DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Sort file:- Sheerness, December, 2021.

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 14 December, 2021.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest 1700

(Royal) Fountain Hotel

Closed 1982

15 West Street

Blue Town

Sheerness

Fountain Hotel print 1830

Above print, 1830.

Fountain Hotel 1830

Above coloured print of above, 1830, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fountain Hotel

Above photo showing a naval march, date unknown. Taken from http://www.pbase.com

Royal Fountain Hotel 1940s

Above photo, 1940s.

The building on the left showing Shepherd Neame I am told is the "Royal Fountain." Photo kindly supplied by Joan Thompson. The "Jolly Sailor" is shown on the right.

Royal Fountain Hotel 1980s

Above photo showing the premises shortly after it was converted into flats in the 1980s.

Royal Fountain Hotel 2009

Above image from Google, May 2009.

 

According to Michael David Mirams in his book "Kent Inns and Inn Signs,"  an old Fountain once stood opposite the dockyard gates at Blue Town, Sheerness.

There is reference to a Fountain Hotel in Bluetown in 1802, and others dating back to the 1700s, so I believe this was not the first Hotel in the area with that name.

According to Kent's Pubs and Inns by G. Weaver (Published in 1977), the book says that "The Royal Fountain was built in 1700 and started life as a coaching inn".

This building however, was constructed in 1806 by George Clarkson, and it is rumoured that Lord Nelson stayed here one night inspecting the efficiency of his dockyard before sailing away. Both George and his wife died in 1812, but I believe his son continued to run the hotel.

The Fountain Hotel was where the body of James Anthony Higho  was taken after he drowned whilst bathing on a day trip to Sheerness. It's also where they held the inquest in July 1850 with the jury recommending that a fence be erected around the creek where he'd died.

Part of the building was built by Shepherd Neame in 1866. The building is now Grade II listed.

Previous to the building being erected the land was described in 1791 as 'part of a piece or parcel of pasture or fresh marshland containing by estimation four acres more or less heretofore in the tenure of Henry Lee.'

During the late 1990s the Fountain was a "drugs den", the Police raid made the South-east T.V. news. More recently, Aug 2010, the ground floor flat was badly damaged in a fire. I, Paul Skelton, was actually passing it just before fire was discovered and the police contacted me, knowing that my van was in the area, asking whether I had seen anything suspicious. Unfortunately I was unable to help, and knew nothing of the fire till the next day, when the roads were cordoned off.

 

Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal. 19 December 1806.

FOUNTAIN INN, SHEERNESS.

George Clarkson (late of the "Marlbro’ Head Inn") returns his most grateful acknowledgements to his friends, and the public in general, for the very liberal support he has so long received; and begs leave to inform them, he has, at a very considerable expense, built the "Fountain Inn," near the New Pier, Sheerness, which is a roomy, commodious, and elegant house, superbly furnished with upwards of fifty beds, and every other article of furniture entirely new: and is now ready for the reception of Gentlemen and Families, who may please to honor him with their company. The Fountain Inn is situated to command views of the rivers Thames and Medway, the Nore, South-End, and all the surrounding country.

G.C. having purchased a large stock of choice old Wines, with the very best Liquors, hopes, by every attention in his power, to merit a continuance of their favors.

N.B.—Good Stall Stabling, &c. &c.

Packets from Chatham to Sheerness, and back, every tide, at one Shilling expense.

 

The Morning Post (London, England), Tuesday, 10 October, 1826.

DREADFUL FIRE AT SHEERNESS.

On Friday morning, about half-past four o'clock, the inhabitants of Blue Town were alarmed, and thrown into the greatest confusion, by a fire breaking out with tremendous violence in the stables belonging to Mr. Clarkson, of the "Fountain Inn." Assistance was promptly rendered, but the flames had acquired such powerful force, that before they could be subdued, no less than ten dwelling-houses became the prey of the devouring element, together with the whole of the stabling and coach-houses, including five horses, a coach, hearse, post-chaise, gig. and all their harness, &c. which were entirely consumed. The Officers and men of his Majesty's ships Brunel and Gloucester, as well as those front the Dock-yard, exerted themselves in the most praiseworthy manner, and happily succeeded, with the engine belonging to the Naval Establishments, in arresting the progress of the calamity, or the consequences might have proved dreadful in the extreme; as it is, there is evidently too touch to deplore. We have not heard to what extent, if any, insurances may have been effected on the property destroyed ; but by the destruction of the dwellings, several poor families are deprived of their little all, having barely had time to escape with their lives ; their situation, it is sincerely to be hoped, will not fail to excite commiseration in the hearts of the affluent.

