|Cheltenham Pubs beginning with B
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Bakers Arms, (250) Lower High Street, GL50 3JA
The Bakers Arms was numbered No.250 in 1870. The Bakers Arms stood near the railway bridge on the southern side of the High Street.
In the 1891 and 1903 licensing books the Bakers Arms was a licensed beer house which was free of brewery tie. Maurice Bellamy was the owner in 1891 and Martha Ann White was both owner and occupying landlady in 1903. The Bakers Arms had an annual rateable value of £15.5s.0d. in 1891 which had increased by 15/- to £16.0s.0d. in 1903.
The ’Echo’ newspaper featured an interview with Doug Clifford on 11th December 1990:-
On the evening of 11th December 1940, during an air raid, a bomb went over the railway line and landed in the garden of the Bakers Arms causing extensive damage to the rear of the pub and roof. A bomb had already exploded at 9.30 pm in the nearby gas works prompting Mr and Mrs Clifford to wake up their two sons from their upstairs room and move them downstairs. Doug Clifford, then aged 11, and his brother Michael aged 7 had a lucky escape. Doug told the Gloucestershire Echo in December 1990 that they escaped by scrambling out of the front door of the pub and headed for an air-raid shelter in Swindon Road. “It was frightening of course but I was probably too young to realise what was happening. The whole thing went on half the night.” After the bomb had caused extensive damage to the Bakers Arms trade continued for a short while under a tarpaulin. The Bakers Arms was eventually pulled down in February 1941.
Landlords at the Bakers Arms include:
Bank House, 15-21 Clarence Street GL50 3JL
The building dates to the 1830’s and for much of its life was in use as a bank.
JD Wetherspoon announced that they were purchasing a second pub in Cheltenham in the summer of 2009. The company already owned the Moon Under Water in Bath Road. The Clarence Street premises was previously the Que Pasa Tapas Bar. After a £630,000 refurbishment the Bank House opened on October 16th 2009. But it was not without some controversy. When Wetherspoons submitted their application to the Cheltenham licensing authorities to permit to sale of alcohol on the premises from 9 am it caused furore and a Gloucestershire based alcoholism specialist claimed that it could have a corrosive effect on society. He said, “Anyone who wants a pint of beer at 9 am has got a problem, full stop.” Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for Wetherspoons claimed the move would be good for business. He said: “We want to take advantage of the early morning trade. If people want to have a drink at 9 am then who are we to moralise about it. It’s better to have a well-managed pub serving alcoholic drinks early in the morning that a poor pub serving drinks late at night.” The Reverend Andrew Dow, rector of St Mary with St Matthew church, situated immediately behind the pub, was initially fearful of the impact that the early opening times would fuel anti-social behaviour but on inspecting the Bank House he changed his mind. He said: “I met with the solicitor and management from Wetherspoon and they have alleviated any concerns I had. They even offered space on their noticeboard for me to advertise events at the church. I am now confident the pub will be an excellent neighbour.” The licence was granted in November 2009.
In November 2012 a new social club was launched at the Bank House aimed at single people aged 65 and over providing a chance for them to get together whilst enjoying a drink and a bite to eat. Membership of the Wednesday Club was completely free and initially 25 people expressed interest in the club. One lady said, “I’m really looking forward to going along and meeting new friends. There’s not a lot to do for people of my age, and I do enjoy a trip to the pub, so it sounds a lot of fun.” More than 30 people turned up for the first meeting.
The Bank House was awarded with a platinum star rating for its toilets in the 2013 Loo of the Year awards. Managing director of the Loo of the Year awards said: “The toilets at the Bank House have been designed and fitted out to a very high standard and are both clean and well maintained. The pub richly deserves its platinum award. It is the highest individual award the judges can deliver.”
Blocked drains outside the property caused the temporary closure of the Bank House in February 2015. The award-winning toilets were put out of use because there was a risk of flooding. A spokeswoman for Severn Trent water said: “We were called out at 7.30 pm on Monday 9th February and our contractors went out to have a look at the problem. They didn’t have a long enough hose at first, so they came back on Tuesday with the right length. The hosing of the drains by Severn Trent was successful and the Bank House was reopened by mid-afternoon, no doubt much to the relief of its thirsty regulars.”
The Bank House was sold to a private property investment company in a £3 million deal backed by Cheltenham law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys and KBW chartered surveyors in March 2017. The property was leased back to JD Wetherspoon. Richard Knightley, senior director at KBW said: “I was very pleased to find this prime bar and restaurant investment opportunity for a client and agree a deal. The prime location, excellent tenant covenant, long lease in place and prospects for rental growth all combined to make this a very attractive investment proposition.”
