John Smith was the owner of the Adam & Eve in 1891 and it traded free from brewery tie. The Adam & Eve was a licensed beer house with an annual rateable value of £15.5s.0d. in 1891. Twelve years later in 1903 the annual rateable value had increased to £17.0s.0d. In those intervening years John Smith had passed away and the Adam & Eve was owned by the Representatives of his estate. In the beginning of the 20th century the pub was leased to Flowers & Sons, brewers of Stratford-on-Avon.
The Adam & Eve remained a Flowers & Sons tied house until 1968 when parent company Whitbread merged Flowers with West Country Breweries to form Whitbread Flowers Ltd. The Stratford on Avon brewery closed and Flowers beers were transferred to Cheltenham.
The game of skittles is very popular at the Adam & Eve. So much so that in the 1970’s the owners bought the adjoining terraced house to ensure that the noise from skittles matches did not disturb the neighbours. The pub doubled in size, but the alley remained in the same position thus making it one of the few pubs with a skittle alley in the middle of the building.
The Citizen: Saturday, 12th August 1989 – Would you Adam & Eve it? Forest of Dean couple John and Valerie Powell are being immortalised on a pub sign – naked! The Powell’s of Harrow Hill, Drybrook won the honour to hang outside the Adam & Eve pub in Townsend Street, Cheltenham in Severn Sound Radio Money Mountain Appeal. They made the winning bid of £185 for the offer donated by Whitbread Flowers and the brewery’s artist took three days to complete it. But the pair can spare their blushes as they were too modest to be pictured in full and only their head and shoulders will be pictured. The sign will be unveiled on Tuesday at 12.30 pm.
Brian and Dorothy ‘Dot’ Gasson first came to the Adam & Eve in 1978 when it was owned by Whitbread Flowers. They were previously tenants at the White Lion in Winchcombe. When Brian and Dot started at the ‘Adam’ it was an ordinary back-street local selling mediocre beer. The Courage beers on offer at the Royal Foresters on the other side of Townsend Street were more of an attraction for the discerning beer lover. In the early 1980’s Brian’s skills of keeping beer in great condition began to be appreciated – and the Adam & Eve gained an enviable reputation for selling some of the best kept pints of Whitbread PA in the town. In 1991, when Whitbread were obliged to sell off some of their pubs, Arkell’s Brewery of Swindon acquired the Adam & Eve. Brian and Dot were loyal tenants for the Arkell’s Brewery for 21 years and the Adam & Eve featured continuously in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide from 1992 until Brian and Dot’s retirement.
The Adam & Eve was voted by the Cheltenham sub-branch of CAMRA their Pub of the Year in 2002 and 2004. Tony Aburrow, then the chairman of Gloucestershire CAMRA said: ” You feel like someone special every time you walk through the door. Dot always treats her customers as friends and I know of no other pub where the welcome is so generous and genuine.” As for the quality of the beer he said, “When we inspected the cellar, you could have eaten your dinner off the floor, it’s so clean, and the beer tastes excellent.”
George Arkell, director Arkells Brewery said: “Dot has been a brilliant landlady over the years and we are lucky to have her, They don’t make them like her anymore.”
The success of the Adam and Eve is in its very simplicity. As Dot succinctly told the Gloucestershire Echo in April 2012: “You could go all posh and turn the whole place around, but the locals wouldn’t like it. I love what I do”, she said, adding: “I haven’t taken a holiday for the past seventeen years but I don’t need one. Chatting to people every day from behind the bar is what keeps me going. It’s a great pub – the kind of side-street place you don’t see much anymore. You come here for a drink and a chat, not loud music or machines. The people are what makes the entertainment.”
There was one exception to the rule, however. In the corner of the pub was a classic jukebox, spinning old 45 rpm records selected mostly from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
In 2012 Chie Konishi , a foreign student studying social history, wrote an essay on the relationship between the Adam and Eve and the local community. She spent a lot of time in the company of Brian and Dot and the regulars at the Adam & Eve gathering material for her dissertation. Chie, a teetotaller, was made most welcome every time she visited the pub although the reason for her assignment was probably not fully understood by the locals. She wrote: “A place like the Adam & Eve is a rare example of an autonomous local community that is not easily shaken by the global financial climate and social changes.” However, Chie also speaks warmly of Brian and Dot and her sentiments are spot on when she observes: “What makes the Adam and Eve so special is Brain and Dot’s dedication to serve the locals. This is a pub in which the conversations between people are truly valued and people take care of their neighbours and any other newcomers.”
Brian and Dot retired from the Adam & Eve on January 2013. They held a weekend of celebration to mark their 34 years pulling pints behind the bar at the ‘Adam’ on 14th/15th December. James Arkell said, “When we bought the pub, we didn’t realise the jewel in the crown was actually dot. The rest of the world has gone around and back, but life hasn’t changed at the Adam & Eve. Dot has been a wonderful landlady and Arkell’s has been truly lucky to have her.”
Sadly, Dot passed away on 3rd February 2018. Her funeral service at the Cheltenham Crematorium was well attended and, as Dot herself had instructed, everyone wore bright colours.
The interior of the Adam & Eve has since had a makeover to bring it into the 21st century. The two-bar layout has been knocked through to create a large open-plan bar and Sky Sports has been installed. The garden, once mainly planted with Brian’s vegetables and Dot’s flowers, has been transformed into a welcoming walled outside drinking area.
Landlords at the Adam & Eve include:
1844 William Little (43 Townsend Street)
1870,1878 Robert Drake
1883 C. King
1885 John Miles
1891 Mrs Yeend
1891 James Hawker
1903 Harry George Dutton
1966 George Smith
1977 Pete Atkins
1978 Dorothy and Brian Gasson
2013-2019 Kevin Grieve
2019 Gordon Long