The address is given as 30 Queen Street in older town directories.
The Foresters Arms in Queen Street, Cirencester, closed in the summer of 2003. It had been a true locals’ pub with successful darts and skittles teams spanning generations of loyal customers. The pub once even boasted the largest Billiard Room in the town. The trophy cabinet proudly displaying the silverware of the pub teams sporting achievements. The Foresters was a modest pub, unpretentious and solidly traditional. The local CAMRA pub guide of 1996 describing it as a “good community local with a more mature clientele than usual”. Situated just off Watermoor Road, it was in close proximity to the Queens Head, Plume of Feathers (now Bees Knees), Woodbine Inn and the Oddfellows Arms, a factor which ultimately would contribute to its demise. Sadly all those pubs, with the exception of the Bees Knees (Plume of Feathers), have also closed.
The Cirencester Brewery were the owners of the Foresters Arms from at least 1891 when Ann Millen kept the house. Frederick Bower was the landlord in the years up to the First World War. It was at this time that the pub was popular with workers at the nearby Midland & South Western Railway Junction works at Watermoor, and it is thought that the Foresters Arms had a special licence to serve drinks to the workers, presumably in the early morning after they finished their nightshifts at the loco works.
The following is from the 1909 Cirencester town directory: ‘Foresters Arms, Watermoor. Two minutes from M.&S.W.J. Railway Station. Two minutes from the Bingham Hall. Cirencester Brewery Co. Ltd. celebrated Old, Mild & Bitter Ales & Stout. Bass’s Ale & Guinness’s Stout in bottles. All special brands of spirits such as Black & White, Red Seal, Johnny Walker, Mackie’s White Horse, Phoenix Blend, Royal Blend, etc. etc. Cigars of all the best brands. Headquarters of the Watermoor Unionist Club, whose meetings are held on the first Thursday in each month in one of the largest Club rooms in the district. Parties catered for at any time. Bovril, Ivelcon, Tea and Coffee served hot. Proprietor. F.W.A. Bower, M.U.D.C.’
A truly special, and almost certainly unique, feature of the Foresters Arms was the magnificent brewery etched glass window that proudly advertised ‘beers drawn from the wood’. There was no brewery name so it was probably referring to Cirencester Brewery ales & stouts, or perhaps that of H&G Simonds of Reading who took over the Cirencester Brewery in 1937. The Foresters Arms became a freehouse in 1975 when it was purchased from the Courage Brewery. In the subsequent redevelopment of the building into flats, the historic etched window was removed. As far as I know it succumbed to the builders’ skip.
The fortunes of the Foresters Arms had begun to decline at the turn of the millennium. Landlord Andy Bartlett had been there since 1986. and the choice of beers on offer became more varied, although the Foresters Arms was not in contention for inclusion in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. On my visit in 2002 the real ale on offer was Fullers London Pride. The pub was well run and, in contrast with other pubs, there was no incidents of bad or anti-social behaviour. It seemed the problem was there was simply insufficient trade to make the pub a viable proposition. Andy had invested capital into pub improvements, enlarging the bar and moving the toilets inside. Each refurbishment created an increase in rateable value. He told me: “I find it really sad that ordinary little pubs like ours seem to have no place in society these days.” Sky TV rental had also gone up. Andy decided to put the Free House pub up for sale as a going concern in February 2002 with an asking price of £225,000. The specialist agents stated that it was ‘ideal for a couple to run and develop’, yet there was no interest. Eight months later an application was submitted to Cotswold District Council for the conversion of the pub into 9 flats.
In the planning discussion there was no mention of the retention of the historic etched window. The main concern was the provision of car parking for the proposed flats in an already congested area. The plan was reduced to seven apartments in response. It was pointed out by those campaigning to retain the pub for community use that customers coming and going in their cars to the pub were less of a problem than long-term parked vehicles belonging to residents. Because there were other pubs within reasonable distance it was also decided that the loss of one licensed house would not be detrimental to the community. The plans were passed by a vote of eight to seven.
In April 2005 ‘a range of converted, stone fronted apartments situated in central Cirencester, offering one and two bedrooms and finished to a high standard’ were on offer with prices starting from £119,950.
Gloucestershire CAMRA: Real Ale in Gloucestershire (1996): Foresters Arms, Queen Street: Good community local with a more mature clientele than usual. Strong support for darts and skittle teams. Satellite TV in public bar for sporting events. Organ in lounger bar on Saturday nights. Guest beers. Beers – Whitbread Flowers Original.
