The Plough Public House

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The first Plough was built in an orchard belonging to Barlands Farm. The farm buildings were on the north side of the London-to Southend Road. The farm itself dated back to at least the 15th century. There is a record that - "In 1469 John Quyk, of Berlonds (Barlands), Prittlewell, bequeathed forty shillings towards making the pinnacles of the new tower [of St Mary's Church]" The land here all belonged to the Scratton family (of course) and would have been leased to tenant farmers. It is Daniel Robert Scratton's sale of his land when he retired to Devon in 1869 that allowed tenants to buy their leases outright and the subsequent owners to sell on their property. Thus the 1869 sale triggered the development of the area. A map from 1873 shows 3 buildings, presumably dwellings, on the south side of the road. The Plough would later be built in the gap between the middle building and the easternmost one. There were two clear phases of development that resulted in a building we would recognise. I can find no records of the subsequent refurbishments and minor alterations. The first phase of development (1880-1882): Essex Records hold a building plan for the Plough Hotel dated 1880. This is followed by an 1882 plan for a "House [Plough Hotel]" and plans for stables at the "Plough Inn" also dated 1882. The same owners (Seabrook and Son / C. Seabrook) appear on all 3 sets of plans. The builder and architect are not named in the records. A new drainage system was added to the property in 1897. My interpretation of the plans is that the public house was built in 1880. The 'house' referred to in the 1882 plan was most probably a coach house that was built with the stables in the same year. The buildings are all shown on a 1897 map where the pub itself is marked with 'B.H.' (i.e. beer house). There is a coach house and stables to west of the pub and there is a small courtyard between the pub and stables. A map from 1897 shows that the older buildings from the 1873 map that are unrelated to the pub, were still in existence. The designation 'beer house' is unusual. The maps of this period usually label pubs as 'P.H.' (i.e. public house) and the Cricketers further along the road is labelled that way, for example. This suggests that it may have also been a brew house, having a brewing operation on site. This was not unusual when pubs were owned by brewers and the Minerva brewed beer when it was owned by Lukers in this period. Put simply, the records and maps confirm that the Plough was built as the Plough Hotel (a public house) in 1880. These are the records of plans for the first phase of the building (from ERO): Building plans submitted to Southend Local Board of Health: 1880-1889 Scope and Content: Plough Hotel London Road Seabrook and Son Dates of Creation: 1880 Building plans submitted to Southend Local Board of Health: 1880-1889 Scope and Content: House [Plough Hotel] London Road C. Seabrook Dates of Creation: 1882 Building plans submitted to Southend Local Board of Health: 1880-1889 Scope and Content: Stable etc. at Plough Inn London Road C. Seabrook Plans in very poor condition, were destroyed by Southend Corporation in 1981 Dates of Creation: 1882 Building plans submitted to Southend Borough Council for approval 1896-1897 Scope and Content: New drainage at The Plough P.H. London Road Seabrook and Sons Dates of Creation: 1897 The plans give the address as London Road. This may result from a later transcription of the plans and as we know, roads sometimes had more than one locally used name in this period. On early maps, the road is labelled Leigh Road. Records from the early 1900s tell us that the junction with West Road was known locally as 'Plough Corner'. The importance of the site results from the junction, this being on the historic route from London to the religious community at Southchurch and the point where travellers from London would take the turning into West Road to get to Prittlewell. Despite what we may think about the pub's location on the main route, there is no evidence that it was a coaching stop/house. In fact this is unlikely as it was built 24 years after the arrival of the railway to the area. The stables and coach house would more likely have been for the use of patrons of the hotel rather than as a coach service stop. The owner of the hotel C. Seabrook was Charles Seabrook, the CEO of Seabrook & Sons (formerly spelt Seabrooke). Seabrooks were a long established brewery based in Grays with historic pubs in the Grays/Thurrock area. It seems they had branched out along the London Road A13 route. They were absorbed by Charringtons in 1929. The owner being a brewery, they probably used their own contracted architect and builder for the work rather than local firms. Given that they had been building brick outer walls around their old, wooden framed pubs, they may even have had an in-house architect/builder. The second phase of development (1904-1905): Essex Records hold a further set of building plans for the Plough Inn (1903), the 'new Plough Inn' (1904) and for stables with a coach house at the Plough Inn (1905). From these we can see that after planning permission was refused in 1903, a set of 9 plans was submitted and the Plough was rebuilt in 1904. From a 1922 map, we can see that the new building occupies the whole site of the older pub with its courtyard, stables and outhouse. The older building in your image had become the east end of the new pub and the old stables had become the west end of the new building. As before, new stables and a coach house were added to the building a year later (1905). This time, the stables etc. were built at the rear of the pub on its eastern side. The 1904 works extended the old pub building westward over the site and resulted in a Plough that we would largely recognise today. Seabrooks were still the owners of the pub but this time the architect is named as W. Wood. It is not possible to tell whether the variations of the architect's name refer to different family members or are typos (which are common in ERO transcriptions from old documents). The address is given as Leigh Road in this period. These are the records of plans for the second phase of the building: Building plans submitted to Southend Borough Council for approval 1902-1903 Scope and Content: Building plan of Plough Inn London Road Seabrook & Son (O) W. W. Wood (A) Dates of Creation: (disapproved 1903) Extent: (1 plan) Building plans submitted to Southend Borough Council for approval 1904-1905 Scope and Content: Building plan of New Plough Inn Leigh Road Seabrooke & Sons (O) W. Wood (A) Dates of Creation: 1904 Extent: (9 plans) Building plans submitted to Southend Borough Council for approval 1904-1905 Scope and Content: Building plan of Stables and coach house The Plough Inn Leigh Road Seabrook & Sons (O) W. J. Wood (A) Dates of Creation: 1905 Extent: (1 plan) There is a significance to the timing of the rebuild in that it was evidently planned at the time the new tramway from Southend to Leigh opened in 1902. This resulted in the development of shops and businesses westwards along the tram route and new residential areas to either side of London Road ... giving us Westcliff as we know it. A 1922 map shows the rebuilt pub. The older buildings to either side had been demolished and on one side the Palace Theatre had been built (1912). There is a further plan for 1913 when the owner was S. W. Stowers and the architect was L. Wood. The plan for a 'motor shed' was probably for a garage to replace the stables which were likely falling out of use as cars became more widely used. The permission was refused and there are no more plans in ERO so we do not know whether the garage was subsequently re-applied for and built. This means that we do not know whether what can be seen on the 1922 map are stables from 1905 or a later garage and parking/turning space. Building plans submitted to Southend Borough Council for approval 1912-1913 Scope and Content: Building plan of Motor shed `The Plough' London Road S. W. Stowers (O) L. Wood (A) Dates of Creation: [disapproved 1913] A 1939 map shows that the Plough was slightly extended into the parking space at the east end of the building between the wars. These different stages of development can all be seen in the modern building.
By Warwick Conway
c1897 Map, location of the Plough P.H.
The Palace Theatre & the Plough P.H.
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