George Ford of Patchway contacted Gloucestershire Pubs and gave the following information and reminiscences of the Porters Stores. He also wrote a booklet “The Barrel Story – The History of a Thornbury Pub’. (JL Business Services, Thornbury)

“The premises were built about 1860 for a haulage and carrier business comprising two parallel buildings with a yard between. The part which protrudes into St. Mary Street was the stable block which had stalls for four horses and a tack room with a hay loft above. The part nearest the old police station was the coach house with living accommodation to the side and above. I have no information on the early years or the date when it became the Porters Stores but my grandfather James Ford took it over on March 18th 1911 from the estate of a William Underhill. The brewer was then Arnold Perrett. When my grandfather died my father Frederick George Ford took over on 2nd August 1921. The carrier business was disposed of then or just before.

The first time that I can find when the name changed to the Barrel is 25th March 1936 when the Cheltenham Original Brewery had taken over Arnold Perrett & Co. Cider was still delivered from Wickwar. Incidentally on that date the annual rent was increased from £15.12s.0d to £20.0s.0d.

During the Second World War because of petrol rationing pubs had to take their beer from the nearest brewery. The Barrel was then supplied by Georges’ Bristol Brewery who delivered it by steam lorry or horse drawn drays. Sometime before my father retired on June 24th 1956 Cheltenham Brewery amalgamated with the Hereford Brewery. I have no information from then until April 1983 when the Barrel was opened after a large alteration when the landlord was Geoff Stevenson. The alterations increased the size of the pub by covering in the yard and including the stable block. A stone arched doorway to the original coach house can now be seen in the bar. During another refurbishment in July 1997 Whitbreads wanted to change the name to ‘Ebenezer Rileys Old Coach House’  but the pub customers and Thornbury town council objected so it is still the Barrel.”

Advertisement Feature in the Gazette, 24th October 2000 – Roll out the boddies…: The Barrel Inn, Thornbury, is crammed with olde-worlde charm. The listed building has exposed stone walls, cobbled floors and beams. However the ancient building has not always been an inn – it began life as a blacksmith’s. Landlady Sarah Benham says The Barrel is a traditionally beer, rather than food, pub. The inn servbes Whitbread Best and Boddingtons. It also has Stella, Heineken and Heineken Export. Blackthorn cider and Guinness are also available. the inn serves food at lunchtimes only, specialising in traditional pub fare including steaks, scampi and mixed grills.

Ms Benham has been running the pub for nine months. Although she has been in the licensed trade for a while this is her first pub with Whitbread. She considers The Barell part of the Thornbury Community. During a weekday the pub attracts office workers but on a week night it becomes more of a locals pub – it even has a pool team which plays on Tuesday nights. At the weekend the Barrel transforms into a younger pub, with the youngsters attracted by the big screen television for football matches, live bands and DJ’s.

May 2008

Above images: October 2009

The Gazette, Thursday 7th November 2013 – Barrel is reborn as bar and cafe. (by Lynne Hutchinson): A former Thornbury pub has been converted into a cafe bar after weeks of refurbishment. The Barrel, in the St Mary Centre, has been renamed Hawkes House by new owners Simon Extanch and James Murray, who had several trial opening days before officially welcoming their first customers last week.

Simon and James are originally from Devon and have been in the hospitality industry for many years. They already run a cafe bar, Theoc House, in Tewkesbury and as a result of its success were looking to expand into a market town when Christie & co were marketing the freehold of the Barrel for £325,000. Christie & co said there had been little investment in the pub for a number of years and the improvements to the buildng included creating an extended open kitchen, installing new toilets, bringing in new furnishings and decorating throughout the premises.

Simon said: “It’s nice to take on a new building. We were looking for a second site when this one came up. We fell in love with the town and went ahead with the project.” He said the name of the cafe bar came from the Hawkesworth family, who had played a major role in Thornbury during the seventeenth century and were connected with several inns in the town. The Barrel itself originally became a beerhouse called the Ale and Porter Stores – later shortened to the Porter Stores – thanks to brewer Thomas Arnold.

Simon said Hawkes House would be open all day, serving food, coffee, tea, soft drinks, draught beers and wines. He said: “We use locally sourced products, with four chefs in the kitchen. We had a few trial days in the run-up to the opening and were very pleased with how busy we were when we opened fully.”

The refurbishment took around eight weeks to complete, with the majority of the work done by the new owners, and the premises opened on Wednesday, 30th October.

Licensing Details:

Owner in 1891: Arnold Perrett & Co. Ltd., Wickwar Brewery

Rateable value in 1891: £20.0s.0d.

Type of licence in 1891: Beerhouse

Owner in 1903: Arnold Perrett & Co. Ltd., Wickwar Brewery

Rateable value in 1903: £20.0s.0d.

Type of licence in 1903: Beerhouse

Closing time in 1903: 11pm

Landlords at the Porter Stores / Barrel include:

1859-1870 William Bevan

1870-1891 Thomas Pointing

1891,1898 Thomas Brown

1898-1900 Charles Underhill

1900-1903 Frederick Underhill

1903,1911 William Underhill

1911 (18/3) James Ford

1921(2/8) -1956(24/6) Frederick George Ford

1956-1964 Frederick Jones

1964-1969 George Price

1969-1973 Laurence Swift

1973-1979 Sydney Harris

1979-1982 Kenneth Ayles

1983-1986 Geoffrey Stevenson

1986-1989 Andrew Bawn

1989-1994 Geoffrey Leonard

1994-1997 Jeffrey Walker

1997-1998 Steven England

1998-2000 Simon Binding

2000-2001 Sally Benham

2001 David Dunne

2013 Simon Extanch and James Murray (Hawkes House)

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