Thursday, 5 July 2012

Pubs of Old Baldock: The Star

25 Church Street
(Formerly 3 Norton Street)

The Star started out originally as a beer house and tap, with a piped connection to the close by 'Pale Ale Brewery'.  One of three different pubs in the same area at the top of Church St. the former drinking spot stood only doors away from both the Stag, and the Bulls Head.  It finally closed its doors on Sunday the 24th 1980 by decision of its owners 'Greene King', who had said that due to its poor facilities it was no longer a viable option to keep the pub open.  The reason apparently because as a director from Greene King had put it, that the toilets were archaic, and there wasn't sufficient enough space for car parking.  So rather than pay these expensive renovation costs The Star would close, and only two years after another Greene King pub, in Baldock, The Eight Bells.

A decision by the Brewery that brought with it the retirement of the well liked landlord Fred Whitman.  A man locals described in a newspaper report about the pubs closure as "the most popular landlord in Baldock".  A man who had been working at the pub for around 15 years, after moving down from London, and his last days in charge of the pub were described in the same newspaper report as both emotional for regulars saying farewell, but for returning customers who had also grown fond of the place.  


Recorded also as a separate pub 'The Brewery Tap' in the 1861 Census, The Star as a pub dates back to pre 1830, when it was owned as part of the 'Pale Ale' Brewery by William Oliver.   Its actual date/ year when it was opened isn't apparently known although its current structure, which remains as a commercial premises, is believed to have been built during a major redevelopment programme which began in 1840.  The result of the Brewery being leased to John Steed in 1823, and ultimately being bought by Steed in 1831 after Oliver had moved on to take over the Whitehorse Brewery.   

John Steed remained the active Brewer/ Owner till at least 1867, when he was succeeded by his only son Oliver Steed.  Unfortunate though for the late Brewer & owner of 'The Pale Ale Brewery', his successor, & next in line Oliver was not in great standing for the position due to a poor health condition, and the brewery including 'The Star' was again passed on after his death in 1988.  This time to John Steed's wife, and Oliver’s mother Margaret Steed.   Owner for not even a year it would seem, as the Brewery, was sold on either in late 1888, or early 1889 when it was taken over by William Pickering.  A man it would seem that either didn't like his purchase very much, or was just trying to make a quick buck, because only a year later had Pickering sold the Pale Ale Brewery to W.H Morley. 

The Brewery was to close by the turn of the 20th Century and its associated public houses were sold off elsewhere.  In 1901 'The Star' was run by the landlord Thomas Bass and was 3 years later, along with the Brewery Site sold, to the Wells and Winch Brewery of Biggleswade, who used most of the former site for storage before selling a lot of the land off to property developers.

The Star in the 20th Century

Willoughby Henwood was the landlord in 1934, and was for a good number of years before, right through till sometime after World War II. The picture to the left is taken from around this time. A period around halfway through the Wells & Winch era, after the Brewery took the pub over at the start of the 20th century.  A reign which lasted until 1961 when Wells & Winch was taken over by Greene King.  

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