Page Updated:- Thursday, 18 July, 2024.


Earliest  1855

Three Merry Boys

Latest 1958

Cooling Common

Near Cliffe

Three Merry Boys

Above photo date unknown.

Three Merry Boys

Above postcard, coloured version.

Three Merry Boys 1915

Above photo, 1915, by kind permission of Terri Collins, and send by Jason Kemsley.

Former Three Merry Boys 2012

Above image from Google, July 2012.


The following information has been taken from


The "Three Merry Boys" Public House stood at Cooling Common and was the only beer house in the vicinity of Cliffe Woods. The building still remains although Cooling Common has now been renamed Merryboys Road: a fitting memorial to the beer house indeed.

The family names of the first publicans between 1855 and 1872 are evident throughout Cliffe's history as they are so today. It is, however, the family that operated the "Three Merry Boys" for at least 85 years that really helped to make the "Three Merry Boys" a success.

Frederick Cornford is first noted as being the licensee in 1872. Frederick, who was born at Tunstall near Sittingbourne in 1819, worked at the "Three Merry Boys" with his wife Eunice and their four sons and three daughters. When Frederick died in 1877 he left the running of the pub to his forty-five year old wife, Eunice.

Towards the end of her life Eunice still had four of her children with her – Annie, who will hear more of later, Frederick and the twins Minnie and Robert as well as her grandson Harry. At this time Eunice's eldest daughter, Rebecca, was working in Hawkhurst as a housemaid to William Aston, a Magistrate Barrister at Law and Warden Of All Souls College Oxford.

It was whilst in Mr. Aston's employment that Rebecca learned of her mother's death on 24 June, 1891 and that her mother had left her 201 and 4 shillings. Rebecca returned home and took on the running of the "Three Merry Boys."

It was also about this time that a young cement labourer from Ramsgate, who had taken up residence in Turner Street Cliffe, took a shine to Rebecca's younger sister, Annie and in the summer of 1895 they were married. The young gentleman in question was a Mr. John Paul Potter.

In the September of 1901 John Paul Potter became the new licensee of the "Three Merry Boys" and together with Annie ran the pub for the next twenty-seven years until his death in March 1928.

After his death, Annie continued to run the pub for the next twenty years until eventually she too died in 1948 and the running of the "Three Merry Boys" was entrusted to Evelyn Annie Smith, John and Annie's daughter and the granddaughter of Frederick and Eunice Cornford. It stayed with Evelyn and, after her death, the "Three Merry Boys" closed its doors for the last time. It is now a private dwelling.

Three Merry Boys tankard

Above photo showing the pewter tankard from the "Three Merry Boys" inscribed with 'E. Cornford', which suggests that perhaps the surnames of the licensees listed below are spelt incorrectly.


Project 2014 has been started to try and identify all the pubs that are and have ever been open in Kent. I have just added this pub to that list but your help is definitely needed regarding it's history.

As the information is found or sent to me, including photographs, it will be shown here.

Thanks for your co-operation.



SIMMONS Joan 1851+ (age 63 in 1851Census)

SIMMONS John 1855-61

FILMER John (with his wife Ann) 1861-69

LAWS John 1869-72

CORNFOLD Frederick 1871-77 (age 52 in 1871Census)

CORNFIELD Eunice Mrs 1878-91 (widow age 60 in 1891Census)

CORNFIELD Rebecca 1891-1901

POTTER John Paul 1901-28 (age 37 in 1901Census)

POTTER Mrs Annie 1928-48

SMITH Evelyn Annie 1948-58




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