A pint at the local #4 The Farmers Boy, Brickendon

Written by Les Middlewood

Brickendon village can be found two and a half miles south of Hertford. The Farmers Boy is believed to have been a pub before the 1850’s – but a much smaller one than today – and was formerly known as the Woodman until around 1870. Sitting opposite one corner of the village green the two-bar pub today offers space and facilities for locals, ramblers and diners, near to Broxbourne Woods and is the last remaining pub in the village, the Five Horseshoes – in a neighbouring building – closed in 1956. By the 1850’s the Farmers Boy was in the hands of the Hertford brewer, Thomas Driver Medcalf who sold it on to a second Hertford brewer, Percy Hargreaves in 1884 but in 1895 Benskin’s of Watford bought his brewery and his tied houses were put up for sale.

The pub and cottage were acquired by the Waltham Abbey brewery who were taken over by McMullen’s in 1898 who then operated the pub for over 90 years. In the latter half of the 19th century the landlord was Thomas James Harrison who was tenant for almost 40 years, the pub comprising a bar, parlour, tap room and cellar with 5 bedrooms and stabling. As the 20th century flowered the pub became a popular stop for motorists exploring the lanes north of London and the cottage next door was added and opened into a second bar and later extended for a restaurant. The real ale revival, however, was slow in finding the Farmers Boy, Mac’s cask ales were sold under top pressure into 1990. That year McMullen’s decided to sell and the pub was boarded up but eventually bought by a Pub Company who carried out a major refurbishment before, in 1992 re-opening it with inside toilets and a heavier emphasis on food. A reputation for the quality of its food soon grew and into the 21st century the pub also gained a reputation for its “Rock in the Car Park”, a one day festival of good music and food held in the summer and in the pub car park which it situated opposite the pub – attracting over 500 people from surrounding villages and nearby towns.

Then, the pub suddenly closed in 2014. As the months went by and the pub remained closed, concerns deepened, enough for the Parish Council to apply for (and secure) Asset of Community status for the pub. In late 2014 Enterprise Inns leased the pub to Andy and Joanna Perkiss and they carried the pub forward until early 2017 when father and son Kevin and Mitch took on the lease aiming for the pub to be both a local and somewhere where good food can be enjoyed with a good pint. Effectively the two bars remain. To the left a smaller bar area popular with locals. This is linked, round the bar, to a much larger bar, extended back towards the garden. Mitch says “We will be serving Greene King IPA and Sharp’s Doombar, with a changing guest beer, using some of the big names but small brewers too. We have regular live music (and karaoke with Dad doing a stint!) and have regular family events. From the kitchen, we are offering well priced home cooked food every day and our Sunday lunches have been receiving great reviews. We will always strive to be at the centre of the community and pride ourselves on our warm welcome and fun atmosphere”.

The pub car park is opposite incorporating a petanque pitch. The Farmers Boy is open all day from noon with food available 12-3pm and 6-9pm Monday to Thursday and all day at weekends. It is served by the very sparse Monday to Saturday 308/380 bus service from Hertford and is just over a half of a mile east of Bayford Railway Station.

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