Public Houses in East & West Molesey
Rowland G. M. Baker, 1981
Bridge Road, East Molesey
The ever growing number of visitors to Hampton Court was probably the inducement that precipitated the opening of a new public house in Bridge Road in 1867. It was given the name "Carnarvon Castle", although no reason for this choice of name is obvious; the Anglicised spelling is hardly likely to have been adopted by a Welshman. It stood near to the bridge and on the way to the station. Ideal for passing traffic, and, as it was announced that the railway alone had brought over three quarters of a million people to Hampton Court during the previous year, the potential trade was enormous.
The house was built for a Mr. F.J. Thompson, who leased the land from Charles Frederick Davis, a descendant from the Thomas Davis who was landlord of the Castle Hotel during the eighteenth century . Thompson had at one time been a rate collector, and also had a contract from the War Office for the supply of farage to the forces. His request for an innkeeper's license, in March 1867, was granted straight away. An experience matched by very few other first time applicants in this district. A sure indication that the magistrates judged that a considerable demand for licensed services existed .
The trade continued to increase over the years. In 1883 the inn was enlarged, and in August 1895 it was reported that "the new and handsome annex and buffet at the Carnarvon Castle was opened. The room is 30 feet by 20 feet, with two alcoves" . This room is still in use.
The building as it was originally constructed was surmounted by a small decorative turret, as can be seen in the above illustration. This was removed about forty years ago, presumably because it had become unsafe.
In 1969 the inn was taken over by different owners and revamped at a cost of £50,000; with new bars and an enlarged restaurant, to attract a fresh clientele. As part of this deal the name was changed to "The Ferryboat Inn", and a rather large paddlewheel, supposed to be redolent of the old sternwheel Mississippi ferryboats, was added to the exterior . Neither of these innovations was popular with local people. Nothing could be done, of course, about the change of name. The naming of an inn is the prerogative of the owner. However, with to the hideous paddlewheel, no permission for its erection had been sought from the planning authority, and as it was clearly out of keeping with the environment, the local council, happily, insisted upon its removal .
In the early hours of the night of Tuesday, 12 December 1978, a fire swept through the upper floors of the building, gutting the roof and the restaurant, and destroyed equipment worth several thousands of pounds .
Licensees during the nineteenth century:-
1866 - Frederick J. Thompson
1880 - Edward Atkinson
1882 - George Wells
1888 - F.E. Dunn
1891 - Richard Buckland
1891 - Annie Elizabeth Babbage
1895 - Annie Coye
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