The Inns and Outs of Eaton Socon Parish, by Sue Jarrett

The Inns and Outs of Eaton Socon Parish, by Sue Jarrett

Booklet published by the Eaton Community Association, 80 pages. A4 size booklet (N7701)

From the introduction: This booklet sets out to give a little information on the licensed premises that are around in Eaton Socon Parish today (The Inns) and the coaching inns, public houses, beerhouses and breweries that once served the villagers and travellers but are now no more (The Outs),

Two hundred years ago, at the time of the Eaton Socon Enclosure Award in 1799, the main settlement in the parish was Eaton Socon or 'Eaton', with its church, mill and coaching inns on the Great North Road. Here there were several well known hostelries where travellers could quench their thirst, change their weary horses or just stop for a chat. The second largest settlement was Wyboston and in the rest of the parish were small groups of houses. It was also possible at many of the hostelries to either stock up on groceries, buy some meat or even get your wig fixed as many of the landlords carried out another trade besides selling drinks. Within the parish in 1799 there were 16 public houses or inns, with the majority being on the Great North Road. Although the Nags Head in Chawston was not in the parish it has been included in this book as its address was often given as Wyboston.

During the 19th century the population stayed much the same although the number of dwellings increased, both in the main settlements and in the hamlets. The decrease in visitors along the Great North Road due to the coming of the railways affected the large coaching inns and most of these adapted in the mid 19th century by moving into smaller properties. The greatest change in the licensed premises was the large increase in the number of beerhouses which sprang up to quench the thirst of agricultural labourers in this rural parish. Farmworkers could now have a beer while sowing or harvesting crops, and the men could get together in the evenings. Three of the beerhouses only lasted a few years and may have reflected their owners wishing to make a little more money for a short time.

During the early twentieth century, the population grew steadily and it might be expected that the number of licensed properties would increase but there was a conscious decision to reduce the number of licensed places around 1911. The next main change came when the line of the A 1 bypass was decided in the mid 1960s. The land to the west remained in rural Bedfordshire and the land to the east of the A1 (at that time in Huntingdonshire and now in Cambridgeshire) was developed with housing and industry. The area now known as Eaton Ford was still very rural in the 1970s with housing along St Neots Road, Crosshall Road and Mill Hill Road. The next few years would bring thousands of new houses in the Eatons and a gradual decline of public houses for a variety of reasons including the change of vegetable crops to arable crops resulting in fewer field workers, the prohibition of smoking and the need to adapt to a growing trend for places to eat rather than places where a working man could relax, have a pint and take part in darts, snooker and other pub games. In the late 1970s and 1980s public houses with adjoining dwellings adapted by utilising the additional space.

In 2015 some licensed premises are what could be termed local public houses and some are eating places rather than the traditional public houses and none now exist in the rural part of the parish. Even as this booklet is about to be printed we have two public houses that are changing, the Millers Arms in Eaton Socon and the Wait for the Waggon in Wyboston.

This book aims to provide some information about past and present public houses. The information has been derived from many sources, including the 1799 Enclosure Award, Census Returns, Sale Particulars, Alehouse Licences, Brewery Documents, Deeds of Properties, Electoral Registers and of course the memories of local residents. Where possible links between the premises and their families have been explored and extra pieces of family information have been provided by descendants. This research has shown a wide variety of publicans from far and near who lived in our licensed premises and no doubt brought stories of life beyond this rural parish. We hope that you enjoy reading this booklet and learn a little about our ever-changing hostelries.

The present day Inns and pubs in the booklet include: Akbar, Barley Mow, Crown, Eaton Oak, George and Dragon, Highwayman, Millers Arms, Old Sun, Rivermill Tavern, Waggon and Horses, Waterfront and White Horse

The former Public Houses in the booklet include: Anchor, Bell, Black Horse, Chequers, Cock, Eagle, Falcon, Gery Arms, Nags Head, New Found Out, Old Cannon, Old Sun, Old Swan, Peacock, Plough, Queens Head, Ram, Recruiting Sergeant, Red Lion, Rocket, Rose and Crown, Saracens Head, Tally Ho, Three Horseshoes, Travellers Home, Two Brewers, Union Parade Hotel, Wait for the Waggon, Wheatsheaf, White Lion

Condition of the booklet is generally very good. The covershave one or two very minor scuffs but are clean and bright, the staple spine is tight and intact and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.