Martin Edwards, a fellow pub historian based in Cheltenham, has found an 1844 reference to a public house called the Coopers Arms at 76 & 77 Winchcombe Street.
The property was numbered 77 Winchcomb Street in the 1878 directory. Note the lack of the ‘e’ in Winchcombe.
The annual rateable value of the Hereford Arms at the time of the 1891 licensing returns was a substantial £34.0s.0d., increasing by seven pounds and ten shillings to £41.10s.0d. in 1903. Throughout these twelve years the Hereford Arms traded free from brewery ties. Mrs Baxter is recorded as the owner in 1891 and Henrietta Russell in 1903. An old photograph clearly shows that the frontage of the pub displayed signage for Feltons, with no indication of the name Hereford Arms. E. Felton was in residence as landlord in 1878 and 1883 references, succeeded by Frank Felton in 1891 and 1903. The frontage of the pub remained unchanged for several decades afterwards, certainly into the 1940’s.
At 7.30 pm on the evening of September 15th 1904, a large gas explosion destroyed the shop to the left of the pub. The shop was an unusual combination of a taxidermy and carpet cleaning business run by Mr Challice. The blast flattened the building and scattered the contents of the shop, including stuffed animals, across Winchcombe Street. Fortunately, nobody was injured although it is claimed that a passing female pedestrian had the misfortune of being struck by a decapitated fragment of a dead animal.
The Hereford Arms was directly opposite the Gaumont (later Odeon Cinema). The Beatles famously performed there on 1st November 1963, the opening night of their winter tour. The Rolling Stones also performed at the Odeon. Many other celebrities and recording artists graced the stage of the cinema and it is tempting to suggest that some celebrities of their time nipped over to the Hereford Arms for a swift drink before their booked performance.
The Hereford Arms was acquired by Arkell’s Brewery in 1991. The Swindon based family brewery changed the name of the pub to Flicks because of its links with the Odeon cinema. The new identity was short lived and had reverted to its original name by the mid 1990’s.
The Hereford Arms closed in January 2003 following the departure of tenants Shirley Wright and Vijay Patel. Trade was disappointing and they claimed that they could not compete with new larger pubs nearby, specifying Bar Med and Springbok bar. Shirley Wright told the Gloucestershire Echo: “We’re a small, old fashioned pub and our customers come in for a chat in a friendly atmosphere. Unfortunately the old-fashioned pub is a dying breed.” She sadly added: “We’re not making any money now. Trade has never been as bad as it is now. I can be here for two hours without a customer.” The couple had expressed interest in the vacancy of the St James’ Hotel in Ambrose Street (another Arkell’s pub), but they were not successful in securing the tenancy. Arkells Brewery put the Hereford Arms on the market, and it was bought by Orangeglow Leisure Limited who promised to keep the pub operating as a going concern. A new rear extension was proposed for the back of the building.
In the summer of 2003 a new licensed premises called Element opened. This was a short-lived venture. Its days as a public house were numbered.
The property was converted to a Thai restaurant called Baan Thitiya. During the reconstruction of the front of the building the ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque, that had been in situ on the right-hand side of the entrance for decades, mysteriously disappeared.
The Thai restaurant changed its name to Baan Koonchorn at the beginning of 2007.
Landlords at the Hereford Arms include:
1844 Samuel Driver (Coopers Arms, 76 & 77 Winchcombe Street)
1878,1883 E. Felton
1891,1903 Frank Felton
1996 -2003 Shirley Wright and Vijah Patel