Public Houses in East & West Molesey

Rowland G. M. Baker, 1981

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Bridge Road, East Molesey


The Albion seems to have been one of the first beerhouses in East Molesey to be opened under the terms of the 1830 Beerhouse Act. Certainly it was the first such venture to be successful.

In 1831 James Hall, a builder living in Ealing, bought a plot of land on the eastern side of Bridge Road, on which he constructed a terrace of six cottages, which came to be known as "Bridge Row". Adjoining which, at the northern end he also erected a much larger house. Now whether this latter was specifically built to be a public house or not is unclear. Probably it was. Certainly it was for this purpose that it was acquired in 1839 by a brewer named William Shaw, for a cost of 150 [9]. Shaw was the owner of a business in Church Street in Kingston, which was called the Albion Brewery, and the house in Bridge Road was opened up as a beerhouse, under the supervision of a middle-aged woman named Sarah Evens [10].

As has been said in the Introduction, the passing of the Beerhouse Act of 1830 had enabled the selling of beer, for consumption either on or off the premises, to be accomplished much more easily than before. And it was for the sale of beer only that the Albion first opened.

Soon afterwards, however, Shaw found himself in financial straits, and in 1841 the principal purchase money for the house had still not been paid off. He, therefore, came to an arrangement with another brewer, John Flint, of Newbury in Berkshire, with whom he seems to have formed a partnership, for the business in Kingston was hereafter referred to as Flint and Shaw's Brewery [11]. The Albion Inn appears not to have formed part of the partnership and was bought outright by Flint for the sum of 310 [12].

By 1845 Mrs evans had passed the running of the house over to her daughter, a young girl in her early twenties, also called Sarah [13].

Soon after Queen Victoria's accession to the throne, the right had been conceded for the public to wander freely around the gardens of Hampton Court Palace; and in February 1849 the branch railway to Hampton Court station was inaugurated. These momentous events together were the incentive to draw thousands of people to the area. People who came to visit, and people who came here to live and work. Providing a ready reservoir of potential customers for any public house in the immediate neighbourhood.

By 1850 business was doing so well that expansion was called for, and Flint also acquired the two adjacent cottages in the row adjoining, and adapted one of them to form an extension to the pub[14].

As a beerhouse it was not permitted an official title, although it was probably known locally as "The Albion", after the brewery in Kingston. From 1851, however, we find it called "The Albion Inn", and Miss Evans is styled "licensed victualler" instead of "beer retailer" as hitherto [15]. She must, therefore, have sought and obtained a full publican's licence from the magistrates. At this time she was running the inn with the assistance of her younger sister, a niece, and one servant. They even managed to take on the boarding of two lodgers [16].

Sarah Evans relinquished the license in 1862. Other innkeepers during the nineteenth century were [17]:-

1862 - William Fortesque

1864 - James Fuller

1868 - Reuben Gutteridge

1876 - J. Hooper

1877 - George Dooderson

1884 - Mr. Bard

1890 - John Henry Duffell

1892 - Alfred Samuel Block

1893 - Alfred Garrard

1895 - Arther Baxter Howard

An average of one new licensee every three and a half years is not a very happy state of affairs, and one wonders why the turnover was so high.

Towards the latter part of the last century boating on the Thames was one of the most fashionable of recreations. For sport, for pleasure, or for just watching. A fine day brought myriads of people rushing to the river. Being so close mine host at the Albion was particularly anxious to take advantage of this potential trade, and to offer a variety of entertainment to his customers as part of the service the house provided. In the eighteen seventies when the river cult was working up to a crescendo, the Albion started its own rowing club, where the members met regularly, and established an "Albion Regatta" on the Thames each year. To join at least for other regattas which were then organised in Molesey annually. Although this one seems to have been noted more as a water jollification than for serious sport. With water jousts, canoe chases, greasy poles, and a pig-punt. The river was brightened up with lines of flags and bunting strung from bank to bank, whilst a regimental band played popular music. Which all helped to enliven the proceedings [18].

John Flint died in 1855, and the business devolved on his two sons and his son-in-law, Joseph East, who seems to have managed the brewery. He was a leading light in Kingston, being mayor of the borough in 1867 [19].

On 19 January 1891 the family put the brewery, by then moved to Oil Mill Lane, and thirty-two public houses associated with it, up for sale by auction, at The Mart in Tokenhouse Yard, London. The catalogue describes the Albion as: LOT XVII - The most desirable freehold hotel known as "The Albion", situate in the Bridge Road, East Molesey, close to Hampton Court Railway Station, Hampton Court Bridge, and the Thames, and in a most busy neighbourhood, being much patronised by visitors to Hampton Court, and by Boating Parties. It contains seven Bed Rooms, Club Room, Bar, Parlour, Coffee Room, Tap Room, Kitchen, Scullery, Cellars, &c. Adjoining is a four-roomed cottage which if required can be easily added to the Hotel. The whole is let to Mr. J.H. Duffell, at 60 per annum.

The successful bidders were the well-known firm of Charrington and Son, of Anchor Brewery, Mile End Road, in the East End of London [20]. Who are the present owners.

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