I have just returned from an excellent holiday to some really bad news: whilst I was away the Pig Inn the City closed. This is a tragedy!
If you haven’t just returned from foreign climes you are probably already well aware of this sad news – the imminent closure was reported in the Citizen on Wednesday 26 October along with the closure of the Union further up Westgate Street. Both pubs closed on Saturday 29 October.
What surprises me is that there hasn’t been more reaction: I haven’t managed to fully catch up with the news, but apart from a letter to the Citizen from Gloucester CAMRA chairman Alan Stephens on Monday 31st there seems to have been no response at all.
Perhaps the Union closure is less of a shock – it has been up and down over the past few years with quite a turnover of staff. It is potentially a great pub and we can but hope that Enterprise will get a new landlord and give them the scope to make a go of it.
The Pig, though, has been a stable going concern for a number of years and, thanks to the hard work of Martyn and Kay, it has been Gloucester CAMRA’s City Pub of the Year for the past three years running. It is a gem of a pub – the gem may be a rough diamond, but it is a gem nonetheless.
The Pig also has a lot of history and is Grade II listed. Originally called the George it was already a sufficiently well-known hostelry to be used as a landmark in a rent-roll from 1535, which lists the streets in Gloucester and includes the entry: “Key Lane, or Walkers Lane, is beneath S. Nicholas Church on the South side of the street, by the sign of the George.”
The pub name was changed to the Lower George when another George opened further up Westgate Street, where KFC is today. By 1791 the Lower George was one of the chief inns in the city. It was owned by Banks’s in the early 1990s but was sold to the Little Pub Company in 1997, who turned it into that scourge of the 1990s, the Irish theme pub. They changed the name to Mad O’Rourkes.
The name changed again to Pig Inn the City when it was again taken over by Inn Spired – why is something of a mystery, but it is better than Mad O’Rourkes. It was taken over again by a company called Property Investments and Martyn and Kay have been there since 2006 and have been pretty much left to run the pub as they like.
The big concern over the Pig is that it is run by a property investment company which hasn’t made much investment in its property over a number of years. It is now looking distinctly shabby and needs a lot of work. The cynical may suspect that this is a deliberate ploy to allow permission for change of use so that it can be turned into yet more apartments.
At one time there were a large number of pubs in Westgate Street, running all the way down to Westgate Bridge. Today the Pig is the furthest western outpost of Gloucester’s city pubs, it would be a great shame if we lost it.