Bar Capri Moon, Grill & Restaurant, Lower High Street
Bar Cuba, Swindon Road (see Duke of Sussex)
Bar Med, 20-26 Pittville Street, GL52 2LJ
Bar 1992, 99 Promenade
Barley Mow, (75) Tewkesbury Road, GL51 9BN
The Barley Mow closed in 1963 and was demolished when Tewkesbury Road was widened into a dual carriageway.
Landlords at the Barley Mow include:
Bartholomew, (419-420) High Street
In 1870 this premises traded under the name of Bartholomew and Ellis - Grocers, Wine and Spirit Merchants. An intriguing and amusing advertisement of the time read:
“We wish to call attention to a new candle, The Cheltenham Sperm. One shilling per one pound or 11s. per dozen, which we will now be bringing out. They are equal in appearance to the best sperm and will burn quite as long, and give more light, and if compared with composites they will be found as cheap, much better in appearance, and will give out 33% more light. One pound of the best composites, six to the pound, will burn for 45 hours. One pound of the Cheltenham Sperm the same size will burn for 54 hours.”
John Stephens Bartholomew was the owner of this establishment in 1891 and 1903. It had a significant annual rateable value of £102.0s.0d. The premise licence was for a grocer’s shop opening for just six days a week, presumably closed on the Sabbath (Sundays). Closing time, in common with all other licensed premises, was 11 pm. There was no brewery tie.
A 1926 reference is to Mr A.S. Bartholomew ‘wines, ales, cider, mineral waters and grocery.’ In 1955 the business was being conducted by John Dobell & Bartholomew.
The establishment was situated at 419-420 (original numbering sequence) and was almost opposite Grosvenor Street near the junction with Bath Road. Upon renumbering the address became 64-66 High Street. The building was recently occupied by Cult Clothing, the fashion store founded by Julian Dunkerton. 66 High Street is now Black Gold independent coffee shop.
Bass House, Alma Road
The Bass House in Alma Road, Hatherley, opened its doors on 16th December 1978. It was built as a one-bar pub and as its name implied it was tied to Bass Charrington Brewery. It usually sold Draught Bass and Worthington Bitter (later Worthington Draught) on handpump.
In the late 1980’s and 1990’s the pub regularly won prizes in the Cheltenham in Bloom competition for its wonderful floral displays.
‘Dry January’ is an established social trend these days following the Christmas and the New Year festivities of over-indulgence. In 2005 the current social-media frenzy was unheard of and it made headlines in the local newspaper when drinkers at the Bass House voluntarily gave up drinking their favourite tipple for just two-weeks. After a drinking excessively in the festive season several locals took the pledge to stay sober and raise money for the Macmillian Nurses charity. Pub regulars paid £5 a day to abstain and £600 was raised. However, only one person succeeded in staying dry for the duration – the landlady’s husband Denis Burns.
In August 2005 residents living near the Bass House were not impressed when an application was submitted to extend the closing time until 12.30 am. The Wallace House sheltered housing complex, opposite the pub in Windermere Road, complained that their residents’ quality of life would suffer from excessive noise, anti-social behaviour and disturb them from their sleep. A spokeswoman for pub chain Mitchell & Butlers said: “We would take all reasonably practicable steps to minimise disturbance to the community.”
A temporary manager was accosted at knifepoint in July 2006 when a man wearing a balaclava broke into the Bass House and stole £1,000 in cash from the pub's safe. The stand-in manager, who had only been at the Bass House for a fortnight at the time of the incident, was repeatedly assaulted and had the knife blade held to his throat. With true British stoicism he said: “It wasn’t the most trouble I’ve ever experienced as a pub manager, but it wasn’t pleasant.”
In November 2006 developer Lanmarque Sites submitted plans to demolish the Bass House and build 14 homes on the site. A spokesman for the developer said: “The homes will have a positive impact on the image and revitalisation of the area”, adding “The site will be better put to use as a residential development, which will create a unified street scene and serve to lift the area.” The Cheltenham Civic Society reacted with the comment: “The development will add nothing to the neighbourhood and little thought has been given to the landscaping. The proposal is very poorly planned and serves only to illustrate that too many units are being squeezed onto the site. We strongly recommend refusal.”
But a spokesman for Mitchell & Butlers, owner of the Bass House, confirmed in February 2007 that they were in the process of selling the pub: “Our staff have been briefed on the sale and the pub will close in early March.” A local drinker at the Bass House said: “It’s a good old-fashioned pub, there’s not many of them left. It will be sadly missed. It’s a good local.”
