In my ongoing mission to re-visit all of Gloucester’s pubs, I undertook my fourth ‘research trip’ on Friday evening, this time around the pubs of Kingsholm.
This was the first research trip that I undertook when writing The Story of Gloucester’s pubs: I did it on 3 January 2009, and conducted the research around attending a rugby match, so the pubs were all absolutely heaving with rugby fans (read about it here). This time I decided to avoid match day to get a better feel of what the pubs are like normally.
We started our mission at The Station Hotel on Bruton Way – not strictly speaking in Kingsholm, but it fits well into the route. It targets itself as a specialist bar for the over 30s, so we definitely qualified; when we arriving it was still before 7:30pm, so it was still quite quiet and I wasn’t aware of anything particular marking it out as an over 30s bar. It was friendly enough though and had a couple of real ales available.
Next we took a long walk to our furthest point, the Queen’s Head, and what a revelation that turned out to be. This is a small, very traditional pub that has somehow managed to avoid refurbishment leaving it with a 1950s feel. On the few occasions that I have been in the past, apart from rugby days, it has been quiet with just the odd regular in attendance. However, I was pleasantly surprised a few weeks ago when they held an excellent and very well attended cider festival.
I am pleased to say that this improvement seems to be continuing: when we turned up on Friday the bar was very busy. There was rugby showing on the two TVs, but the sound was off and instead there was some very good, upbeat music playing and an impromptu karaoke was taking place as the people at the bar sang along. There were snacks on the bar and they had two real ales and four real ciders and perrys all at £2 per pint. It definitely got the thumbs up from us and we were reluctant to drag ourselves away.
We now started to retrace our steps back towards town, with the next bar being Teague’s Bar, just a few feet away. Properly called the White Hart, this is a very impressive Victorian pub. Inside it is high ceilinged and more contemporary than the Queen’s Head, decorated with copious amounts of rugby memorabilia. The bar is so named because the lease is owned by the brother of Gloucester legend Mike Teague. However, the lease is about to expire and Mike Teague wants to wind up the Teague’s Bar franchise, so the pub may close.
Inside it was quiet: here the TVs were showing the rugby but this time with the sound up and apart from us there was just a small group of blokes in. There were a number of hand-pumps on the bar for both beer and cider, but all were off: like many rugby pubs the White Hart only sells real ale on match days.
Next we made our way to the Kingsholm Inn, more commonly referred to as The Jockey. This is a great pub with low ceilings and a very rustic interior. The decor is an odd mix of the kind of chintzy pictures and nick-nacks that you generally find in old country pubs, alongside cabinets full of rugby memorabilia. The pub was lively, although not particularly busy. It offered a real ale, but again on match days it offers more.
Our next stop took us into St Catherine’s Street to the Coach and Horses, recently refurbished and reopened as a cider pub called the Cider Tree. As you would expect, it sells a wide range of ciders, both real and in kegs and bottles. It also sells a couple of real ales, although on this occasion there was only one, and my beer drinking associates weren’t overly impressed with its quality. I had a cider which was so sharp it felt like it was dissolving the enamel from my teeth – mental note to try before I buy in future, or at least drink halves!
We now made our way along St Catherine’s Street to Dean’s Walk, where the Dean’s Walk Inn sits alongside a railway bridge. The pub’s affiliation with rugby is in no doubt when you see the giant rugby ball protruding from the roof and notice that the pub sign shows the Dean of Gloucester clutching a rugby ball. The Dean’s Walk is a two bar pub and has a very traditional feel – it is hard to believe that it was only rebuilt in 1980 after being burnt down. Yet again, the pub only serves real ale on match days.
And so we came to the last ‘official’ pub of the day: The Pelican. I have visited the Pelican before on the Westgate trip, but this is the route I had intended it to be on – it is always worth revisiting though whatever the excuse. By now time was getting on and, as usual, the Pelican was pretty busy. It is a very friendly pub and you can generally be guaranteed a bit of banter from Mike the landlord. There is plenty of beer and cider to choose from here, so we were all happy. I also risked sampling some of the many rums that Mike has amassed: perhaps an unwise move.
Despite the lateness of the hour, it was still warm, so we sat out in the pleasant courtyard garden until Mike finally threw us out at around 1215.
At that time of night, there is only one place to go for the dedicated pub researcher: yes, Cafe Rene again!
Previous ‘Research’ trips