We’ve been selling beer at 70 Upper Gloucester Road for over 150 years.

First recorded in Page’s Directory 1867 as a ‘beer house’ belonging to James Tucker in what was then Gloucester Lane, the Duke of Wellington has changed hands many times. James was followed by Charles King in 1869 and A Auket in 1870 (our current bar manager is Charlie Aukett, sadly no relation).

The 1871 Census has landlord and landlady Henry and Mary Comber at what is now 70 Gloucester Road with lodger John Tully, a labourer from Bolney. The Duke then passed to William Nash in 1872 and John Smithers in 1877. John Smithers clearly liked Upper Gloucester Road as we find him down the road at number 71 in 1880 while Henry Stephens is the new landlord. In 1889, T Buckley took over and the 1891 Census records the Hobden family as living at the Duke of Wellington. As well as George Henry Hobden ‘beer retailer’ and his wife Elizabeth, there are 13-year-old George, 11-year-old Edward and nine-year-old Elizabeth.

We know quite a lot about George Hobden, who born in Brighton and baptised on 30 May 1847 at Saint Nicholas church. His family was living at 32 Frederick Street in 1851. In 1871, he was at 4 Elder Row and his profession was ‘machinist ‘ while by the 1881 Census he was still working in Brighton but now as a railway fitter. There’s a chance he emigrated to the USA as a naturalization paper exists for a George Hobden from Brighton and his son George (13 November 1895: Lowell, Massachusetts) but we don’t really know if this is ‘our’ George or not.

Pike’s Directory 1891 lists licensed victualler Cephas Goldring at 70 Gloucester Road but at the time of the census, he was at the Coachmakers Arms, 76 Trafalgar Street. Cephas crops up again in 1918 as owner of the Edinburgh Hotel (now the Duke of Edinburgh), three doors up the street from us at 67a Gloucester Road.

In 1892, the licencee was a Mrs Wood, followed by Richard Jeal in 1893, R Robinson in 1895 and S G Brown in 1899.

At the turn of the 20th century, F Seymour was in residence (1901), then Henry Payne in 1903, Charles Alce in 1905, and John George Godley in 1908.

Alfred Deacon took on the pub in 1910, when he retired from the Metropolitan Police after 27 years’ service (if you want to look him up, Alfred’s warrant number was 69044). His great-grandson Steve Collins posted this photo of Alfred and the pot boy, taken between 1910 and 1915 when the pub was offering ‘accommodation for cyclists’ according to the sign over the door. It was selling, among other things, Rock ales, stout and Bass beers and the upper bay windows were still in situ.

Bertie and Mike recreate a 100-year-old photo of the Duke of Wellington, Brighton
As a tribute, Bertie and Mike (our then bar manager) recreated the photo 100 years later.

Harry Douglas Peters became licensee in 1916 during World War I, when the Defence of the Realm Act forced pubs to close during the day to support the War Effort (this lasted until the Licensing Act of 1988). The Government’s fear of drunken factory workers also outlawed buying drinks for other people, making it illegal to get your round in at this time.

Harry carried on until around 1929 when George Lever took over. Mrs Maud H Lever is listed as ‘beer retailer’ at the Duke of Wellington 1934-35, then John W Hammond in 1936. B Putland is listed in Kelly’s Directory 1947-58. After that, the pub is listed but no licencee details are given.

Lottie Gilbert ran the pub with Sid in the mid 60s, and later Barbara White ran the pub for many years. Bertie’s predecessor before he took over in 2014 was Martin Donovan, son of James Donovan who was Welly landlord before him.

The Duke of Wellington was originally two buildings, 70 Upper Gloucester Road and 1 Guildford Street, that got converted into one. We’re not quite sure when this happened but the ‘north wing’ of the building is definitely older than the south side. The 1851 Census records 1 Guildford Street as home of Joseph Yorke, a successful master bricklayer from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, who employed four bricklayers and five labourers. He lived with his wife Ann and their eight children: Esther (15), Sarah Ann (12), Harriet (10), Emma (8), Eliza (6), Isabella (5), Maria (3), and Joe (1).

This page is very much a work in progress and we’re going to be updating it whenever we find out anything more (last updated 24 January 2018). If you know anything else about the history of the Welly, we would love to hear from you, particularly if you have any old photos or have details of the licencees after 1958 or can just help us fill in the gaps. Please do get in touch with us on Twitter @BrightonWelly or Facebook, or come in and have a pint and a chat.

If you’re Googling or doing any genealogy research, bear in mind Upper Gloucester Road was first known as Gloucester Lane (sometimes spelled Glouc’r Lane or Gloster Lane), then as Gloster Road or Gloucester Road, before finally becoming Upper Gloucester Road. Although the name has changed, our street numbering has remained consistent for the past 150 years. To make things more confusing, the Pier Hotel in Marine Parade was known as the Duke of Wellington at one point in its history. And remember there’s another excellent Duke of Wellington in Shoreham too.