Samuel Ayland is listed as the owner of the Royal Union Inn in both the 1891 and 1903 licensing returns books. In 1891 the licence was for a beer house and it had an annual rateable value of £18.10s.0d. At that time Samuel Ayland operated the pub free from brewery tie. Twelve years later the entry submitted to the licensing authorities altered significantly, suggesting that the pub had been extensively refurbished or even re-built. Samuel Ayland was still the owner in 1903, but the lease had been taken by Allsopp & Sons, brewers of Burton on Trent. The premise licence had been updated to ale house status and there was a remarkable new valuation of £42.10s.0d; a massive increase of twenty-four pounds. Perhaps the leaseholder funded the refurbishment in negotiation for an extended lease or even securing the freehold from Mr Ayland.

Courtesy Michael Wilkes

The Royal Union had a long association with Allsopp and Ind Coope breweries. In the early 1980’s the pub was branded as a Halls Oxford and West Brewery pub – selling Harvest Bitter brewed at the Ind Coope Brewery.

Pub Sign images Courtesy Michael Wilkes

The Gloucestershire CAMRA branch (Campaign for Real Ale) had their first meeting at the Royal Union in April 1975.

From Gloucestershire Live. 13th October 2022

An historic Cheltenham pub could soon close for good and be converted into wholly residential use. Landlord Robin Carter had already massively scaled down his business at The Royal Union in Hatherley Street, Tivoli – using just a small part of the building as a micropub called the Tivoli Tap. Now he says that is not making enough money and he wants to be allowed to use the whole building for residential use only.

A report within his latest planning application to the borough council set out the plan for the pub, which reportedly dates back to 1848. It said that the Tivoli Tap had opened two weeks before the first Covid-prompted lockdown was implemented.

The report said: “Despite every effort, 70 per cent of previous trade has not returned. At this time, the business is now turning over less than £300 per week and there are no signs of it improving.

“Within a one-minute walk of The Royal Union, there are four licensed premises – The Lansdown, Cheltenham’s biggest sports bar, The St Stephens Social Club, The Tivoli pub/restaurant and the Wine Library off-licence. Walk a further four minutes and Montpellier offers dozens of pubs and restaurants.”

The report added that a previous change of use at the pub, approved by the council last year, meant that five sixths of the building had become residential and just a sixth was still being used as a pub. It said: “It is requested that permission be given for the remainder of the property to be returned to residential use.”

The Tippler, the magazine of the Gloucestershire Branches of CAMRA. Spring 2023: The planning application to convert the Tivoli Tap, the last remaining part of the Royal Union, into residential accommodation has been permitted by Cheltenham Borough Council. This marks the end for the pub where the Gloucestershire Branch of CAMRA was founded.

Landlords at the Royal Union include:

1870 William Meek

1878, 1891 Samuel Ayland

1902 George Walter Blundell

1903 George Walter Blunsden

1906 Alice Cole (Miss)

1939 Frank William Painter

1997,2000 Christopher Bayliss

2005 Derek Barnes

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