Blunham Village Web Site
By Bill Exley
The Idea : of tracing the Blunham pubs and Beerhouse histories,
came about by interesting conversations with an old Blunham gent called Ernest
Jeffries. We used to walk slowly up The Hill, due to his advanced years, and
he would point out the old sites to me with his walking stick and nostalgic comments. I then wanted
to compile a comprehensive listing of these sites using Bedford Archive and Records held at County
Hall, (Now re named Bedfordshire Archive Service - 30/8/2022 ) - with visits to Charles Wells, brewers of Bedford and Greene
King, brewers at Biggleswade, later to be demolished in 1997.
- -The Project : started around 1985 taking over a year with visits to my reference sources, to begin my work on the 8 Pubs. This involved checking the Brewer's Records so giving me access to the bygone history of tenants and dates, this is just what I wanted. As records have shown, there were actually Seven different suppliers of Beers to the eight Blunham pubs / Beerhouses and now with the passing of time, my work it has expanded to 18 links in total on various topics . * . At this time I had no Computer, or the ability to access departmental records, it was just Tenacity and Shanks's Pony.
- - I was employed from 1969 to 1994 , by 'Texas Instruments Ltd' - then in Manton Lane, Bedford a large American company with sites in Lubbock & Dallas in Texas County, Italy, Germany, and France, (located in Nice) . - T.I. Ltd. , Bedford then closing down c1996 and the site then converts to large Prestigious office spaces. - now Manton Heights / Bedford Heights, Contemporary Business Spaces, a Health Spa. small Hotel, an Eye Clinic and some Micro - Tech companies, all in a prime location and Glass Eco-Building.
- - It
was here due to our jobs, I met Colin Hinson who was part of an inovative design team for ' T.I. ' who were World Leaders in their expertise. The company designed and manufactured all types of electronic components to be used in most complex electonics, some Top Secret, such as Defence and the Car Electronics of today.
- The first Digital Watches and Calculators now came on line in the 1960's and later introduced to the public in the 1970's. - For passing interest, the Worlds' first Mechanical Calculator was invented by a Blaise Pascal - at 18yrs old ! - in 1642 . For more, see Ref / 8. in my - Misc & Mash and its Mind Boggling Trivia.
- - This era - c1974 also saw the design of Teletext , a capability called 'Ceefax / Oracle' using the Television, but the B.B.C. Eng's. being the first in 1972, to think of this idea. - Ceefax was the forerunner of todays Freeview and the Red Button, you entered 3- Digits in, to call up a certain page. - All this utilising the first top 24 lines of the 720 / 1080 limes to hide information. - Our Texas Inst. Decoders were capable of 4 alphabets and 32 language in complex micro - electronics, - a version was used as a part of the 2004 Greek Olympics technology . This was the results of the T.I. / Bedford - design team with Colin Hinson, Bob Parsons and others. - . Colin also designed and maintains the Blunham Village Website (blunham.com) and others in the U.K. covering many subjects.
- - Later Colin kindly suggested that I put all my work, then just Lists / neat hard copy, onto the Internet, with his help and site. After a few years, due to his own busy personal workload, he passed on to me all my own Editing responsibilities, with his tuition. (Feb.- 2012) - * - This move allowed me to do all my own future Updates, Changes or produce new material, such as 9 more different subjects. - So far all my various Projects / Hobby, has taken the last 30 years overall in my 'spare time' as Brain Fodder, to enter my 86th year. - ( 24/8/ 2022 / Mr Blex )
- The Wheatsheaf : - of Blunham, along with three others, were only 'Beerhouses' so just a room with no Bar, - Origin, see ref 12 of - Misc and Mash - I had assumed that all Beerhouses or Alehouses, the local authority term, had all gone by the 1930's, being so quaint and old fashioned. There were exceptions though, ' The Oak ' in Blunham until 1958 and the quaint site, - 'The Case Is Altered ' in nearby Ravensden village until 1995 - it was set within a row of very old cottages on a hill. - I still remember the sign in passing showing an irate Judge with a Quill in hand ! .. - These Beerhouses just provided a cosy - warm room to chat and personal Table Service for the drinkers , with a cosy open fire for a chilly night. .
