A Tale of Two Pubs

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.

The VaultsThe first of the pubs was the Northend Vaults in Northgate Street, which had been closed for a couple of years before re-opening after an extensive refurbishment on 4 April.

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.

Northend Vaults pubsignI 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 UnionGiven my earlier comment about the arbitrary re-naming of pubs you can imagine my reaction on hearing that it was to be re-named “Molly’s Bar”.

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.

The Tailors HouseAdmittedly 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.


About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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7 Responses to A Tale of Two Pubs

  1. You could have asked anyone in Gloucester about both pubs. Not sure any response would have been a positive one. Maybe you’re better off in Cheltenham.

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Many people in Gloucester could, no doubt, have given me a response based on previous experience, hearsay and general bias, but since they have both only just re-opened under new management the only way to get a genuine view on what they are like is to visit. Past perceptions of the Northend Vaults are now totally outdated as it has been utterly transformed.
      Although there are a few very good pubs in Cheltenham I wouldn’t say they are any better off than Gloucester: that is another claim all too frequently trotted out as a truism and it needs to be challenged more often.

  2. Andy Martin says:

    Always the union
    Never some silly irish rubbish
    History matters

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      I agree – it is a shame that we have to import someone else’s culture when we have so much of our own.

  3. Pingback: So That Was April 2014… | Darrel Kirby's Blog

  4. Anon says:

    I used to live at The Union when it was called The Tailors House. It was hard enough back in the early 2000’s thanks to high rates etc, hopefully Jackie will be able to make it work. It saddens me to go down Westgate Street on a Saturday night only to see it deserted.

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