The address of the Lower George Hotel is given as 60 Westgate Street in 1919 and 121 Westgate Street on renumbering.
The smell of malted barley and boiling hops must have been quite strong in this area of Westgate Street as the Lower George was only a few yards down the road from the Gloucester Brewery which had premises in Quay Street backing onto Westgate Street.
The Lower George Inn was a Stroud Brewery pub and later sold beers from West Country Breweries and Whitbread. In the early 1990’s the Lower George Hotel was acquired by the Wolverhampton brewers, Banks’s and the building was tastefully restored.
For a while in the 1990’s the pub was owned by the Little Pub Company and traded as a pseudo Irish pub, Mad O’Rourkes. The Grade II listed building was painted a garish yellow and green. Ushers Brewery from Trowbridge, then trading more as a pub company, took over the Little Pub Co., and in 2000 the Westgate street pub was relaunched as The Pig Inn the City.
Martyn and Kay Penn turned the Pig Inn the City into a popular real ale pub, gaining the accolade of CAMRA in Gloucester City Pub of the Year in three consecutive years. When they left to run the nearby Crown Inn in October 2011, the Pig Inn the City closed.
The pub re-opened under the original name of the Lower George Inn in October 2013. Unfortunately the pub has once again closed.
The Citizen, Tuesday April 23rd 1974 – New Lease: A new coat of paint and sympathetic remodelling of the ground floor windows has given a new lease of life to the late 18th century façade of the Lower George Hotel, in Westgate Street, Gloucester. Protected by Grade II listing of the Department of the Environment, the façade is described as being made of stucco, with windows surrounded by shouldered architraves with keystones. The quoins (they are the corner stones) are chamfered and the cornice is described as ‘dentilled’.
Behind the façade the building is probably much older. The City Archives Department has records of ale houses for 1680 which show there was both an ‘Upper George’ and a ‘George’ in West Ward at that date.
First mention of the ‘Lower George’ is in 1687 when William Hale was the proprietor, and in 1740 it was kept by Richard Reeve. By 1820 Martha Ridler was mine host at the Lower George and Kelly’s Directory of 1879 describes the pub as being at no.60 Westgate Street.
Gloucester Journal, Saturday 26th November, 1870 – Shocking death of a woman: An inquest was held at the Lower George Hotel on Wednesday, before J. Lovegrove, Esq., on the body of Sarah Ann Price, aged 28 years, who had died on the previous Monday from injuries inflicted by a man named George Clements. The deceased, who was a resident of Risca, Monmouthshire, left her home about ten years ago, and had since been leading an irregular life. She came to Gloucester about two months since and lodged at a house kept by George Clements, in Union Street.
On the 28th October she was sitting on the sofa, with Mrs Clements, when Clements came home drunk. After quarrelling with his wife, he took up a large sea-shell and threw it violently at her. She, drawing suddenly behind Mary Ann Price, pushed her a little forward, and the shell struck the latter on the forehead. The wound, which was small, bled very much. Clements, seeing what he’d done, seemed sorry and asked for water to wash the wound, and sent out for some adhesive plaster.
Sarah Ann Price died Monday last, 21st November 1970. (see below for full transcript)
Gloucester Journal: August 10th, 1872 – Catherine Graves, a middle-aged woman, was charged with stealing a glass from the Lower George Inn, Westgate Street. William Nicholls, an ostler at the inn, said that at about half-past three on Wednesday afternoon, the prisoner went into the inn and had a glass of ale. She sat down and then having drunk the ale, took the glass away with her. She pleaded guilty and was sent for a month’s hard labour.
An advertisement in 1873 reads:
‘Lower George Hotel, Westgate Street. Proprietor J. Powell. Wines, Spirits, Burton and Home Brewed Ales of excellent quality. Good accommodation for travellers. Beds and sitting rooms on moderate terms, Good stabling and lock up yards and coach houses.’