- The Case is Altered : - of Ravensden a nearby village, first records in - c1786. / a 1st Lic - 1839. / Wm Fensome - 1901 to 1904 / James, Samuel Harper - 1904 to 1940 / Connie, Ruth, Mary Peet (nee Harper) & Dick Peet - 1961 to 1995 - (first full Lic granted on 21/10/65) after closing it reverts back to a cottage. It was always a popular 'Must' visit by our American visitors to Bedford and our Corn Exchange Hall with a Plaque outside, recording a show by The Glen Miller Orchestra - (14th Aug - 1944) . They also like to visit our Historic Castles, English towns and our many 'Pubs'. The room where you drank was like a Time Machine, set in the 1950's, with old tables etc. and prints of our Royal Family, flags and ornaments of a bygone era, there were even some shelves with different sweet jars.
Glen Miller : from Iowa State,U.S.A. - he was born 1/3/1903, - * - d. 15/12/1944 when sadly his small plane disappeared over the English Channel. He had just given a performance 4 mths previous, August in Bedford, U.K. - his orchestra was known for its unique 'rounded - sound' of harmonising Brass sections. He was the Band Leader as well as playing Trombone and his signature tunes were 'String of Pearls' , Little Brown Jug, 'Tuxedo Junction' and 'In the Mood' . This made the band instantly recognisable, in the same way as the voices of Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley. - ( Relev. - links to our Old Pubs, the Bedford Corn Exchange & his visit, our American visitors / or readers and I remember his music )
Blunham Memories : -
recalling life in our village100yrs ago
during the 1920's & 30's, by Jim Ellis,
recorded - Nov. 2011 - at the age of 89yrs of age, recollections of life in Blunham thru' the eyes of a child during his visits. It includes some rare references to the ill fated R101 - Airship
he was also the father of Julie Bennett , see - ' The Crown '
site for a useful link up with - Blunham Memories
- by her father. (courtesy of Colin Hinson) - Fully Copyright Protected : -
or - take a wander thru' Misc & Mash from 1903
to 2022 or English Fifty-Pence Varieties, (1969 to 2022), - or a visit to a 'Bygone Guernsey'
, one of the Seven Channel Isles
, U.K. - from the 1830's to 1969 . - , (Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou and Brechou / Brecqhou, a private Island off Sark owned by the Barclay brothers )
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Brewers : -
Suppliers of beers to Blunham, - Day & Co
: St Neots // Morris & Co
: Ampthill // Oliver Steed
: Baldock // Simpsons
of Baldock, (later to be under Greene King). // Newland
: Bedford // Susan Nash
: Bedford, later to become, Newland & Nash Co Ltd
/ . For interest : Benj. Greene a Brewer (1799
) of Bury St Edmunds, joins up with a Wm. King in 1887
to become Greene King.
Newland & Nash - Susan Nash now 79yrs old and a recent Widow, she seeks help and joins up with the Newland Brewer * on 5/8/1890 // Greene King of Suffolk, later to be Biggleswade-Brewery, then it is later demolished in 1997) // Wells & Winch : Biggleswade, merging with G.K. in 1961 // Charles Wells of Bedford .. Records show, Bedford was well known for its many Brewers, e.g. on Duck Mill Lane, Lurke Street, - St Marys and other sites around the town.
A Mystery 9th Pub : - of Blunham, as recorded by Central Beds / Archives and Also Recalled to me by locals - during my researches in the 1980's, Now with hindsight, the question, "where was it ? " - Their White Hart may have been in nearby Gt. Barford, as a Bolt -Hole, - "The Gaffer won't walk in here" ? - Visit The White Hart of 1737 - to see a Record / Ref in - PM2846 - also Not mentioned in the Swaffield Report of 1909 within The Wheatsheaf - Beerhouse (why ?)
Today : there is only one pub left in Blunham village / on 23 Feb 2022 , that is - The Horseshoes - See its Ref. to an evening wifh a Mr Bobby George / during the mid 1980's / a popular world - class Dart Player, and his kind contribution to a Charity and Blunham Villagers.
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The 7 other pubs of Yesterdays' Blunham - shown in closing order, from most recent & links to my other work.
Records at Greene King & Charles Wells, Brewers - / -
Bedfordshire Archive Service & County Hall
Colin Hinson, for his expertise & inputs / Philippa Exley / John Lihou / Billy Hill
and the Guernsey Press Office / re. Geoff Baker and his article
Last Revision made by Bill Exley on - * - 20th Dec / 2022