 

The Standard (London, England), Friday 3 August, 1827; pg. (1) Issue 65.

EXTENSIVE FIRE AT SHEERNESS.

In yesterday's paper, there was a paragraph stating that a destructive conflagration had broken out at Sheerness. The following particulars of this distressing calamity have been since communicates by a gentleman from Sheerness:- It appears that on Monday night, between the hours of 11 and 12, a fire broke out in a small house adjoining the "Fountain Tavern," opposite to the dock-yard, in the Old Town. At the time above stated the flames were first discovered by a watchman, who is stationed at the entrance to the dock-yard, and who immediately gave the alarm. A scene of great confusion ensued, and such was the rapidity with which the flames spread, that the inmates of the house in which they broke out had scarcely any time to quit the premises; indeed, one little girl belonging to the family is said to have fallen a victim to the fire, as nothing has been heard of her since the night in question, and she having slept in one of the attics, not a doubt can be entertained of her having perished. For a considerable time it was apprehended that the "Fountain Tavern" would fall prey to the flames, and the whole of the persons who were residing there were compelled to make their egress as speedily as possible. The household furniture and effects were removed from the premises. At this time most of the men from the dock-yard were on the spot, and rendered every assistance in their power; but we regret to say that, owing to its being low tide at the time, for upwards of an hour and a half no water could be procured. On account of this circumstance the flames spread rapidly, and great fears were for a long time entertained that the whole of this part of the town would be consumed. There were now present from fifteen to twenty engines, some of which, from the indefatigable exertions of the firemen, were able to play with effect. Some of the most respectable of the towns' people hastened to the spot, and used their utmost exertions to arrest the progress of the evil; but for a considerable time their efforts were in vain, except as to the humane assistance which they afforded to the persons who were thus calamitously deprived of their homes. By two o'clock in the morning the whole of one side of the street, consisting of 23 houses, was entirely destroyed; still not the slightest probability appeared of subduing the fire. Nothing could exceed the consternation of the inhabitants of the town at this moment. They had all risen from their beds, and many of them appeared in the streets almost naked. The flames continued to rage; and, notwithstanding the united efforts of the firemen and the inhabitants, who had crowded to the spot, the fire was not completely subdued until between seven and eight o'clock on Tuesday morning, when no less (says an informant) than 62 houses were consumed.

The description of property lost was chiefly what is termed "slops and marine stores," and it is gratifying to be informed, that much of this was insured; but as all the houses were inhabited by a class of persons among whom a neglect of insurance is a common failing. there is reason to fear that some of the occupiers, at least, must have been sufferers to the extent of their little all. The rapidity with which the flames spread may be entirely attributed to the want of water, and to the material (wood) of which most of the houses were composed.

 

From the Maidstone Gazette and East Kent Courier, 7 August, 1827.

Dreadful fire at Sheerness.

On Tuesday evening, a dreadful and most destructive fire broke out at Sheerness, and the consequences have been most calamitous, a large part of Blue Town having fallen prey to the devouring element. The fire broke out in the premises of Mr. Clark, and from the combustible nature of the houses, being principally built of wood, they continue to ignite one after the other until forty-five dwellings were burnt down.

The flames were first discovered by a watchmen, who is stationed at the entrance to the dock-gate, and who immediately gave the alarm. A scene of great confusion ensued, and such was the rapidity with which the flames spread, that the inmates of the house in which they broke out had scarcely time to quit the premises. For a considerable time it was apprehended that the "Fountain Tavern" would fall a prey to the flames, and the whole of the persons who were residing there were compelled to make their escape as speedily as possible. The household furniture and effects were removed from the premises. At this time most of the men from the dockyard were on the spot, and rendered every assistance in their power; but we regret to say that, owing to its being low tide at the time, for upwards of an hour and a half no water could be procured. On account of this circumstance the flame spread rapidly, and great fears were for a long time entertained that the whole of this part of the town would be consumed. There were now present from 15 to 20 engines, some of which, from the indefatigable exertions of the fireman, were able to play with effect. Some of the most respectable of the townspeople hastened to the spot, and used their utmost excursions to arrest the progress of the evil; but for a considerable time their efforts were in vain, except as to the humane assistance which they afforded to the persons who were thus calamitously deprived of their homes.

By 2 o'clock in the morning, the whole of one side of the street, consisting of 23 houses, was razed to the ground, and still no probability of the fire being subdued.

Nothing can exceed the consternation of the inhabitants of the town, the whole of them were driven from their beds, the majority of them being nearly in a state of nudity; but not withstanding the united exertions of the fireman and townspeople, the fire was not got under until between 7 and 8 o'clock on Wednesday morning, when no less than 62 houses were consumed. The description of property lost was mainly what are termed "Slops," or fitting out warehouses for sailors. Several of the firemen and others received some serious injuries.