Gloucester Journal: 3rd March 1877 – “Much of the increase in drunkenness was due to the fact that women can go to any grocer’s shop and under the pretence of buying necessities for domestic use, supply themselves with bottles from which they can insidiously drink.” -Licensed Victuallers National Defence League speaker at the Lower George Inn, Westgate Street, Gloucester.
Gloucester Journal: 28th January 1882 – City Police: Mr J. Powell of the Lower George Hotel applied for an hour’s extension on the occasion of a Druid’s dinner at his house on Tuesday evening next. The chairman, Mr. W. Nicks, said he had a great objection ‘boozing’ after eleven o’clock, which hour he thought quite late enough for any social party. Mr Powell said it was not a question of ‘boozing’ at all. It had been a custom for years to have an extension on the occasion of the dinner. For himself, he should never apply for an extension, but it was the wish of the parties concerned that the time should be extended. Eventually the Bench agreed to the application.
Gloucester Journal: 12th December, 1885 – Ancient order of Druids: On Thursday night between 40 and 50 member of 96 A.O.D. sat down to a capital supper provided by Host Powell at the Lower George Inn, Westgate Street.
Stroud Brewery Courier, March 1949: Boxing enthusiasts will be interested to know that Hal Bagwell is now mine host at the Lower George Inn, Westgate Street, Gloucester.
Gloucester Citizen, 28th July 1997 – “Gaudy pub colours make us mad” (by Kirsty Senior): Gloucester traders are hopping mad after a 16th century pub was painted bright orange and green. Mad O’Rourke’s Little Pub Company has painted the listed Lower George Hotel, in Westgate Street. It has also strategically highlighted some of the letters in the hotel name to spell out ‘Low or Hot’. Mark Whitmore, secretary of the Westgate Trader’s Association, said: “I think it is really out of keeping with the rest of the street – it’s gaudy.”
But Gloucester City Council, which has planning control over such matters, says it is powerless to do anything about the new colour scheme. Planning chief Mary Kidston said: “We think we can do something about the lettering but, after looking carefully at the legislation, we do not think it is appropriate to impose an enforcement notice on the colour because we do not believe we would win in court. The building has been painted various colours over the years and has been two-tone before. Who is to say orange and green is any worse than blue and white? This is a matter of taste not one of planning.”
The Citizen, 31st July 1997 – Letters to the editor: Are there are controls on colour? Sir – Following your report on the vandalisation of the Lower George Hotel, can Gloucester City Council and any other planning authorities confirm that owners of listed buildings may now paint them in any colour they choose? J.R. Chamberlayne, Maisemore Court.
The Citizen, 19th November 1999 – Pub’s colour scheme blow: A listed building in Gloucester’s premier conservation area, which was painted bright green and yellow without planning permission may be toned down. The former coaching inn, the Lower George Hotel, in Westgate Street, which dates back to the 16th century, was renamed Mad O’Rourkes by its previous owners and the stucco front painted in vivid colours.
Now new owners, Ushers Brewery of Trowbridge, want to regularise the situation and has made a planning application for the work already carried out. Councillors will be recommended on Tuesday to refuse planning permission for the colour scheme because it is “incongruous and injurious to the character and appearance of a listed building and has a detrimental impact on the visual amenities of the Westgate Street Conservation Area.”
Gloucester Civic Trust’s panel of private architects, which monitors planning applications, says the colour scheme is “inappropriately harsh and crude.”
The Citizen May 2000 – Real spirits at city pub: People are being invited to an overnight ghost investigation in Gloucester later this month. The event is taking place at the Pig Inn the City pub, in Westgate Street, on 27th May, from 7pm to 3am. The price is £25, which includes a three-course meal.
The Citizen, 1st July 2004 – Pig out on rock: Twenty local bands will be performing at the Pig Inn the City, Gloucester, this weekend. Starting tonight, a collection of the county’s most promising rock bands will be taking to the stage during the Westgate Street pub’s first three-day live music event. Performances will begin at midday tomorrow and on Sunday.
The Citizen, Thursday 13th January 2011 – Pig Inn hogs top ale honour for third year: Staff at a Gloucester pub are happy as a pig in muck after winning a top award for the third time in a row. Real ale fans have once again named the Pig In the City as the CAMRA Gloucester City Pub of the Year.
