The Northend Vaults is much older than it looks. The frontage is 18th century, with the ground floor pub facia being extensively re-modelled over the years. However the structure of the interior, although much altered, possibly dates back over 500 years. It was possibly a merchants house when first constructed. The pub is Grade II listed and survived the ‘improvement’ of Northgate Street in the early 1970’s when the neighbouring Methodist Church was raised to the ground to make way for a Tesco supermarket (now Wilco’s). The Northend Vaults is still trading and is owned by the Craft Union Pub Company, a subsidiary of Ei Group (previously Enterprise Inns).
Gloucestershire Chronicle. March 12th 1870 – A tramp named Margaret Jones had gone to the Northend Wine Vaults on Thursday night and when refused relief she had become abusive and violent. She was sentenced to twenty days hard labour.
The Citizen, Thursday 17th April 1969 – Chance visit reveals city inn may be 500 years old: A chance visit to the Northend Vaults has led to the discovery that the public house may be one of the city’s oldest surviving buildings. It was during a conversation with a Citizen reporter that the licensee, Mr Charles Hayes, mentioned he didn’t know how old his pub was. All he had been able to ascertain that it was standing opposite Worcester Street when the Northgate Methodist Church was constructed in 1860.
As a result of the conversation with Mr Hayes, staff from the Gloucester Museum visited the Northend Vaults and were quite astonished by what they saw. For after examining the many oak beams and ancient roof, which appears to be original, the experts believe the building may be a contemporary of the New Inn – itself 500 years old.
Mr John Rhodes, the deputy curator said: “It is earlier than the front, but whether it dates from the 17th, 16th or 15th centuries I don’t know.”
The Citizen, Saturday 23rd November 1974 – Sprucing up the ‘local’: Have you popped into your local tavern lately? No, not public house, tavern…
Many old established pubs in and around Gloucester are being converted into ‘taverns’ by the Whitbread company in a new policy aimed at updating the traditional public house. The idea is to do away with the old notion of a separate bar and lounge, and to create one large room with a central bar. The Northend Vaults in Northgate Street – one of the few buildings to escape the holocaust of redevelopment in that area – is a good example of Whitbread’s ‘tavernisation’. Before the conversion, the pub consisted of two small rooms, a bar and smoke room. Now the two have ben made into one on a split level with a single bar.
What is the thinking behind the scheme? After all, Gloucester has been well-served by its pubs for many years and has managed adequately without taverns. The brewery is aiming at increased customer comfort with taverns by providing carpets and soft furnishings throughout the drinking area – not just in the lounge. It also ensures that the best use is made of the pub’s existing space, and that, for instance, the public bar is not full while the lounge is half-empty.
On the debit side, of course, it disposed with the “penny off” rule on beer bought in the public bar, and there is only one price for your drink in the tavern. Sometimes too, the dartboard gets squeezed out, and the shove ha’penny players may find they have less room than before. But – these snags apart – the policy is creating some extremely pleasant pubs in the city centre, even if the beer is a little more expensive.
The Citizen, Thursday 3rd September 1981 – Short stay – 18 years: Joyce and Eddie Hayes thought their stay at the Northend Vaults, Gloucester, would only be for a few months. But that was long ago and now the couple are retiring after 18 happy years at the pub in Northgate Street.
Mr Hayes (59) reckons that the pub has helped raise at least £5,000 for charities during the past 18 years. Yet, he says, they were told that the pub was being demolished to make way for the City’ triangle development development after four months of their tenancy. The City Council’s compulsory purchase was blocked when the Northend Vaults was made a grade two listed building.
NB: Joyce Hayes, widow, died in Gloucester Royal Hospital on 21st January 2007 after a short illness.
To the right of the Northend Vaults is Wilkinsons store -a bland modern brick building that was originally built as a Tesco supermarket in the 1960’s. The modern development replaced the Northgate Methodist Church that was constructed c.1860. This church was an architectural gem with twin spires with a central circular window of grandiose proportions. It seems a travesty that the planners were prepared to see this wonderful building raised to the ground to be replaced with a bland modern edifice. It is perhaps surprising that the Northend Vaults survived the frenzy of the demolition contractors.
The Citizen: Saturday, 11th February 1989 – Beauty of a start for pub: Miss Gloucester, Diana Lee, is to re-open the Northend Vaults in Northgate Street on Friday, after a major refurbishment by Whitbread Severn Inns. The 16th Century pub has been completely refurbished and extended. Managers Pat and Tina Hoben have many years experience in the trade and are looking forward to building up a new clientele.
