Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.


Earliest 1852


Latest 2005

Custom House Quay

Also in Bench Street

Lukey's Bonded warehouse

Lukey's bonded stores which stood on Custom House Quay near the Hotel de Paris and next door to the "Pavilion Hotel".


LUKEY John & Sons also had a shop at 4 Bench Street in 1899 and 1901 Post Office Directory 1903 as shown in Kelly's Directory. That would put the shop between the "Guildhall Vaults" at number 2, and the "Shakespeare Hotel" later to become the "Crypt Tavern" at  number 10.  The building shows a sign on the frontage that says "established 1852".


From the Dover Express, Hythe News, and East Kent Intelligencer, Saturday, 29 October, 1864.


Stephen Lazlett, a porter in the employ of Mr. Lukey, wine and spirit merchant, Bench Street, was charged with being drunk and disorderly on the previous evening, and also with annoying his employer.

Mr. Lukey stated that on the previous evening defendant came to him, in his office, in a state of intoxication. Defendant made use of very abusive language towards to him, and as he would not desist he gave him into custody.

In reply to the Magistrates Mr. Lukey said that he did not wish to press the charge, as he intended to discharge the defendant from his employ forthwith.

The Magistrate said that under these circumstances defendant would be dismissed on his paying the costs, 2s.


From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 10 December, 1864.


One day in the early part of the week a horse attached to a light wagon belonging to Messrs. Lukey and Son, took fright as it was driven along Priory Street, and running against a gas lamp overturned the wagon, smashing a great portion of its contants.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 24 June, 1870.


John Day, a “tradesman” on the road, was charged with being drunk and causing an obstruction on the footway in Bench Street, on the previous morning.

Superintendent Coram said that on the previous day, between eleven and twelve o'clock, he saw the prisoner on the pavement in Bench Street. He was the worse for liquor, and his (the Superintendent's) attention was called to him by the noise he was making. He asked the prisoner what was the matter with him, and in reply the prisoner said “Who are you?” Witness told him he was the Superintendent of Police; and that if he did not conduct himself in a more orderly manner in the public thoroughfare, it would be his duty to take him into custody. Prisoner said he did not care for forty superintendents; and contested his right to act as he thought proper. He continued his offensive conduct, and witness at length took him into custody, and conveyed him to the station-house. On his way he made use of various threats, and his conduct there was very bad. Amongst his effects was found a formidable looking stone.

Prisoner: Yes, I picked it up, and intended to take it to London, as a curiosity.

The statement of Superintendent Coram was corroborated by Mr. John Lukey, a wine-merchant, of Bench Street, who was standing at the entrance of his premises at the time of the prisoner's disorderly conduct, and saw all that occurred. In the first instance the prisoner's demeanour was very disorderly, and after the Superintendent of Police spoke to him he became menacing in his manner, and he thought more than once that the prisoner intended to strike the Superintendent.

The prisoner denied that he was either drunk or insolent; and asked the Magistrates to discredit the statement of “those two men.”

The Bench, however, had not the slightest doubt that the statements of Superintendent Coram and Mr. Lukey were correct; and in default of the prisoner paying a fine of 10s. 6d. and the costs, sent him to prison for fourteen days.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 15 May, 1874. Price 1d.


The Surveyor reporting on the plans of Mr. Lukey's store at the Pier, said they were in accordance with the bye-laws, and in reply to Mr. Fry he reported that the building did not interfere with the proposed Pier improvements.

Mr. Fry called attention to the fact that Mr. Minet's house in Strond Street, having been pulled down, the old building line was gone. He asked if the Corporation could now fix a line in accordance with the other buildings.

The Town Clerk referring to the statute bearing on the case, showed that the Council might do so, but they would not have to pay such an amount as arbitrators might decide upon for the land surrendered.

The plans were adopted.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 7 May, 1875. Price 1d.


On Wednesday evening a large new store, standing between Strond Street and the Granville Dock, belonging to Messrs. Lukey and Son, wine merchants, fell with a sudden and terrible crash into the street opposite the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway. At the time, labourers were employed in putting on the upper floors cotton seed that was being discharged from the ship Odborne, lying at the neighbouring quay, and at the time of the calamity we are informed that there were several hundred tons of seed on the floors.

