The address of the Crown & Cushion was 6 Bath Road in the Kellys 1919 Directory and the property is now 10 Bath Road. It is last traded as the Grape Escape, a wine bar, but over the last decade or so it has had such diverse incarnations as Teagues Bar (sport themed) and G’s Bar (rock music venue).
William Sadler Hall owned the Crown & Cushion in 1891 and 1903. It was a licensed ale house with an annual rateable value of £32.5s.0d. in 1891 which had increased by over £8 to £40.15s.0d. twelve years later in 1903.
The Crown & Cushion was just a handful of pubs to be tied to the Cranham Brewery, which was based at the Royal William pub on the road to Painswick (A46). William Sadler Hall sold his brewing business to Godsell & Sons of Salmon Springs. In turn, Godsell’s was acquired by the Stroud Brewery in 1928. The Crown & Cushion became a West Country Breweries house in 1958, with ownership transferring to Whitbread in the 1960’s.
Les Trigg was the licensee of the Crown & Cushion in the early 1970’s. He was a founding member of the Gloucestershire Shove Ha’penny League and was league secretary for the first three years of its launch. Although the half-penny was no longer legal tender, it was still used on the slates and boards of ha’penny pub games. Pubs like the Crown & Cushion conserved a stock pile of such half-pennies.
Cheltenham Folk Club started in the upstairs room of the Crown & Cushion sometime in 1963, but when the folk club was planning a party to celebrate their 40th anniversary it was discovered that no members could remember exactly when the folk song revival began in Cheltenham. In 2003 Cheltenham Folk Club met at the Beaufort Arms in London Road. Bill Spragg of the club said: “The Cheltenham Folk Club was launched on the wave of a nationwide folksong revival which followed on the heels of the skittle craze. It became so crowded that we had to move to a bigger venue, the Victory Club. The resident group were the Songwainers.”
Following a refit in the Spring of 1988 the ‘Pub News’ in the ‘tippler’, the newsletter for the Gloucestershire Branch of CAMRA, noted that ‘the Crown & Cushion in Bath Road has recently reopened under new management after extensive refurbishment. As well as the range of Whitbread beers, West Country PA, Flowers IPA and Flowers Original, and the changing guest beer – recently Everards Old Original – there is Arkells BBB.’
The heritage of the pub came to an end early in the new millennium when, for some inexplicable reason, the name changed to the Old Amsterdam. An advertisement proclaimed that it was Cheltenham’s first Schlarger music bar.
A fashion and cultural trend in 2005, associated with the lower working classes, gave followers of the style the name Chavs. The Collins English Dictionary defined a chav as a young working-class person who wears casual sports clothing. It was thought that the word originated in Cheltenham as a corruption of ‘Cheltenham Average’ – a term used by Cheltenham Ladies’ College Students to describe the town’s young men. When chavs were banned from the Conservatory Pub in Winchcombe Street after some disturbances, the pub manager at the Old Amsterdam said that they were welcome in her pub. She said: “If they won’t have them, we’ll have them here. Some of them look aggressive but when you talk to them, they turn out to be polite. There are the odd few who give them a bad name with the way they behave.” She added, “Everyone is welcome as long as they behave – and it’s unfair to ban people because of what they wear.”
The Old Amsterdam closed at the beginning of 2007 following the decision of the former landlord not to renew his tenancy with owners, Punch Taverns.
Mike Teague, former Gloucester and England rugby player, opened his bar in Bath Road in 2008 following the success of his other pub – Teagues at the White Hart – near Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium. The opening was delayed because of plans to alter the main entrance to the bar was rejected by the planning department at Cheltenham Borough Council. Mike’s nephew, Matt Teague, ran the Teague’s Bar in Cheltenham. Although business was strong on the days rugby or other sports were being shown on the big screen, the custom was slack on weekdays. Matthew Teague claimed that he could not compete with the cut-price drinks deals offered by his neighbours. He said: “Due to the terms of our contract with our suppliers, we just cannot offer the same sort of deals as Wetherspoons.” (Moon under Water). Teagues Bar had closed by October 2009, with all the fittings from the Cheltenham bar in storage. At the time it was hoped that another venue could be found in Montpellier to carry on the business.
Punch Taverns were still the owners of the premises. After the closure of the short-lived Teague’s Bar, a spokesman for the pub company said in February 2010 that the site was a perfect ‘blank canvas’ for a publican, and due to the prominent town centre location, the business would fit several styles of operation – from a coffee bistro to a cask ales community pub or a quality food offering such as a steak house.
The next reincarnation of the premises was neither a coffee bistro, specialist real ale bar or a gastropub. Gary Peterson reinvented the Bath Road pub as a rock music bar, simply called ‘G’s’. In the summer of 2013, a late-night levy was to be introduced to those licensed premises that stayed open past midnight. This was to be a payment based on the rateable value of the premises. The intention was to raise money from the night club economy to help pay for the cost of policing. The policy was deemed unfair by Gary Peterson of G’s who argued that supermarkets should also admit that they were also responsible for drink being consumed at night. Gary Peterson said that he was not against the levy but suggested that more should be contributed by venues that opened later, are bigger or had a high incident rate. He said: “Councillors don’t understand how people drink nowadays. Things have changed massively in the last 10 years with people drinking before they go out, pre-loading, but supermarkets will get away scot free under the levy.” G’s Bar organised a petition which was signed by 990 people. The levy was passed by the council in December 2013 despite strong opposition from members of the pub trade.
The Grape Escape opened in May 2015. It was claimed that the aim was to capture the excitement of the wine scene in London. Anthony Davies and Zoe Fisher both shared a passion for good wine. Anthony had been writing a blog about wine and the opportunity to own the Grape Escape in Cheltenham effectively brought his blog to life. Anthony previously worked for an advertising agency. He said: “We love Cheltenham, we love the night life and restaurant life here, but I don’t think there is anywhere that has wine as its real core.” A list of 120 wines featuring more than 60 different principal grapes from 17 different countries were on offer. Anthony added: “We want to encourage our customers to try something new every time they come and visit – if you don’t try new things you will never discover what you really like.”
Landlords at the Crown & Cushion / Old Amsterdam include:
1856,1870 James Horspool
1878,1883 James Price
1885,1891 Charles William Price
1891 H. Clarke
1902,1906 George Howell
1919 Frank Hopton Davis
1926 Charles B. Hawkins
1927 C. Hawkins
1939 William Hy. Thick
1972 Les Trigg
1999 Ash Chakraborty (left May 10th)
2000 Annette Walker (Crown and Cushion)
2005 Julie Folley (pub manager – Old Amsterdam)