Yesterday was a day for education.
History to be more specific; pub history to be precise.
I always find practical lessons to be the best approach, so I joined the Pub History Society for a walk around some of Gloucester’s finest pubs.
To be honest, I didn’t know there was any such thing as the Pub History Society until quite recently when I was invited to join in on this visit.
The society was founded in 2001 by a small group of like-minded pub history enthusiasts and its mission is ‘Promoting the heritage of British pubs and the people connected with them’.
Well, that sounds like a worthy mission.
The visit to Gloucester was suggested by Bill Hunt from Tewkesbury CAMRA, who is also a member of the Society (as well as a former member of Wizzard and ELO!). Geoff Sandles, local pub and brewery historian, was drafted in to lead the tour and he drafted me in to lend my particular expertise on the pubs of Gloucester. Well, how could I refuse?
The day started with a good fry up in the Barge Restaurant in Gloucester Docks, before meeting the society folks in the Imperial at 1230.
There were more than 20 people on the tour, many of whom had travelled a considerable distance to attend, and some of whom incorporated an overnight stay. These people are dedicated.
Because of the numbers, we split the group in half, with Geoff taking one half and me taking the other.
Although we have a good number of excellent historic pubs in the city, many are pubs in interesting and historic buildings rather than actual historic pubs. We decided not to worry about the distinction and included them all anyway.
Geoff had identified seven pubs to visit and, for my group, I decided to add in a few extras – this was going to be a challenging day!
Over the course of the day we visited the Imperial, New Inn, Old Bell, Robert Raikes’ House, Fountain, Lower George, Old Crown, Dick Whittington and Pelican. The Cross Keys was on the list but was unfortunately closed, and the newly refurbished Sword would have made a good addition but sadly it doesn’t open until Tuesday.
About half way round we aimed to take our party to Maverdine Alley to see the fabulous building known as Colonel Massey’s House, more recently remembered as Winfield’s seed warehouse. Unfortunately the door was locked so we couldn’t get in.
As luck would have it, however, the building’s owner, Chance Malone, happened by and offered to take us on a tour of the building. This was probably the highlight of the day, despite the lack of beer, but I will save it for a separate blog later in the week.
And so we had a final drink in the Pelican before saying our farewells and the group all dispersed off to their disparate parts of the country, taking with them a very good impression of the city in general and the pubs in particular.