Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More on the Radcliffe Arms

I've written about the Radcliffe Arms,Wolverton's first pub, built in 1839 before. Mainly here. The evidence I had at the time was a little sketchy but as I have uncovered more I believe I have a more complete story.

As I wrote before, the new inn was built in haste soon after the opening of the railway and was open for business in 1839. A year later the railway company decided to build their permanent station south of the canal, rather than on the original site to the north. So in 1840 the Radcliffe arms was effectively stranded in what later became Wolverton Park.

I subsequently discovered a plan of Wolverton made in 1847 which showed the"proposed site for the new Radcliffe Arms" beside to the main road between the canal and the later third railway station. This made sense of course and I wrote about it in this blog post. The owners of the Radcliffe Arms were not going to make any money from a pub in the middle of a field. However I could not assume from this alone that it was built until I discovered this advertisement.

Northampton Mercury Saturday 20th July 1844
To Builders and Contractors
Wolverton Station
Plans and Specifications for BUILDING a new PUBLIC HOUSE, near to the Railway Station, WOLVERTON; or for REMOVAL of the present Public-house, called “THE RADCLIFFE ARMS,” and  RE-BUILDING the same, with considerable additions, in a more convenient situation, are lying at the Cock Hotel, in Stony Stratford, for the inspection of Persons willing to Contract for execution of the work.
Tenders for building an entire new House and for Removal of the present House (sealed up) to be addressed to Mr. Clare,  Stony Stratford, before the 2nd day of August next.

The advertisement would indicate that the original Radcliffe Arms had been closed up and was not functioning although it was certainly a very lively place when Hugh Miller, the Scottish writer, visited in 1844, and there are surviving letters talking about "disgraceful" scenes  at the pub.

The dates are still not easy to reconcile. The date of the advert of 1844 would  tend to indicate that building would not start until the Spring of 1845 at the earliest. And the Driver map of 1847 suggests that the new site was just that at that stage. So perhaps there was some delay and a change of mind about pulling down the original building. In the 1861 and 1871 censuses there are "Radcliffe Arms Cottages" recorded, which would suggest that the original pub was converted into housing.

What we might conclude is that a new Radcliffe Arms was built beside the Stratford Road and the first building was converted into four cottages. When the railway loop line was constructed in the late 1870s the "new" Radcliffe Arms was demolished. The original pub still showed on the OS map of 1880, but that disappeared within a year to make way for the new Recreation Park.

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