CoffeeTavern - The Tubbs - online

The Coffee Tavern in 2005

From the Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette of Tuesday 21 April 1903 we learn a little more of the background of the Coffee Tavern in Eaton Bray. It seems there was a reading room before the coffee tavern was opened around 1901, but Mr Sutton then provided and furnished the reading room upstairs, rent free to the members.


On Thursday last the Reading Room was the scene of very agreeable function. The Reading Room has now been established about ten years. It was formerly carried one of the class rooms of the National School, which although not ideal place for the purpose, was very much appreciated by the young men of the village. It evidently supplied a want, and from the first firmly established itself in popular favour. -This beginning was made in very humble way. with one daily paper and a few games, such as draughts and dominoes. The Vicar, the Rev. E. Sutton, has from the first evinced the liveliest interest in the undertaking, in fact, it was to his fostering care and broad mindedness that the success attending the effort, is very largely due. His efforts have been loyally seconded by the committee, chosen from the members. ...

The Rules ... were purposely made as brief possible; penalties against gambling, bad language, or bringing intoxicating liquor on the premises, were expressly provided for. ... The order (a rock upon which many similar ventures have foundered), has from the first consistently improved, as is evidenced by the fact that for some time past no case of suspension or punishment has been necessary. For a considerable period the Rev. E. Sutton, following the example of bis honoured father who did so much at Reading in a similar way, had entertained the idea of ESTABLISHING A COFFEE TAVERN IN EATON BRAY, so as to provide a place where refreshments, etc., could be obtained by those wishing for them free from the temptation of the public house ; also as house of call for cyclists and others passing through the village. After looking about for a site, an opportunity presented itself through the sale of the old blacksmith’s shop and cottage, formerly occupied the late Mr W. Gurney. An Architect and builder were called into requisition, and the present handsome building, which is a distinct ornament to the village, is the result. Although there is not enough traffic through the village to make a coffee tavern success financially, it supplies want in the village, and its success is quite sufficient to justify its existence. It now been opened two years. When the coffee tavern was built Mr. Sutton decided to make the second floor over the whole of the building into a reading-room. The result is a large, airy, well-lit room, about 30 feet by 20 feet, with stained and varnished roof, built in the very best manner by Mr. J. Sharratt, Eaton Bray. This room Mr Sutton generously furnished and placed at the disposal of the Reading Room members rent free. The number of members during the winter quarters averages about fifty. Members can and do join from the neighbouring villages. About two years ago a debating class was started in connection with the Reading room, and some interesting discussions have taken place on, among other subjects, Land Nationalisation, Vaccination, Licensing Reform, Woman Suffrage etc. For some time the members have felt that they would like to recognise Mr Sutton's public spirit and generosity. The committee met and talked the matter over, and it was suggested that an endeavour should be made

to present the Rev Sutton with a portrait of himself. Members were appealed to for subscriptions every member responding readily according to his ability, with the result that sum of about five pounds was quickly raised. Mr. Sutton’s brother was consulted, and he readily promised his help ; he called on Mr E. Jenkins, of Reading, and selected the frame and style of photograph, which has been executed in the very best manner. A brass plate with the following inscription is affixed to the frame : The Rev. E. Sutton, the founder and donor of the Eaton Bray Reading Room and Coffee Tavern. Presented by the members of the Reading Room, a small token of their high esteem and appreciation of bis generosity.” The presentation which was on Thursday, made the occasion of a general gathering of members of the Reading Room and their friends. A meat tea was provided in the School-room, to which about sixty members and friends did ample justice adjournment was then made to the Reading Room, which had been very handsomely decorated for this occasion The mottoes “Success to our Reading Room” and “Long live its donor.” in large white letters on red ground, were very conspicuous. Mr. Paddock had arranged for a muscial evening, which was well carried out. Mr. Paddock was voted to the chair, and in a few well chosen words expressed the pleasure it gave him to join with all present in doing honour to THE NOBLE DONOR THE READING ROOM which they were all assembled. In eloquent words he spoke of the good feeling which had always existed between Mr. Sutton and his parishioners. He then asked Sutton to kindly accept on behalf of the members of the Reading Room the large portrait of himself, which had till then been covered by the decorations in such a manner that only those in the secret were aware of its presence, and the wish that Mrs. Sutton. himself, and family would enjoy long life, health and happiness among them, and that the relations between the Vicar and his parishioners would never be less cordial than at that moment. The whole audience then rose to their feet with “For he’s a jolly good fellow.”—The secret had been so well kept that the Vicar had not the least inkling what was coming, and very deeply moved ; so much so that for some time he could not overcome his emotion sufficiently to reply. He managed, however, to express his sincere thanks to all for the honour they were conferring upon him. He traced shortly the history of the Reading Room, which he thought perhaps owed its success to the fact that it was not a one-man concern, and expressed the pleasure it gave him to know that his efforts were appreciated. thanked all for the evidently sincere and deep feeling which lay behind what had been done and said was quite puzzled how they got it at all, he could not even remember when it was taken.—Mr. Sear then sang in his usual pleasing and effective manner, Let brotherly love continue.'’—Mr Wallace followed with a few words on the Reading Room and of welcome to all, stating that one of their chief reasons of success was the way in which the elder members continued to rally to it, and exercised sobering influence upon the exuberant spirits of the younger ones present.

Mr. Pratt followed with a short speech which expressed the pleasure it gave him TO TESTIFY TO THE POPULARITY OP MR. SUTTON WITH THE NONCONFORMISTS IN THE PARISH thanked him for the manner which he mixed with all members of the Reading Room, especially with the poorer members, and also with the Nonconformists. He strongly expressed his opinion that if all Church of England clergymen were as broad minded as Mr. Sutton, there would be need or excuse for Nonconformity.

The evening, which was very pleasant one, and, one which will long be remembered by all concerned, was concluded at ten o’clock by hearty rendering of the National Anthem.

A later report in Luton Times and Advertiser of January 1909 confirms that the Coffee Tavern was provided at the sole expense of The Reverend Sutton.

Mr. W. E. Wallace, Secretary to the Reading Room, on behalf of the members, rose to propose :— " That we tender our hearty thanks to the Vicar and Mrs. Sutton for their long-continued and beneficial work in the parish, especially in connection with the Reading Room, and cordially welcome Lieut. Sutton on his return from India, after four years' service with his regiment." Mr. W T Wallace, in an able manner, voiced the affectionate regard entertained by the parishioners generally for the Vicar and his family, and commended the Vicar's great self denial in building their commodious Reading Room and coffee tavern at his own expense. Mr. Wallace also welcomed the Vicar's eldest son, and expressed his conviction that the gallant officer would rise to high rank in his profession. Mr. Paddock seconded, and the resolution was carried with enthusiasm and musical honours. The Vicar made feeling response, and Lieut. Sutton acknowledged the kind gift sent to him in India 3 years ago, on attaining his majority (i.e. his 21st birthday).

A photograph taken by Will Sutton in India