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Victoria Pub History

A beer house licensed during the early 1840's, the Victoria opened in the middle of a modest short terraced fronting Union Rd. It was one of 12 two up two down tarraced houses built during the industrial revolution.

Richard Goulding, taking advantage of the Duke of Wellingtons Beer House Act 1830, paid two guineas to the excise for a license and turned his small, but private house, in to a public house. The only condition: you were a householder or ratepayer.

By 1848, Lincoln born Robert Barrat was landlord. He was recorded in the 1851 census aged 51, with his wife Elizabeth 48, from Boston. They had a family of four: Ann, 23, Sarah 17, Caroline, 13, and Eliza, 11. Robert Barratt passed on by 1856 and his widow Elizabeth was landlady helped by her daughters Caroline and Eliza. It was Elizabeth Barratt who changed the sign in the 1850's honouring Queen Victoria to the Cross Keys. Though a religious sign in this case, it was more connected with Lincoln Castle.

A homebrewed house, the small brewery was sited in the Cross Keys yard. Elizabeth Barratt would have employed a local travelling brewer-as and when it was neccessary. Retail brewers specialised in a form of malty mild; heavy, dark, sweet and strong, that varied considerably from brew to brew. The average Lincoln gravity was 1060, the second highest in England.

In 1873 Elizabeth Barratt applied for and was granted inn status by Lincoln magistrates - something that most beer housekeepers failed to achieve. The advantages were considerable. As an Inn, the Cross Keys was permitted to remain open as long as a bed was empty, offering basic accommodation, simple victuals, homebrewed ale and stabling to the lawful traveller. Normal Victorian Licensing hours were long, 18 hours a day, 4am to 10pm, seven days a week, closed only during Divine service, Christmas day and Good Friday.

Elizabeth Barratt retired in 1877 aged 74, selling the Croiss Keys Inn to an Irishman, Patrick O'Brian. Documented in the 1881 Census, he was 34 from Donegal and lived with his Saxilby born wife Mary, 32, Daughter Lilley, 8 and sons Thomas, 6, William, 4 and David, 2. William Stocks, 65, was employed as Ostler.

Proprietor Patrick O'Brian added licensed victualler to his name when he was granted an alehouse license, which permitted the retailing of wines and spirits, in addition to ale porter and cider. Licensing Justices, anxious to discourage the consumption of spirits, usually refused applications.

Acquired by national brewers Whitbread, who closed the Cross Keys in 1981 due to lack of custom, it was then bought by Lincoln entrepreneur Antony Eastwood. After structural alterations, the Cross Keys re-opened in December 1983, the sign reverting to its original name, The Victoria.