DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Friday, 25 February, 2022.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest 1847-

Fruiterers Arms

Open 2020+

Bottles Lane / The Green

Rodmersham Green

01795 424198

https://whatpub.com/fruiterers-arms

Above photo circa 1910, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Fruiterers Arms 1913

Above postcard 1913. Looks like a coloured version of the one above.

Fruitiers Arms

Above photo, date unknown, by kind permission of Eric Hartland.

Fruiterers Arms 2008

Above photo 2008 by Pam Fray Creative Commons Licence.

Fruiterers Arms sign 1991

Above sign, April 1991.

With thanks from Brian Curtis www.innsignsociety.com.

 

Kentish Gazette, 28 February 1854.

William Fever, keeper of the "Fruiterers' Arms" beer-house, of the parish of Rodmersham, was summoned before the Bench at Sittingbourne, at the Public Rooms, on the 20th inst., by Policeman Hayward, for having persons in his house at twelve o'clock on the night of Saturday, the 28th ult.; and refusing the constable admission.

Convicted, and fined 5 and 12s. 6d. costs.

 

Kentish Gazette, Tuesday 25 September 1855.

At the petty sessions on Monday, before the Rev. Dr. Poore and the Rev. G. B. Moore, licences of several innkeeper's in the district of Sittingbourne were renewed.

A licence was granted to Matthew Langton, of the Fruiterers' Arms," Rodmersham.

 

From the Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, 26 October 1861.

Rodmersham.

An inquest was held at the "Fruiterer's Arms," Rodmersham Green, on the 14th inst. before T. Hills, Esq., the coroner, on the body of an elderly man, apparently about 80 years of age, who was known in the neighbourhood by the cognomen of "Water cress Jack."

Deceased was discovered lying in a lodge on the premises of Mr. Jesse Thomas, with a few bunches of cresses beside him and 3 1/2d. in his pocket. There were no marks of violence on the body of the deceased, and according to the testimony of Mr. Henry Grant Sutton, surgeon, of Sittingbourne, who had made an external examination, it appeared that the deceased had died from natural causes, and the jury returned a verdict accordingly.

 

Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette, Saturday 26 December 1868.

Susan Harris, of the "Fruitiers' Arms, Rodmersham, was summoned for keeping her house open for the sale of beer on Sunday, 15th November.

The case was dismissed.

 

East Kent Gazette, Saturday 23 June 1928.

"Fruiterers' Arms," Rodmersham Green.

Under Entirely New Management.

E. Witten, Proprietor.

 

East Kent Gazette, Friday 9 March 1951.

Village in the Countryman's Club.

Publicans hard hit by taxation.

Many of us, as we lean against the bar and watch mine host pull foaming tankards of Kent ale, envy him his apparently easy way of making a living. We dream of the picturesque country pub, of the city palace, of the many friends and the acquaintances to be made, of the shekels rolling in.

That dream could be realised and Mr. Frank Price, 52 year-old licensee of the "Fruiterers' Arms," Rodmersham Green, would be the last to shatter it. However, he can reduce the dream to proper proportions. He did for me when he said. "About 40%, of the licensees in this area have to find other work these days to make a reasonable living, as the burden of taxation and high price of beer makes trading very difficult."

Mr Frank Price 1952

The "Fruiterers' Arms" is Mr. Price's first house. Before he took over about 10 years ago, he had been for 8-years manager of Messrs. George Prentice and Sons, wine merchants, of High Street, Sittingbourne, where he made many valuable friends.

Born in London.

Born and educated in London, he entered the Civil Service in the High Courts of Justice, but "was bitten by the wireless bug" and studied at the South Western Telegraphy College, London, in due course qualifying for his Postmaster General Certificate. He joined the staff of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company in 1916, which meant that he was off to sea within 24-hours of leaving home and being chased by submarines in the Atlantic. He served on many vessels which was subject to submarine attack.

Once, when his ship visited Baltimore, it was burnt to the "water's edge" and he lost all his belongings. He was sent back to England as a disabled British seaman, "and just by the way of good measure we were torpedoed on the way back.

During the course of his travels he had many and varied experiences which took him to every quarter of the Globe, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America, and North, South, East and West Africa.

How does one become a licensee?