It is a remarkable circumstance that no personal injury was sustained by any one in the disaster. Seven or eight men had been engaged on the floor a few minutes before and had gone down to the ship to get their “allowance” when the building fell. The street at this point is usually busy especially in an afternoon, but happily when the crash occurred the place was clear and the only thing buried in the ruins was a fish barrow. Several persons, we believe, had narrow escapes. Miss Iron and two children had a moment before passed by and entered Mr. Mutton's stationery shop, opposite; a railway porter was in the street talking to a person to whom he was delivering an excursion bill and hearing a low crash he ran and escaped, a soldier was also standing near and he took to his heels and saved himself. The shock is described as like that of an explosion and for a few minutes after the accident it was not possible to see what had happened the air being filled with dust.

The building after the calamity presented the appearance of a complete wreck on the side next Strond Street. The whole frontage wall of about sixty feet was thrown down into the thoroughfare, and over its ruins had run out the cotton seed, and upon that again were the broken fragments of the roof. The said wall of the west stood firm, but the one on the south side was much cracked, and had to be shored up to prevent it falling against the adjoining house. Men were at once engaged to clear away the debris, and the work was continued all night, so as to open the thoroughfare as soon as possible.

As no doubt competent persons will be consulted as to the cause of the breakdown it would be premature on our part to venture an opinion. We are informed that an independent surveyor from London has been called in to make a report. As far as we can glean the facts, we learn that the building was erected last year at a cost of £3,000, Messrs. Whitley and Fry being the architects, and Mr. Adcock the builder. It was built as a bonded wine store for Messrs. Lukey and Sons, Bench Street, the basement being prepared for that purpose. The upper part was let as stores for cotton seed to the Oil Seed Crushing Company. The accident being of an exceptional character, we believe no insurance covers it.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 11 November, 1887. Price 1d.


William Curtis, and Walter Stephens, stablemen, in the employ of Messrs. Lukey and Sons, wine merchants, bench Street, were charged with stealing from a store in Chapel Lane, 12 bottles of ale value 6s. the property of their employers.

Mr. Mowll appeared for the prosecution, and after briefly stating the facts of the case the following witnesses Sergeant Suters said: I was ordered to go to Mr. Lukey's stores in Chapel land on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings last week. I went there on Sunday morning about one a.m. with Police-constable Knott. I went into the claret store, which is the floor between the bottle store and the ale cellar. The claret store is level with the street, and the proper entrance is from the street. There is a trap hatch from the bottle store to the claret store below, and then there are steps into the ale cellar. I remained on the premises from one a.m. until nine a.m. The stables of Messrs. Lukey's and Sons, immediately adjoin the stores where we stopped. About 8.30 a.m. I heard a sound like some bottles being moved, and then someone said something about gin, and one asked the other if he wanted any water with his gin. I recognized the voices as the prisoners. Shortly afterwards I heard baskets being moved about and someone was in the bottle store which was over my head. Shortly after the trap opened into the place where I was, that is into the claret store, and a ladder was put down. There are two traps and the prisoner Curtis went towards the other trap which leads to the coach house, and said, “You know what to do if anybody comes” and the other man answered, “Yes, all right.” The prisoner Curtis then came down the ladder into the claret store, and he had got the basket (produced) with him. He went down into the ale cellar, but before going down he struck a match and lit something, and then went into the cellar with a light. He was down there a few minutes, and then came up carrying a basket on his shoulder. The prisoner was about to ascend the ladder, when I stepped out in front of him and said “ this is a nice game, what have you got in the basket.” He replied, “a dozen of beer.” I then told him to put the basket down which he did, and I saw it contained the bottles of beer, like it does now. I said “I suppose you know who we are,” and he said “Yes.” I told him I was going to take him into custody for stealing the beer. The prisoner begged very hard to be allowed to put back the beer, and said that it always had been done only he happened to be the unlucky one to be caught. I took him round to the stable for his coat, as he was in his shirt sleeves. I found the stable door fastened, but after knocking several times the other prisoner Stephens admitted us. When we got into the stable Curtis said to Stephens “I am copped,” and Stephens replied “what do you mean copped?” The prisoner Curtis replied, “Why taking the beer, and I shall have to go to the Police Station,” and he was charged with stealing 4 quarts and 8 pints of ale belonging to Messrs. Lukey and Son. In answer to the charge he said, “it always has been done, but I am the unlucky one.” I afterwards arrested Stephens at his house, and I told him I should take him into custody for being concerned with Curtis in stealing a dozen bottles of beer. He replied, “I do not know anything about it, I cannot help what he (meaning Curtis) does.” I then took him to the Police Station where he was charged and detained. I was at the stores on Saturday, and in the morning I heard corks being drawn, that was between 6 and 7 o'clock, and happened in the coach house. I could hear two persons talking, and I have since recognised the voices as the two prisoners. One of them said “are you going to have any bottles over this morning?” and the other answered “isn't there any more there, they cannot be all gone yet.” After a few minutes the prisoner Stephens said to Curtis “have you had your drink?” and Curtis answered, “Yes, but I could do with another before I go,” and then I heard another cork drawn. Someone then went away with a van and the stable door was shut. Shortly after that, another cork was drawn.

