Listed below are pubs, ex-pubs, and off-licences that still have a ‘West Country Ales – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque still in situ. These colourful brewery plaques are still quite a common sight in Gloucestershire and are taken very much for granted. However, they deserve far more recognition as these West Country Ales plaques are a reminder of Gloucestershire’s once proud brewing heritage.
West Country Breweries were established in 1958 when the Stroud Brewery merged with the Cheltenham Brewery. By coincidence both the Stroud Brewery and the Cheltenham Brewery first started brewing in the same year – 1760. The date is recorded in the ceramic plaques. West Country Breweries were a large regional company with tied houses extending into Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and parts of Wales. As a result, these colourful ‘castle’ plaques can still be seen as far away as Presteigne in Wales and Marlborough in Wiltshire.
The distinctive ‘castle’ or ‘tower’ design was first used by the Cheltenham Original Brewery, and ceramic brewery plaques once graced the outside of their tied houses with the words ‘Cheltenham Ales’. After the Second World War the Cheltenham Brewery acquired the Hereford and Tredegar Breweries. As a result the company changed its name to Cheltenham & Hereford Breweries and the old plaques were replaced with the new, but similar, ‘Cheltenham & Hereford Ales’ design. The old Foxhill Inn near Guiting Power still has such a plaque inlaid into the wall.The ‘West Country Ales’ plaques were placed in pub walls from 1958 until c.1967. Whitbread took over West Country Breweries in 1963 but for a few years after the acquisition Whitbread still used the West Country Ales ‘castle’ logo. There are two sizes and some slight colour differences in the glaze.
The study and distribution of the surviving ceramic plaques has never been undertaken before. There are more plaques out there waiting to be ‘discovered.’ Please let me know if you find any plaques still in situ that I have not yet put on the list: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mouseover a place name below to see the lists of pubs with plaques .....
Gloucestershire (Placenames A to K)
Gloucestershire (Placenames L to Z)