Calling last orders

PICTURED shortly before it was demolished, the Wheatsheaf in Church Street is one of Luton’s many long-forgotten pubs.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 10th December 2011, 8:42 am

In his excellent 1995 book Pubs & Pints, charting the history of licensed premises in the town, Stuart Smith noted that the Wheatsheaf was knocked down and rebuilt in 1907 and finally demolished 50 years later.

Licensing registers reveal that it closed its doors for the last time on February 6, 1957, around the time the photo, left, was taken by the Luton News. The picture above shows the pub in about 1900.

The first reference to the Wheatsheaf in any document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1778 when the parish register for St Mary’s, Luton, records that John Brown “from the Wheatsheaf” was buried.

By 1850, the pub, described as having stables and a yard, was in the occupation of Mary Dimock. It was fronting Highway Cross Pond towards the River Lea.

Frederick Burr owned the pub and his brewery business was bought by Thomas Sworder following Frederick’s death in 1857.

But the purchase, together with unwise speculation in malt, almost drove him into bankruptcy.

The Wheatsheaf, along with the rest of the business, was purchased by Sworder’s Luton rival, John William Green, in 1897 and he immediately floated his newly enlarged company as J.W. Green Ltd.

The firm lasted until 1954 when it merged with Midlands brewer Flowers and took the Flowers name.