The Citizen, May 1996: Brewers who turned a quaint city centre pub into a theme bar with a new name are set to make a U-turn on their decision. The Tut ‘n’ Shive, in Northgate Street, is to be transformed – with its ‘youth pub’ image being jettisoned in favour of creating a comfortable place to relax with a pint. And the controversial name is going as well – the pub will once more become the Northend Vaults. The pub, owned by Whitbread, will revert to a traditional hostelry, with comfortable seats and old-style decor.
Now the race is now on the complete the overhaul of the 16th century pub against the clock. Builders, carpenters and decorators from Gloucester are all set to take part in a 24-hour challenge to transform the pub, with the refurbishment beginning next Tuesday at 5pm, and finishing the following day.
Regulars are also supporting the attempt, with a sweepstake being organised to guess the exact time it will take to give the pub a new look. All the funds will be divided between local charities. Pub manager Sara Lock said: “It’s going to be very exciting as everyone will be working through the night to get the job done in 24 ours. We will be exhausted after the challenge but the end result will be well worth it.”
The Citizen, 25th May 1996 – We made it… almost: Getting stuck in heavy traffic cost builders dear when the clock stopped them completely refurbishing an historic Gloucester pub within 24 hours. Contractors arrived at the Tut ‘n’ Shive on Tuesday half an hour late on Tuesday because of a crash en-route from a job in Cardiff. And when the final piece of scaffolding came down around the new Northend Vaults sign they found they had finished seven minutes behind schedule.
December 1998: The Northend Vaults in Gloucester experimented with being the Tut ‘n’ Shive for a while but dropped that when regulars started voting with their feet. Licensee Simon Binding said: “It was changed to the Tut ‘n’ Shive and changed its image to a student-type theme bar. But this isn’t really a student catchment area so it wasn’t to successful. We moved back to being the Northend Vaults about two-and-a-half years ago and as a traditional city centre pub we have been much more successful.
The Citizen, 12th March 1999 – Hugh Worsnip column: They’re at it again. Changing the names of ancient Gloucester pubs when I’m not looking. In my battle against the brewery marketing men who change the names of time-honoured landmarks with real historical significance at the drop of a hat, there has been one noticeable success.
The old, timber-framed Northend Vaults, which has been serving Gloucesterians for centuries in Northgate Street was horribly mutilated by Whitbread a few years ago to become a “Tut ‘n’ Shive” teenage theme pub. Few of Whitbread’s portfolio of properties could have been less suitable for this treatment than the Northend Vaults. The usual protest was made in this column for the pub to be restored to something more sympathetic with a listed building. And, dang me, within months it was altered back to the Northend Vaults again.
All credit to Whitbread, the retro look included a very nice engraved glass fascia sign in green and gold which fitted well the 18th century façade. But the marketing men can’t leave well alone. They have to keep on fiddling. One end of the fascia has now been sawn off and the pub has become Ebenezer Riley’s Northend Vaults.
Who is Ebenezer Riley? A famous Gloucestestrian, perhaps? No, he is entirely bogus. Why do they do it?
The Citizen, 1st April 2003 – Commercial Property: One of Gloucester’s oldest pubs, the Northend Vaults has finally reopened following a major overhaul. The pub, operated by Gloucester based pub operators Excelsior Leisure, has had a full refurbishment and licensee Stuart Hayle is looking forward to the future. The pub is actually owned by Enterprise Inns plc, the Solihull based, leased and tenanted pub operator, which owns approximately 5,300 pubs in the country.
The Citizen, 5th August 2010 – 5 Trapped in blaze terror: Five people trapped in a burning building sparked a dramatic emergency rescue yesterday. Firefighters used a ladder to lift one of the victims to safety as flames spread through the flat in the three-storey building. Four other people caught in the blaze were led down a metal staircase to escape the fire. The group found themselves trapped in the flat above the Northend Vaults pub in Northgate Street as fire raged through the kitchen yesterday morning at 2.20am. All five victims were taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital with smoke inhalation.
About 20 per cent of the first floor was severely damaged although there was no damage to the pub. It is believed that the fire was accidental and began in the kitchen area of the flat. It is believed it could have been caused by unattended cooking.
