It says in the inner flap of the dust jacket "In this
book Gilbert and Elizabeth McAllister tell the story of the development
of pubs in Welwyn Garden City and draw some general conclusions
regarding the future policy for development of licensed premises
in building and re-building."
Gilbert McAllister was MP for Rutherglen when the
book was written; his wife Elizabeth was member of Stevenage Development
Corporation. They were both former editors of Town and Country
The book tells us that the land purchased for the
building of Welwyn Garden City included two existing public houses
- The Waggoners on the Great North Road, and The Beehive
on the Hatfield Road. The WGC Company quickly established a wet
canteen for building trade workers in a clearing in Sherrards Wood,
and called it The Cherry Tree. When factories started to
open in the town, facilities needed to be enhanced and the Company
appointed Whitbread to improve them. Mr J. S. Eagles of Whitbread
proposed in a memorandum of 1932 that The Cherry Tree should be
rebuilt as a first-class modern refreshment house, and that a number
of smaller pubs be developed around the town. In the same year the
old workers canteen was replaced with "a handsome new
building with a saloon bar, a saloon lounge, and a charming loggia,
a large public bar and a games room, a restaurant with a terraced
balcony looking on to the gardens, and a small dining-room."
The new establishment became an instant success
and was used for meetings and functions for many organisations:
Chamber of Commerce, Rotarians, Film Society, British Legion, Royal
Naval Comrades Association; the town orchestra and the WGC Choir
held concerts there. "Every day the executives of I.C.I.
lunched in the small dining-room." The authors describe
the relaying of the bowling green in 1948 and its letting to Welwyn
Garden City Bowling Club.
The next big development was the building of The
Pear Tree, named after the area in WGC where it was situated.
The main feature of this pub was its large Club Room which was used
for all sorts of events. In the War it was used for Home Guard lectures,
while The Cherry Tree was used extensively to accommodate
troops and as an emergency food centre.
The McAllisters' book continues with an article
about The Waggoners pub, on the Great North Road, looking
towards Brocket Park. The landlord was Jack Cliffe, a veteran of
the Royal Observer Corps. [My dad was a frequenter of The Waggoners
around this time and later. I was age 3 when this book came out.]
The Beehive is also featured in the book.
The book was designed by A. N. Holden & Co
Ltd, and is quite distinctive. The dust jacket opens out to a large
aerial view of the western half of the town. Inside the front and
back covers is a sketch map of the town showing the locations of
the pubs and other important buildings. The 24 black-and-white photographs,
although a little grainy, have great atmosphere, which is why I
have been liberal with my scans. If anyone with an interest objects,
please let me know, and I will remove them (e-mail address on homepage).
The captions shown below are as they appear in the book.