The Brewery Tap Beerhouse Sandy
37 High Street March 2010
The Brewery Tap: at, or in the vicinity of, 37 High Street, Sandy
The Brewery Tap was, as the name suggests, a beerhouse selling the product made at the brewery on the same site. The history of the house, and even its location, are not clear from surviving records with Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service as the following will make clear.
The brewery was owned by William Brooke. In his book on Bedfordshire breweries – Bedfordshire Barrels available in the Searchroom Keith Osborne states that the brewery was established by Joseph Tranter Brooke was certainly in ownership in 1864. The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1876 states that the building was first licensed in 1855 so it seems likely that Tranter established the beerhouse as well as the brewery.
Brooke lived at 37 High Street and it is not clear from surviving records whether his house was the Brewery Tap or whether s separate nearby premises was used. The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1903 reveals that the nearest licensed house was 52 yards away, this was the Lord Nelson Beerhouse (now the Sir William Peel), that the state of repair of the Brewery Tap was good and that it had one side door. If the measurement of 52 yards is correct then it is unlikely that 37 High Street itself was the Brewery Tap. Measuring 52 yards on a map from the Sir William Peel would bring one either to a building three doors or so up or down the High Street or to a building behind 37 High Street in what would have been the brewery yard.
The Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division licensing registers [HF143] show Brooke as licensee of the Brewery Tap until 1915, when he died. The license was then taken by John Edwards.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Sandy, like most of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Brooke’s old house, 37 High Street, found it owned and occupied by James Henry Mead. The valuer found that the brick, stone faced and tiled, detached property stood in just over a third of an acre and comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery and three bedrooms above. A w. c. stood outside. He also noted a cellar, a “Bay” on the ground and first floors at the back and a “small bay at the side”.
Other buildings outside comprised: a coal shed; another w. c.; a copper for heating water in the yard; a summer house measuring 14 feet by 6 feet 3 inches; an old brick, wood and tiled barn with a loft over; a wood and tiled shed used as a garage, 25 feet deep with 7 foot doors (“very old and dilapidated”) with a lean-to shed adjoining; a small brick and slate shed; two wood and tiled sheds; an old wood and tiled barn in the garden and a brick, wood and slate building containing two rooms measuring 11 feet by 12 feet and 9 feet by 12 feet downstairs, with a small store room and a room used as a kindergarten upstairs measuring 28 feet 6 inches by 12 feet. The valuer commented: “These outbuildings are old and dilapidated”. Overall he commented: “Old and shaky house” and “Nice looking front to House”.
It is interesting to note that Kelly’s Directory for Bedfordshire describes Mead as a beer seller in its editions of 1920, 1924, 1928 and 1931. The edition of 1936 describes him as a bill poster. This obviously suggests that he continued to operate the Brewery Tap from some part of the premises of 37 High Street until some time between 1931 and 1936. However, there is no mention of this in the valuer’s notes. One can only deduce either that the trade was so small as to be not worth noting, that the valuer did not enquire assiduously enough as to commercial activity at the property, that he forgot to record it or that the directories are wrong. The balance of probability seems to be in favour of Mead being a beer seller and he may have carried this on from the rooms below the kindergarten in the outbuilding. He owned one other property in Sandy, a butcher’s shop tenanted by Eastman Limited and it seems unlikely that this was the beer seller, again the valuer does not mention this activity in his description of the premises and the directories simply list Eastmans as butchers not butchers and beer sellers.
Today  37 High Street is an Indian restaurant called The Gandhi.
HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915.
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1855-1915: William Brooke;
1915: John Edwards;
1920-1931: James Henry Mead
Beerhouse closed between 1931 and 1936.