The Dobell family owned the Britannia Inn in 1891 and 1903. (John Dobell in 1903). It was licensed as an alehouse and had an annual rateable value of £38.5s.0d.

John Dobell & Co was founded in 1836 as a wine and spirit merchant and operated from bonded warehouse in the Lower High Street. The business built up a small chain of pubs of which four were in Cheltenham – the White Hart, the Britannia, Restoration and the St Albans Inn. All of these took on a distinct corporate identity, featuring sparse surroundings, the best quality drinks, the widest choice, the largest measures and the lowest prices in town. The pubs attracted all members of society, both rich and poor. In 1958 the business of Dobell’s was acquired by Friary, Holroyd and Healey Ltd of Guildford. They, in turn, were taken over by Allied Breweries in 1964.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s the Britannia Inn was branded as an Ind Coope pub, part of Allied Breweries. Ind Coope will be remembered by beer drinkers of a generation or so ago as national brewers heavily promoting their Double Diamond keg beer. The advertising slogan claiming that ‘Double Diamond works wonders, so drink one today’.  

Courtesy Michael Wilkes
Courtesy Michael Wilkes

The Britannia, situated on the west corner of Sherborne Street, was one of three pubs that was on the route proposed for the Cheltenham northern relief road in the late 1970’s. Gloucestershire County council submitted a planning application for compulsory purchase and demolition consent of the Britannia, the Sun in the High Street and the Caledonian Inn in Swindon Road. Terry Durrant, tenant of the Britannia, told the ‘Echo’: “The most worrying part about this is that no one tells us when we shall have to close.” More than 150 people signed a petition to save the Britannia from the wrecking ball, but it was knocked down in 1980.

Although this has needs be confirmed, it is been said that when the Britannia Inn was being demolished the corporate orange, black and white Ind Coope signage was removed from the façade of the pub to temporarily reveal the original Dobell & Co sign writing. I wonder if any photographs were taken to record this lost piece of Cheltenham history – or, indeed, if the story is just an urban myth?  The distinctive green glazed bricks and tiles were also worthy of recycling but no doubt they were just thrown into the builder’s skips. Ironically, the widened Fairview Road did not actually pass directly through the site of the Britannia Inn. The site of the pub is approximately by the brick wall on the corner of Sherborne Street near the pedestrian crossing.

The photographer would have been standing where the Britannia Inn once stood.

Landlords at the Britannia include:

1830, 1844 John Miles (Britannia, 18 Mount Pleasant)

1891,1903 Clarence Mason and Cyrus Faulkner Dobell

1979 Terry Durrant

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