Two of Gloucester’s Pubs, both owned by Enterprise Inns, recently re-opened, so last Saturday I decided it was high time I went and tried them out. They are both very different propositions, and my evening didn’t go quite according to plan.
I wrote about the Northend Vaults recently in response to suggestion that the name may have been changing: I am much against the arbitrary re-naming of pubs. I was therefore delighted to find that the new landlord, David Thomason, decided to stick with tradition and he reverted the recently truncated name “Vaults” back to the original Northend Vaults.
I had been looking forward to my visit to the Northend Vaults all week: not only does it have 4 real ales on tap, but it also specialises in pie and mash. I had heard good reports about both and was keen to try them for myself.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do my homework: I had entirely overlooked the fact that last Saturday was a Gloucester Rugby home game, and a popular one at that as they were playing Bath. Quickly glossing over the result, the significance of this for me was that the Northend Vaults was absolutely heaving, and as a consequence no pies were being served.
So no chance to try the pies, and it was very difficult to get a feel for the restoration through the sea of cherry and white shirts, so I will have to return on another day. It was great to see the pub doing so well in its early days, however, and I can report that the beer was excellent.
Second on my itinerary was the pub formerly known as the Union in Westgate Street, which re-opened at the end of March after a short closure.
The pub has been known as the Union since at least 1847, and to wipe away more than 150 years of history because the new Landlady, Jackie Nesbitt, thinks her nickname would make a better pub name fills me with dismay.
Admittedly the Union has changed names before: it was The Tailor’s House for a time. I didn’t approve of that either really, but at least in that case it had some connection with the city: the building was apparently once the workshop of the tailor John Pritchard, who inspired Beatrix Potter’s story The Tailor of Gloucester.
The only thing that fills me with more horror than the change of name is the sentence “…it will make a fantastic Irish pub”. Oh no, I had hoped the Irish pub theme craze had died out in the 1990s. Ironically, the original name would have been in keeping with this heinous aim anyway, as it is probably refers to the Acts of Union with Ireland.
Despite my reservations I was still intending to visit Molly’s Bar to see what it was like, but when we arrived there was a disco in progress, playing cheesy wedding disco type music. Since we were hungry having been denied pie and mash earlier this was too much, so we retreated instead to the Fountain (another Enterprise Inns pub) where I enjoyed a superb burger and a pint or two.
Maybe I’m being unduly harsh on Molly’s Bar; despite my moans I am pleased to see that the pub has re-opened and I wish Jackie well. The pub has gone through a lot of ups and downs of late and it would be good to see it have a period of stability. I will return to give it a try one day soon (if they’ll let me in after writing this!), but I may insist on continuing to call it the Union.