The Bell Inn was located almost opposite Ruardean church. James Evans was the owner and occupier of the Bell Inn in 1840. He was a farmer who also owned a malthouse. It is likely that he supplied malted barley for brewing which he used for his own use at the Bell. He also supplied other pubs making their ‘home-brew’d ales’. Another malthouse had been established in Ruardean next to the Malt Shovel which was owned by the Horlick family. It was in this malthouse that they experimented with their malt drink, Horlicks. Emigrating to America the Horlick family expanded production and the brand was an immediate success and Horlicks is still a well-known product all over the world. The malthouses were consolidated when James Evans went into partnership with George Robins, another local farmer, and they went on to establish the Ruardean Brewery next to the Angel.
The Horlick family found world-wide acclaim with their malted drink, but Peter Horlick (born in Ruardean in 1842) had another claim to fame, although not so distinguished. It was said that Peter Horlick was the only man in the village who could stand on the steps of the Bell Inn and flip a penny over the spire of the church!
Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. owned the Bell Inn in 1891 and 1903, supplying their Wickwar ales to the premises. Classified as an ale house it had a substantial annual rateable value of £51.0s.0d. in 1903. It closed at 10 pm.
An 1906 an inventory stated that the Bell Inn contained ‘attic rooms, four bedrooms, a box room, laundry, club room, sitting room, tap room, wine cellar, and a bar with drinking tables, a brass gong, pewter spirit measures, wooden spirit kegs and corkscrews. Outside, a long rectangular sign read ‘Bell Commercial Hotel’, and a smaller sign that informed visitors that the premises was licensed. The ‘stock in trade’ included bottles of whisky, sherry, brandy, port and cordials with over 70 gallons of beer in the cellar’. The Bell Inn was still trading in the 1950’s. The Bell Inn was demolished but the adjoining malt-house has survived and has been converted into a dwelling.
Landlords at the Bell Inn include:
1840 James Evans (owner and occupier of the Bell Inn, stable yard, malthouse and garden’.
1856, 1885 James Evans (aged 52 in 1881 – a widower. Licensed Victualler and Maltster)
1891, 1906 Albert James King
1906 Elizabeth King
1906 Eric Ellis
1919,1927 Edward Baskerville