By the prisoner Curtis: I could hear the corks drawn in the stable, from where I was in the claret store, and I heard four corks drawn on Saturday, but I did not hear any drawn on Sunday.

By the prisoner Stephens: I had to knock several times before you opened the stable door to us on Sunday morning.

In answer to the Chairman, Sergeant Suters said there was an empty gin bottle and a number of drawn corks in the harness room. I searched the prisoner at the station and found on him a wax taper, a corkscrew, a pipe, and a purse, but no money.

P.C. Knott, said: I was with Sergeant Suters on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and also Sunday morning, at Mr. Lukey's stores. I have heard what he has said, and what passed on Saturday and Sunday mornings, is quite correct. I corroborate the whole of his evidence, until the time of taking Curtis to the Police Station.

By prisoner Curtis: I heard three corks drawn before you went away with the van on Saturday morning, and one cork drawn after you left. I did not hear any corks drawn on Sunday morning. The half gallon jar of gin was on the table in the harness room.

By Stephens: I only heard corks drawn on Saturday morning. I did not see you in the stable, until I saw you yesterday morning.

Mr. Ewdard Lukey, said; I am a partner in the firm J. Lukey and Son. The prisoner Curtis has been in my employ from march 1995, and the other prisoner from July 1887. I have for sometime past, missed bottles of ale from the store. Neither of the prisoners had any right to be in the stores on Saturday last, but only in the stable to look after the horses. There is an entrance to the claret store from Chapel Lane, and that is the proper entrance. The trap hatch from the coach house to the bottle store is for empty bottles to go up and down, and the other trap is for clean bottles to go down to the claret and ale stores. These trap hatches are closed every night and they did have bolts, but they are broken. Having suspicion that the traps had been opened, I instructed my foreman, and on two occasions I was present myself, to tie cotton on to the trap and the ceiling, and this was done for evenings, but it was found broken each following morning, that was previous to instructing the police to watch the premises. Previous to the cotton being fastened to the traps, I had taken other precautions, from which I found that the stores had been entered. The value of the bottled ale (produced) is six shillings, and is my property.

Lewis Button said: I am foreman to Messrs. Lukey and Sons, Bench Street. I fastened the cotton to the trap-hatches and ceiling according to Mr. Lukey's instructions, but on each following morning it was found to be broken. I am in charge of the cellars and have for some time missed bottles beer from the stores.

By Curtis: I have never seen you take any beer away.

By Stephens: I have not seen you having drink without asking permission.

The prisoners, in answer to the charge, wished the case to be dealt with summarily.

Curtis pleaded “Guilty” and Stephens “Not Guilty.”

Mr. E. Lukey said that during the time Stephens had been in his employ he had behaved well in every way, and he (Mr. Lukey) believed that he had been the dupe of Curtis.

The Bench sentenced the prisoner Curtis to two months' hard labour and Stephens to one months' hard labour.

During the hearing of the case the Court was crowded.



Lukey's shop

John Lukey's at 4 Bench Street, circa 1900.

Lukey Van

Above photo, date unknown.


Dover Express, Friday 12th July 1907.

Dover Police Court, Monday.

Before M. Pepper and G. C. Rubie, Esqrs., and Captain R. B. Cay, R.N.

Cricket match.

An occasional licence was granted Mr. E. Lukey, to sell intoxicants in one of the tents at the athletic ground during the match, and at the Town Hall during the cricket ball, this Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 8 September, 1933. Price 1½d.


