Sort file:- Dover, December, 2023.

Page Updated:- Saturday, 16 December, 2023.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Barry Smith and Paul Skelton

Earliest 1860-

Excavator's Arms

Latest 1861+

Dieu Stone Lane or Church Place



There is nothing like an apt title and when the local railway lines were being laid and the fortifications at the Western Heights were taking shape, this pub come lodging house catered for many of the artisans.


Later it became Flashman's Workshop and furniture depository until it was damaged by enemy shell fire on 3 October 1941. It was in September 1946, when the premises were taken down as a result, that the old sign came to light. It was said to have weathered the years well.


Information taken from John Bavington Jones' book "A Perambulation of the Town, Port and Fortress of Dover", 1906. (Reprint in The South Kent Gazette, August 8th, 1979.)

Dieu Stone Lane, leading from Church Place to Maison Dieu Road, is a narrow thoroughfare for pedestrians; it is a very ancient right of way, which formed the boundary between the Maison Dieu lands and the town. On the south side, Elsam's Cottages and Church court were built about a century ago by Richard Elsam, who also re-built the Borough Prison in the Market Place after it was wrecked by the smugglers in May, 1820. The site of the large building on the north side of the lane was never a part of the Maison Dieu property, the town wall from Biggin Gate having passed in its rear, turning at an angle southward lower down. When the wool combers ceased to work independently in Woolcomber Street, a wool factory was established here. When the construction of the Canterbury and Dover Railway was in progress it was used as a lodging house for the navvies who cut the tunnels and cuttings near Dover, as is indicated by a still existing sign, "Excavators' Arms Model Lodging House," and as late as 1861 the premises were licensed. The building subsequently became Messrs. Flashman's cabinet-making workshop, although the middle floor for many years was known as the Union Hall, where united religious meetings were held, and far a good many years the Dover Young Men's Christian Association was held there, under the presidency of the late Mr. W. R. Mowll, J.P., who died in 1886. The Union Hall has since 1889 been transferred to Ladywell, and the whole of the Dieu stone Lane building is now devoted to Messrs. Flashman and Co's business.


From the Dover Express. 1860.

Getting the Worst of It.

John Macarthy, a labourer, was charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting Thomas Hutchins landlord of the Excavator's Arms. It appeared that the defendant had gone to the complainant's house on Saturday night for a bed, but after he had been shown to his room he made his way down stairs again being found some time afterwards in one of the lower rooms smoking. He would not return to his room either for the complainant himself or the waiter but wanted to fight. He squared up and endeavoured to strike complainant but the latter guarded himself from the blow and in the phraseology of the P R. “waited upon the defendant with his left” in proof whereof one of the defendant's eyes bore sombre testimony. The defendant begged to be let off “for the sake of his wife and children” Mr. Hutchins in reply to the Bench said he had no desire to anything but what was necessary for his own protection and was not therefore anxious to press the charge in the present instance. The magistrates thereupon dismissed the defendant on his promising to take 2s and the cost of the hearing to the Station House.


Information kindly supplied by Joyce Banks.


South Eastern Gazette, 28 August, 1860.

A Policeman’s Interpretation op his Duty.

At the police court, on Saturday week, Police-constable Joyce preferred a charge against Mr. James Hutchings, landlord of the "Excavator's Arms" public-house, for obstructing him in his duty. It appeared in evidence, however, that it was not the landlord but the policeman who was to blame; the latter having refused to do his duty. A man who about 7 o’clock in the evening had gone to Hutchings's and engaged a bed, for which he paid 4d., afterwards went out, and did not return till nearly one next morning, when the house was cleared and shut up, and Hutchings had gone to bed. The stranger knocked loudly and created a great disturbance because he could not get in. Hutchings got up and told him to go about his business, and Thomas Kell, his waiter, went down and told him to go away, but only received a blow in answer, which he returned. Hutchings then went down stairs, when the disturbance was renewed, and as policeman Joyce had come up by this time, the man was given in custody, but Joyce refused to take him, and the "row" was again renewed. Hutchings then went in search of another policeman, and Joyce accompanied the stranger to the police-station to prefer a charge against Hutchings. On the latter following, Joyce told Sergeant Scutt that the landlord was following him, on which Scutt said, "You had better bring him in, if that is his way," and Hutchings was accordingly taken into the station and locked up till morning; bail for his release being refused by the sergeant, though no complaint of any kind had ever been made against him. The magistrates at once dismissed the charge against Hutchings, and severely reprimanded Joyce for his misconduct. Sergeant Scutt’s behaviour on the occasion is to be be made a special subject of inquiry by the watch committee.


