The Dumb Flea

Photo:The Dumb Flea, 1920s

The Dumb Flea, 1920s

Bell's Postcard

Photo:The Dumb Flea in 2007

The Dumb Flea in 2007

photo by Tim Gane

Photo:Charles Rayner, the last landlord of The Dumb Flea,

Charles Rayner, the last landlord of The Dumb Flea,

Photo Courtesy of Joan Rayner

Photo:Fordhams Ashtray from The Dumb Flea

Fordhams Ashtray from The Dumb Flea

Property of Joan Rayner

Photo:Original Dominoes and Peg Board from The Dumb Flea

Original Dominoes and Peg Board from The Dumb Flea

Courtesy of Joan Rayner

Photo:'Time' Bell from The Dumb Flea

'Time' Bell from The Dumb Flea

courtesy of Joan Rayner

Photo:Pint & Quart Tankards from The Dumb Flea

Pint & Quart Tankards from The Dumb Flea

Courtesy of Joan Rayner

Photo:Pint Tankards from The Dumb Flea

Pint Tankards from The Dumb Flea

Courtesy of Joan Rayner

Photo:Beer Jugs from The Dumb Flea

Beer Jugs from The Dumb Flea

Courtesy of Joan Rayner

The Dumb Flea, Chiswick End, Meldreth

- Chiswick End, Meldreth. Closed in 1956.

By Tim Gane

The Dumb Flea public house was situated in Chiswick End with the building dating from the early C18th.  At this time it was just a two roomed cottage built around a central chimney with back to back fireplaces. 

In 1821 the plot comprising of the cottage, barn and orchard was sold by auction at The Bell Inn to James Course for £14.

Sometime in the C19th, when the cottage became a pub, a single story room was added to serve as a beer store. 

The first recorded publican was Benjamin Payne in 1858.  He still held the licence in 1875 at the age of 82 but by 1879 his son, John Payne, had become the landlord and he was still there in 1904.  

In 1897 the Dumb Flea was in the possession of Fordhams Brewery and it remained with this Ashwell company until the mid 1950s when it was sold first to Greens of Luton and then to Flowers.

Over the years the pub has been attributed with various names   including The Dumb Fleece, The Dun Fleece, The Lord of Dumfries and The Deaf and Dumb.  Amusingly Chiswick End was listed as Cheese Cake End in the 1881 census. 

In 1937 the pub was registered in the name of Frederick Waldock.  Charles (Jim) Rayner took over from Fred in 1948 and was the last landlord when the pub closed on June 15th 1956 and became a private house.  It is still called The Dumb Flea.

The Dumb Flea was a Beer House.  i.e. it only sold beer, cider and wine but no spirits.  There was just the one bar and the pub was open every day at lunchtimes and evenings.  Darts, Dominoes and Bowls were the regular games. 

The beer was supplied by Fordhams of Ashwell who used to deliver the beer weekly on their horse and dray.  They also supplied bottled stout and Guinness.  There were only two beers: bitter beer which cost 1s 1d (5.5p) and mild which cost 11d (4.5p) in the 1950s.  Beer was served straight from the barrel by gravity.  Beer was taken up to the workers in the fields and orchards for their lunch-break. 

A representative from the brewery, Mr Kingsley, called every month to make sure everything was in order.  There used to be annual garden competitions with a prize awarded for the best pub garden.  The Dumb Flea won the competition one year. 

The Dumb Flea was forced to close in 1956 when the pub owner refused the council’s request to install proper drainage for the one tap over the kitchen sink.  Waste from the sink used to run into the ditch beside the pub and thence into the stream along the side of Chiswick End. 

The Sailors Return and The Queen Adelaide closed in the same year possibly for the same reason.

Our thanks go to Joan Rayner, the last Landlady of The Dumb Flea, who has kindly passed on her memories and allowed us to use these photographs.

 

Photo:Regulars at The Dumb Flea

Regulars at The Dumb Flea

Courtesy of Joan Rayner

Regulars at The Dumb Flea 1957

Back Row:Wally Cross, Bill Webb, Alf Jacklin, Ern Dash, Basil Dash

Middle Row:Mrs ..…....Wing, Reg Chapman, Stan Wing, Mr ..…….. Carter, Alf Howell, Harry Jacklin, Frank Jacklin, William Wing, Jack Wing, Ivan Jacklin, Walter Jacklin, Herbert Jacklin, Mr ………… Walby, Jim Rayner, Jack Thurley, Peter Jacklin

Bottom Row:Christine Cross (on lap), Mrs ……. Cross, Mrs E…….. Dash, Lo Howell, Arlene Howell, Mrs Audrey Jacklin, Heather Jacklin (on lap), Mrs ……… Jacklin, Mrs ………. Thurley, Janice Thurley, Alice Wing, Joanie Rayner, Joan Rayner,

 

Downloads

Minutes of the Dumb Flea Darts Club formed in 1949
Minutes of the Dumb Flea Darts Club formed in 1949 (4581k)
The minutes of the inaugural meeting of the Dumb Flea Darts Team held on July 29th 1949 taken by Don Chinery.

This page was added by Tim Gane on 06/12/2010.
Comments about this page

It states above that, " ... it remained with this Ashwell company until the mid 1950s when it was sold first to Greens of Luton and then to Flowers." Actually, Fordhams was taken over by Greens in 1952, and Greens made a reverse takeover of Flowers of Stratford on Avon in 1954, taking the name of the Warwickshire company.

By Martyn Cornell
On 02/02/2013

I think that the Jack Thurley pictured in the "Regulars at The Dumb Flea, 1957" photograph is Stanley Jack Thurley and that Janice E Thurley, also pictured, is his daughter. 

By Wayne Thurley
On 24/03/2014

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