The Beer House

The 1851 Census shows that the first (un-named) pub in Oatlands was occupied by William Cottrell, along with his wife Elizabeth and daughters Isabella and Mary Ann, and this was somewhere along Oatlands Drive.

William’s occupation is stated as “Beer Seller” which means that the premises were not licensed to sell wines or spirits - any beer house discovered selling those items was closed down and the owner heavily fined. Under the 1830 Beer Act any householder who paid rates could apply, with a one-off payment of two guineas, to sell beer or cider in his home (usually the front parlour) and even brew his own on his premises. Beer houses were not permitted to open on Sundays but their hours during the rest of the week were ‘flexible’.

Usually the beer was served in jugs or directly into the glass from tapped wooden barrels, probably set on a table in the corner of the room. These beer houses usually proved very profitable for the owner (who was not necessarily the tenant and licence holder) and, of course, popular with the less well-off locals who couldn’t afford wine or spirits anyway.

The 1861 Census appears to show the property as being ‘next door but two’ to The New Inn, which was on the corner of Victoria Road and Oatlands Drive but, at this point in the growth of the village, that doesn’t help very much because there were so few houses that the census enumerator often took a rather meandering route and the first modern mapping of the area dates from 1883.

William died in 1864  and Ryde's Map (effectively part of a rates survey) shows that Elizabeth is living in Victoria Road, two doors away from the New Inn and has her occupation listed as "lodging house keeper" and the beer house no longer appears - whether this property represents what was once the beer house we shall probably never know, it seems an unlikely location as it would be more logical to be on 'the main road' but it is no more than 50 yds from it, but it can't be ruled out.

By the next census, in 1871, Elizabeth and Mary Ann are living in the centre of the village. Elizabeth, now 59, is "Living off income from dividends" and Mary Ann is now 33 and employed as a governess. Isabella had married Frederick Puttock in 1868 and they are sharing Elizabeth's house, as a separate family unit with a one year old daughter named Ethel May. Frederick lists his occupation as "Retailer of Boots & Shoes".

In Kelly's Directory of the Leather Trades for 1880, Isabella is listed but not Frederick who, according to the 1881 census, has become a "coach painter" while Isabella is listed as "boot seller" and they now have five daughters. Elizabeth and Mary Ann are now living with them as an 'extended family' - Elizabeth being listed as mother in law and Mary Ann as sister in law.

Elizabeth died in 1887 and Frederick, Isabella and their family moved to Monument Green, Weybridge – quite possibly to the premises that remained a shoe-repairer’s into the 1970s, but that is pure conjecture.

Mary Ann remained in Oatlands and died at her home, Blagdon, Oatlands Drive, on the 15th of June 1927 - she never married.


 For an update to this article as a result of the latest research, see here (replaces this article).