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28 Ainsworth Street – The Bee Hive

The Bee Hive

Number 28 is an end of terrace property on the corner of Stone Street and Ainsworth Street.

On the 1878 Spalding Directory, there is a “Flack, E. , Publican” on Ainsworth Street however there are no house numbers to confirm this being the Bee Hive; as the Flack family are present in 1881 we can assume that the Bee Hive is constructed before 1878, but after 1871 as there is no mention of E. Flack or any Publicans on the 1871 census.

1880 – 1883

George Flack appears on the Electoral Registers living at 28 Ainsworth Street between 1880 and 1883. He is 50 and from Hedigham in Essex.

On the 1881 census, The Bee Hive isn’t named, but George Flack is listed as a beerseller, so presumably selling beer from this property.  He is living here with his wife Henrietta, 46, and his son George, 16, who is working as a confectioners apprentice.

The couple move to Sawston by 1891, but by 1901 they are living in Edinburgh House on Hooper Street where he is a caretaker and she is a Matron.

1883 – 1884 – Electoral Registers show a David Smith living at the property.

1884-1887 – Electoral Registers show a Robert Langram living at the property.

1888 – 1890 – Electoral Registers show a Samuel Braybrook living at the property. This is likely to be the same man who lived at 19 Ainsworth Street in 1881 and 30 Ainsworth Street in 1891 – 1901.

1890 – 1894

William Finch appears on the Electoral Registers living at 28 Ainsworth Street between 1890 and 1894. He is 53 and from Haughley in Suffolk.

On the 1891 census, this property is listed as “The Bee Hive” and is listed in some trade directories as a grocery store as well. This pub would have had a lot of competition, with The Malt & Hops directly opposite, and The Geldart and The Claremont Arms nearby.

On the 1891 census, it looks as though The Bee Hive is run by Elizabeth Finch, aged 45, as there is a note to say ‘pub’ by her name, indicating she was a publican running the pub. Also living at the property was her husband William Finch, aged 53, listed as a Painter and Publican.

By 1901 the couple are living in Dagenham where William is a general shop keeper.

The census officer has written that John Finch, aged 28, plumber is their son.  However, other census records suggest that this isn’t true and he is actually their nephew.   John married Harriett Riches on 23 Feb 1891 in her home parish of Dersingham, but she isn’t listed on this census with him, she is still at home with her mother in Dersingham.

In the 1895 Spalding Directory, the Bee Hive is run by John Neaves, listed as a publican, although the Electoral Register shows nobody registered as living at number 28 this year.

1897 – “The Bee-Hive, Ainsworth Street, Off-licensed Beerhouse, with Bake Oven attached, – Apply Apthorpe and Son, Brewers, Cambridge” listed in the ‘To Let’ section of the Saffron Walden Weekly News, 21st May 1897.


Charles Augustus Phillips a 29-year-old Bricklayer originally from Swansea and his wife Ada, 28.  There is no mention on the census of the property being The Beehive. His World War 1 documents have them living in South Street by 1915.

1903 Robert Allen and the Smallpox Case

An application was made under the Public Helath Act 1875 “for the removal of a man named Robert Allen, of 28 Ainsworth Street, who was suffering from smallpox, to the huts on Coldhams Common, at the expense of the Corporation, as the man had not proper lodging or accommodation as required by the Act.

It then went on to describe Mr Allen’s situation, “The house was on Ainsworth Street and six persons resided there.  There were three bedrooms. The man could occupy one, the woman the other, and the children the third, but the only person to attend upon the man, to look after the children , and to answer the door, was the woman.  In a case like this, when the malady was a highly infectious one, that was not right.

The Doctor informs the court that the house is a beerhouse and the Chief Constable says that the house is closed and the brewery is giving Mr Allen £1 a week.

However, the Doctor contradicts this and says “when passing through Ainsworth Street on Thursay night, to see another patient [I] saw the door to the house open and people standing at the bar.

The Chief Constable says that there is no power to close public houses as it is the responsibility of the Brewery, in this case, Lacon & Co.

The application to remove Mr Allen to the smallpox huts was granted.

1904 – 1921

In the 1904 Kelly’s Directory, John Ellum is listed at 28 Ainsworth Street as a grocer and beer retailer. On the 1913 Street Directory he is listed among the greengrocers and the public houses.  In the 1916 Kelly’s Directory he is just a Grocer.

On the 1910 land tax records, The Bee Hive Inn is listed as an Off License, Beerhouse and Premises. Both this pub, and the pub directly opposite it, are owned by Lacon & Co, a brewery in Great Yarmouth.

1921 Census – John Ellum (61) widower is a Grocer at 28 Ainsworth Street on his own account. He lives here with his daughter Ethel (29).

1933 – 1952

Robert C Thoroughgood is listed both at The Beehive (‘licensed victualler’) and as a grocer and provision merchant in the 1935 Cambridge Directory and on 1939 Register. The Electoral Registers show him living at the property from 1933 until his death in 1952.

Robert married Alice Maud Sims in December 1911 in Karachi, India

The Beehive Center retail park nearby on Coldham’s Lane takes its name from this pub, as there used to be a lane to walk cattle from Gilbert/Stone Street to the allotments and grazing land that from Victorian times to the Second World War used to be on this land, bought by the Co-Op, the owners who developed the Beehive retail park.

Sources: 1881, 1891, 1901 & 1911 census, 1910 land tax. Spalding Directory, 1878 & 1895, Norfolk Banns And Marriages, 1904 & 1916 Kelly’s Directory, 1913 Street Directory of Cambridge, 1939 Register, England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, British Army Service Records


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