Crickley Hill is about one mile to the north of Birdlip. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and superb views of Gloucester and the Severn Vale can be seen from the escarpment. There has been a pub on the site for at least 230 years.

The pub takes its name from the pioneering balloon flights that took place on the Cotswold escarpment in 1784, just a year after the Montgolfier brothers first took to the air in a balloon in Paris. The pub was known as the Balloon in 1796 and had become the Air Balloon in 1802.

However, there is another story that suggests that the name of the Air Balloon may come from a completely different source. An article dating from July 1954  states: “There is a local tradition that Henry VIII stopped at the inn on his visit with his queen (Ann Boleyn) to Gloucester in 1535 (Note: this story would make the Air Balloon 473 years old!!) In honour of that great occasion the inn was called the Ann Boleyn; but, after her fall from grace, the owner, strong to the belief that a king could do no wrong, changed the name while preserving as much of its former sound as possible, to which extent Air Balloon is a corruption of Ann Boleyn.”

The landlord in 1856, Richard Tuffley, was brewing home brewed ale on the premises. The inn was owned as part of the Cowley Manor estate until the twentieth century.

The Air Balloon now overlooks one of the busiest roundabouts in Gloucestershire where the A417 meets the A436 – the direct link from the M4 to the M5. There have been various proposals to modify the road junction to ease congestion and this might involve a construction of a flyover necessitating the demolition of the Air Balloon.

This page will be updated with additional information.

Map Reference: SO 934161

Licensing Details:

Rateable Value in 1891: £18.0s.0d.

Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse

Owner in 1891: Richard Tuffly (free from brewery tie)

Rateable Value in 1903: £18.0s.0d.

Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse

Owner in 1903: Annie Stallard (free from brewery tie)

Closing time in 1903: 10pm

Owner in 1997: Whitbread Severn Inns

Owners in 2002: Laurel Pub Company

Owner in July 2004: Greene King

Owners in 2022: Chef & Brewer

Landlords at the Air Balloon include:

1856,1891 Richard Tuffly (listed as brewer at the Air Balloon in 1856)

1902,1903,1906,1927 William Price (1905 ‘Bill’ and Julia Price)

1979-1993 John Brant – see House in the Tree

2002,2003 Trevor Walter (manager)

2006, 2007  Phil and Paula Hewitt

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