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Ghost Pubs of Bedfordshire

Welcome to ‘Ghost Pubs of Bedfordshire’ where we discover Ghost Pubs – buildings that were once pubs but are now used for something else. Each month we’ll present a ‘Ghost Pub’ with contributions and input from local residents.


THE SPORTSMAN PUBLIC HOUSE, SHEFFORD



OVERVIEW

The Sportsman was situated at 43 Hitchin Road. It was built around 1851, first registered as a beer house in 1872 and closed in around 1995. It is now a residential dwelling, and prior to that was used as offices for a firm of chartered accountants.


LESLEY PARSONS

“I lived in the public house with my mum, dad and two older sisters. My brother was born there in 1958. I believe the pub was owned by Charles Wells.

On entering the front door you would find the snug on the right and the public bar on the left. Further along there were a few steps up to the living accommodation and stairs to the bedrooms. Further along was the door to the bar on the left and the door to the cellar on the right and another door to the rear of the property. The living accommodation was one room and a scullery and underneath the scullery was a small cellar and you had to go down concrete steps to get to ground level from the scullery. I remember sitting on these steps. Upstairs was four bedrooms. When we moved in there was no proper sanitation just an outhouse with a bucket as a toilet. This was emptied once a week. My mother was mortified, and a bathroom was soon installed in one of the bedrooms. There were many outhouses and barns. The garden was very long with a field at the bottom which now has houses built on it. A ditch ran along the footpath and stopped at the pub, the rainwater running down the hill. I am surprised there isn’t more flooding now that the doctors has been built in the field.


The field at the bottom was often flooding and when I heard houses in Pinemead had flooded I could understand why.


One morning we woke to find the cellar was completely flooded, must have been two to three feet deep. Labels floating on the water off the bottles. I can only remember that happening once although the cellar always seemed damp and as a child I seldom went down there.


To the side of the pub was a garage, this has since been restored to a cottage. I remember a friend and I climbed up the ladders to the roof space and we found we could crawl along the roof to all of the cottages in the row. Don’t ask me how my mother knew we had done this, but we were told off as she found out. Hopefully they have built fire walls to each house!

Easter one year my mother went to get our chocolate easter eggs from a cupboard in her bedroom and found mice had eaten them.


Another thing was that children were not allowed in the public area of the pub and if I was in there and the local policeman came, I had to go under the hatch and hide until he had gone. I am convinced though that he knew I was there.


Another memory I have was a very bad accident happened right outside and a man was killed when he crashed into a lorry.


We moved out in 1960 but continued to live in Shefford in Ampthill Road.”



PAULINE STEELE

“My father's parents purchased The Sportsman Public House in Shefford when my grandfather retired as a chef from the RAF based at Henlow Camp. They had a large family so purchased the row of adjoining cottages. The pub was used mainly by the RAF service men. When they left the pub, they continued to live in Shefford. My dad, George Hill passed away 10.5 years ago, aged 88.”

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May 2024

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