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Not Brentford


156 High Street, New Brentford.

The Beer House Act of 1830 allowed a householder who paid the local poor rate to obtain a licence, costing 2 guineas, from the Customs and Excise, for his or her house for the sale of beer or cider but not wine or spirits. Many thousands of these new “Beerhouses” were opened in the years following the Act, possibly between forty and fifty had opened in Brentford by 1870. There was effectually no control over these houses as there was for fully licensed houses, who had to renew their licences an the annual licensing sessions each year, and the magistrates could close houses or refuse to renew a licence if the landlord had been committed of a serious offence in the preceding year. No such restraint was applicable to beerhouses, and some were very badly conducted, allowing drinking during hours when the house should be closed for business, allowing gambling, drunkenness, prostitution, or other offences, they could be fined but there appeared no way of closing them.

This beerhouse had opened by 1851 as a George Bevis is recorded as a Beer House Keeper in the census that year. It could have opened some time previously, but it is very difficult to determine exactly when beer houses opened. When it opened there were already two other beerhouses, the Lord Nelson, two doors away, and the Grand Junction Arms almost opposite and by the late 1860s a third house the Magnet was four doors away.

George Bevis – c. 1850 – 1855

1851 Census – HO 107 / 1699, fo. 53v, p. 15, Sch. 58

Beer House, High Street, New Brentford.

George Bevis, Head, Mar., aged 30, A Beer House Keeper, born Middx., Heston
Elizabeth Bevis, Wife, Mar., aged 30, born Bucks., Swanbourne

The 1852 Post Office Directory gives the name of the house The Jolly Boatman run by George Bevis. Further directories show he was still running the house in the mid 1850s.

John Lloyd – c. 1860

By 1861 the house was being run by John Lloyd who seems to have had a brief tenure as he is not listed in any directories in the early 1860s.

1861 Census – RG 9 / 777 , fo. 46, p. 15, Sch. 71

(Jolly Boatman) Beer House, High Street, New Brentford

John Lloyd, Head, Married, aged 47, a Beer House Keeper, Notts., Retford
Sarah Lloyd, Wife, Mar., aged 45, born Middx., Staines


Joseph Bottrill - c. late 1861 to 1865

Joseph Bottril had taken over the house after John Lloyd, he is listed in the Directories for 1862 and 1865 as a beer retailer. He was recorded in one case before the magistrates. : --

Brentford Petty Sessions - Saturday, June 4th - PROHIBITED HOURS

Joseph Botrill, of the “Jolly Boatman” beer house, Brentford Bridge, was summoned by the police for serving beer during divine service on Sunday last.

Police constable V11, James Harris, stated that on Sunday morning last, about eleven o’clock, I visited defendant’s house. In the backyard I found the water-closet door fastened inside, and someone talking there. On knocking several times, the door was opened by some men who came out, and on my looking down the closet, I found several broken mugs in the soil. The defendant denied serving the beer, and said he did not know the men; but the Magistrates thought differently, and fined defendant 40s., and costs.

(Buckinghamshire Advertised 11 June 1864)

There were a large number of prosecutions for serving during the prohibited hours on Sundays, and many and varied were the excuses given, but being found hiding in the toilet was exceptional, you couldn’t make it up.

The next case at the Sessions, that day, was John Wall Smith, the notorious landlord of the Junction Arms, just opposite Joseph Bottrill’s house.


Joseph Curtis – c. 1865 to April 1870

By 1865 the house was run by Joseph Curtis, who is recorded as a Beer Retailer in the 1866 Post Office Directory. In 1867 he was up before the Magistrates for the almost customary charge for beer house keepers, serving outside the hours allowed by law.


Joseph Curtis, of the Jolly Boatman, New Brentford Bridge, was summoned for having his house open during the prohibited hours, but being unable to attend, the case was adjourned.

(Windsor & Eton Express 23 March 1867)



Joseph Curtis, landlord of the Jolly Boatman beershop, New Brentford, was fined 18s. for having his house open during the prohibited hours, on the previous Sunday night.

(Windsor & Eton Express 30 March 1867)


In August 1869 an Act of Parliament transferred the licensing of beerhouses from the Customs and Excise to the local magistrates. At the first licensing Sessions after this, in March 1870, the Chairman of the Bench, Mr. F. H. N. Glossop gave a warning to beerhouse keepers : -

“This having completed the list of adjourned Alehouse licenses, the Bench proceeded to dispose of the beer-houses.

The Chairman repeated his remarks as to the conduct of beer-houses in the division. He said he did not wish to prejudice the same, but it was the wish of the magistrates to raise up the beer sellers to the same standard of the public houses in the division. It was very remarkable that while there had only been 8 convictions against public houses, there had been 27 against beer retailers, though the number of houses were about equal, clearly showing that beer-shop keepers did not conduct their houses so satisfactorily as the licensed victuallers. In looking through the list he found several of the applicants were disqualified by the Act of Parliament, and others not fit and proper persons. They should therefore take that opportunity of weeding out some of the worst.”

(Middlesex Chronicle March 12 1870)

At these sessions the licence to Joseph Curtis for the Jolly Boatman was refused and the house closed as a beerhouse. No reason was given in the report, but it can be assumed the landlord had seriously contravened the Law in some way, and was not regarded as a proper person to be running a public house.

Altogether 12 beer house licences were refused at the above sessions, four were in Brentford, the other houses were the Square and Compasses, Barley Mow and White Swan, all in Old Brentford.

In the 1871 Census Joseph Curtis is recorded as running a “Coffee Shop and Lodging House.” The house continued as such till about 1900.

George Bevis c.1850 to c. 1855
John Lloyd c. 1860
Joseph Curtis c. 1865 to April 1870

Read more about 156 High Street


Page published November 2017; updated April 2018