1920s The Shoulder of Mutton in Hambridge Way was the drovers’ pub. The publicans for the 40 years until 1912 were Jim and Elizabeth Walker, when Charles Burton took over. One night in October 1928 the thatch caught fire. The fire brigade was called and they pumped water from Blacksmith’s Pond. However, a valve stuck. There was no water to dowse the flames and the pub was gutted and forced to close.
1910s The Old Hall on the corner of Hitchin Road and Great Green closed in 1919. This beerhouse, run by the Males family, was the surviving wing of what some local historians think was a manor house. It was certainly owned by Mr Radcliffe, the Lord of the Manor, and a tunnel is supposed to link it to Highdown. The building was sold in 1926 to the Reverend Winkworth .
1910s Frank and Elizabeth Titmuss outside the Blacksmith’s Arms on the corner of High Street and Cromwell Way. The bar with wooden bench running round the walls was on the right hand side of the door and the tap room, with the barrels behind. Frank also ran a hairdressing business as a sideline. The pub closed in 1927.
1950s The Live and Let Live at 31 High Street was originally a thatched cottage, but was turned into a beerhouse. It is easy to see the extension of the 17th century building with a brick Victorian bakery, shop and new clubroom. Farm buildings such as the pig sties, granary and large barn show that the Throssels were typical “multi-tasking” landlords – bakers, smallholders and beer sellers.
1940s The Cat and Fiddle on Great Green used to be known as the gypsies’ pub as it was the only one that would serve the itinerant workers who picked crops such as peas and potatoes. The workers lived in “benders” up Wood Lane and grazed their horses on Great Green. It must have been a “spit and sawdust” pub — although in practice, the floor would have been covered with sand not sawdust.
3 1910 Stephen “Stibby” Day (R) outside the Royal Oak, which was the left hand cottage in this row of three. Stibby took over as licensee from Jane Lake in 1899 and ran the pub until it closed in 1914. His main trade was as the village wheelwright and undertaker. After his death his son Cecil ran a taxi business from here.
1980s The Fox public house with Colemans Close behind. All the pubs in the village except the Motte and Bailey began around 1830 as beerhouses. The abolition of licensing requirements for beerhouses at that point meant that anyone who paid the 2 Guineas excise payment could sell beer. Most beer retailers combined this activity with another job. John Walker, who took over the Fox in 1912, was also a higgler, a collector and seller of eggs. Pigs and horses were kept in the close to supplement his income.
The old White Horse was pulled in 1901 and the new pub built further back on the site. The adjoining cottages were demolished 12 years later and a garage was erected on the land. Percy Wright, the licensee, ran the bus and taxi service from the new pub. In the Second World War the garage housed the fire engine for the use of the auxiliary firemen and was also used for rifle shooting competitions.
1947 In the foreground, the Red Lion on Crabtree Lane with Bunyan’s shop next door. Ted and Trixie Burton were the last landlords; the pub closed in 1952