The Red Lion is a classic pub on the banks of the River Severn. The red brick pub was originally built to cater for people travelling with horse-drawn barges up the river in the 19th century. The location of the Red Lion, next to Wainlode Cliff and the small inland ‘beach’ on the River Severn has always been a popular destination for the people of Cheltenham and Gloucester. Before the days of ‘health and safety’ and bathing restrictions hundreds of local people would be attracted to the location on hot summer weekends to soak up the sun and to enjoy a dip in the river.
Gloucester Journal. June 2nd, 1883: On Wednesday one of the largest gatherings of cyclists that has been witnessed in this district assembled at Wainlode Hill, where 70 sat down to a salmon dinner at the Red Lion Inn which was supplied by host James. The Cheltenham and North Gloucestershire Cyclists Club, the Gloucester Bicycle Club and Gloucester Tricycle Club were well represented and a very enjoyable outing was brought to a close at 10.30 pm, at which time the company arrived in Gloucester.
Gloucester Journal. July 1891: William James (sic), landlord, of the Red Lion, Wainloads Hill, met with a serious accident which necessitated his detention on the infirmary. He was driving home from Gloucester when his horse shied and he was thrown out of the cart. His injuries consisted of a bruised side and a severe cut on the ear.
In 1940 Joan Mitchell began a long tenancy at the Red Lion with her husband Griff. At that time she was a 20 year old newly wed and the youngest landlady in Gloucestershire. Mr Mitchell died of lead poisoning 10 years later but Joan carried on at the pub, bringing up their two children at the same time. Good neighbours helped her pull through. In 1963 Joan Mitchell bought three donkeys – Pip, Squeak and Wilfred – to give children rides on the beach.
Joan retired as landlady in November 1985 after serving customers behind the bar of the Red Lion for 45 years. The pub was full to bursting with regulars including some who could even remember Joan arriving at the Red Lion in 1940, aged 20. Joan told the ‘Citizen’: “In those days there was no electricity in the house and customers had to rely on light from oil lamps and water drawn by hand pump. There were times when it was very hard but if I had the choice now I would do it all again. I have met so many wonderful and interesting people over the years and made many friends.” At her retirement party she was presented with a radio/cassette player by Mr Les Goddard of Whitbread. Her son John, who had already served behind the bar for 19 years, was the new licensee.
but his mother kept pulling pints at the Red Lion until John sold the lease in July 2001. Sadly, Joan died in 2002.
In close proximity to the River Severn the Red Lion is prone to occasional flooding. In 1947 the inn was marooned from its customers for days and it suffered in the Great Gloucestershire Flood of July 2007.
Michelle Chamberlain took over the Red Lion in April 2014 and the pub was subject to a full refurbishment before the official opening in 2015. The Red Lion has deservedly gained an excellent reputation for its excellent menu and well-kept real real ales.
Steve Maidment has done some extensive research on the Red Lion for the Norton & Leigh Historical Society. Steve has kindly agreed to share his extensive and interesting history of the Red Lion via the following link:
Map Reference: SO 848258
Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1891: Charles Betteridge Walker (free from brewery tie)
Rateable Value in 1903: £78.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Charles Betteridge Walker (free from brewery tie)
Closing time in 1903: 10pm
Landlords at the Red Lion include:
1856 W. Howe
1883 Host James
1885,1906 William Jones
1919 Ralph James
1927 Edard Gurton Lewis
1939 Thomas E. Jones
1940 –1950 Griff and Joan Mitchell
1950 Joan Mitchell
1985 John Mitchell
2001,2002 Gerry Skilton
2005 Alldey Loveridge
2007 Andy Smith
2015 Michelle Chamberlain