The Bass House served the local community for over 28 years. Despite objections the Bass House called ‘last orders’ for the final time on 9th March 2007 and demolition finally came on Thursday 19th April. Houses have since been built on the site.
Bath Hotel / Dawn Run, 14 Albion Street, GL52 2LG
Frederick David James George was the owner of the Bath Hotel in 1891 and he ran it free of brewery tie. Sometime within the next 12 years it was sold to the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery of Shepton Mallet, Somerset. The Bath Hotel was an ale house and it had an annual rateable value of £42.10s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. The address in the old numbering system was 4 Albion Street.
I have fond memories of the front bar of the Bath Hotel in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when it sold one of the best pints of ‘PA’ (West Country Pale Ale) in Cheltenham.
In the mid 1980’s the name of the pub changed to the Dawn Run – after the racehorse that won the 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The tenant landlady of the Dawn Run left the pub without warning on 16th March 2003 taking with her most of the furniture and fittings. The owners Enterprise Inns sought legal advice on the civil recovery of the items and the pub was closed. In a statement Enterprise Inns said: “The owners of the Dawn Run can confirm that the pub is closed for refurbishment and is due to reopen on April 7th. Steven Cremin took on the Enterprise lease, he was also the joint landlord of the Shakespeare pub in the Lower High Street.
In October 2007 the Dawn Run was offered for sale with an asking price of £350,000. The agents responsible for the sale, Fluerets West & South Wales, invited prospective buyers but viewing had to be via appointment as the Dawn Run had ceased trading.
The Dawn Run was put on the market again, freehold, for £295,000 in March 2008. Admiral Taverns simply declared that: “The pub is being sold because it doesn’t fit Admiral’s pub portfolio.” London-based property agents Paramount Investments conducted the sale on behalf of the pub company. The property was bought by Mustafa Cerikan who converted it to the Angora Meze Bar – a Turkish Restaurant.
An application was submitted to Cheltenham Borough Council in February 2009 for internal alterations to ground floor, repair and renovations to first and second floors and repair and painting to the front elevation. When building work commenced there was some controversy when a passageway at the side of the old Bath Hotel was blocked off. The manager of the Everest Balti House, located behind the building in Portland Street, claimed that the narrow passage was a vital access route used by their employees and disabled residents of the neighbouring building. The owner of the Everest Balti House insisted that the alley had been used since he had been there for the last 30 years and his predecessor had access to it since the 1950’s. Both parties in the dispute threatened to take the case to a Land Tribunal.
A search on the internet seems to indicate that the Angora Meze Bar has now closed. Looking at on-line maps it also appears that the disputed passageway is now fully accessible. A fortunate survivor throughout its various incarnations since the demise of the original Bath Hotel is a ‘Best in the West – 1760 – West Country Ales’ ceramic plaque that is still in situ.
Landlords at the Bath Hotel / Dawn Run include:
Bath House, 89 New Street
Bath Road Stores, Bath Road
There is a reference to the Bath Road Tavern in 1859 when John Knight was the landlord / occupier. It is not known if this refers to the Bath Road Stores or the Bath Tavern (see below)
Bath Tavern, 68 Bath Road GL53 7JT
The Bath Tavern was run for almost 130 years by the Cheshire family. Frederick Cheshire was believed to be behind the bar in 1878 and an 1883 reference confirms that he was in residence. Phyllis Cheshire took over the pub in 1957 and was serving behind the bar for 40 years until 1 ill health caused her to retire in 1997. Sandra McKinnes took over the running of the pub in her absence. Sadly, Phyllis died in June 2000. She was known by all her regulars simply as ‘Auntie’.
Phyllis’s three sons, Andy, Paul and Geoff, decided to sell the Bath Tavern. Andy Cheshire, a company director, said: “When I pulled my first pint it was the equivalent of 7 pence. In 130 years we never once had the police in. Mum was a very good judge of character and if you weren’t polite you wouldn’t get served.” In fact, I can testify to Andy’s observation of his Mum’s character as the Bath Tavern holds the dubious distinction of being the only pub that I have been temporarily barred. It happened when I complained to Phyllis about a dodgy pint of Draught Bass, perhaps hoping for a straightforward replacement with Uley Bitter. She retorted in no uncertain terms: “Well, everyone else is drinking it. If you don’t like my beer get out and don’t return again.” However, I did return to the Bath Tavern on many other occasions to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this lovely pub untouched by time – a true Victorian classic local. I made a point of never complaining about the beer though, not that I had to as the quality was invariably excellent.
