoon on March 18th 1867 police sergeant Chaplin noticed two me quickly escaping by the kitchen door as he was approaching. When he got there there was a third man and evidence of jugs and glasses. McCaughen said that the man had just arrived by train from Birmingham but when Sergeant Chaplin checked this story the train from Birmingham had yet to arrive. Needless to say McCaughen’s sorry was not believed by the magistrates and he was fined £2 and 11s in costs.This was not the last time McCaughen appeared before the magistrates. In 1871 he had his licence suspended for two week, which must have been a heavy fine indeed.
The assembly rooms were regularly used every Sunday by the Congregationalists, starting in 1866. Eight years later, in 1874, they had raised sufficient funds to buy some land in the ‘new building field’. This large plot, occupying the whole south side of the Square, was the destination for the Congregational Church.
At the back of Number 44 Stratford Road was another house which housed one of Wolverton’s two off-licences. You could ring a bell in the back alley and the proprietor would open the hatch and serve you. This was Wolverton’s “hole in the wall” and it served for quite a long time before the general liberalisation of alcohol purchases made places such as this obsolete.
Before I go on to describe its origins there was another “hole in the wall” at the second station, just off Young Street. It was in fact marked as such on the 1880 OS Map and I presume service was from the side of the old railway Refreshment Rooms.
The house at Number 44 Stratford Road was actually Number 1 Stratford Road until the 1890s when Cambridge and Windsor Streets were built and therefore on the edge of town. The additional building at the back seems to appear in the 1880s and was run by a man named Samuel Sinfield. Sinfield was a labourer in the 1881 census living at Number 3 Stratford Road, now Avenues, estate agents, but in 1881, the about 50 years old, he is recorded in this house as a Beer Seller. It is quite possible that after the other “hole in the wall” closed down Sinfield (or whoever built the house) saw an opportunity.
In the 1950s, when I remember the place, it was possible to take along a jug to be filled with draught beer. They also sold bottled beer, cider, various bottles of pop – including something called “dandelion and burdock”, cheap “Emu” sherry and cheap “Ruby” port. If you wanted anything more sophisticated you had to go to the Victoira Wine shop on the corner of Church St and Cambridge st opposite the library.
The origin of the name “Drum and Monkey” is completely obscure. There are lots of Drum and Monkeys across the land and there are various explanations of the origin of the name, none of them completely convincing. The name itself probably came to England in Victorian times when soldiers returning from overseas duty might bring back a tame monkey who could beat a drum. At one time this might have been a feature (albeit an annoying one) for some pubs. Why this should have been applied to this hole in the wall may never be known. It might have been first applied as a joke and then the name just stuck.
I don’t think it ever occured to me as I was sitting at my school desk trying to take care that my dip pen didn’t leave a blot in my exercise book that I would ever live to enjoy a pint in later life in my old classroom. In Stony Stratford this could have happened and in a curious way the history of pubs and schools is intertwined.
As I have described in another post the old Rose and Crown on the High Street was bequeathed by its owner Michael Hipwell in 1610 to found a school. The inn continued to operate to raise sufficient money for the next 99 years and then was converted into a school. In the 19th century this was taken over by the National School movement and a school operated on this site and adjacent to it until the 20th century.
In the meantime the expansion of Wolverton works led to new building in Stony Stratford and the so-called Wolverton End developed. This enlargement of the Holy Trinity parish necessitated the building of a new church (St Mary’s) and in due course another school. This was opened in 1873 on the corner of the Wolverton and London Road and was designed by the distinguished architect, Edward Swinfen Harris. For part of the 20th century these two schools operated in tandem, with the boys in the High Street and the Girls and Infants at the London Road School. Then in 1936 a new co-educational school was built on King George Crescent and the old schools were redundant.
Fortunately there was a ready tenant for the Swinfen Harris school. The old Plough Inn had been in business next door for many years and the new premises were attractive to them. I imagine the conversion was not too costly and there was probably already a cellar in the school building.
Thus it came to pass that that the building designed by Swinfen Harris was a school for about 60 years and has been a pub for the last 80 – and possibly will continue in that line of business. The bell tower betrays its former use as a school but nowadays I suspect very few people have any inkling of its original purpose.