cover-pic1Born in 1966, I was brought up in Gloucester (UK) and have lived all my life in and around the city. I left Saintbridge School aged 16 after an undistinguished academic showing and went to work in enemy territory: Cheltenham. It was only much later that I returned to academia to complete an MBA at the University of Gloucestershire.

Being a Gloucester boy working in Cheltenham, the antipathy toward my home town was quite surprising: Cheltenham people tend to adopt a distinct air of superiority over Gloucester, which is quite odd for two towns separated by only 10 miles.

I don’t really know why I eventually started to take an interest in Gloucester’s history, but once I did it became quite addictive. I decided to make use of my research: I wanted to capture and share this interesting history in a simple, non-academic, easy reading style. Gloucester’s heritage is far richer and goes back much further than Cheltenham’s and I hoped to redress some of the imbalance of opinion between the two towns.

This book was published in April 2007 as The story of Gloucester.

Having written the book I assumed that would be it: I’d got that out of my system and could now revert to slobbing about without any particular purpose. However the research bug had bitten and stopping was harder than I thought.

I am an enthusiastic beer drinker, and the pubs of Gloucester have played an important role in my life. There are far more interesting pubs in the city than I could squeeze into my first book so, sticking with the advice that you should write about what you know, I decided to write a book on Gloucester pubs.

This second book was published in May 2010 titled  The Story of Gloucester’s Pubs.

I now now completed the hat-trick, with my third book, Gloucester Then and Now published in June 2012.

This book takes old pictures of Gloucester and compares them with photos taken from the same spot today, allowing you to clearly see how the city has developed over the years.

For more information on all three books, see my website: www.darrelkirby.com


20 Responses to About

  1. Hi, nice to meet you !

  2. carrietxxxxx says:

    Regarding the antipathy towards Gloucester from Cheltenham residents .I bumped into person I hadn’t seen for a while in Cheltenham who said when I mentioned the shops in Gloucester .” I don’t go there very often, and when I do ,I remember why !”
    I tried to explain about the Gloucester Quays development ,our beautiful Cathedral ,Blackfriars etc( but thinking about the shopping centre where Kings walk comes into Kings Square (where they used to have fake flowers stuffed into an old planter) -I could see where she was coming from !I think the new Marks & Spencers has brought a bit more interest & class into the Kings Walk area.

    I have always been proud of our city (since moving here in 1981-,incidently from Cheltenham),its Roman heritage ,the Docks and being the UK’s most inland port,,the Cathedral etc& spent a very interesting weekend looking at the places not always accessible to the general public as part of the heritage weekend (The Undercroft bar of The Fleece Hotel for example)
    We have had some fabulous events at the Docks -the tall ships festivals & fireworks displays,& food festivals & I try to put a bit on my wordpress blog to promote the city

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Hi thanks for posting. It is true that Gloucester is not the shopping destination it could be, but hopefully that will improve with the developments taking place. If it could become a decent shopping destination to go along with all that history, it would be unbeatable!

  3. Uncle Spike says:

    So you decided to join the small clan of Uncle Spike followers Darrel…. That makes me a happy blogger now – I really appreciate you making that special mouse click.

    Hope you like my upcoming posts and if you get bored one day, maybe you’ll enjoy trawling through some of my older stuff too.

    If you have any likes, dislikes or suggestions about my blog, just let me know, either through ‘comments’ or via email. Always welcome reader input 🙂

    Have a great old day…


    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Hi, thanks for the message. Haven’t had much chance to root through your posts yet, but looking forward to having a read.
      A lot of my stuff is local interest, but some is more general so hopefully you can find something of interest – let me know what you think.

  4. Ameena says:

    Hi Darrel I love reading your blog and website. Like you I was born in Gloucester, work in a Cheltenham and have a few books published. Very small world. Keep blogging so I can keep reading xxx

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Hi Ameena, thanks for commenting and glad you are enjoying my blog. I’ve had a look at your website and it looks great, you obviously have a much more extensive enterprise than me! Sadly I fear I am beyond the help of your natural beauty products!

  5. jamesdowd says:

    Hello fellow Gloucesterite!

    Jim Dowd from Gloucester USA here. My relationship to Gloucester UK is sadly confined to when I try and look up features at our local two screen theatre here in our small fishing hamlet in Massachusetts. Somehow, Google always gives me the listings for the Gloucester Quays.

    This means suddenly I’m confronted with things like “Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie” which to me is about as penetrable as a North Korean agricultural propaganda musical.

    You are a strange and fascinating people.

    So I thought it would be funny, as I co-edit a local comedy blog “The Gloucester Clam” (gloucesterclam.com) to open up a dialogue with our cousins-across-the-sea regarding all things ‘Gloucester’. How are we different? How are we alike? For instance to India-based telephone support technicians blow the name of your town as hilariously as they do ours?

    Also, speaking of hilarious accents, how do you say it? Here in the Boston area we have a particularly strong accent that causes us to call the name of our town “Gloss-Tah” with the second section rhyming with the way you might say “good bye” because you are probably from Britain and all that.

    I also wonder if you’ve heard of us at all. Most people here say, “We’re named after a town in England, but I don’t know anything about it.” This is true about most foreign things in the United States such as soccer and democracy.

    So if you have a bit of time, could you send me a reply? Perhaps we could do an exchange of some kind. As a seaside town we’re just full of amazing tourist crap and we do have our own brew pub, as we too are fond of well-made beer.

