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The White Hart, Sturton Street

The Petersfield pub, formerly the White Hart

The former White Hart pub – now the Petersfield and once the Backstreet Bistro – is on the corner of Hooper Street and Sturton Street. Its official address is 2 Sturton Street, but it has also been listed in early trade directories and census records as 1 Sturton Street and 10 Hooper Street.

Early years

The name ‘White Hart’ was originally used for a pub in King Street. In 1873, at the borough’s annual licensing sessions, publican James Swan applied to move the license from King Street to a new site on the corner of Sturton Street and Hooper Street (Cambridge Independent Press, 30 August 1873): ‘He thought the magistrates would consider this very desirable, as there were already a large number of licensed houses in King-street, while there was not one full-licensed house in the new neighbourhood.’

According to trade directories, the pub was in existence on the present site by at least 1879. For its first three decades there seems to have been a change of landlord every few years. Names mentioned in early records include George Cooper (1879), Henry Culley (1883), Joseph Hodge (1888), Francis Miller (1891), George Percival (1892), Frederick Overy (1896) and George Riley (1904).

There were difficult relations with the brewer during the tenure of Francis Miller. In 1891, brewer’s partner Louis Davis Wigan paid a visit to the pub to announce that the brewer would repossess it later that week. When Wigan spotted some bottles of spirits that were not supplied by his company, the mood quickly turned sour (Cambridge Independent Press, 7 November 1891): ‘Defendant [Wigan] then put the bottle of rum into his pocket, but placed the bitters on the table. Witness [Miller] was about to take up the bitters, whereupon defendant rushed at him and struck him in the face. He could not say what he struck him with, whether it was a bottle or his hand. In consequence of the blow, he caught his arm on a sofa. Defendant knocked him down on to the sofa, and in the fall witness caught his nose upon the table. Defendant put the bottle of bitters into his pocket, and took it away with him.’

1911 census

Frederick Norgan, 31, publican, b. Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Florence Norgan, 29, b. Cambridge
Reginald Norgan, 3, b. Cambridge
4 years married, 1 child

Frederick Norgan was born in Hitchin; Florence was born in Cambridge but her parents were from Devon and Cornwall. Both families had moved to Cambridge in the late nineteenth century for work on the railways. In 1901 Frederick, then 21 and living on Mill Road, was working as a bricklayer. By 1911, newly married to Florence, he had taken on a new career as a publican.

By 1913 they had two young children, Reginald and Alice. A few years later Florence died, and Frederick married a second wife, Lily. He died in 1924, still landlord of the White Hart. Lily Norgan was listed on the electoral register for 2 Sturton Street as late as 1927.

1939 England and Wales register

In 1939 the pub was run by John Thomas Warren and his wife Mary. John was born in 1894 in Woolwich, London, son of a beer retailer.

Sources

UK census records (1841 to 1911), General Register Office birth, marriage and death indexes (1837 onwards), the 1939 England and Wales Register, electoral registers, Kelly’s Directory of Cambridgeshire (from 1879), and local newspapers available via www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk..

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