"In the first place, Mr. Price told me, "an applicant for a licence must have a character beyond or reproach and must provide references of the highest order. These credentials are examined and his whole past investigated by the police on behalf of the licensing magistrates, to ensure that the prospective licensee is a fit and proper person for the privilege of holding a licence to dispense alcoholic liquor. After all, a person having charge of alcohol must be a very responsible person. Therefore, by the licensee is a very privileged and responsible position.
"In order to get a house, you have to approach either a firm of brewers or a firm of public house valuers and brokers, who have list of properties on the market.

"The general method of acquiring a house is for the broker engaged upon your behalf to investigate the valuation placed upon the house by the brewers, which is also agreed by the broker for the outgoing tenant. This constitutes your initial outlay, which might be anything from 300 to 1,000, plus stock to be taken over.

"A man who has a wish to become a landlord of a public house must have a genuine desire to be of service to his fellow men and be prepared to sacrifice his time and leisure to the pleasure of others. He must stand behind the counter 7-days a week and be pleasant and affable to his regulars and have a welcome smile for the stranger who drops ion for a "quick one." He must be a guild, philosopher and friend, especially in a village, to all his customers.

"He must be prepared to converse on any or all subjects with the utmost intelligence and must be prepared to listen, without comment, to all shades of political thought.

"His main object is create an atmosphere of sociability and homeliness; his house must be scrupulously clean and comfortable. Remember, The village inn is the social centre of village life. In fact, it is the club for all members of society, whatever their status may be.

"A licensee, generally must have a keen interest in most kinds of sports as this is one of the main topics of conversation for men having a social evening together.

Mr. Price is a member of the Kent County Cricket Club, a vice-president of of the Gore Court Cricket Club, and takes an interest in all other forms of sport from football to racing.

"In a country public house, such as this," he said, "you get a wonderful cross-section of customers from all walks of life who, if you conduct your house properly and have the correct personality, intermingle without friction.

Hard Work.

"As always the licensee must be prepared to work extremely hard. He must rise early. The average day's work for a publican in this district probably starts at 6:30 a.m.. When he has to see to the cleanliness of all his rooms, floors, tables, chairs, ashtrays; to the stocking of his shelves; and to his pumps (if they are not working well, he has to clean them). All this is part of his mornings work. He has also to find time to have his breakfast and be dressed and ready to open his house by 10:30 a.m. From then till 2:30 p.m., and from 6 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., he must be prepared to welcome all-comers with a smile and enter into their interests, making them his own, and, above all, he must treat his customers in such a way as to make sure that they will come back again."

Mr. Price told me that often, in these days, a publican had to do his own cleaning. His cellar, which should be his special pride, also has to be looked after.

"The old saying that "Good wine needs no bush" (houses used to hang a bush outside their door when they had wine to sell) is equally applicable to the public house, as good beer always draws good customers. It is in order to say that a landlord gets the customers he deserves. In other words they patronise his house if his personality appeals, and if he has the right personality he will draw all kinds and conditions of people.

"It is an interesting and engrossing job for which one must have a calling in the same way as members of any profession. To-day, unfortunately, economic conditions are such that the goods we sell are very much overburdened with taxation. So far as beer is concerned, practically two-thirds goes direct to the Treasury in taxation. The rest goes to the brewer and licensee.

Status of the Licensee.

Personally, I am intensely interested in the well-being and status of the licensee as such, and have the honour to be the secretary of the local Association of Licensed Victuallers, which office I have held for the last 10 years and still hold. I am also a member of the Kent Federation of Licensed Victuallers, which is a body set up to consider and deal with problems of the tenants and brewer at county level.

"This means that I attend various conferences and that I am unable to report back to my association as to the progress of negotiations on various knotty points that arise from time to time.
Mr. Price told me that the ambition of every publican, apart from providing himself with a living, was to provide a centre for rest and recreation for his customers. One of the main attractions of life was the constantly changing scene on the other side of the bar.

Public house Design Progressing.

It was also the ambition of most landlords to have bigger and more convenient houses. "Public house design is progressing at a tremendous rate and those fortunate enough to acquire new houses these days will probably find the working of them much easier than the working of the old-fashioned house. Nevertheless, the old houses have about them an atmosphere which is very hard to define and sometimes more to be desired than the amenities of a super deluxe house. Atmosphere cannot be created out of bricks and mortar.