    Anyway, cherrio or cheers or whatever you folks say. Oh, and we’re playing Belgium today. Is there some song or something we’re supposed to sing? We have no idea.

    Peace out,


    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Hi Jim, good to hear from you.
      I am familiar with the concept of Gloucester Mass because, when I wrote my book, The Story Of Gloucester, I included a chapter on Gloucester’s around the world (the chapter is called “Gloucester Goes Forth and Multiplies”).
      I got some great help and info from your tourist information people and, as well as your fair town, I included Gloucester National Park in Western Australia; Gloucester Township in New South Wales; Gloucester City, Ontario; Gloucester County, New Brunswick; Gloucester North Carolina; Gloucester County, Virginia; Gloucester, New Jersey and Gloucester County, New York. I guess it really did multiply. You are the first of the inhabitants from other Gloucesters to contact me though, so I am doubly pleased to hear from you.
      I am sorry to disappoint, but both Mrs Brown’s Boys and Football both pass me by as well. Here in Gloucester UK we are a rugby town – hosting the Rugby World Cup next year no less.
      Normally, we would pronounce the name of our city Gloss-ter, although our strong south country (south west England) accent turns that into Glawwwwster on the rugby terraces. The Indian sales people to tend to mangle the name hilariously, but then again most Americans don’t get it either calling us Glow-sess-ter (with the first syllable pronounce to rhyme with ‘now’).
      Sadly we are not a seaside town, but we are the furthest inland port in Britain, thanks to Queen Elizabeth I granting us the honour back in 1580. This means that we are at the end of a long inlet from the sea which becomes the River Severn. This gives rise to the Severn Bore several times a year where the incoming tide clashes with the flow of the river to cause a wave to roll upstream. A very rare natural phenomenon apparently.
      We too have our own brew pub though:Gloucester Brewery opened just a couple of years ago in the historic Gloucester Docks and very good it is too. If you have read any of my blogs you may ascertain that pubs and beer are very important to me!
      I would also be extremely remiss not to mention our magnificent cathedral.
      However, despite all of the history (back to pre-Roman times) in our city and the fact that it is currently undergo much development, the natives are generally a negative bunch, looking for something to moan about and generally talking the city down. Our nearest neighbours, Cheltenham, a Regency Spa town, also likes to have a go whenever they can, but I put that down to jealousy!
      Happy to talk further and, when I have more time, I’ll take a good look at your blog.
      Chin, chin
      Pip, pip


      • jamesdowd says:

        This is great!

        first, can I interview you via email about Gloucester for our blog? Second, where is the best place to get your book (my author friends always want me to buy their books a certain way: “get it on ebook from Amazon at midnight along with the Joy of Cooking”)? You can send me an email at jamedowd@gmail.com.


      • Darrel Kirby says:

        No problem with an interview, I’ll respond by e-mail.I’m not sure how international sales work for my book – normally I prefer direct sales, but not really an option here! It is available from my publisher at http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/index.php/the-story-of-gloucester.html, but may be easier from Amazon.
        I may use this exchange for an article in our local paper – they love this sort of stuff.

      • jamesdowd says:


  6. Bryony Gray says:

    Hi Darrel, I recently saw your piece on Horton Road Hospital. I am currently doing a study on female patients at Horton Road during the 19th Century, I was wondering if I could contact you to see if you had any information that would be useful to me? I am of course utilising the fantastic resources at Gloucestershire Archives, but am struggling to find the male to female patient ratios, as my thesis is that the asylum was used as form of misogynistic control over women?

  7. Darrel Kirby says:

    Hi Bryony, thanks for getting in touch, your thesis sounds very interesting. I’m afraid I am unlikely to be of any help however as I have not done any in-depth research, just the basics that I put on the website. Good luck with the thesis!

  8. Dana Fowles says:

    Good afternoon Darrel,

    My name is Dana Fowles and I’m an Assistant Editor on the local history team at Amberley Publishing, based in Stroud. I have come across your blog today and was wondering whether it would be possible to discuss a Gloucester project with you.

    If you would like some further information, please email me on d.fowles@amberley-books.com.

    I enjoyed having a look from the blog and look forward to hearing from you.

    Best wishes,

    Dana Fowles
    Assistant Editor
    Amberley Publishing
    GL5 4EP

    Office hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5:30 pm

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Many thanks for the interest, but my publishers to date have been The History Press and I am not really interested in taking on another project at the moment.

  9. Dana Fowles says:

    Thanks for letting me know Darrel and good luck with any future projects.

  10. Hi Darrel, here is our short film celebrating the sculpture Place, which you wrote about on your blog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOXX53u71R8
    For more information about its removal and the future of the Trail please see our website: http://www.forestofdean-sculpture.org.uk/index.php/news-and-events
    Many thanks

  11. Hi Darrel …. Got a challenge for you that has eluded us for a long , long time ….. we are trying to source late 1970’s images of the TOP HAT CAFE , the GREEN LANTERN CAFE , FINCH’S BUTCHERS (PRE 1970’S) and the LEOPARD INN all situated in and around 218 Southgate st , Gloucester .
    Would me appreciative for any assistance with these , been bugging us for a long time !!!
    One more request , we are also trying to source any images of the Prince Albert public house near GL 1 both inside and out .
    my email address is Jules@concertphotography.co.uk
    Jules Annan MCIJ

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Sorry, I can’t help with any of that. I sourced most of my pictures through Gloucestershire Archives, but it is difficult to find any images of random street scenes and buildings unless something specific happened to get them in the news – like Lower Westgate in the floods of 1947. Good luck with your quest.

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