We regret to record the death of Miss Mary Elizabeth Lukey, which occurred on Monday, at 26, Radnor Park Road, Folkestone, at the age of 86 years. Miss Lukey was the second daughter of Mr. John Lukey, the founder of Messrs. John Lukey and Sons Ltd., wine and spirit merchants, of 4, Bench Street, Dover. She lived at 4, Bench Street, for several years, and later at 2, Woodleigh Villas, Kearsney. Mr. Edward Lukey, her brother, was a Mayor of Dover, a Sheriff of Canterbury, and a Grand Master of the Ancient Order of Oddfellows.

The funeral takes place to-day (Friday), at River, at 2.30 p.m.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 20 March 1942.


We sincerely regret to record the death, in his 74th year, after a short and sudden illness, of Mr. John Lukey, Managing Director of Messrs. Lukey & Sons Ltd. Though a Folkestone man by birth, he had been long resident in Dover, and was keenly interested in its prosperity. Last week he seemed in quite normal health, but on Saturday he had a serious attack of heart trouble. He leaves a widow and daughter (who is in South Africa) to mourn his loss. The funeral took place on Thursday, the body being cremated at the Kent Crematorium, at Charing. The Rev. D. H. Bowen officiated, and the mourners present were:- Mr. F. Lukey and Mr. H. Lukey (brothers), Miss Lukey (sister), Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Apps (brother-in-law and sister). Also present were: Mr. W. M. Lumsden, Mr. F. Axford, P Fagg and H. Saunders (staff), Nurse brown, Mr. A. C. Leney, Mr. Vernon Shone. Floral tributes were sent as follows:- With love, Dolly, Peter and Bull,: Mac and Jean; Herbert, Fred, Edith and Ada; Mr. and Mrs. Victor Smith; Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Weston, jun.; Mr. Philip T. Hart, O.B.E.; Messrs. Thompson and Son, Walmer; Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Allioson; Mr. and Mrs. D. I. L. Bradley, Whitfield; Directors, Management and Staff, Esplanade Hotel; Business Group No. 4; Edward Wright and Son; Mr. and Mrs. J. Weston, snr., Management and Staff, Shakespeare Buffet and Crypt; Committee and Members, St. Margaret's Bay Golf Club; Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club; Mr. and Mrs. Saunders and Ivy; Mr. S. F. Harman; Major and Mrs. La Trobe Foster; Office Staffs, 4, Bench St., and 9 High St.; Nora, and all at 28, Milner Rd., Elvington; Mr. and Mrs. Whorwell; Continental Express; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wind;Messrs. Mackeson and Co., Ltd.; Edith Pratt and Peggy Bryant; G. T. Finney; Charles H. Tyrell; his Staff. The funeral arrangements were by Mr. H. J. Sawyer, of 85, High Street, Dover.


A correspondent writes:- "By the passing of John Lukey, Dover has lost one of its grandest men. His outstanding qualities of sincerity, kindness and generosity, endeared him to everyone. Absolutely selfless, his unostentatious acts of kindness were manifold.- M.F."


From the Dover Express, 14 December, 1951.


A Link with a Century Ago.

Over a hundred years ago, top-hatted, John Lukey, side-whiskered and sober-faced, was mine host of the "Shakespeare" Hotel in Bench Street, one of the renowned old Dover hostelries which had its own place in local history many years before that.

Last week the local firm of John Lukey and Son, well-known wine merchants, renewed the family link with that old hotel when they bought the "Shakespeare," the "Crypt" Restaurant and adjoining premises for £10,000.

The amusement arcade and dancing studio, all part of the lot which was knocked down to their five-figure bid, were unheard of when John Lukey, founder of the present firm, ran the "Shakespeare." The eight, self-contained flats, which extend above the building, though, were probably part of the old hotel.

Uni-leteral parking, like he atom bomb, was a thing of the future, and John Lukey, as a fly proprietor and owner of livery stables, was more troubled by the state of the roads than any white lines painted on them. Whatever the state of the roads, John Lukey and his customers must have accepted it, for it is on record than one morning they gathered outside the hotel to give him a send-off when he set out to trot a horse to Canterbury in two hours. Drawing a high dogcart with three men up, the horse carried on to the agreed winning post in ten minutes under the time to win a £5 wager.

