Nostalgia: From pub to a boutique

29 Hitchin Street was occupied by The Cross Keys before it became Haydn House THE property in Hitchin Street appears to have been two cottages in 1841. One was occupied by butcher Charles Sale and then agricultural labourer Samuel Stonebridge in 1851. Th

29 Hitchin Street was occupied by

The Cross Keys before it became Haydn House

THE property in Hitchin Street appears to have been two cottages in 1841. One was occupied by butcher Charles Sale and then agricultural labourer Samuel Stonebridge in 1851.

The other cottage was occupied by Joseph Pryor, a farm labourer. Then in 1861 Susan Smith, a straw plaiter, and Charles Albone, described as a hawker, were in residence.

The property then became The Cross Keys in 1866, owned by James Weston who had a brewery in Shortmead Street. The licensee was Jabez Read who was described in the census of 1871 as a jobbing gardener. But the following year he was the subject of a police complaint at the 1872 Licensing Sessions in the Biggleswade Town Hall.

He was said to have been drunk during a great disturbance at The Cross Keys and his licence certificate was withheld.

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Henry Squires took over The Cross Keys in 1874 and was included in the 1876 Licensing Return.

Weston's Brewery closed down in the same year and The Cross Keys is not mentioned again. Mr Squires then became licensee of The Red Lion in London Road.

The property then reverted back to cottages and Elizabeth Bygraves appears to have lived there as a shoe binder in 1881 and as a general shopkeeper in 1891.

Charles Elliott, described as a flour salesman, lived there in 1901. He came to Biggleswade from Eaton Socon in 1882 to take up employment as manager for Henry Franklin the miller. He left Biggleswade in 1912 to manage his uncle's business at Boxworth, Cambridgeshire.

Frederick Eley moved his watchmakers and jewellers business to the property that was then named Haydn House, 29 Hitchin Street, as Eley & Co in 1914. He died in tragic circumstances in 1920 when he committed suicide by shooting himself on the premises. His widow Gertrude Eley, with a family to support, then opened a business there as a confectioner. She also later opened Wool Craft at 29a Hitchin Street selling woollen and knitting goods.

Her son, Raymond Eley, also lived there until he retired after 49 years as an accountant at Biggleswade Brewery, a spell only interrupted by wartime service in the Royal Air Force.

Mrs Alice Clarke moved her popular fish and chip shop from 47-49 Hitchin Street to occupy number 29 about 1930.

Mr and Mrs George Smith purchased the properties in the late 1940s, keeping the fish and chip shop open for a time. After it closed there was a fruit and vegetable shop until Mrs Smith opened a boutique called Gladys. It lasted for about four years until the early 1970s. They eventually sold the properties to the urban district council.