The Welly Archives

Beer has been sold at 70 Upper Gloucester Road for over 150 years. The Duke of Wellington has changed hands many times but has never changed its name!

‘Enjoying A Drink at The Duke’ by Judy Richardson, 2012

Our corner pub was originally two buildings, which were converted into one. 1 Guildford Street appears in the 1851 Census as home of Joseph Yorke, a master bricklayer from Cambridgeshire. Joseph lived with his wife and eight children in what would have been a tiny ‘two-up, two-down’. 70 Gloster Lane was first recorded in Page’s Directory 1867 as the Duke of Wellington ‘beer house’, belonging to James Tucker. It was one of huge number of pubs which sprang up around the station to service thirsty travellers and railway workers. James Tucker was followed by Charles King (1869) and A Auket (1870). Our current bar manager is Charlie Aukett; sadly, no relation. By 1871, Gloster Lane had become Gloucester Road, with Henry and Mary Comber at number 70. It then passed to William Nash (1872), John Smithers (1877), Henry Stephens (1880) and Mr Buckley (1889).

The 1891 Census records the Hobden family as residents. George Hobden, a Brighton-born ‘beer retailer’, was baptised on 30 May 1847 at Saint Nicholas church. Living in Frederick Street in 1851, by 1871 he was at 4 Elder Row and his profession was ‘machinist’. By 1881 he was working as a railway fitter before becoming a landlord. After that, no more. Although, in Massachusetts USA, naturalisation papers exist for a George Hobden from Brighton and his son, so there’s a chance the family emigrated to seek their fortune. Pike’s Directory 1891 lists the licensed victualler as Cephas Goldring. Cephas crops up again in 1918 as owner of the Edinburgh Hotel (now the Duke of Edinburgh), three doors up the street. In 1892, the licensee was Mrs Wood, then Richard Jeal (1893), R Robinson (1895), S G Brown (1899), F Seymour (1901), Henry Payne (1903), Charles Alce (1905), and John George Godley (1908). Alfred Deacon took on the pub in 1910, when he retired from the Metropolitan Police after 27 years’ service. A photo taken around 1912 shows the pub offering ‘accommodation for cyclists’ and selling Rock ales and Bass beers. Harry Douglas Peters became licensee in 1916 during World War I, when the Defence of the Realm Act forced pubs to close during the day to support the War Effort (this lasted until the Licensing Act of 1988). Harry carried on until around 1929 when George and Maud Lever took over, then John Hammond in 1936. B Putland is listed in Kelly’s Directory 1947-58. After that, the pub is listed but no licensee details are given in the trade directories so we would love to hear from anyone with photos or stories to tell. We know Lottie Gilbert and Sid ran the pub in the mid-1960s, and later Barbara White owned the pub for many years, followed by Rae Epstein. Next came Jim and Pat Donovan, then their son Martin, who undertook a massive refurbishment, doing away with the notorious outside loos.

Bertie, the current landlord, took over in 2014 and has made sure the Welly remains true to its friendly, traditional heritage with beer, sport and pies aplenty. This spring, the long-neglected upstairs room has been given a new lease of life as a small performance venue with stand-up comedy and fringe theatre running all year round. Come in and see what’s new in one of the oldest pubs in our neighbourhood!

Victoria Richardson-Burton

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