 

South Eastern Gazette 31 December 1833.

DIED.

Dec. 28, at Blue Town, Sheerness, Elizabeth, wife of Mr. Clarkson, of the "Fountain Inn."
 

South Eastern Gazette 29 November 1836.

DEATHS

Of a consumption, Mr. William Norly, of the "Fountain Tap."

 

From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 12 January, 1867. Price 1d.

Michael Phair, a seaman belonging to H.M. Lizard, lying at Sheerness, pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting Mr. A. W. Howe, of the “Fountain Hotel,” Sheerness.

Fined 3 9s. including costs, in default six weeks hard labour.

 

From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 19 January, 1867. Price 1d.

SITTLNGBOURNE. PETTY SESSIONS. Monday.

(Before J. D. Dyke, Esq.)

Henry Fenton, a "gentleman” who declined to give his address, was charged with stealing two leather bags, with their contents, from the “Fountain Hotel,” Sheerness, on the 11th inst.

George Sydney Carver, a commercial traveller, said:—I live at No. 6, Biggerton Terrace, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill. On the 11th inst. I went to the “Fountain Hotel,” Sheerness. I had a feather bag containing wearing apparel, and a case containing samples of tobacco. I placed them in the hall of the “Fountain,” where luggage is usually placed. I saw them safe a little after 5. About half-past six I missed them and gave information to the police. The leather bag now produced, and which contained 9 pocket handkerchiefs, 4 pairs of socks, two shirts, one pair of drawers, one box of collars, one cap, one clothes brush, two hair brushes, two pieces of soap, one box of scent, one meerchaum pipe and case, and one account book is the one I lost, as is also the leather case containing ten canisters of tobacco (with about a quarter of a pound of in each). The prisoner is an entire stranger to me. The bag has been searched, and a scent bottle containing benzine is missing. Paper was torn off some of the things. The lock was not broken.

Eliza Howe, said:- I reside with my father, who keeps the “Fountain Hotel,” Sheerness. I saw the prisoner come into our house about five o'clock in the afternoon, of Friday, the 11th January. I asked if he wanted a bed, and be said, “Yes.” He asked where the coffee-room was, and I showed him in. He had the leather bag now produced in his hand, and took it into the coffee-room with him. He had some gin and water, which the waiter took in, and I did not see him afterwards. I am sure that was the bag prisoner took into the coffee-room with him.

Henry Kent, a guard on the Sheemess branch of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway stated:- The prisoner was a passenger by the 7.40 train from Sheerness on the 11th January inst. I saw him cross under the line at Sittingbourne for the up platform. He had the black leather bag and leather case now produced in his hands. I detained him, and handed him over to Sergt. Noakes.

Prisoner, when asked if he had anything to say, stated as follows:- “I admit taking the bags, I plead guilty to that, but I was stupid with drink at the time. I left my own bag behind me at the Hotel. I did not take the bag here in the coffee-room. It was my own bag.”

Committed for trial at the next Quarter Sessions.

 

Kentish Gazette, Tuesday 5 February 1867.

Sheerness. Sudden Deaths.

On Tuesday an inquest was held at the "Fountain Hotel," on the body of John Sosby, aged 53, of Blue Town. It appeared that deceased, when drunk, fell down stairs and cut his head, but did not injure the skull. He went to bed, and talked quite rationally, but shortly afterwards turned over on his side and appeared to be going to sleep; before a medical man could be called he expired. Mr. Stride, surgeon, on his arrival stated that deceased died from disease of the heart, accelerated by the fall.

Verdict accordingly.

 

From the East Kent Gazette, Saturday, 9 March, 1867.

Hotel Robbery at Sheerness.

Henry Fenton, 32, engineer, a man of respectable appearance and deportment, pleaded guilty to stealing a leather bag and a number of articles, value in all, 5, the property of George Sydney Carver, from the "Fountain Hotel," at Sheerness, on the 11th of January.

Mr. Biron had been instructed to prosecute, and he made a short statement of the facts.

From this it would appear that a number of things, the property of a commercial traveller, was stolen from the above hotel. When apprehended prisoner had what he called a skeleton portmanteau, which is very commonly used by hotel robbers for the carrying off of property; and he also had two bladders, which it appeared were used when distended to put in the bag to make it look as if he had luggage inside.

Prisoner said he had a witness to character, but on his name being called no answer was returned.