Moore, Wood & Cockram. Bristol based specialist in the West Country & South West: September 20th 2001; February 2002 – Traditional town centre wet sales Freehouse with main bar plus function/skittles, 4/5 owner’s bedrooms. Wet turnover approx. £120,000 (ex VAT) plus machines £5,000 per annum. Ideal for couple to run and develop. Price £225,000 Lease Goodwill & Trade Contents.
Cotswold District Council. Planning application CT.5162/B – 10th October 2002: Convert building into 9 no. flats (including one existing). Foresters Arms, 10 Queen Street
Wilts & Glos Standard: Thursday, December 17th 2002 – Regulars fight to save their local: Locals have launched a campaign to save their local pub after the landlord revealed plans to turn it into flats. Andrew Bartlett wants to convert the Foresters Arms in Queen Street, Cirencester, because he says it is no longer viable. His plans to turn it into seven flats has been submitted to Cotswold District Council and planners are recommending they be approved. But 12 neighbours have written to object claiming its closure will be a loss to the community and will cause parking problems in local streets. One man, who has lived in the street for 19 years and didn’t wish to be named, said: “I think people are sad to see the pub go. It’s part of the community of Watermoor. The car parking is pretty atrocious already. Any extra cars that need to park in the street will be there all the time. They won’t just come and go like pub customers. You can end up parking half a mile away as it is.” His views are echoed by a neighbour, who added: “Cirencester has lots of pubs and losing it might not be make or break, but it has been there a long time and has a loyal clientele. There might be more sensible alternatives. The owners might realise their financial investment but be more sympathetic to the area.”
Mr Bartlett, who has run the Foresters for more than 16 years, declined to comment. A report due to go before the council’s planning (regulatory) committee on Wednesday says the pub has less customers. It says: “The inference is that the change to flats will adversely affect the character of the local neighbourhood. “Officers consider it is perhaps unfortunate that a local facility such as the existing public house will be lost but there are others nearby and it is not possible to require that such a use continue in perpetuity.”
Gloucestershire Echo: Monday December 23rd 2002 – Residents’ fight to save pub has failed: An ailing pub is calling time despite residents’ protests. The Foresters Arms, in Cirencester, is to be turned into seven flats. Cotswold District Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead for the conversion. Residents are up in arms at the loss of the pub. They are concerned the flats will bring more cars into a congested area. But landlord Andrew Bartlett said closing the pub was his only option as rising rates were financially crippling him. He said: “I have mixed emotions as I’ve run it for more than 16 years. We tried selling it bur had no interest. We can’t keep losing money. Every time we’ve altered the pub to make it look nicer and attract more custom, such as bringing the toilets inside and enlarging the bar, the rateable value was put up. We’re looking at selling it on in the new year.”
Cirencester Town Council said the closure would be a loss to the community. The authority’s planning chairman Jane Coleman said: “The plan has been revised from 12 flats to seven. I know there has been a lot of local concern. It would have some impact on an already bad junction and parking situation. But we’ve asked for a highway scheme to be looked into to make some provision for residents’ parking.” District council planning officers said there were other pubs nearby.
Wilts & Glos Standard: Thursday, December 26th 2002 – Pub to be changed into flats: Plans to convert the Foresters Arms pub into seven flats have been approved, despite fears about congestion. The committee heard that declining trade and maintenance problems meant the pub was no longer a viable business. Attempts by landlord Andrew Bartlett to sell the free house as a going concern had failed. Several residents wrote the Cotswold District Council to protest, saying the development would create traffic congestion and that the loss of the pub would be a blow to the community. These concerns were echoed by committee members, who said Queen Street was already congested. Councillor Deryck Nash said: “This part of Cirencester has a very high concentration of takeaways which generate a tremendous amount of parking difficulties.” He asked for an evening site visit to be arranged so members could see the problems, but his proposal was lost. Councillor Sue Herdman said the extra cars could cause problems for emergency vehicles. But her proposal to ask for the plans to be scaled down from seven to four flats to each the additional cars it would generate was lost. Councillor Sheila Jeffrey said: “The plans are totally inadequate and will increase traffic problems and cause chaos on the roads. But councillor Carole Taylor said people moving into the flats would have to accept that they would not be able to park there. Councillor John Burgess asked whether the applicant could make a contribution towards increasing car parking in the town. The district council’s head of planning said this would not be practical as there were no car parking schemes in the pipeline. Officers had recommended the plans be approved.
