Friday, July 17, 2015

The North Western Hotel

In 1860 the Radcliffe Trust finally agreed to provide more land for Wolverton's expansion. Up to that date Wolverton was restricted to the original 22 acres acquired by 1840 and it was the intransigence of the Radcliffe Trust on these matters that led to the creation of New Bradwell in the 1850s.

Wolverton was also restricted as far as pub licences were concerned. A condition of sale to the railway company by the Radcliffe Trust was that there were to be nolicenced premises on railway land. Accordingly, the two hotels that Wolverton had up to that point were the Radcliffe Arms and the Royal Engineer. Both were built outside railway property.

The land sale of 1860 changed that and two new hotel licences were applied for, successfully, - one for the North Western, another for the Victoria Hotel.

The lots for the North Western were purchased by Thomas Davies. He was a Euston railwayman, who had had some brief exposure to Wolverton in 1854, when he was brought in temporarily to act as Station Master after the sacking of Samuel Shakespeare. One assumes that he kept an eye on Wolverton activities  and in 1859 saw an opportunity for some risk-free speculation. In 1861 he sold the property to the Newport Pagnell Brewery who then set about building the new hotel. They were granted a licence in September of that year.A month later Michael McCaughen was granted a license and he proudly announced the opening of the new hotel, "replete with every accommodation."

The Newport Pagnell Brewery was sold to Charles Wells of Bedford in the 1920s and thereafter they supplied beer and other alcoholic beverages to the North Western, as they do to this day.

Today, and for most of the last century, the North Western presents a plain font to the Stratford Road. When it was built however, there was access from the street to the stables at the back.Once the age of horse-drawn transport was over the two passages were in-filled with the two narrow properties you can now see. They were built in the 1890s. The one on the east side, which later was numbered 10,was for some years the home and workplace for Alfred Davies, a hairdresser. Later it was occupied by On the west side of the North Western a jeweller by the name of was the first occupant. He was succeeded in 1896 by Emil Sigwart a german immigrant who established a thriving business here and in Northampton with his son and daughters. The Wolverton shop finally closed in 1972.

The North Western also had assembly rooms at the back. One of the earliest events featured the clairvoyant Madame Card. The lady was billed as an ‘illusionist, mesmerist, clairvoyant and electro biologist,’ It appears that everyone was suitably astonished by the performance of Madame Card.

Michael McCaughen was called up before the magistrates two years later for serving drinks outside of licensing hours. Apparently on Sunday afternoon on March 18th 1867 police sergeant Chaplin noticed two me quickly escaping by the kitchen door as he was approaching. When he got there there was a third man and evidence of jugs and glasses. McCaughen said that the man had just arrived by train from Birmingham but when Sergeant Chaplin checked this story the train from Birmingham had yet to arrive. Needless to say McCaughen's sorry was not believed by the magistrates and he was fined £2 and 11s in costs.This was not the last time McCaughen appeared before the magistrates. In 1871 he had his licence suspended for two week, which must have been a heavy fine indeed.

The assembly rooms were regularly used every Sunday by the Congregationalists, starting in 1866. Eight years later, in 1874, they had raised sufficient funds to buy some land in the 'new building field'. This large plot, occupying the whole south side of the Square, was the destination for the Congregational Church.

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