Created By: ODHS
The Two Brewers Inn
The Two Brewers Inn appears to have spent most of its time as two separate properties. A closer look at the ground floor reveals an archway between the two front entrances to the building; the centre of the arch housing the bar area. Until the early 1950s the larger building on the north side housed The Mechanics Institute and the Conservative Club and the smaller building on the south side The Two Brewers Inn (formerly The Queen's Head).
In earlier times the archway between them was the primary route for the fire engine to reach the High Street from the Olney Fire Station situated at the rear of property in East Street. After the siren had sounded, summoning the firemen to the station, it must have been exciting to watch the horse drawn fire engine, with its bell frantically ringing, emerge from the narrow archway into the High Street.
During WW2 on the night of 28th October 1940, a German bomber dropped a fairly large bomb in the meadow on the Clifton Reynes side of the river Ouse adjacent to the railway line. It was, supposedly, intended for the railway bridge which it missed by a couple of hundred yards or so. However, the resulting blast was so severe that, having progressed towards Olney and up the yard of The Two Brewers Inn, it funneled through the archway and completely blew out the two large shop windows of the shop on the other side of the High Street, then called 'Linco stores' and now 'Stephen Oakley Estate Agents'. This bombing incident is recorded in Mr J J Garners WW2 Diaries, reproduced on this website, and confirmed by Bucks County Council's 'Bombs over Bucks' website which reports that 69 properties were damaged that night in Olney and Clifton Reynes.
In the 1950s the Two Brewers developed into a very popular and successful pub under the tenancy of Bob and Ida Ford, possibly because it catered for a broad age range. When they retired in the 1970s Jack Druce acquired the tenancy and again the pub prospered and arguably continued to be the most popular pub in town well into the 1990s. The business has continued to be successful to the present day.
Walk say 20 metres further down the street.
Should you have taken this walk in the 1950s, rather than looking at a wooden fence, you would have been confronted by Clifton House, a large Georgian style building (see image) built between the Two Brewers Inn and the Carlton House Club.
Clifton House was a very imposing property on the High Street. Early details of the building, its purpose and its occupants are difficult to come by. In 1891 John Hamp, an Estate Bailiffe, and his wife Elizabeth lived in the house, whereas in 1910 the house was owned by Annie Cooper who resided there. By 1936 Horace Cowley, a shoe-factory owner, had moved in there with his family and the family still had a presence there in 1951.
The property was converted into flats in the 1950s which were often leased to American Servicemen stationed at Chicksands near Bedford. Later that decade the building developed substantial structural faults, with major cracks clearly visible on the southern face of the property. Sadly the building was demolished during the late 1950s, and the plot was purchased by the Carlton House Club and performs a useful role as their beer garden. Maybe a different decision would have been taken today leading to the building being repaired and restored.
Again, walk a few metres further down the street to the United Reformed Church.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Olney High Street - Heritage Trail