Joseph Wood was the owner of the Exmouth Arms towards the end of the Victorian era. However, he had passed away by 1891 as the Exmouth Arms is then recorded as being held in trust by his representatives. The legalities relating to the estate of the late Joseph Wood seemed to have been somewhat protracted as his trustees were still dealing with the administration twelve years later in 1903. It would be thought that the executors of Joseph Wood would have placed some legal restriction on the development of the Exmouth Arms while the estate was being dealt with but for some inexplicable reason the annual rateable value of the property increased by over £20 from 1891 to 1903. The evaluation of the alehouse was £59.10s.0d. in 1891, increasing to £80.15s.0d. in 1903. Throughout this time, whilst being in the trust of Joseph Wood, the Exmouth Arms was free from brewery tie.
There was once a brewery attached to the pub, the Exmouth producing its ‘home brew’d ales’. This was probably in production in the mid 1850’s until the last decade or so of Queen Victoria’s reign. Joseph Wood may have possibly been the last brewer. To this day there is a brick building behind the pub that might have once been the Exmouth Brewery.
Cheltenham Original Brewery purchased the Exmouth Arms from the estate of Joseph Wood. It seems to have been extensively remodelled and enlarged upon acquisition. In the front windows (facing Bath Road) there is a quarter light with the etched letters – OB – which must date back to Cheltenham Original Brewery days.
The twin gabled and brick-built Exmouth Arms has been an Arkell’s tied house since 1991, the Swindon based family brewery had the opportunity to buy pubs released by Whitbread Flowers at the time. They also bought the Adam & Eve, Hereford Arms and the St James Hotel.
A reminder of the previous owners can be identified by a ‘West Country Ales – 1960 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque that still graces the front of the Exmouth Arms. The 1996 edition of ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ (Gloucestershire CAMRA) described the Exmouth as a ‘modernised pub which still retains character and charm. Comfortable interior decorated with postcards of old Cheltenham and reminders of a by-gone era. Separate pool and function room upstairs.’ The beers on offer were Arkells 2B, 3B and Kingsdown Ale.
The Exmouth Arms is fortunate to have a large garden beside the pub overlooking the Bath Road. Giffords Circus pitched their Big Top there in August 2001. It is used for various functions, supported by the Bath Road Traders’ Association. Leading up to Christmas in 2009 more than 30 craftspeople showcased their work under a marquee in the pubs ground, and mince pies and mulled wine was available. There have been other events in the gardens including fringe events of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. In June 2013 the Bath Road Music Festival, co-ordinated by voluntary community group for the area Cheltenham Connect, was held in the gardens of the Exmouth Arms in conjunction with the Brown Jug and the Exmouth Arms. Organiser Sam Redfern said: “Despite the odd shower it was a big success and everyone seemed to have a great time. We had some brilliant young local bands and it was a good chance for them to have a stage to play on.
The grounds are so extensive that behind the public outside drinking spaces is a piece of previously unused land which has been landscaped to create 12 allotments. Mike Huysinga, landlord at the Exmouth Arms, told the ‘Gloucestershire Echo’ in October 2008: “The area isn’t huge, around 18 metres square, but it is big enough to give some people the chance to grow their own vegetables without having to dig up their lawns.” Part of the home-grown produce was to be used by the pub’s kitchens.
Mike and Georgina Huysinga took over as tenants of the Arkells Brewery pub in June 2007. They closed it down for refurbishment and it reopened in August with a fresh look transforming the Exmouth to a modern pub with a fresh menu. Mike said: “I’ve always wanted to run a pub, so it’s a dream come true. My philosophy is simple – provide good local food, excellent standards and a great service.” Mike and Georgina were so ambitious in their pub quest that they went on to run two other pubs in their portfolio – the Royal in Charlton Kings and the Strand in the High Street.
In March 2013 Cheltenham Borough Council granted planning permission to permanently display an artwork installation on the seven-foot red brick wall fronting Bath Road. Supported by the trade networking group Cheltenham Connect the mural entitled ‘Time & the History of Bath Road’ was an artwork designed as an interpretation of the road’s history, depicting traders along with cups and saucers representing its busy café scene. However, the initial designs were criticised by the Cheltenham Civic Society as being ‘too busy’ for a prominent location. The commissioned artwork by Sue Brown, a local resident, cost £3,500. The mural was unveiled by Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood in March 2014.
The Exmouth Arms began to host a monthly cinema event in the upstairs room in January 2014.
The interior had a refurbishment in the Spring of 2015 with the old wooden bar being ripped out and replaced by a shiny new copper bar. Landlady Georgina Huysinga told the ‘Gloucestershire Echo’: “We’ve run the Exmouth Arms for eight years and it was time to retire the wooden bar and go for something different. It might take a bit more maintenance, but it’s a talking point.” As part of the improvements, funded by owners Arkells Brewery, an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven was installed in the garden.
Landlords at the Exmouth Arms include:
1830 John Richings
1856,1859 Henry Leach
1870,1885 Joseph Wood
1891 James Kitchen
1903,1919 James Kitching
1926,1939 William John Woodhouse
1989,1999 John Lerwill
2007 Mike and Georgina Huysinga
2010 Sam Tribe and Sarah Capewell (managers)
2014 Miles Palmer (manager)