Over the past week we have been looking back at many of the pubs from Watford’s past that have closed their doors to customers for the last time.

The Watford Observer has featured plenty of these venues during the past three years as part of our weekly dip into the archives of our friends at Watford Museum.

We complete our A to Z look back today with seven more pubs, from R – The Railway Arms – and ending with W – The Wheatsheaf.

The pictures are accompanied by the original captions kindly supplied by the museum’s volunteer archivist Christine Orchard.

If you missed either of the two previously published collections, click on the links below:

Watford Observer: The Railway Arms c1949The Railway Arms c1949 (Image: Bob Nunn Collection/Watford Museum)

The Railway Arms

Christine said: “The Railway Arms was in St Albans Road and stood next to the bridge over the railway line. The first photograph, taken from Park Road/Church Road, shows the pub in 1949. It was probably much plainer in appearance when built in the late 1830s very soon after the arrival of the railway.

Watford Observer: The pub in 1961 before it was demolishedThe pub in 1961 before it was demolished (Image: Watford Museum)

“The pub was certainly in existence by 1841 as it shows up on this census. The occupants were John Hodgson with his wife Elizabeth and their three young children, James (4), William (2) and Robert, just 8 months.

“This pub, along with three others similar establishments, clustered around the new railway station and in these early days, all would have had views across the fields in all directions.

Watford Observer: Demolition is underway by July 1961Demolition is underway by July 1961 (Image: Watford Museum)

“The Railway Arms was originally owned by Frederick Dyson but eventually came into Benskin’s hands. The pub closed in 1961 when it had to be demolished, along with a row of shops, to allow St Albans Road to be widened.”

Watford Observer: The Railway Tavern c1920The Railway Tavern c1920 (Image: Gregg Couper & Co/Watford Museum)

Railway Tavern

Christine said: The Railway Tavern is not the name this pub started with when it was opened in 1854 and may simply have been ‘somebody’s’ beer house.

“The current High Street station was opened next to the pub in 1862 and by 1871 the pub had been renamed and was run by George Foreman, a carpenter journeyman and licenced victualler. By 1881 Henry Robertson was landlord and remained there into the early 1900s.

“This photograph shows the pub around 1920 but in 1937 the front must have needed at lot of repairs after a car had ‘had an argument’ with a bus and crashed into the building.

“This image comes from an official town guide and is one of many Watford photographs produced by Gregg Couper & Co.”

Watford Observer: The Spread Eagle c1958The Spread Eagle c1958 (Image: Bob Nunn Collection/Watford Museum)

The Spread Eagle

Christine said: “In Watford, one of the prime sites for a pub was the Market Place – at one time there were seven places selling alcoholic beverages in this area. The Spread Eagle was one of these and was in the block of buildings between the churchyard and New Street. It was established around 1750 and seems to have been popular as a Thrift club held meetings here in the early days.

“The usual kinds of events occurred here - many societies held dinners, presumably in rooms above the bar. Some, however, seemed rather spectacular.

Watford Observer: Troops gathered outside the Spread Eagle in Victorian timesTroops gathered outside the Spread Eagle in Victorian times (Image: Watford Museum)

“An advert in the Watford Observer in May 1885 stated that ‘An Entertainment of Gymnastics, Fencing, Boxing, Singlesticks and Sword Feats’ would take place at the pub on Whit-Monday, performed by Staff Sergeant-Major Foley and his Club’. Admission was free.

“Sadly, the pub closed in 1958 and the site was redeveloped.”

Watford Observer: The Swan c1930The Swan c1930 (Image: Watford Museum)

The Swan

Christine said: “The Swan is said to have been one of the oldest pubs in Watford’s High Street, records suggest that it may have been in existence in the 17th Century. Alterations were made in 1895 and this first image dates to around 1930 when Albert Boddy was landlord.

“At that time, the pub was owned by Benskin’s and around 1957, they demolished the old pub, along with several buildings to its left, and built a larger modern pub set back from the road.

Watford Observer: The Swan in 1957 after its rebuildThe Swan in 1957 after its rebuild (Image: Watford Museum)

“In the 1980s the pub became Shades Wine Bar and when it closed in the mid-1990s, had become The Wag & Bone. It was replaced by a car showroom.

Watford Observer: The Swan became ShadesThe Swan became Shades (Image: Watford Museum)

“Today, the name still exists as Swan Alley, but this footpath leads under where the old pub was. The original Swan Alley can be seen in the 1930s image to the left of the pub.”

Watford Observer: The Three Tuns c1930The Three Tuns c1930 (Image: Watford Museum)

The Three Tuns

Christine said: “The Three Tuns was at 205 High Street which is almost opposite Watford Museum. It was closed in the late 1970s and later demolished when this part of the High Street was widened.

“Like many pubs the Three Tuns had rooms for hire. Just some of events mentioned in the Watford Observer in the late 1800s included the meetings of the newly-formed Watford Ornithological Club and the Three Tuns Harmonic Club.

“The rooms must have been quite extensive as, every year, Benskin’s held an anniversary supper for their Cannon Brewery Sick Benefit Club - in 1890 about 70 sat down to a meal. However, the pub they knew, probably looked different to that in the photograph.

“This image dates to around 1930 and it is known that substantial alterations to the pub occurred in the early 1900’s. The image is part of the Museum’s collection of Benskin’s pubs photographs.”

Watford Observer: The Victoria Tavern in the early 20th centuryThe Victoria Tavern in the early 20th century (Image: Watford Museum)

The Victoria Tavern

Christine said: “This pub on the corner of Queens Road and Queens Place was originally called the Tantivy and was built about 1873 for Frederick Sedgwick.

“In the same year, Sedgwick revived an old-fashioned method of transport by running a four-horse coach service, named 'Tantivy', between Watford and Piccadilly in London.

“A Watford Observer reader wrote to the editor stating that the new service would be ‘an agreeable change now and then for the hard, thumping, shaking, iron-horse’. (The iron-horse being the train).

“It is believed Sedgwick gave his new pub this name as a celebration of the service. However, the coach never ran from here but from the Rose and Crown in the High Street.”

Watford Observer: The Wheatsheaf in 1988The Wheatsheaf in 1988 (Image: Watford Museum)

The Wheatsheaf

Christine said: “A pub named the Wheatsheaf, which used to be close to Bushey Arches, was in existence in the 1840s but the historian and author W Branch Johnson wrote that a pub of the same name was here in 1756 and held by Joseph Casmore.

“He also mentioned that there was a barn behind the house which was used as a theatre and where in 1856 Henry Irving, then an unknown actor, appeared as a member of Holloway's Portable Theatre.

“The old pub which was right on the roadway was rebuilt around 1930 and set further back on its plot. It remained a popular pub for many years but today the site is part of the a large car showroom.”