Entering through the front door there was a small bar to the left, measuring just six feet by ten feet. A central corridor, with a serving hatch from the bar, led to a larger room to the right. Ornate etched glass bay windows on the front of the pub and a basic outside gents’ toilet made the Bath Tavern a remarkable survivor of times gone by. The small bar had basic wooden shelves and panelling. The Bath Tavern was deemed noteworthy of national importance and it had a deserved listing on the Campaign for Real Ale’s National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors.
On 9th June 2001 the pub reopened under the new name of Tavern in the Town. The press release invited customers to ‘come along and experience a warm welcome in our totally transformed modern yet traditional bar’. It is believed that the wooden panelling and bar back was riddled with dry rot. The decision was taken to transform the interior to a single room drinking space, keeping the style as traditional as possible. The loss of such a gem is certainly lamentable but given the circumstances of the rotten interior structure and the admittedly awkward design it is perhaps inevitable that change had to happen. Even the outside toilets were reconstructed. At least the pub didn’t close when the Cheshire family called it a day. A new feature at the pub, totally alien in ‘Auntie’s’ days, was the installation of Sky TV.
Julie Wathen took over the Tavern in the Town in November 2003. Julie was a member of the group Tight Fit who had a hit single in 1982 with The Lion Sleeps Tonight. She said: “This freehouse pub came on the market and we fell in love with it. We want to create a gastropub with good, wholesome, home-made cooking but keeping the feel of the traditional pub. I want to introduce some lunchtime trade and tapas in the evening. We have a lot of work to do before we start it up properly.”
In August 2008 some residents of Belmore Place complained about customers from the Bath Tavern and Bell Inn spilling out from the pubs “into their once quiet and peaceful private road.” Belmore Place intersects the two adjacent pubs in Bath Road. One resident, an unnamed male aged 43, told the ‘Gloucestershire Echo’: “We are at our wits end. There are only twelve houses in Belmore Place yet we have two pubs on our doorstep. We now have to put up with people smoking and drinking outside our houses late into the night. All we want is a quiet life without being disturbed by the constant noise coming from these two public houses.” Perhaps I might suggest that the residents who complained had actually chosen to live in Belmore Place where the two pubs had been trading for generations.
The Bath Tavern was put on the market again in March 2012 with an asking price of £420,000 for the freehold. Colliers International handling the sale expected a keen interest. A spokesman commented: “The Bath Tavern is a pub we would all like to have as our local. As a business it offers a simple, but successful formula with a largely wet trade. Less that 10 per cent of total sales come from the simple bar snack menu. This will represent the perfect balance of trade for many, but potential owners wishing to develop the Bath Tavern as a gastropub will have plenty of scope.”
Landlords of the Bath Tavern include:
Battledown Inn, 156,158 Hales Road, GL52 6TB
Charles King owned the Battledown Inn in 1891 which he leased to the Cheltenham Original Brewery. Mary King is listed as owner in 1903, presumably Charles’ wife (possibly his widow). Mary King continued to lease it to the local brewery. The Battledown Inn was a licensed beer house with an annual rateable value of £21.5s.0d. in 1891 increasing by 15/- to £22.0s.0d. in 1903.
The old sign from the Battledown Inn was displayed for many years in the Whitbread Sports and Social Club in the old Cheltenham (Flowers) Brewery. Its whereabouts is now unknown, hopefully preserved somewhere.
The Battledown Inn was demolished in the late 1970's. The site of the pub is now occupied by a terrace of modern houses at 156/158 Hales Road.
Landlords at the Battledown Inn include:
Bayshill Inn, 85 St. Georges Place, GL50 3PP
The Bayshill Inn had an annual rateable value of £34.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903 and was licensed as an ale house.
Whitbread owned the Bayshill Inn in the late 1970’s but it was operated by Wadworth & Co. of Devizes on an exchange agreement. Trevor and Brenda Wren were legendary landlords at the Bayshill, who started selling pints of 6X behind the bar in 1972. In 1980 it was noted that Trevor was selling ten thirty-six gallon casks beer a week. In the early days of the resurgence of popularity of real ale the Bayshill was a mecca for discerning beer drinkers. Trevor and Brenda retired from the Bayshill Inn in 1994. Trevor passed away in November 2000.
