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Article compiled from material currently held at the museum

The Horse & Groom

Photograph depicting The Horse and Groom dated 1910.
This 1910 photograph shows The Horse & Groom just to the left
of centre. The row of houses leading away from its left was known
as "Spring Gardens" but has long since been demolished.

First mention of this public house is found in insurance documents in 1805 when it was referred to as The Horse and Groom and although the Alehouse Keeper's Recognizances in 1820 and 1821 refer to it as The Horse & Jockey, it reverted back to Horse and Groom after that. However, the nickname of "The Jockey" stuck and was referred to as such by the locals right up until the mid 1980s when it was renamed "The Olde Victoria".

The Horse and Groom featured in a court case in 1859 when a young lady accused the landlord's nephew, Edward Miller, of stealing her cape when she was attending a dance in the pub's upstairs "dancing room" when it was estimated that there were fifty people there.

For many years the pub belonged to W. Battle of Cranford but after his death it was bought in 1925 by Praeds of Wellingborough for £3.700.

The table below shows the earliest dates we have for each of the landlords occupying the premises.

William Miller 1800
.... Knight 1931
Mary Miller 1841 Alfred Harris 1936
Sarah Miller 1849 Alf Wilkinson 1936
Jesse Fox 1891 Billy Dales 1953
Frederick G Ball 1906 Monty Banks 1955
Albert Cook 1914 Neville Bird 1966

"Jolly good beer and a drop of fine gin
You'll find all this at the Horse and Groom Inn!"

So read the advertisement for the Horse & Groom in the Gala Day programme for July 27th 1940. It also stated that it had "a good dugout provided" in the event of and air raid. The proprietor at the time was Alfred P Wilkinson. The Evening Telegraph news item below records and incident in January 1939 when his son Eric has a lucky escape


After he had been rescued from a hidden well, disused for years, which suddenly gaped beneath him, Eric Wilkinson, the 14-year-old son of the landlord of the “Horse and Groom,” Burton Latimer, burst out laughing. He thought the incident a huge joke - at first.
But when his father, Mr. A.P. Wilkinson, flashed a torch down into the 17-feet cavity, three-quarters filled with water, Eric staggered back, said, “Oh, father,” turned pale and nearly fainted.
This dramatic incident occurred in the yard of the “Horse and Groom” at Burton Latimer.
Mr. Wilkinson said to the “Evening Telegraph” that Eric, who was rescued by a friend the same age, laughed as he went in the bar to his father and told him what had occurred.
“I took a torch and flashed it into the hole,” said Mr. Wilkinson. “I saw the water shining black and called Eric to me. As I flashed the light from the hole I saw him turn pale and stagger back. “Oh, father,” he exclaimed.

Eric was rescued by his friend, Frank Ball, of Rushden, with whom he was preparing to cycle home when he fell into the well.
When the pathway caved in Eric went through. Only his presence of mind which made him instantly fling his arms out, saved him from going right in.
Suspended by his arms, his feet kicking about and almost touching the dark water below, Eric shouted for help.
“His friend, feeling for his cycle in the darkness, thought at first he was having a joke” said Mr. Wilkinson “But went to him and pulled him away from danger. “It was a good thing Frank was there. We were in the bar and should never have heard Eric shouting.”

The top of the well, which had been disused for many years, was covered by a crust of earth only two or three inches thick. The bricks of the path were placed on top with no other support.

No one knew the well was there, although Mr. A. Cook, who was the licensee ten years ago, knew there was a well somewhere beneath the yard.
The water is believed to be from the same source that supplied the now obsolete “Stockwell Pump,”

Eric is employed at a Kettering leather works.

During WWII the the upstairs of the Horse & Groom was used by the sergeants of the Inns of Court Regiment as their mess. The arrival of the 8th United States Army Air Force at Grafton Underwood also brought interaction with the Inn as their darts teams competed for the Burton Latimer Good-Fellowship Shield.

Burton Latimer Good-Fellowship Shield

The 'Jockey' Team
Sgt Joseph H Powers, Chicago, Illinois Reginald Baish
(Team Captain) (Team Captain)
Sgt Edwad J Cuk, Buffalo, New York George Cartwright
S/Sgt Jesse L Kopeck, Texas James Austin
Sgt E Over, Altona, Pennsylvania Jack Underwood
Sgt Verne Holson, Blooming Prairie, Minnesota William Hopkins
S/Sgt Frank Wiseman,Spear, N. Carolina Willim Gardner
Cpl Raaymond V Szemplenski, Long Island, NY Roland Johnson
Cpl Herman G Clemons, Floyd, Virginia Alf Wilkinson ('Mine Host')

After 1945 the inn also served as a meeting house for the Buffaloes (a philanthropic and charitable society) which sported a darts team known as the "Jockey Buffs". The trapdoor to the cellar was situated in the darts area and games had to be disrupted every time a keg needed to be changed over; however, no-one ever claimed that this was a psychological tactic employed by the Buffs.

Photograph of The Jockey Buffs taken in the mid 1940s. Horse & Groom 1950s darts team
The Jockey Buffs - mid 1940s
Standing: Herbert Wright, Jim Austin, Charles Moorhouse,
? , George Ashby. Front: Arthur Irons,? , Aubrey Brown,
Alf Wilkinson (Landlord - also a Buff)
Mid-1950s darts team
Standing: Charlie Wittering (Darts league chairman) Eric
Lewis (vice-chairman) Eddie Tomms, ??, Bill Sharman, Ernie
Randall, ?? Charlie Tomlinson, Freddie Grapes. Seated
Monty Banks, Reg Baish, Fred Whiteman, Arthur Carter

Photograph of Charles WIlliam Messenger circa 1955. a familiar face for many years at The Horse Groom.

Below: Billy and Lena Dales who kept the
Horse & Groom in the early 1950s

Two regulars at the Horse and Goom in
photos from the mid 1950s.
Left: Farm worker Charlie Messenger
Right: Joe Evans, a well known poacher

Joe Evans

Pictured below are the Jockey regulars and visitors having fun during a charity fundraising day in the early 1950s. To see a larger version of this picture together with some of the names and further details, click here. The second picture is of a Coronation party in the upstairs function room in1953

Photograph of the Jockey regulars and visitors  in fancy dress in the pub yard c1950 Coronation party at the Horse and Groom pub
Jockey regulars and visitors in fancy dress pictured in the pub yard 1950s.
Moving anti-clockwise around the table: landlord Billy Dales, wife Lena,
Jim and Maisie Pearce with son Robert.The names of the next five are not
known. Mrs. Ackerley (glasses), James Capps (baker), lady not known.

Many people still remember that Neville Bird, the landlord in the 1960s, kept a fearsome Great Dane which was the dread of every postman, milkman, butcher's boy and newspaper boy unfortunate enough to have to deliver to the premises. The sight of its paws on the top of the six foot gate was sufficient to warrant a revisit at a later time.

Present day photograph of The Olde Victoria, formerly The Horse & Groom.

Left: Present day photograph of
The Olde Victoria, formerly
The Horse & Groom.

Below: The premises in 1910.

Photograph of the premises in 1910.

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