The Salutation has the affectionate nickname of ‘The Sally’. The earliest reference to the pub is around 1840.
Thomas Pearce Bailey is listed as the owner of the Salutation Inn during the time of the petty licensing evaluations in the years 1891 and 1903. Thomas Pearce Bailey, who lived at Walgaston at Mobley (near the present Cattle Country), was a farmer on the Berkeley Estate. He must have had considerable wealth as when he died in November 1915 he paid for a central heating system to be installed in St Marys Parish Church at a total cost of £313.0s.0d., a substantial amount of money in those days. A memorial plaque can be seen by the north door of the church. The annual rateable value was assessed at £14.5s.0d, staying at that level from 1891 to 1903. The Salutation was licensed as a beer house with a closing time set at 10 pm. Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. of the Wickwar Brewery were the leaseholders.
The present landlord has done some research on the history of the Salutation Inn. The pub website gives the following information. ‘One hundred years ago the Sally was surrounded by cider orchards. The pub, like many others in the Vale of Berkeley, was a cider pub. Cider was once such an integral part of life in Gloucestershire that it as used as a currency to pay workers. Even the appearance of the Berkeley Vale’s Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, was, according to legend, due to cider apples falling on their backs, with the resulting bruises giving them the distinctive black spots. Much has changed since then. In the past 50 years, 75 per cent of Gloucestershire orchards have disappeared.’
The Salutation or Sally still retains much of its original interior layout – a rare survivor in modern times. There are two separate bars and an adjoining skittle alley that doubles up as a function room. In the garden the pub sign is housed in a decorative iron surround with the ‘castle’ emblem of the Cheltenham Brewery / West Country Ales. Not many of these distinctive brackets remain and is a reminder that for many decades the Sally sold Cheltenham brewed beer, evolving from the Original Brewery after it acquired the Wickwar Brewery of Arnold, Perrett & Co in 1924 through to the Whitbread days of the 1960’s when West Country PA was served at the Sally.
Steve and Sandra Fisher were residents in nearby Brookend, having moved to the Berkeley area in 1976. Steve was an amateur home brewer, brewing ‘full-mashed’ beer in the traditional style. In 1994 Steve and Sandra made a brave decision to sell their house in Brookend and buy the Borough Arms in Neath. The Borough Arms was an archetypal late Victorian terraced, single bar back street boozer. Once Steve and Sandra had settled into the Borough Arms, Steve set up the Eagles Bush Brewery at the back of the pub. It consisted of a three-quarter barrel mash tun, copper and two fermenting vessels. In 2005 the lease of the Salutation came available and Steve and Sandra made the decision to return to the Vale of Berkeley. They served their first pints in the ‘Sally’ in July 2005 and Steve installed his Eagles Nest Brewery in an outbuilding. There were six core beers – Kestrel Bitter (3.7%), Merlin Mild (3.6%), Osprey Porter (3.9%), Golden Eagle IPA (4.2%), Red Kite Bitter (4.0%) and Old Buzzard Best Bitter (4.5%). However not all were available at the bar at any one time, usually keeping one house beer on tap with Draught Bass on permanently with two guest beers on the other two handpumps. The home brewed beers proved to be extremely popular but unfortunately Steve had health problems, which made brewing difficult. The brews became intermittent and finally stopped around Christmas 2007.
Don & Sue Dunbabin took over the Sally in 2008, and in March 2010 the pub was declared Dursley sub-branch of CAMRA’s Pub of the Year 2010. Don and Sue were praised for the excellent range of local beers from breweries such as Cotswold Spring, Wye Valley & Severn Vale as well as the welcoming atmosphere of the pub. In the summer the Salutation beat off competition from other nominated pubs in the county to become Gloucestershire CAMRA Pub of The Year 2010. That, however, was not the end of Don and Sue’s success as they went on to beat other pubs in the region to gain the enviable distinction of being crowned CAMRA South West Pub of the Year. Amazingly the Salutation was then selected as one of the four finalists for CAMRA National Pub of the Year. They were in competition with the Harp in London’s Convent Garden, The Taps in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire and the Beacon Hotel in Sedgley in the Black Country. In the event they became joint runners-up with the Harp gaining the ultimate prize. Not content with this, Don and Sue continued to impress CAMRA and was named Gloucestershire CAMRA Pub of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
Don and Sue retired from the Sally in October 2012 and left the licensing trade. The leasehold was on offer from the Berkeley estate for £85,000. Peter and Claire Tiley took over the Sally in April 2013 and carried on building its reputation as a superb real ale pub. In the first year as tenants Peter and Claire again gained the recommendation of CAMRA locally clinching both Dursley District Pub of the Year and Cider Pub of the Year 2014. Peter had absolutely no experience in the pub trade before he started running the pub, previously being employed in London as a business analyst. He took the brave decision to pack in his job to take up his passion for beer in the hospitality sector. Dursley & District CAMRA chairman Chris Arrowsmith said: “Since taking over from the previous tenants Don and Sue, who were not strangers with CAMRA awards, Pete and Claire have built upon their values and have further expanded community events. The couple have injected a lot of enthusiasm into the pub, a warm welcome is guaranteed as well as a fantastic selection of ales, ciders and perrys all in great condition.” The Salutation went on to beat other pubs in the county to become Gloucestershire CAMRA Pub of the Year 2014. Peter said: “It was enough of a shock to win the Dursley & District Pub of the Year, let alone the Gloucestershire one.” Even better news was to follow when the Sally went on the beat all other pubs in the region to become the South West CAMRA Pub of the Year 2014. Incredibly, following on from Don & Sue’s achievement a few years earlier, the Salutation was selected to the final stages of the competition. This time the Sally was up against the Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald, Kent; the Freshfield in Formby, Merseyside and the Harewood Arms in Broadbottom, Greater Manchester. A delighted Peter said: “To have done so well is a credit to our brilliant staff and to our customers, who have been so incredibly supportive and welcoming to people as they come into the pub. It’s the friendliness of our customers which is what makes the pub such a warm place for people to come and socialise in.”
