The Drinking Manís History of West Haddon.

Landlords and Ladies vie for business.

By this time there was at least one other inn in West Haddon, besides the Sheaf and the Crown. The RED LION may have been founded by the Elmes family, but we have no sure evidence until the Burbidge family took over, in the 1740ís. William Burbidge died young, leaving his widow Mary to look after the business as well as looking after the family of small children (William, the baby, was born after his father had died).

The RED LION became the principal inn of the village hosting a variety of official gatherings, most notably the meetings of the Turnpike Trustees. This body was concerned with improving the awful state of the main Rugby to Northampton road. And as the road was improved, more people used it, and West Haddon saw an increasing amount of traffic rattling through the village, much of it stopping for refreshment at the Red Lion.

This must have been very annoying to John West II. He had in 1759 offered THE CROWN as the headquarters of the new West Haddon Friendly Benefit Society. Members met there regularly, paying a small sum each month in return for assistance should they fall sick and be unable to work. But that business was unlikely to have been as profitable as the carriage trade of the Red Lion.

However, West was a respected villager, elected to the post of Overseer of the Poor in 1763. In the summer of this year there was a serious outbreak of smallpox in the village. From the Overseerís Account Book we can see that the patients were isolated at Widow Hallís house. There William Masters doctored them, and Mary Kinning nursed them. Thomas Smith supplied tem with their meat and John West supplied their beer. This could have been seen to be taking advantage of his office: all those bills were paid out of public funds. But this was not the only source of antagonism between the Crown and the Red Lion.

About this time there was a movement in the village towards enclosing the open fields by act of parliament. Mary Burbidge was in favour, John West was against. In fact there was a strong body of opinion in the village against the Enclosure. When the Act was passed through parliament there were riots in the streets, but the Enclosure went ahead just the same. And the Enclosure Commissioners met at the RED LION to carve up the open fields into ring-fence farms.

But the CROWN held its own. John West I was succeeded by John WEST III, a man with a good business brain who began to invest in land and property. Towards the end of the century Maryís demanding family drove her to bankruptcy and John West was there to buy her up and put the RED LION out of business for good.