Landlord Martyn Penn said he was delighted with the accolade. He said: “We’re chuffed to bits, especially winning it three times in a row. It’s nice to get recognised. It’s good for us as we are just out of the town centre, so we need help as we don’t necessarily get the footfall of a pub right in the centre.”
The Citizen, 26th October 2011 – Time called on two city centre boozers. (by Freddie Whittaker): The Pig Inn The City and The Union, both in Westgate Street, will shut on Saturday after a final night of revelry. Pig landlord Martin Penn is moving to take on the running of the nearby Samuel Smith’s pub The Old Crown, while the managers of The Union say they don’t have time to commit to the boozer.
The planned closure of the Pig, which has won the coveted CAMRA Gloucester Pub of the Year award for three years in a row has been lamented by customers. Gloucester-based artist and regular Tony Houlden said he would be sad to see it closed. He said, “It’s a real shame that it’s going, and everybody feels the same. It’s like losing a friend or a very old pet, something like that, it’s very sad.” He said he had got to know the pub over the years and put his personal touch – in the form of his artwork – on the hostelry’s walls. He said: “I did it all for pleasure really, but it’s all going to have to go.”
It is not yet known whether another landlord is poised to take over at the Pig Inn the City.
Gloucester Review, Friday 25th October 2013 – By George, we’re back! (by John Hawkins) Real ale drinkers are celebrating the re-opening of an historic Gloucester pub which has stood empty for the last two years. Before it shut in October 2011, the Pig Inn the City had been named Gloucester’s CAMRA pub of the year three times in a row. Now entrepreneur Debbie Clemmings and her husband Ronaldo have relaunched the pub as the Lower George Inn – return to its original 15th century name.
Mum of one Debbie, 50, has worked in the pub trade for 10 years and also has successful hairdressing and property rental business and said that she is keen to restore the reputation for real ales. She also plans live entertainment and has restored a first floor function room in the pub.
Debbie and her husband, a trained chef, have done much work of the refurbishment work inside the run-down building themselves over the last 18 months. “The building was basically derelict and didn’t even have a sink in it when we took it over,” said Debbie. “It had been broken into and pipes had been ripped out. Basically, nothing worked. There was also a lot of water damage.”
“It was a tenanted pub before, owned by Admiral Taverns, but we have bought it and we are running it as a free house,” said Debbie. The re-opening of the pub was welcomed by Paul Toleman, the Conservative city councillor for Westgate. He said: “It’s great news – wonderful to see it back in business again. And I’m pleased it’s being called the Lower George again – that’s so much better than Pig Inn The City, which I thought was an awful name.”
The Citizen, 29th August 2014 – Family fun at re-launched Lower George Inn: Ten months after re-opening Gloucester’s Lower George Inn, landlady Debbie Clemmings was thrilled at the success of a family day she organised in the beer garden last weekend. Formerly the Pig Inn the City, the Lower George was once an award winning real ale hostelry and last October Debbie and her husband decided it should be just that again. They re-opened it after it had stood empty for two years and last weekend’s fun day was a celebration of what they have achieved since then.
Landlords at the pub include:
1830 Richard Williams
1856,1859 Daniel Smith
1873,1885 James Powell
1893, 1902 Samuel William Langston
1906 Frederick W. Smith
1919 Walter Sturgeon
1927,1939 Ernest W.J. Meredith
1949 Hal Bagwell
1954 Mel Barnett
1956 (Oct) Thomas Turner
1957 J.M. Barnett
1971, 1986 Ronald & Joyce King
1997 Andy Prestwich
1999 Mary Crosbie (Mad O’Rourkes)
2000 Andy Robertson (Pig Inn the City)
2002,2003 Mrs Eddie Roberts
2006 , 2011 Martyn and Kay Penn (Pig Inn The City). Martyn died on September 8th 2019, aged 63.
2013 (October), 2014 Debbie Clemmings (Lower George Inn)