The Citizen, Wednesday 20th November 2013 – Pub rebirth: The re-development of the Northend Vaults in Northgate Street moved a step closer this week as plans by owners Enterprise Inns were approved. The pub has laid empty for months, with question marks hanging over its future since it was placed on the city’s buildings at risk register. Now planners have paved the way for the pub’s regeneration to begin, and it is hoped it could prompt further city centre investment.
The Citizen, Thursday 6th February 2014 – New life being breathed into the historic Northend Vaults: Once it was an old merchant house, but 400 years on and the Northend Vaults will be writing a new chapter in its much-loved heritage when it reopens for business next month. Development is well under way to transform the Northgate Street pub from an unloved empty shell to a bustling new bar.
Since the pub shut a little over two years ago, a catalogue of incidents has plagued the 16th century building. Fire, flood and a raid by thieves for copper piping has seen its refurbishment hit be lengthy delays. Builders are working flat out to get the pub open in time for Easter.
A city council conservation officer has kept a close eye on the redevelopment. Builders had to use limestone plaster and restore original timbers and wood panelling. A brick wall has been left exposed to create a feature an an upstairs flat is also being redeveloped.
The Citizen, 5th April 2014 – Raising a glass to pub’s bright new chapter: Drinkers enjoyed the first pints poured at the refurbished Northend Vaults as new landlord David Thomason stepped behind the bar for the first time at yesterdays full public opening. The Northend Vaults has seen investment of thousands of pounds by owners Enterprise Inns, and David has pumped in £10,000 of his own cash to help start the business. Richard Branson can take some credit too, with his company Virgin supporting David with a £20,000 start up loan. The inn is set to become Gloucester’s first pie and pint pub, offering a range of ales brewed in the area and the famous Pieminister pies.
Simon Williams, regional manager for Enterprise Inns said: “We were all a little nervous due to the level of investment from Enterprise, but I’m sure David’s enthusiasm and drive will help to make the Northend Vaults a great success.”
Gloucester mayor Chris Chatterton did the honours by cutting the ribbon to the pub, opening its doors for drinkers. “I think Enterprise has done a terrific job in restoring this important part of Gloucester’s history,” he said.
A log burner in the corner helps create a welcoming, cosy environment and the development has been completed in line with strict heritage guidelines, ensuring the pub retains its historic charm. The pub had been shut for two years, with a flood and a fire there causing substantial damage as it sat empty.
The Citizen, 18th September 2014 – Baby means second landlord in just seven months for pub: The Northend Vaults is set for its second relaunch of the year after landlord David Thomason moved out just seven months after taken over. David and partner Claire Baber have said their goodbyes to find somewhere quieter for their new baby. The young landlord pumped in £10,000 of his own cash to set up the pub, which had been closed for two years. But the Enterprise Inns pub will reopen today under another new regime with former Station Hotel manager Steve Wood in charge.
The Citizen, 5th December 2015 – Pub’s 10,146 fairy lights are getting the party started: More than 10,000 bulbs will be fired into life at the Northend Vaults tonight with a proper switch-on event with city adventurer and Superhero Foundation founder Kev Brady. The pub lights up at 5pm and landlord Steve Wood said: “We’d love to welcome everyone to see the pub twinkling and glowing in all its Christmas glory.
Steve has spent 62 hours over eight days getting the pub ready and he is certainly in the Christmas spirit now. Using 39 plug sockets, 275 brass hooks and no end of cable ties, his effort has created an amazing display of festive magic made up of 10,146 individual lights.
The Northend Vaults had to close two years ago after a small fire broke out and the pub was damaged by flooding before that. After an extensive revamp the pub has been back serving the public since April last year, and Steve, an ex-soldier, has been running the place since September last year.
Landlords at the Northend Vaults include:
1869 Ephraim Lloyd (Northend Wine Vaults)
1870 Edwin Cook (Northend Wine Vaults)
1893. 1906 Mrs M.A. Dobbs (Northend Wine Vaults in 1891 & 1906)
1927 H.G. Harris
1939,1939 Mrs Ethel Louisa Walton
1957 Herbert M. Walton
1961-1981 Charles Edward ‘Ted’ and Joyce Hayes (from Wellington Arms)
1989 Pat and Tina Hoben (Managers)
2003 Stuart Hayle (owners Enterprise Inns and operated by Excelsior Leisure, Gloucester)
2005 Naomi Langmead
2014 David Thomason and Claire Baber
2015, 2016 Steve and Bouchra Wood