Changing times for legendary Luton pub

The English Rose was originally called The Rabbit
The English Rose was originally called The Rabbit

One of Luton’s oldest pubs famed for hiring Diana Dors as a barmaid is changing yet again as its landlord bids adieu.

Fears that the English Rose in High Town would close for good arose when it was announced that landlord Stan Smith, 68, was retiring after 18 years.

The English Rose today

The English Rose today

But those fears were allayed as the Herald & Post understands that a temporary manager will take Mr Smith’s place at the pub on Old Bedford Road.

An Enterprise Inns spokesman said: ““We can confirm that the publican at the English Rose, Luton has told us of his intention to cease trading. We are currently in negotiations with him over the terms of his departure and will review options for the pub in due course.”

Mr Smith himself stated: “To everybody, past and present who has made this pub what it is today, a massive thankyou.

“A new chapter in life arises and I hope that the success brought can be carried forward.

“We wish you all the best for the future as the doors close for the last time under present management .”

In a grand last stand, the pub’s community came together on New Year’s Eve to raise over £900 in a raffle for one of the bar regulars undergoing life-changing surgery.

Mr Smith told the Herald: “I hope it gets the message out there about the importance of local pubs. They bring the community together.”

A pub since 1845, The English Rose was originally called The Rabbit as the area in High Town was once called Coney Heath, ‘coney’ being an old term for rabbit.

According to Luton Heritage Forum, it is generally considered that the pub was built on the site of the 18th century Coney Hall.

The forum added: “The house underwent a rebuild in 1908 but there is no known photograph of the original building.”

Blonde bombshell Diana Dors famously pulled pints behind The Rabbit in the 1950s when she was briefly married to the landlord’s son Dennis Hamilton.

In recent years, it became famed for its wide selection of guest beers, offering hundreds throughout the year.

The bar has also won many awards from CAMRA – Campaign For Real Ale – most recently winning 2011 Pub of the Year for South Bedfordshire.