The Sailor's Return

Memories of The Sailor's Return (audio)
Don Chinery remembers The Sailor's Return (1min 18secs)
A transcription of this audio clip and photo of Don can be found at the bottom of this page.
The Sailor's Return, North End, Meldreth
Bells Postcard
The Sailor's Return in 2007
photo by Tim Gane
Barclays Perkins & Co Beer Label
Barclays Perkins & Co Beer Label
Advert for Barclay & Perkins Imperial Stout
Wells & Winch Ltd Ginger Beer Bottle
Don Chinery
Photograph by Terry Dash

The Sailors Return stood in North End Meldreth, nearly opposite Stone Lane.  It was a beer-house, i.e. it only sold beer and not wine or spirits.  It was probably started ~1830 when the Beer-House Act of Parliament came into force.

It appears to be the only pub in the village that didn’t come under the Phillips or Fordhams umbrella and was possibly the only pub in Meldreth to sell beer from the Jarmans Golden Ale Brewery.  Later it was acquired by Barclay Perkins and then by Wells and Winch and would have almost certainly sold these beers.  It closed in 1956 at the same time as The Dumb Flea and The Queen Adelaide.

The Sailors Return Timeline

1851 Joseph Searle was the publican

1892 John East was the publican

1916 William / Charles Miller was the publican

1906 The ‘Sailor’s Return’, beer-house, with yard and stabling, four cottages and 2 acres of orchard and arable land in Meldreth was offered for sale as part were part of the Foxton Hall Estate.

1915 The Sailors Return was offered for sale by Jarmans & Co so they were presumably the purchasers in 1906.  The Sailors Return was described as being built on a piece of ground called ‘The Duckhouse’ at or near a certain place called North End Green.  The pub was purchased by Barclay, Perkins and Co.

1930 The Sailors Return was sold to Wells & Winch Brewery, Biggleswade.

1956 Trading ceased on May 5 1956.  James Albert Turner was the last publican.

1961 Greene King bought the Wells & Winch Brewery.

Don Chinery remembers The Sailor’s Return:

Did you know anybody by the name of Spiller in Meldreth, Jim Spiller, the Sailor’s Return, that was where Jim Spiller lived.  I remember going there one evening, I’d been down with my mate ??? Bill Newell and he said we’ll go and have a pint. “Yeah, good idea Bill!” so we got to the door.  “What you come after he says.  “I want to have a pint”, he says you would come for a pint just as  I’m going out”.  Anyway he got us some beer and give us it and locked the cellar off and he said well I’m off out now, pull the door to behind you, I’ll leave it on the latch so he left us in there drinking the beer and off he went.  So we drunk our beer and off we went, pulled the door to and left.  I had some times in Meldreth.

Click on the sound bar play button at the top of the page to hear Don talking about The Sailor’s Return.

Comments about this page

  • I lived at The Sailor’s Return from 1965 when we moved from London. My parents eventually sold up and moved to Suffolk in the 1980’s. There was a storage room which my father called the Tap Room and he used to say that the house documents did not allow the distilling of alcohol – maybe due to the fact that the sailors Return was an alehouse!

    By Julia Nand nee Terrell (11/07/2022)
  • I knew the Spiller family. Jim Spiller worked at the Atlas as a maintenance fitter; there were two children Ken and Pam. Ken married and lived in Bognor; he died approx 10 years ago. Pam lives in Louisiana USA and I’m still in touch with her. After they left The Sailors Return they lived in Whaddon.

    By Judy Murray (06/01/2021)
  • I lived in the Sailor’s Return from 1961-1965. It had ceased to be a pub by then and we called it the Bear’s Den. I have fond memories of my time in Meldreth and attending Melbourn Village College.

    By Fiona Wearmouth (16/01/2013)

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