From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 5 January 1861.

Burns and Bacon.

Michael Burns a navvy, was charged with stealing from the counter of Mr. Hutchings, Excavators Arms, a piece of bacon value 5d.

James Thomas Hutchings examined; I am the landlord of the "Excavators Arms", I am in the habit of keeping on my counter bacon and such things for sale to my lodgers, and I have lately lost great many things from that place besides articles from the house. The latter have consisted of knives and forks, cups and things of that description. Yesterday morning a roll of bacon was lying on the counter and behind it a rasher. I saw the rasher behind the roll about seven o'clock, and a few minutes after eight I missed it together with about a pound and a half of butter.

There were only eight of my lodgers up at that time and immediately I discovered the loss I went into the kitchen and said to those who were assembled there, “a piece of bacon has been stolen from the counter, and one of you must have taken it as only one man has gone out of the kitchen and I saw it safe after he had left” the prisoner was gone upstairs. I followed him and searched him when I found the bacon wrapped in a handkerchief and concealed in the breast of his smock. The prisoner admitted that he had taken it from the counter. The piece produced by P.C. Joyce is the same and worth 5d.

James Joyce a constable in the Dover Police Force examined:- I took the prisoner into custody yesterday on a charge of stealing the bacon produced. On the charge being read over to him at the Station House by the superintendent, prisoner said he had “done it.”

The prisoner pleaded guilty and begged that he might be summarily dealt with. It was first time he said he had done anything of the sort and he hoped the magistrates would treat him as leniently as they could. In reply to the Bench he said he was a single man.

The magistrates sentenced him to fourteen days imprisonment with hard labour at the same time informing him that this offence had rendered him liable to incarceration for three months.


From the Dover Express. 1861.

Celebrating an Escape.

Charles Wellard brought up on the preceding day on the complaint of Mr. Hutchins landlord of the Excavator's Arms, but dismissed on Mr. Hutchins declining to press any charge against him was again, was placed at the bar having been found by P.C. Johnson in a state of drunkenness and obstructing the thoroughfare on the previous night. The defendant said he was very sorry to come before the Bench again so soon but the truth was he was so gratified at escaping on the previous day that he celebrated the event in a drop of drink and unfortunately took a drop to much. He assured the magistrate however that such a thing was unusual with him and promised he would not offend again if let of this time. Captain Noble on hearing that the defendant had behaved himself very well after being taken into custody yielded to the defendant's entreaties in the hope that this would be the last the magistrates would hear of him and he was then dismissed on paying the fee.


A Third Appearance.

Charles Wellard, the man who had been brought before the magistrates on the two previous days on different charges, was again placed at the Bar by Sergeant Geddes who had found him creating a great disturbance near the Excavators Arm's the house at which he had formally been engaged as servant on the previous night. He was the worse for liquor and was uttering all manners of threats. He was partly stripped and was running to and fro in a very excited state. Witness interfered and endeavoured to prevail on him to go home but he would not act on this advice and he (Geddes) was therefore obliged to take him into custody. The defendant said he went to the Excavator's Arms for his clothes that were thrown out into the street to him. He was very sorry for what he had done.

Captain Noble; so you said yesterday and the day before. The defendant hoped the magistrate would be merciful and let him off.

Captain Noble; no we have let you off twice and cannot do so any more. You must go to prison for fourteen days. The defendant said he must be committed for he only had enough money to take him to London.


Information kindly supplied by Joyce Banks.




HUTCHINS James Thomas 1860-61


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