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The Petersfield, 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.

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 trade directories include George Cooper (1879), Richard Bigsworth (1881), Henry Culley (1883), John Watson (1884), Joseph Hodger (1888), George Percival (1892), Frederick Overy (1896), Henry Watts (1900) and George Riley (1904).

Census records, listed below, sometimes give the landlord’s address as 2 Sturton Street and sometimes as 10 Hooper Street. On occasion the resident was not the landlord (see 1891 below).

1881 census for 2 Sturton Street

Richard Bigsworth, 57, publican, b. Walthamstow, Essex
Jane Bigsworth, 32, b. Chigwell, Essex
Richard Bigsworth, 9, scholar, b. Chigwell, Essex
Alice Bigsworth, 7, scholar, b. Chigwell, Essex
William A Bigsworth, 5, scholar, b. Chigwell, Essex
Bertie Bigsworth, 1, b. Harlow, Essex
Frederick Bigsworth, 2 months, b. Cambridge
Eliza Speed, mother-in-law, widow, 68, formerly beer house keeper, b. Ongar, Essex
Eliza Moore, 14, general servant domestic, b. Harlow, Essex

1891 census for 2 Sturton Street

James Scott, widower, 40, clerk, b. Baldock, Hertfordshire
Fanny E Scott, 15, scholar, b. St Pancras, London
Arthur J Scott, 13, scholar, b. Newton, Cambridgeshire
Eliza Scott, 74, mother, widow, housekeeper to family, b. Norton Baldock, Hertfordshire

At the time of the 1891 census the landlord was Francis Miller, who had difficult relations with the brewer. In October 1891, brewer’s partner Louis Davis Wigan paid a visit to the pub to announce that it would be repossessed 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.’

1901 census for 2 Sturton Street

Henry F Watts, 35, licensed victualler (pub), b. Southampton
Mary E Watts, 29, b. Croydon, Surrey
Ethel A Watts, 2, b. Cambridge
Jennie M Watts, 11 months, b. Cambridge
Alice Lawrence, 41, general domestic servant, b. Whittlesea, Cambridgeshire

1911 census for 2 Sturton Street

Rhoda Faircliff, 83, widow, O A pensioner, b. Cheveley, Cambridgeshire

It is possible that Rhoda Faircliff was simply renting a room from publican Frederick Norgan (see below). The next-door neighbours at 4 Sturton Street were Sarah Faircliff and her children. Sarah was the widow of Rhoda’s grandson Henry, who had died in 1909.

1911 census for 10 Hooper Street

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 in trade directories as landlady of the White Hart as late as 1929.

1939 England and Wales register

In 1939 the pub was run by John Thomas Warren and his wife Mary. John was listed as landlord of the White Hart in trade directories from 1931. He was born in 1894 in Woolwich, London, son of a beer retailer.

From 1953 the landlord was Frederick Harrington.


UK census records (1841 to 1911), General Register Office birth, marriage and death indexes (1837 onwards), the 1939 England and Wales Register, electoral registers, trade directories, and local newspapers available via


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