In 1836, alterations in Bench Street had brought about the destruction of an old tower which had stood near the "Shakespeare" for centuries past, and underneath which the "Crypt" was discovered. The actual origin of this structure is obscure, but it is said to have been used as a place of refuge by the Huguenots who were then fleeing from their own country. Many years were to elapse before their compatriots, probably no less harassed by modern travelling condition, were to use the "Crypt" as a place of refreshment on their way to the South Bank site.

For some time John Lukey used it as an underground store and bottling plant for his hotel, before founding the present firm in 1853. Not until 1921, with Mr. Shone as architect and Mr. Barwick as builder, was it renovated and eventually opened as a restaurant. During the examinations then carried out, a quantity of Flemish tiles were unearthed and subsequently, used to construct the present "Shakespeare" frontage.

Until the alterations were made about 1922 which divided the building into flats, a bar and a restaurant, it had remained a family hotel under various proprietors, the last being Mr. W. Morris who was there for many years.

Since then the name of the "Crypt" has become literally world-famous, and during the last war it was the off-duty meeting place for thousands of servicemen, coming from every nation. Just about a century before that when John Lukey was running the "Shakespeare" Hotel, his establishment was used as a mess by the officers of the numerous regiments which had congregated at Dover prior to service in the Crimean war.

Many of the wartime children preferred to use the "Crypt" as a shelter when bombs and shells were bursting nearby. "They always said it was safer than a shelter," says Mr. Percy D Lukey, Director and Secretary of the firm, "or else it was just a lot nicer place to be bombed in."

The great-grandchildren of John Lukey will continue to run the "Shakespeare" and "Crypt" as well as the wine merchant's business which he founder a few yards away in a building which has its own history, being reputedly a vicarage of St. Mary's Church. Its area of business extends far beyond Dover, and beyond the borders of Kent. The firm which had its start in the mind of a man who bottled wines in the "Crypt" now extends throughout the Home Counties served largely by its own fleet of motor lorries.



Lukey's was eventually taken over by Unwins Wine Merchant and that eventually closed on 20 December 2005.


From the Dover Express, 10 July, 2008.


A NEW restaurant may open in Dover at the former Lukey's off-licence, once the vicarage for St Mary's Church. A planning application has been lodged with the council to change the use of the site.


From the Dover Express, 17 July, 2008.


A RESTAURANT is set to open in Dover's Bench Street where work is in progress at the former Lukey's off-licence, once the vicarage for St Mary's Church.

This week a planning application was lodged to change the use of the ground floor of 3 Bench Street, a former greengrocer's shop next door to the former off-licence at 4 Bench Street. The applicant is seeking approval for change of use of the ground floor so it can be used as a restaurant.


From an email received 11 August 2010.

We have dug up a green thick glass bottle missing the neck which is broken off with the name of Lukey, Dover and Folkstone, on it. We live in Longfield, Kent our garden backs onto the railway line; whilst digging out a tree stump we found the bottle in amongst the roots, we wondered it's origin.

We think this is more like a beer bottle.

Lukey bottle

The base of the bottle has K.B.Ltd C 9613 on it the base, is approx 2.5 inches across, approx 4.75 inches to neck, glass approx eighth of inch thick, we hope this is some use.

Please let us know what you find out, we wondered if it was thrown out of the boat train or thrown away by navvies who built the railway line in 1864.

We were told that a cavalry regiment was camped on this land during the first world war period, it was also a cherry orchard up to the early 1950's.

Regards John & Sue Barclay.

If anyone has any further information, please let me know and I'll post the answers here. Paul Skelton.



From an email received 6 August 2015.


I found this bottle in some woods in Dover whilst walking the dog. I was wondering if you could tell me more info on the bottle.

Leigh Scott.

Lukey BottleLukey Bottle Lukey Bottle

From the Dover Mercury, 5 July, 2012. 80p


PLANNING permission is being sought for a seating area outside the II Rustica restaurant - the former Lukey's wine shop - in Bench Street, Dover.

A barrier will also be put up to separate the seats and tables from the rest of the precinct area.

Among the other plans being considered by district councillors at the moment is one for the conversion of 8 Clarendon Place, Dover, into two self-contained flats.

From an email received 4 December 2015.

Lukey Demijohn Folkestone

Above photo kindly sent by Heather Foster.

From an email received 13 January 2020.

I found this bottle under seawater at Curaçao, north of Venezuela at 20 feet under water.

Rob Sprockel.

Lukey's bottle


Post Office Directory 1903From the Post Office Directory 1901


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