48 Gloucester Street in 1919 directory; 70 Gloucester Street on renumbering.

Edmund John Price - Nelson Home Brewing Brewery
Bailey & Woods Cirencester Town Directory 1909.

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.

Courtesy Paul Best

Courtesy Paul Best

The pub sign reads: The Nelson Inn – Ushers Ales.

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.

Wilts and Glos Standard, 17th June 1999 – Cotswold Pipers Club: Edna Parker (73) was a member of the Cotswold Pipers Club – a pipe smoking club that used to meet in The Nelson Inn some 25 years ago. Mrs Parker – who only smoked a pipe when she was standing in for her husband in competitions – said: “We were sponsored by St Bruno tobacco and Swan matches and we would go across Europe to compete in pipe-smoking competitions. At the championships you were given a pipe-full of tobacco and you had to see how long you could keep it burning – my best was just over an hour.”

Mrs Parker remembers teams competing in the contests from across the world, including Japan, Spain, Holland and America. The club had about 15 members who came as far afield as Wootton Bassett and Meysey Hampton.

Gloucestershire Echo, 16th October 2001 – Lottery win was a hoax: When Toby Refoy realised his Wednesday lottery numbers matched those of the Saturday draw he showed his ticket to a few friends. But the rumours spread and within days the 17-year-old from Quenington near Cirencester was being talked about as a £5.3 million jackpot winner. And Toby played up to the joke offering to buy the local pub in Cirencester, even though he is too young to drink.

The stunned landlord at the Nelson Inn in Gloucester Street was tempted but after a day’s thought he declined. Bill Broad, landlord at the inn, sad: “I thought about the offer but I decided against it but if the price is right I might think again.” The pub is a regular haunt of students in Cirencester.

A Quenington villager, who did not want to be named, said she had heard the rumours of the lottery win. She said she later heard it was the teenager playing a prank on his friends.”

Wilts & Glos Standard, 14th July 2005 – Nowhere for bands to play (edit):

A Cirencester band which is struggling to find music venues in the Cotswolds says more needs to be done for groups in the area. Ben Maggs and bandmate, Nick Hunt, both 21, told the Standard that they feel let down by the limited support for bands in the area, such as their group Solace.

Bill Broad, landlord of the Nelson Inn in Cirencester, which used to hold live music events, explained band nights were not something he would do again. He said: “Live music is a bit of a waste of time, to try and draw people in. It’s very difficult and there’s no reward. To be honest it’s very difficult to get a response. If it’s a private party they bring their guests but haven’t had any sort of evenings where I have paid for a band for five years because there is no financial reward.”

Bill also said the new licensing law also makes it harder for smaller bands to play live because pubs that have previously relied on the ‘two men in a bar’ rule now need a full music license.

Was this the brewery at the rear of the Nelson Inn?

Gloucestershire Echo, 2nd May 2007 – Man jailed for assault with glass (edit): A 22 year-old man from Burge Court, Cirencester sobbed “I love you” to his girlfriend in the public gallery of Gloucester Crown Court as he was jailed for a year for glassing a man. He said an emotional goodbye to his mother and his girlfriend – with whom he has a baby – as he was taken down.

His victim needed 40 stitches after he was punched in the head with a glass following a row at the Nelson Pub in Cirencester. The man pleaded guilty to causing grievous harm, on the basis that he didn’t deliberately use the glass, but simply had it in his hand when he lashed out.

Wilts and Glos Standard, Thursday 3rd July 2008 – Pubs are struggling to survive smoking ban (edit): Bill Broad, landlord of the Nelson Inn, Cirencester, said: “The smoking ban has had an adverse effect. I’m a non-smoker myself and it’s nice without the fumes but it’s bad for business. It has pushed smokers outside like naughty school-children which will obviously deter them from coming out to the pub. It’s bad for trade and should have been integrated slower rather than overnight change. I’ve had to make several concessions on price and to attract customers.”

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.”

Gloucestershire Echo (Gloucestershire Live), Thursday 18th July 2019 – Last orders; home plan for popular pub: A popular pub in Cirencester has suddenly closed its doors for good. The Nelson Inn, on Gloucester Street, announced the news on the venue’s Facebook page. The post explained that “contracts had been exchanged” which meant the pub would “cease trading with immediate effect.”

And having been operated for 27 years, unsurprisingly people expressed their sadness at the news. One person said: “My parents went courting in the early fifties. My sisters drank there in the 70’s. For me in the 80’s. I loved to pop on from time to time after moving to Wales in the 90’s… much love to you both. End of an era.”

When one Facebook user asked what would happen to the venue, the owner explained: “It’s still going to be our home. Just converting it into three- our home in the middle and a cottage either side! Hopefully we will see you and all our other friends out and about in town.”

A planning application was submitted to Cotswold District Council back in August 2018 which outlines plans for six dwellings on the site of the pub. The application was approved on Thursday, November 22nd last year.

Licensing Details:

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

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