He said it was his first offence, and having given the Court no trouble by pleading guilty he hoped his Honour would be lenient with him.

The Chairman, in passing sentence, said the crime was one of considerable magnitude, and prisoner was committed for 9 months' hard labour.

 

Maidstone Telegraph, Saturday 13 November 1869.

Terrible explosion at Sheerness. Coroner's inquest.

The enquiry into the death of the 11 men who were killed by the explosion of a boiler on board H.M.S. Thistle, on Wednesday last, was opened at the "Fountain Hotel," Blue Town, Sheerness, yesterday (Friday), before Mr. T. Hills, coroner for West Kent, and a respectable jury, over whom Mr. C. Polson was chosen foreman. The Coroner in opening the proceedings, impressed upon the jury the necessity of not listening to the rumours and reports which were afloat in the town regarding the cause of the accident, but to be guided by the scientific evidence which would be brought before them during the course of the inquiry. The eight bodies, which lay beneath the gun battery at the Naval Barracks, viz., Messrs. Roberts, Scorrer, Smithers, and Knight, engineers; John Daer, fitter; Robertson, leading stoker; and John Timson and Lawrence, stokers, were then viewed, after which the whole of the party were conveyed to the Thistle, which lay moored of the dockyard, in two steam launches, which were placed at their disposal by Capt. the Hon. A. A. Cochrane, C.B., and every facility was rendered to the coroner and the jury by the government officials, to further the investigation into the cause of the accident. The engines and the boilers of the ship were inspected, and the hole in the boiler which exploded fully explained to all present. The company then return to shore and viewed the bodies of Messrs. Mason, engine fitter, and Whalebone and Anderson, engineer students, which lay at the Garrison Hospital. On their return to the "Fountain," there were present on behalf of the Admiralty, Mr. Arnold, From the firm of Messrs. Essell, Knight, and Arnold, admitalty solicitors: Mr. Lindsay, from the office of the Lords of the Admiralty; Mr. Murray, the Admiralty surveyor of factories and consulting engineer; and Mr. Wright, the Admiralty engineer.

Mr. Walter Wilson Williamson, chief inspector of machinery at Sheerness, was the first witness examined. He said that he knew nothing of the cause of the accident. He was conducting the trials of the ship at the Maplin Sands on Wednesday, and while on deck to time the runs, he heard a puff about 4.34, and on turning round saw that steam was escaping in a large mass from the engine room. It was his impression at first that one of the steam pipes had burst in the engine room, and he thereupon sent a leading stoker to ease the safety valves, and with the assistance of another stoker the men lashed up the levers of the valves so as to let the steam escape. He then had the large hatch removed from over the engine room and in a few minutes the men went below and brought up on deck the wounded, dying, and dead.

John Edgar, engineer student, the only person alive who was present in the engine room at the time of the accident, said that the ship was about starting on the third mile with her high-pressure engines, when he saw a flash of light or flame issue from out of the stokehole towards the engine room, which he first thought was merely back-draught. He then thought he saw some sort or ashes falling on the engine, and he stooped to avoid it. He then found himself surrounded by steam, and knowing that something was wrong, he sprang up the ladder and reached the deck with only some slight scalds. He could not account for the explosion.

The evidence of Dr. Prescott, R.A., as to the death of the deceased, was then given; and it appeared that no evidence as to the cause of the explosion could be given until a minute examination had been made of the boiler, the Admiralty having directed that nothing should be disturbed until after the inquest, the enquiry was adjourned until Thursday, Mr. Murray promising to have everything ready by then.

The Coroner then granted the necessary certificates for the burial of the deceased, and the enquiry was adjourned till Thursday, when a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned.

 

LICENSEE LIST

Last pub licensee had CLARKSON George 1806-12 dec'd (also wine and spirit merchant) Pigot's Directory 1828-29Pigot's Directory 1832-34

CLARKSON George jun. 1812-27+

NORLEY William to Nov/1836 dec'd (Fountain Tap)

CLARKSON James 1847+

DAVIS L 1855+

POTT Robert 1858-61+ (age 35 in 1861Census)

HOWE Alfred Whittaker 1862-81+ (age 42 in 1851Census) Whitstable Times

JOHNSON William 1891+ (age 65 in 1901Census)

SINCLAIR John R 1901-02+ (age 65 in 1901Census)

Trust Houses Ltd 1918-40s+ Kelly's 1830

SHEPHERD Alf 1960s

https://pubwiki.co.uk/FountainHotel.shtml

http://www.closedpubs.co.uk/royalfountain.html

 

Whitstable TimesWhitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald

Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Kelly's 1830From the Kelly's Directory 1930

 

If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-

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