On July 16th 1987 Cheltenham Borough Council recommended the demolition of the Bayshill Inn to facilitate the construction of an inner ring road through the site. The plans were greeted with dismay. A campaign was launched to ‘Save the Bayshill’. A petition with nearly 1,000 signatures was presented to the Council. Decameron, a well-known Cheltenham based folk band, reformed under the amusing name of the Bayshill Rollers – a wordplay on the Bay City Rollers – to record a protest single ‘Save the Bayshill’ which was recorded in March 1979. Proceeds received from the sale went to a local children’s charity. The campaign even had the support of the Conservative MP for Cheltenham, Charles Irving, who simply said: “Why should we cause stress to a well-established institution like the Bayshill?” The proposed plans were eventually withdrawn.
Derek Goddard was a raconteur and regular columnist for the ‘Gloucestershire Echo’. In his weekly column he often remarked about life as he saw it from the bar in his local pub, the Bayshill. In July 1997 he lamented the loss of the pub’s skittle alley and other changes at his local: “The bar, a pleasant shade of Formica, has been replaced by a wooden one and the back room has been walled off. The outside toilets, a feature of the old place, have been ripped down and the idea is to build a new loo indoors. Where the skittles alley would have been, an ominously large square room has appeared behind a door and I have heard it referred to as the new lounge. The old lounge was merely the other side of a short dividing wall and tapered away towards the darts board and contained a pinball machine. It was rarely called a lounge. It was rarely called anything. We may also have to decide whether to rename The New Bayshill before they call it something extra-special like the Snail and Cabbage or some such.”
Nearly two years later Derek Goddard wrote in his column about his concerns for the future of the Bayshill. He wrote in June 1999: “The great fear is that some things will happen to change the character of the place, which has been zealously protected for many years despite the heavy rebuilding it has undergone. The Bayshill, we reckon, is one of the last street-corner pubs left in the town, and ‘pub’ is the operative word. We want it to stay that way. It is not a wine bar or a niterie and I hope I speak on behalf of most of us who want to see long-standing values and principles maintained. We have been assured they will be. You don’t have to be an old fogey to appreciate something good and the Bayshill has always been a good, solid pub. It is not trendy or for trendies, and that has been its great strength over the years.”
Smoking in pubs was still common in public houses in 2003. The smoking ban was not enforced by law until July 2007. Geoffrey Adams, the landlord of the Bayshill in 2003, was concerned that a potential smoking ban would harm trade. He said: “I’d go as far to say that 95 per cent of my customers smoke. There are only a few who don’t and they tend to seek seats in the corners so they can avoid the smoke. If it becomes law then we will have to enforce it but I don’t think many people would be happy about it.”
A distinctive painted mural on the wall of the public bar which featured characters that frequented the pub in the 1970’s, including landlord and landlady Trevor and Brenda Wren, was painted over in 2004.
Lisa Barnes took over the Bayshill as manager in July 2011. Lisa managed the pub on behalf of Dale Allison who ran the Yew Tree in Conderton (another Wadworth tied house). She said: “It’s a good old-fashioned English pub where you can come in and chat to people at the bar. There is a really friendly atmosphere.”
The Bayshill Inn was shut for a week in February 2013 for interior refurbishment, and in June an application was submitted to Cheltenham Borough Council for ‘change of use and internal alterations to rear wing to create function room, bar and pool room. Landlady Lisa Barnes said: “Having a function room, pool room and new bar could make a big difference. It would enable us to host weddings, which is something there is a definite need for.
An electrical fault in a fuse box at the basement of the pub caused a fire on January 5th 2014. Flames spread through the floorboards and it took more than 20 fire fighters to bring the blaze under control, and they battled for three hours to secure the building. Station commander Dave Pike said: “We quickly established that the fire was in the basement and likely to be caused by electrical faults. All of the crews worked together and thanks to the early call from the Bayshill we were able to limit the damage caused.” Luckily no one was injured in the fire. Asbestos in the cellar ceiling was damaged necessitating specialist contractors to safely remove it. The damage was estimated at £100,000. After weeks of working around the clock to repair the fire ravaged pub the Bayshill opened again on the 22nd February. At the time Lisa Barnes also ran the Beaufort Arms in London Road (see below) and organised a football match between the two pubs which raised over £1,000 for the Firefighters’ Charity. Firemen were also invited to the pub’s reopening.
A distinctive and impressive colourful mural was painted on the side of the pub during the second Cheltenham Paint Festival in September 2018. Californian artist Beau Stanton created a gigantic painting of an archer which still graces the side of the Bayshill today.
Landlords at the Bayshill Inn include: