When Leamington had ‘too many’ pubs

After the boom of the late 19th century pubs were starting to go bust by the early 20th century.

Back in 1913 the police believed there were too many pubs in Leamington and objected to the renewal of several licences. The Courier reported on the annual licensing sessions in Leamington on March 7, 1913. The chief constable, Mr T T Earnshaw objected to the renewal of three licences on the grounds of redundancy.

He said within a radius of 250 yards from a point opposite 71 King Street, there were seven fully licensed houses, four beer-houses and two grocers’ shops, making a total of 13 licensed premises.

The tenant of the Cottage Tavern, Harry Buswell, said his trade was on the increase. In 1912 he had sold £320 worth of beer and £36 worth of spirits, much more than in previous years. The licensing justices, heard the objections but renewed the licences of The Cottage Tavern, The Queen’s Arms and The Lansdowne Tavern (now the Builders Arms) in Lansdowne Street. However, the justices did bring down the shutters on Bricklayer’s Arms in King Street.

During the First World War pubs suffered even more when a 10pm closing time was introduced.

Many pubs disappeared from Leamington in the 20th century. Courier reader John Redshaw was interested in last week’s article on the town’s old pubs. He said: “Someone has told me there used to be a pub in Leamington called Noah’s Ark. Is this correct?”

Historian Allan Jennings says: “The Noah’s Ark was at 106 Regent Street. It opened as a beer house in 1832 and was upgraded in 1854 But in 1905 the chief constable objected and the licensing justices refused to renew the licence on the grounds of “structural unsuitability and inconvenience of police supervision”. The Noah’s Ark was closed on April 4 1907.”

Allan and his fellow researchers have traced the history of several old Leamington pubs. In Brunswick Street there was the Queens Head and the Brunswick which closed in 1964 and was demolished early in 1965. The site is now the car park for The Jet. In Shrubland Street the Joiners Arms was for many years the centre of that community. Then there was the Wheatsheaf on the corner of what was Shrubland Street and Tachbrook Road. In 1956 the Bulldog opened in St Margaret’s Road and the Sun in Splendour opened in Tachbrook Road. In Clemens Street there were the Railway, the Great Western and the Stoneleigh.

Allan added: “Landlords very often stayed at a particular pub for many years and in some instances locals referred to the pub by the landlords name rather that the name of the pub - Many will remember the Talbot being referred as Hectors or Hector’s House. Years earlier it was referred to as ‘Mickie’s after Frederick Michael Fathers. Mickie was landlord from September 1919 until November 1951.

“The Great Western was known as Len Beavers, even after he left. He was there from October 1936 until October 1956. The Railway became known as Joe Hartopp’s and again the name was used many years after he left. He was there from September 1911 until January 1953.

“The Talbot is interesting because it has the fewest number of landlords. It has only had nine since 1880.