How did Stevenage’s first new town pub The Twin Foxes get its name? Tales of two infamous brothers after sad news of pub’s demolition
- Credit: Archant
With Stevenage’s first new town pub being demolished and turned into flats, the public have taken to social media to reminisce about the good times they had there.
Planning permission was approved to demolish The Twin Foxes in Rockingham Way and build 14 one and two-bed flats in its place in November, with the news of work starting stirring up memories among former regulars on Facebook group ‘Old Memories of Stevenage...2’. Ted Jones has been among Stevenage residents past and present to post, and said his granddad ‘would be turning in his grave’ at news of the demolition.
But what of the pub’s history? Patrick Chaplin, writing for the Pub History Society, came across a cutting in Reveille from March 1971 entitled ‘double trouble’.
The piece refers to identical twin brothers, the infamous Albert Ebenezer and Ebenezer Albert Fox, from who it’s said the pub gets its name. The story goes that the twins, born in 1857, turned to a life of poaching which resulted in them committing more than 200 detected crimes between them.
There may have been many more but the identical pair would never go together so they could provide an alibi for one another – much to the bafflement of the local police.
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It’s said that Ebenezer was ‘taciturn and would spend hours in a public house drinking’, while his brother Albert was ‘a good-natured humorist’ – a man whose frequent appearances in court meant ‘a field day for all concerned’.
On such reputations The Twin Foxes was opened in 1953 and named after them, and we’re sure they too will be turning in their graves at its demise.
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Research undertaken in the 1960s by Eric R. Delderfield revealed that Ebenezer Albert was ‘taciturn and would spend hours in a public house drinking’, whilst his brother Albert Ebenezer was ‘a good-natured humorist’; a man whose frequent appearances in court meant ‘a field day for all concerned.’ Delderfield revealed that Albert Ebenezer had a set-piece which he related in court ‘with the air of a man making a public address’; his repartee making everyone in the court laugh, including the magistrates.
On one occasion, as part of his defence, Albert Ebenezer produced a Baptist hymn book, held it up for the court to see, and utilised the ‘good book’ to support his claim that he was ‘only in the woods at midnight to polish up his hymn singing’!
Prosecutors could not even be sure that they had the right Fox in the dock and sometimes the innocent one was convicted. According to Delderfield both men took such decisions philosophically, ‘After all,” he wrote, “it worked both ways.”
Such actions ensured the twins’ popularity locally and their notoriety spread across the land. Not surprisingly, their crimes made local, national and international news headlines; they were even featured in the New York Times in 1913.
Royalty too was fascinated, albeit temporarily, when King Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales, was reported to have visited the inn whilst his car, which had broken down, was being repaired. The Prince was, Delderfield recorded, ‘highly amused at the stories Albert had to tell.’