Bar owner is banking on bright future for historic building

Scouts and Army cadets outside Dunstable Town Hall on Armistice Day 1919
Scouts and Army cadets outside Dunstable Town Hall on Armistice Day 1919

Today the town hall has vanished, replaced by what is now the Santander Bank, but the remaining buildings in our picture are substantially the same.

The current interest in this Yesteryear picture is the transformation taking place in the building next to the Anchor Archway.

In 1919 this was a solicitors’ office.

Now it is The Bank Bar and Kitchen.

The new bar, handsomely refurbished with “shabby chic” retro furniture and aiming to become a prohibition-style venue (there’s to be a speakeasy nightclub upstairs) is in one of the town’s most historic buildings.

The gloomy archway, now transformed with fairy lights, was once the gateway to the 16th century Anchor inn, which stood on the site of an earlier inn, the White Horse, where King Henry VIII once stayed.

It’s said he played bowls on a green which was on the land seen through the archway now occupied by Christ Church.

The Anchor remained until around 1894, by which time its building was being used by Stephen Middleton and Albert Gutteridge, an influential pair of local solicitors.

In more recent times it has been a branch of the Halifax Building Society and then a pub which appropriated the old White Horse name. There had also been an ancient inn of that name in Church Street, which adds to the confusion.

Now the building is being given a new lease of life under its new owner Trevor Coyne, and general manager Patrick Kinsella.

Yesteryear is compiled by
John Buckledee, chairman of
Dunstable and District
Local History Society.