48 Gloucester Street in 1919 directory; 70 Gloucester Street on renumbering.
The Nelson Inn once boasted its own brewery and was almost certainly the last of its kind to operate in Gloucestershire. An advertisement in Bailey & Woods town directory of 1909 states that the ‘Nelson Home Brewery (established over a century) is still brewing Pure Home Brewed Beer. These fine ales are used and recommended by the leading medical practitioners throughout the district as a pure and wholesome beverage.’ The 1927 Kellys Directory also mentions the Nelson Home Brewery. The large chimney which dominates the pubs skittle alley is probably part of the old brew house.
George Brain of Northleach told the ‘Standard’ in March 1998 that Edmund John Price was his uncle and his father left a farm in Purton, Wiltshire, during the First World War to brew beer at the Nelson. George Brain told the ‘Standard’ that apart from his Dad, also a George, other people who worked at the brewery included a Charlie Box, a cooper called Dotchy, and an office clerk Mr Holloway, who took the orders and made out the bills. The beer was apparently delivered to Dartley Bottom farm, the Gloucester Road home then of a Mr Butt, and to a range of other customers, usually in barrels of various sizes. “It was good beer,” said Mr Brain “so good that on one occasion uncle Ted was fined for making it too strong.” He recalled that Ted Price had a large Blackstone engine to power the pumping of water into the boilers. “I used to clean out the grain which was fed to the pigs”, he said. “There were four large vats plus the hogshead barrels which held 56 gallons of beer each, and the nine gallon and four and a half gallon barrels, ready to be sold. The beer was made with hops, pure malt extract, and best barley, and when brewing was in full swing the smell was wonderful.” His father, he said, worked from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.
George also told an intriguing tale about the Nelson Brewery: “I can remember when Sangers Circus came to Webb’s Field, Stratton, at the back of Bob Barrett’s Garage. They had three elephants, and one of them had a bad chill in his stomach. The ringmaster asked my uncle if he could bring them down to the brewery to have some warm water. The elephants came down Gloucester Street and the big doors into the yard were opened. The first elephant went through then stopped dead, hitting the ground with his trunk, and no way would he go forward.” Mr Brain said the elephant had sensed there was something not solid beneath him. “The ringmaster got him to go over, and the other two, and they had their fill of water heated from the brewery’s boilers. They went back to the circus, but one of them died and it was buried in the field, not far from the river.” So somewhere in the field near the garage the full skeleton of an elephant awaits to be unearthed by archeologists… a case for ‘Time Team’ perhaps?
More details of the Nelson Home Brewery was supplied by Mr Wallace Lawrence of St. Mary’s Road, Cirencester, who told the ‘Standard’ that “according to some of the old-timers from the Gloucester Street area, Mr. Price used to brew up once a fortnight, largely for customers of the pub itself.” But it appears the brewery was able to supply two other local hostelries, one at South Cerney and the Smuggs Barn Inn at Chedworth. (note – according to my records the Smuggs Barn was tied to Cirencester Brewery, perhaps it became a freehouse after 1903).
Finally, in the ‘Standard’ dated 22/1/98 Bernie Glassmann of Tetbury, then 91 years of age, said that he had been a customer of the Nelson Brewery: “It wasn’t the beer,” he said, “it was the yeast. I suffered when younger from boils and was sent along to buy some yeast from which a medicine was made up. I had to drink so much of it each day.”
The brewery had closed when William E. Newcombe held the license to the Nelson in 1939.
In September 2018 an application was submitted to Cotswold District Council for change of use of the Nelson Inn to residential. Plans included the development of six houses on the site, two of them one bedroom, three houses two bedroom, and one four-bedroom house. Crucially the existing Grade II listed building housing the pub was to be refurbished internally, and not demolished. The Nelson closed in July 2019 after contracts with the developer were exchanged. Bill and Sue Broad, who had served at the Nelson since 1992 said: “We would like to say a big thank you to all customers, loyal friends and acquaintances from near and far for your support over the last 27 years. “We’ve had the most amazing time and owe it all to our lovely customers.”
This page will be updated with additional infortmation:
Owner in 1891: Trustees of Mr S. Webb (free from brewery tie)
Rateable Value in 1891: £15.5s.0d.
Type of license in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Trustees of St. Lawrence Hospital (free from brewery tie)
Rateable Value in 1903: £20.15s.0d.
Type of license in 1903: Alehouse
Closing time in 1903: 11pm
Landlords at the Nelson Inn include:
1885, 1891 John Norris
1902, 1927 Edmund John Price (1927 – Nelson Home Brewery, Gloucester Street)
1939 William E. Newcombe
1992-2019 Bill and Sue Broad