"I have always been an advocate of supplying food with drink and have always managed to provide something to eat at anytime, even during the most difficult periods. I feel that this is a great necessity, and I know that it is a service which is greatly appreciated by the customers. It has been advocated by magistrates more than once in the past.
"The village public house, especially this one, is a meeting place for various bodies, such as the local Conservative branch, the local branch of the Transport and General Workers' Union, and the village Cricket Club.

"A room has to be set aside for them, and the meetings may or may not be a benefit to the house, but we provide the amenity as a matter of goodwill. It is a service provided by nearly all landlords.

Pleasure in Doing.

"After a recent supper, my wife (more about her later) and I were confronted with an appalling amount of work in the way a of clearing up after the guests had left and in preparing for the morrow. However, it is part of the job - it is all in a day's work - and we do take a pleasure in doing it.

"I am, and always have been, a great believer in the tradition that a public village public house should be a perfect democratic institution," he told me. "I am glad to say that my house is a democratic institution. All classes of people are to be found in my bars, mixing on good terms and without friction.

"The success of a licensee depends to a very great degree on his wife, who takes a very great part in the conduct of the house. The wives of tenants have their own associations, known as the Licensed Victuallers Ladies' Auxiliary Section, which devotes its activities to the raising of funds for trade charities.

"These comprise the Licensed Victuallers School (a secondary school established over 140 years ago which has, from it's inception, marked the determination of members of the licensed trade to assist in fitting for life the sons and daughters of deceased or distressed on licence holders throughout the United Kingdom); the Licensed Victuallers' Benevolent Institution for indigent or ancient licences who have fallen on hard times, and the Beer and Wine Trade Benevolent Society.

"Membership of the auxiliary is one of the most important functions of wives of licensees, and in Sittingbourne we have very active association which has been extremely successful since it's inception two years ago.

 

East Kent Gazette, Friday 7 March 1952.

Applications for music licences were granted to the licensees of the "Fruitier Arms," Rodmersham, and the "Golden Eagle," Sittingbourne.

 

East Kent Gazette, Friday 5 October 1956.

Rodmersham. In a ditch.

Mr. James Butcher, licensee of the "Fruiterer's Arms," Rodmersham, was driving his car in Otterham Quay Lane, Rainham, on Saturday, when he skidded into a ditch, damaging the front of the vehicle.

 

East Kent Gazette, Friday 6 October 1961.

New Faces at your Local.

Temporary transfer of three inn licences in the Sittingbourne area were approved by the Magistrates on Monday.

Mr. Frank E. D. Hopgood, licensee of the "Fox and Goose," Bapchild, moved to the "Fruiterers' Arms," Rodmersham.

Mr. Alfred Shephard, who goes into the "Fox and Goose," told the court that he had held four licences previously in Slough, Cambridge and Brighton.

Mr. J. J. Butcher who moved out of the "Fruiterers' Arms," said that he was returning to Gillingham.

 

East Kent Gazette, Friday 26 October 1962.

Rodmersham's ex-licensee dies age 69.

John Butcher 1962

Former licensee of the "Fruiterers Arms," Rodmersham Green, and a well-known man in the Sittingbourne area, Mr. John Butcher, of the "Shalders Arms," Gillingham, died last week age 69.

It was about 12 months ago that Mr. Butcher returned to Gillingham, after being at Rodmersham since 1953. He died at All Saints Hospital after a short illness.

Born at Memphis, Tennessee, of emigrant parents, he first went to Gillingham at the age of 16 and worked on the railways for 21 years. he then ran a wholesale and retail newsagents' business and also founded the Strand Tearooms, Gillingham, which he ran for 25 years.

A member of the British Legion, and a founder member of St, Mary's Masonic Lodge, Mr. Butcher was very well known and liked.
The family also suffered a bereavement nine months ago when a daughter died.

Mr. Butcher is survived by his wife Alice and two children, Joan and James.

 

 

The "Fruiterer's Arms" pays tribute to the original apple tree by portraying Adam and Eve on its sign in 1987.

 

From the http://www.kentonline.co.uk, 29 November 2013, by Andy Gray.

Popular Rodmersham pub, The Fruiterers Arms, has been put up for sale.

Rodmersham's Fruiterers Arms is on the market for 99,995.

