Sort file:- Dover, March, 2021.

Page Updated:- Wednesday, 31 March, 2021.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Barry Smith and Paul Skelton

Earliest 1854

Sheer Hulk

Latest 1859

Commercial Quay



There has to be a reason for such a name. A prison ship, repair ship? I never chased that one. Bourner kept it in 1854 and 58 before which he had kept another pub in Ladywell.


From the Dover Telegraph, Saturday 10 May, 1856. Back page col.4

Dover Petty Sessions -

"Monday" "Thomas Robert BOURNER of Sheer Hulk Beer-shop, Commercial Quay, was charged with a similar offence (i.e. to above item, which was a publican on Commercial Quay knowingly permitting notoriously bad characters, ie. prostitutes, to assemble at his house) - evidence from statement of young woman witness Sarah Ann Marsh age 17 of Drellingore, Alkham, who in the first charge took a man into the pub for the night, later returning with another man, "conclusive proof that the information would be sustained" but as the defendant (i.e. Thomas Robert Bourner) was not at home when summons was served, nor had he since returned (in addition to which the licence was not in Court), the case adjourned till Friday and fresh summons obtained.

"Friday": "Thomas Robert Bourner, landlord of the Sheer Hulk was fined 10s. including costs for allowing improper characters to assemble at his house. The Bench cautioned him touching a repetition of the offence, and allusion was made to the fearful responsibilities of the keepers of such houses, where many a young woman that might otherwise be moving in the paths of virtue, were encouraged in the road to infamy and ruin."

From the Dover Express and East Kent Intelligencer, 23 July, 1859.


Thomas Johnson and Thomas Burridge, privates in the Lancashire Militia Artillery, stationed at the Castle, were charged with stealing from the till of the complainant, Thomas Robert Bourner, landlord of the "Sheer Hulk" public house, half a sovereign and eight shillings.

 John Scott, sergeant in the Dover police force - This morning, about 6 o'clock, my attention was brought to the "Sheer Hulk" public-house and to the two prisoners, who had been lodging there. The prisoners were given into my custody on a charge of stealing half a sovereign and eight shillings from a till in the bar. With the assistance of police-constable King I took them in charge, and conveyed them to the station-house. They said nothing at the public-house, except to express their willingness to go any where I pleased. I examined the till, which is in a drawer that pulls open, and found the drawer had been forced. I also found the knife produced close by the till, with the blade bent as it is now. There were marks of violence on the drawer; but I do not think they could have been produced by the knife, although the lock was a very trumpery one and might easily have been forced. At the station-house Burridge said he was servant to a lieutenant in the Lancashire Artillery. On searching him I found in his cap 16s. 3d. which was made up in shillings, sixpences, and coppers - 15s. 6d. being in silver and the rest in coppers.  also found on him a key, which he had in his pocket. On searching Johnson I found in his watch fob 6s. and a duplicate. Police-constable Fyfe and King were present when the prisoners were examined. I asked Burridge where he had got the money, and he said his master had given him a sovereign on the previous evening to fetch some postage stamps and that was the change.

The Magistrates found it necessary to admonish the police sergeant for the loose manner in which he gave his evidence.

Jane Bourner, wife of Robert William Bourner, landlady of the "Sheer Hulk," Commercial Quay, examined - The two prisoners lodged at my house last night, I heard them come down stairs about twenty minutes to five this morning. They remained down stairs for about twenty minutes, during which time I heard a door opened. I looked down into the back yard but saw no one there, although the back door was open. The outer doors, back and front, were fastened. I shortly afterwards, through a crevice in my door, saw one of the prisoners return up stairs without his shoes. This excited my suspicion, and I got up and went down stairs. On going to the bar - the door which opens in two halves, the upper part locking, and the lower being speared with a latch which must be lifted from the inside - I found that the lower half of the door had been opened by lifting it up and so drawing the latch out of the socket. I had latched it carefully the night before. The bar was quite dark, the shutters being up; but on entering it it smelt of lucifers, and there were marks of lucifer matches having been set off. There was a box of lucifers in the room. I saw a knife lying near the till. Upon the till were marks of it having been cut with a knife, and on opening it I found the lock forced off, lying inside. There were four or five shillings' worth of halfpence and about the same quantity of silver in the till. There are two compartments in the drawer - halfpence being kept in one and silver in the other. I usually keep gold, when there is any, with the silver. When I locked the drawer on the preceding night I left in it about twenty-one shillings in silver, a half-sovereign, and a quantity of copper. The persons in the house at the time were myself, my two daughters (who sleep in a room next to mine), Catherine Macfarlane and Ann Hoile, a man called "Tom," but whose surname I do not know, and the two prisoners. I afterwards went upstairs and accused the prisoners of robbing the till, when they said they had no money except 8d. I had given one of them (Burridge) on the preceding evening, as change out of a shilling. Burridge also said he had lost a pair of socks, but these were found between the sacking of the bed and the mattress. Johnson had said the night before he had no money except three half-pence, but that his comrade would make it all right for his lodging.

Police-constable Fyfe - I was at the police-station about half past 5 this morning, when the prisoners were brought in by sergeant Scutt and police-constable King, with an escort of military. I saw the charge taken and the prisoners searched. Johnson was searched first and 6s. in silver was found in one of his pockets. I afterwards saw Burridge searched, and a quantity of coppers taken out of one of his pockets. His cap lying near, I took it up and felt it, and then advised the sergeant to search it. On doing so sergeant Scott took from it a white rag in which was folded a quantity of silver. The sergeant then put it amongst the coppers and counted all over together. In the whole there was 16s. 3d. On the sergeant asking them how they became possessed of so much money, Burridge said he had received a sovereign from his master to purchase a shilling's worth of postage stamps, which he had lost, but that his master had told him if he wanted any money to take 5s. out of the change. They were then locked up. About a quarter of an hour afterwards Burridge knocked at his cell door. I answered the summons, when he asked me if anybody had been sent to his master. I replied, "Not yet." He then said "Do not let anyone go; my master did not give me the money - only a shilling to purchase stamps." I then said, "You took the money, then?" when he replied "No; Johnson did, and gave me what was found on me as my share." I then said, "What of the half-sovereign?" He replied, "Johnson has swallowed it."

The prisoners were then remanded till Wednesday, and the governor of the gaol was requested to keep a close watch upon Johnson in the interim.




Last pub licensee had BOURNER Thomas Robert 1854-59+ Melville's 1858


Melville's 1858From Melville's Directory 1858


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