The applicant, they said, had produced evidence that while the pub requires 20 parking places, the flats will generate a need for just 16. While they acknowledged that the closure of the business would mean the loss of an amenity, they said there were other pubs nearby.Mr Bartlett was unavailable for comment.
Wilts & Glos Standard. Thursday, January 16th 2003 – Pub Support. Letter by Geoff Sandles: I was sorry to read that the Foresters Arms is to be converted into flats (Standard, December 26th). Landlord Andrew Bartlett, who has been serving pints in the pub since the mid-1980’s, has certainly tried to sell the pub as a going concern but, unfortunately, has failed to find a buyer. Regrettably closing the pub and converting it to residential accommodation is probably the only logical solution. Another fine traditional local pub will be lost forever. I hope that the unique etched window at the Foresters Arms will be preserved in the development. It is a reminder of the days of Simons Reading Brewery, or possibly even referring to the Cirencester Brewery (taken over by Simonds). The window has the words ‘beers drawn from the wood’ etched into it. Perhaps the imminent closure of the Foresters Arms is a reminder that we should support our traditional pubs. More pubs will close if the government does not reduce tax on alcoholic drinks to bring us in line with our European counterparts.
Email from Andy Bartlett. July 4th, 2003 (at 0237!): Foresters, Cirencester: Hi Geoff – Just a quick note to say that the pub is not yet shut but I don’t think it will be long. I noticed your letter in the Standard warning of pub closures. I fear with peoples current lifestyles there will be a lot more going soon. Yes our place will be converted into flats at some point and unfortunately the windows will be going as the façade will be changed. I find it really sad that ordinary little pubs like ours seem to have no place in society these days. Local and national government must do something to save the industry before it is too late, and change the rating system. No other industry is rated in the same way and I know that Sky basing their pricing structures on this unfair system is also crippling the industry. Regards Andy.
April 2005 – Cirencester. For Sale. A range of converted, stone fronted apartments situated in central Cirencester. Offering one and two bedrooms and finished to a high standard. From £119,950.
May 2005 – Cain & Fuller: Forresters Apartments: Forresters Apartments are a selection of high-quality residences created from a period building within Cirencester close to a full range of amenities. One bedroom from £115,000. Two bedrooms from £129,950. Finished to a high standard with a communal garden to the rear of buildings.
Wilts & Glos Standard. Property lettings. July 2013 – Close to town centre: A two-bedroom apartment close to the centre of Cirencester is available for rent through CB Slade. Apartment 6 at number 10 Queen Street is exceptionally well presented throughout and offers surprisingly spacious accommodation on the first floor of this sympathetically recently converted building. The property is available to rent immediately with long-term potential and would particularly suit a professional couple. Rent pcm £650.
Wilts & Glos Standard. Property lettings. Thursday July 24th 2014: Rent first-floor apartment: Queen Street £650 pcm. This desirable first-floor apartment is accessed via a well-kept communal entrance which also leads out to the communal garden. The accommodation comprises a large hall, a good-sized living room, a kitchen, two good-sized bedrooms, a bathroom and a separate cloakroom. There is street parking immediately outside the property and various other places nearby.
Cirencester Pubs Through Time by Philip Griffiths (Amberley Publishing, 2013): Foresters Arms, Queen Street: An advertisement for 1912 states: ‘Foresters’ Arms, Billiard Saloon, HQ of the Watermoor Unionist Club. Two minutes from the Midland & South Western Junction Railway Station. The best and largest Billiards Room in Cirencester, excellent lights (6 burners over each table).’
There must have been stiff competition with neighbouring pubs, but the Foresters was reputedly allowed to open each morning at six o’clock for workmen to have a drink before (sic)starting at the M&SWJR works. The pub closed in 2003 with the sad loss of its etched glass window, ‘Foresters Arms, Bar, Beer Drawn From the Wood.’
Owner in 1891: Cirencester Brewery (owner E. William Cripps)
Rateable Value in 1891: £12.15s.0d.
Type of license in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Cirencester Brewery (F.W.B. Cripps)
Rateable Value in 1903: £24.0s.0d.
Type of license in 1903:
Closing time in 1903: 11pm
Landlords at the Foresters Arms include:
1871 William Mills (Foresters Arms, New Road)
1889, 1891 Ann Millen
1902,1913 Frederick Bower
1927,1939 Frank A. Dorling
22nd July 1975- 6th Dec. 1977 Mildred Raynor Rich
6th Dec. 1977 – 24th July 1984 Colin Wheater
24th July 1984 – 24th June 1986 Janet Adamson
1986 (24th June) – 2003 Andy Bartlett