Tony De-Ball and Adrian Hall 2015

Its current landlords, Tony De-Bell, 49, and Adrian Hall, 52, have lived at the Bottles Lane venue since October 2001 when they took over the lease.

The pub, which is owned by Enterprise Inns and includes two bars, a restaurant and four upstairs bedrooms, was placed on the market earlier this month.

Tony, who ran the "Maypole" in Borden for four years prior to moving to the Fruiterers, said when it happens, it will be a sad farewell.

He said: “There's no bad reason or anything for leaving. We're still enjoying it, but there comes a time when you decide to move on.”

Tony said it could be a long goodbye and expects to be running the pub for “most of next year”.

“We've got to wait to secure the sale which isn't always guaranteed,” he said. “We'll still be putting our heart and soul into the business until we leave.

“Who knows what the future holds? I've lived in a pub for 16 years and would love a bit of normality.”

 

From the http://www.kentonline.co.uk, 11 October 2014, by Rachel O'Donoghue.

Fruiterers' Arms in Rodmersham under new management.

Pubs given a fresh lease of life after being taken over by new landlord.

The Fruiterers' Arms in Rodmersham, are set to be transformed as new manager make their mark.

Caroline MacKay, who took over the Fruiterers in August, is confident the pub can the retain the popularity that its previous landlords built during the 12 years they were in charge.

In November 2013, much-liked Tony De-Bell and Adrian Hall announced their decision to leave and put the pub on the market for 99,995.

Nine months later when 28-year-old Caroline, who previously managed a Wetherspoon's pub, took over, she knew she had big boots to fill.

But she says her wealth of experience in hospitality, and the few changes she's making, will help her along the way.

“Since I was 18 I've been in the pub trade. I got a bar job and worked my way up.

"So far, it's been good - a lot of compliments.

Caroline Mackay 2014

New Fruiterers Arms Landlady Caroline Mackay with staff

"I've extended the opening hours and made the pub child-friendly – a couple of the older people don't like that but more people are happy because they've got children.”

 

From the https://www.kentonline.co.uk By Chloe Holmwood, 27 November 2019.

The Fruiterers Arms pub in Rodmersham goes on the market.

A traditional country pub, which has served villagers for more than a century, has gone on the market.

The Fruiterers Arms in Bottles Lane, Rodmersham, near Sittingbourne, has a large garden, log burners and is known for its home-cooked food.

Fruiterers Arms 2019

The Fruiterers Arms in Rodmersham.

There is also a four-bedroom owner's accommodation and parking for about 26 cars.

Owned by Caroline Mackay, it has been put on the market by property specialists Christie & Co.

She took over the pub in 2014 and having made a number of improvements to the business has decided to sell the pub to focus on family life after recently becoming a mother.

Before she took over the running of the pub, which overlooks the village green, Tony De-Bell and Adrian Hall were in charge for 12 years.

James Hughes, senior business agent, added: “The Fruiterers Arms is set in a lovely location, in the village of Rodmersham.

"There is a great opportunity here for an incoming buyer, especially if they are able to negotiate a new free of tie lease.”

The Fruiterers Arms is on the market at a price of 75,000 per annum for the leasehold interest.

It is the only pub in the village, with the nearest boozers being in Lynsted and Milstead, although there is a bar at nearby Rodmersham squash club.

The "Red Lion," in Rawling Street, Milstead, was sold to new landlords, Christopher and Hazel Mitchell, earlier this year.

The business was sold as a freehold for 575,000 by its previous occupiers, Patrick and Josephine Coevoet, who had been in charge of the local for 13 years.

 

LICENSEE LIST

KEMP William 1841-51+ (age 30 in 1841Census)

FEVER William 1854-55+ (also fruiterer)

LANGTON Matthew 1855-58+ (also fruiterer)

BURGESS Thomas E 1861+ Census

HARRIS Susan 1868-81+ (widow age 50 in 1871Census)

GOTT William 1891-1913+ CensusKelly's 1903

GOSS William 1901-11+ Census

WITTEN E 1928+

WRIGHT Charles 1934+

BUTCHER John J 1953-1961 Next pub licensee had

Last pub licensee had HOPGOOD Frank E D Oct/1961+

Last pub licensee had DE-BALL Tony & HALL Adrian 2001-Nov/2013

MACKAY Caroline 2014-19+

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

 

CensusCensus

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

 

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

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