The pub was named after David Garrick, the famous actor, who was born in the Angel Inn, Whitemarsh Street, Hereford in February 1717. Garrick is generally recognised as introducing the works of William Shakespeare to much larger audiences. His plasterwork head still graces the exterior of the building on a roundel above the front door.
Ellen Aust was the owner of the Garricks Head in 1891 when it was designated a beer house and was free from brewery ties. It had an annual rateable value of £21.5.0d. which remained unchanged during the next twelve years up to 1903. By that time, however, the Garricks Head had been purchased by Flowers & Sons, brewers of Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire. It remained a Flowers pub up until 1962 when it became a Whitbread house. (Whitbread Flowers).
The lease of the Garricks was put on the market in February 1998. The owners were Enterprise Inns. It was described being of ‘cottage style of considerable appeal.’ The details included a 65- seat character bar and an excellent 8-room flat with roof garden. The leasehold offers were invited in the region of £80,000.
In November 1999 it re-opened as Slak – a music venue. The Tivoli in Andover Road and Beehive in Montpellier were also part of the Cheltenham firm Slak Ltd, a business started by Darren Hiscox, Paul Helliwell and Christopher Rood.
An application was submitted to Cheltenham Borough Council’s licensing committee at the end of 2000 for an entertainment licence and later opening times. The request was to alter the permit to allow 100 people to attend events from 5pm to 1am between Monday and Friday. The licensing committee rejected the application on the grounds that it could lead to an increase in public disorder. However, the refusal of permission was sent to appeal at the crown court and overturned in September 2001 on the provision that drinks were not served after 11pm. Simon Connelly, landlord of Slak, said: “It’s great news because our customers are not under as much pressure to drink up. We aren’t even looking to turn into a nightclub or even compete with clubs. It’s just a late-night bar.” He also said that the clientele at Slak tended to be over 30 and from the professional classes.
A routine check was taken by fire officers in February 2003 and there was found to be significant overcrowding on the premises. The public entertainment licence limiting numbers to 100 was exceeded by at least 50 persons. A fire officer estimated that there may have been 180 drinkers when they entered Slak at 11pm. A safety check also found that one of the five fire doors was locked. A court charge was thrown out half way through the case when it was clear that on the night of the spot check the terms of the public entertainment licence had not been breached as there was no entertainment of any kind in Slaks that night.
Slak was a favourite venue of party-goers for many years, offering late-night music ranging from Motown and soul to modern classics, as well as poetry and comedy events. It also displayed artwork from local students at the University of Gloucestershire. Regular jazz nights were a feature on the second Sunday of every month in the autumn of 2003.
Slak Bar closed in August 2012 after financial difficulties. The licence was surrendered in December of that year.
In 2013 a property developer bought the building, presumably from owners Enterprise Inns. Raj Amera could have applied for planning permission for change of use but decided to apply for the renewal of the licence to sell alcohol and provide entertainment. A considerable amount of work was undertaken transforming the tired interior layout of the building to a high-end cocktail bar. Raj Amera told the Gloucestershire Echo of his plans: “It’s going to be an upmarket champagne, cocktail and spirits bar. We have completely changed it and it won’t be anything like the old Slak bar.” He added, “We’ve taken it completely back to brickwork. Every wall has been redone to a high spec. We are aiming at the professionals.”
The Apartment opened for business on 12th September 2015. An on-line promotion describes the venue as a ‘high end Champagne/Cocktail bar with its own distinctive heartbeat, where class and style have been shaken and stirred! It welcomes you for something unique and beautiful and offers an original cocktail list featuring old classics and new creations! The Apartment Cheltenham is all about a warm, homely atmosphere and a magical drinking experience. Free up your mind and enjoy the atmosphere that grabs you! The Apartment Cheltenham – make yourself at home!!! Check our new day time menu including cold meat platters, cheese boards and high tea!’
Landlords at the Garricks Head include:
1870 John Webley
1878 W. Troughton (listed in Bath Street, but no pub name)
1883 Mrs Aust
1891 Ellen Aust
1903 William James Temple
1939 William G. Cox
1999 Martin Kenneally
1999 (October) ,2005 Simon Connelly (Slak)