There was an anxious wait until the CAMRA National Pub of the Year 2014 was finally announced in February 2015. The best pub in Britain, according to CAMRA, was the Salutation in Ham! An incredible achievement. CAMRA Director Abigail Newton commented that being named the overall pub of the year was a massive achievement for any landlord. She said: “What Peter and Claire have done in the short time they have been running the pub is nothing less than staggering and goes to show that passion, enthusiasm, and a real love of beer are hugely important when running a pub. They have taken what was already a great pub and made it exceptional – beating more than 50,000 other landlords.” Peter just said: “to get this far is crazy, absolutely crazy. For the Sally to have won National Pub of the Year is beyond our wildest dreams – we’re totally shell-shocked.”
Since that ultimate accolade by CAMRA the Salutation has maintained its very high standards, being awarded Gloucestershire CAMRA Pub of the Year again in three consecutive years 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2016 the Sally was once again crowned the best pub in the South West region by the Campaign for Real Ale.
The Sally is not all about beer and cider though. In January 2014 Peter invited guest chefs to prepare dishes from every part of a pig and launched the weekly ‘Guests Chefs Go the Whole Hog’ Monday night food events. Peter said: “Because we want the pub to remain as a pub and not a restaurant we do not take bookings and we don’t reserve tables.” He added, “We want to prove that it really is the squeal that should go to waste. They will be creating a dish using every part of a pig. They will use a different cut each time working from nose to the tail.” The initiative and the general quality of food served at the Sally gained them a nomination for the final stages of The Taste of Gloucestershire Food & Farming Awards in 2014. The other finalists were the Miners Arms in Whitecroft in the Forest of Dean and the Retreat in the Suffolks in Cheltenham. Peter said: “We’re in the village of Ham, so we thought we’d produce our own ham. We feed our pigs apple pulp from local cider makers and whey from the local cheese makers, which all imparts flavour on the meat.”
The Salutation was one of ten pubs across the UK which were nominated for the BBC’s Countryfile Rural Pub of the Year Award for 2014/2015. Other accolades include Society of Independent Breweries (SIBA) Best UK Independent Rural Pub of the Year 2017
An eating out ‘pub spy’ review in June 2016 was full of praise of the Sally’s menu which was simply described ‘a delight’. ‘It contains three options for lunch: ham, egg and chips, a cheese ploughman’s and a changing third dish based on the availably of seasonal vegetables and produce. The straightforward ham, egg and chips comprises only the best ingredients from the county and is cooked with a level of expertise and care which is far from common place in pub kitchens.’
It was announced in 2014 that Peter was hoping to recommence small scale brewing on the premises again after a seven-year gap. Tileys Brewery started brewing in a 2.5BBL micro-brewery in February 2015. A speciality 6.5 per cent American-styled IPA using generous quantities of citra and equinox hops was named CAMRA Champion Beer of Gloucestershire in 2017 after a tasting panel sitting at the Cotswold Beer Festival declared it to be the best of the best. There are no core beers and brewers are often invited in to produce special ‘one-off’ beers, sometimes ‘tweaked’ versions of existing beers from guest brewers’ own portfolio. Tileys ales are usually only available at the Sally, but occasionally get showcased in a handful of other Gloucestershire Pubs.
Peter Tiley caused some controversy in January 2016 when he wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister David Cameron about government proposals to lower the drink-drive limit. Not surprisingly a spokesman for the Department of Transport defended the reduction, backed up by the Chief Constable and Road Safety charities who all took the stance that the only way to be sure you are okay to drive is not to drink any alcohol at all. Peter wrote to the PM: ‘Dropping the limit would put drivers in trouble after one drink. Pubs are the glue which hold village life together and I believe reducing the limit to less than one pint of beer would have a disproportionately negative impact on our rural pubs and communities.” His campaign was backed up by the British Beer & Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale.
There is hardly enough wall space left in the Sally now for any more award certificates. In April 2020 the Salutation was named as the Gloucestershire CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year (2020). With the emphasis on the continued excellence of draught real ales sourced from highly respected local and national craft breweries and Peter’s own quality home produced ales it is perhaps easy to overlook that the Sally has always stayed committed to its roots as a cider pub. Nine traditional draught ciders are usually on offer, including the occasional Sally Cider. In the autumn 2015 the local community came together to pick up apples from orchards near Berkeley. The apples were traditional varieties including Kingston Blacks, Brown Snouts and Vilberies. The results of the apple pickers resulted in around 500 litres of juice and in July 2016 the first pints of Sally Cider were served. It was described as having ‘a soft oak and apple aroma ad initial honey-sweetness which is perfectly balanced with acidity and tanins to give a lingering dry finish.’ A donation of a pound for every pint sold went to replanting new cider apples in the Berkeley area. Pete said, “Hopefully some of our heritage will be preserved and younger generations to enjoy the local cider in same way generations before have done.” In October the pub hosts a Sally Apple Day, a family friendly event featuring Morris dancing and apple bobbing.
CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Listed in 1997-2000; 2007-2022 inclusive
Landlords at the Salutation Inn include:
1891,1903 James Cope
1939 John E. Minett
1998,2003 Andy and Bridget Dailly
2005 Steve and Sandra Fisher
2008,2012 Don and Sue Dunbabin
2013 Peter and Claire Tiley
2022 Peter Tiley