The Fox and Hounds, licensed as an alehouse, was fully owned by Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1891 and 1903. It had an annual rateable value of £25.10s.0d. which remained constant throughout those twelve years. The small pub was replaced by a much larger brick-built building constructed at considerable expense by the Original Brewery, probably in the 1930’s. An old photograph shows the ‘new’ Fox & Hounds being constructed immediately behind the original building. The new design, constructed by a local builder, was symmetrical with a central bay window flanked by a lounge bar on the left and a public bar on the right. The Cheltenham Brewery continued to supply beer to the Fox & Hounds through the transition to Cheltenham & Hereford, West Country Breweries and Whitbread Flowers. In retrospect, and with the benefit of hindsight, it is tempting to suggest that the demolition of the original pub was a misguided venture by the Cheltenham Original Brewery. The first and smaller pub certainly had more character.
The 1996 edition of ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’, researched and published by the Gloucestershire branch of CAMRA, described the Fox & Hounds as a ‘spacious two bar pub with wood-panelled lounge. Handy for the football [Cheltenham Town] ground.’ Beers on offer were Boddingtons Biter, Whitbread Best Bitter and Wickwar Brand Oak Bitter (BOB).
In 1999 a 20-year lease of the Fox & Hounds was being offered by Whitbread Pub Partnerships for a ‘hardworking, enthusiastic licensee’. Approximately £20,000 was being asked to purchase fittings, fixtures and stock.
An application was submitted to Cheltenham Borough Council in July 2005 to enable the sale of alcohol throughout the week from 10.00 am to 1.00 am.
The ownership of the Fox & Hounds had passed to Enterprise Inns by 2010. Builders by trade, Robert ‘Bluey’ Moxey and Kevin ‘Guffer’ Garthwaite took over as tenants in October 2010. Kevin was also a former player for Cheltenham Town football team. Robert and Kevin had also taken on the running of the Umbrella Inn in Orchard Road, Arle. At a launch event at the Fox & Hounds Robert Moxey told the Gloucestershire Echo: “It’s criminal that so many pubs are being knocked down. The Fox & Hounds and The Umbrella are like dinosaurs, they’ll be around for a long time.” Unfortunately, his words of optimism were short-lived and the lease on both properties had been given up by February 2013. A disappointed Mr Garthwaite told the Echo: “We were only just breaking even. By the time we had paid the rent to Enterprise Inns, which was quite high and bought our beer from them, there wasn’t much money left at the end of the month. We would have liked to stay on and if Enterprise had helped us out a bit by reducing the rent then we might have done.” In response Enterprise Inns said that they hoped to reopen the Fox & Hounds in time for race week in March.
An application was submitted to Cheltenham Borough Council in August 2013 by Morrison Supermarkets for a premises licence in respect of the former Fox & Hounds pub. A spokesman for Morrisons told the Echo: We’re in the early stages of discussion about opening a Morrison’s M local on Prestbury Road, Cheltenham. It will offer a different shopping experience from our bigger stores. Being smaller, it will still have fresh foods at its heart but will allow people to buy a quick sandwich or to do a top-up shop. We are keen for our stores to be part of the local community.”
The ’comment’ editorial in the Gloucestershire Echo on 21st December 2013 lamented the permanent closure of the Fox & Hounds whilst accepting that change of use was preventing the boarded-up property rapidly deteriorating and subject to vandalism ultimately becoming an eyesore. ‘The Fox & Hounds may have fallen on hard times, but when it closed for good it was difficult to understand why. It was in a part of town not best served with pubs and was in a grand building. With the support of the right brewery, particularly with the closure of the Cat & Fiddle on Whaddon Road, surely it would have had the potential to be a thriving business. But for whatever reason, that just was not going to happen. The concern whenever a pub actually closes, particularly for the local community, is how long the building stands empty.’
The new convenience store opened for business on Monday 1st January 2014. Twenty new jobs were created by Morrisons.
A West Country Ales – 1760 – ‘Best in The West’ ceramic plaque was in situ between the right-hand window and the entrance to the old public bar. It was removed either during the refurbishment into a mini-supermarket or by opportunist thieves during the time was boarded up.
The premises is now occupied by Simply Fresh stores. The original two front entrances have been sealed off and access is now gained through a side door to the immediate right of the building. The old pub sign bracket still stands on the forecourt, which now houses a shop sign for Simply Fresh.
Landlords at the Fox & Hounds include:
1856 J.H. Evans
1858-1859 Congreve Harris
1861 Congreve and Mary Harris (Congreve died aged 38 in Stow on the Wold)
1870 Joseph Kempster
1878 George Holland
1883 Mrs E. Wilks
1885,1891 Miss Eliza Wilks
1902 J. Walker
1903,1910 Isaac Joseph Sollis
1919,1927 Leonard A. Coulston
1939 Charles J. Mackay
1987 Bryan Tandy
1998 Alexander Campbell
2005, 2006 Paul Stephens and Gillian Gardner
2010 Robert Moxey & Kevin Garthwaite