The Spread Eagle was a prestigious Gloucester Hotel. It closed in 1972 following a purchase by Tesco with the intention of building a supermarket on the site. This never materialised and the building was left to slowly decay, falling victim to a suspected arson attack in December 1980. Tesco then sold the site and after demolition the plot of land was left unoccupied.



Gloucester Journal: September 22nd, 1877 – We are requested to caution the public against a respectably dressed man who is going from house to house with a specimen of Brussels carpet falsely representing himself as staying at the Spread Eagle Hotel. His practice is further to produce some stuff which, he says, is water proofing, belonging to some Russian gentlemen who desire to sell it rather than pay the heavy percentage of taking it to Russia. The stuff is not waterproof and householders and servants will do well to be careful.

Gloucester Journal: February 2nd, 1878 – The Japanese Ambassador and suite visited Cardiff last week to inspect a new Japanese ironclad. In the journey down the party stayed the night at the Spread Eagle Hotel in Gloucester.

Gloucester Journal, April 1881: On Tuesday evening Mr A.W. Beale sold by auction at the Spread Eagle Hotel, a cottage and land in Albany Street to Mr Coale, for £242, a dwelling house in India Road having been previously sold by private contract for £130.

Gloucester Journal: September 17th, 1881 – The Little Western. This tiny craft which crossed the Atlantic and was recently exhibited at the Spread Eagle Hotel in this city, has arrived at Gloucester, Massachusetts, the place from which she started her perilous journey.

Courtesy Steve Lawrey

Gloucester Journal: February 1887 – Bicycle Club Ball: The second annual ball of the Gloucester Bicycle Club was held at the Spread Eagle Hotel on Wednesday, and was a great success, rather over 110 ladies and gentlemen being present. Mr Leche’s band attended. (Citizen 14th Feb, 1987)

A meeting at the Spread Eagle Hotel for GWR staff. (date unknown) Courtesy Rick Martin

Courtesy Steve Lawrey

Courtesy Michael Morris

Dean Forest Mercury, Friday 5th March 1971: Policeman punched and pushed: Two policemen were hit as they tried to calm of youths outside a public house in Gloucester. One was pushed in the chest and had his helmet knocked off and the other was hit in the face, Gloucester Magistrates heard on Monday.

Courtesy Steve Lawrey

The Citizen, 26th September 1972 – The old pub will soon be spread-eagled: The last pint will be pulled at Gloucester’s Spread Eagle Hotel in Market Parade, on Friday night, 200 years after it opened. The well known hotel, built in 1770, is closing its doors to make way for the £2,000,000 plus redevelopment of the Gloucester Triangle Area. Tesco have already got the go-ahead for a large new store and plans for the area – bounded by St Aldate Street, Northgate Street and Market Parade – include a new hotel, bank and more rooftop car parking.

“The Spread Eagle has been a pub on and off since it opened,” said landlord Mr John Watts today. “It has a strange history and the building was once used as an employment exchange. I think the whole of Gloucester will be sad when it closes.” 

Mr Watts and his wife Joan have run the hotel, helped by their son Jeff and his wife Pauline, for the last 12 years. He took charge of the Royal Hotel, a few minutes walk away in Station Road, a month ago, and during that time has been running the two hotels. Mr Watts was born into the licensed trade. His parents were in charge of a pub in Fulham. He helped his parents until he was 23 then moved back to his native Essex to become a hair stylist at Leigh-on-Sea. After 18 years he went to the Bahamas for a short time then returned to London to become landlord of a pub in Leicester Square. A year later the family moved to the Spread Eagle in Gloucester.

Mr Watts is now hoping his “regulars” will join him at the Royal.

Joan and John Watts.

Letter to the Citizen. Monday October 16th 1972: Sir – I wish to correct a statement made in the Citizen on September 26 to the effect that the Spread Eagle Hotel was once used as a labour exchange. This was not so, but he Northgate Mansions were used for this purpose for a number of years. My father was caretaker at the Mansions from approximately 1909-1936 and I understand that the Northgate Mansions were originally built and used as the Spread Eagle Hotel. W. Mullins, 1 Hillview Drive, Hucclecote.

The Citizen, 22nd December 1980 – Chaos after city centre hotel fire: Bruton Way, Gloucester was closed for four hours yesterday following a fire at the derelict Spread Eagle Hotel, causing chaos in already congested streets. The road was finally re-opened after consultations between surveyors from the City Council Engineer’s Department, fire and police officers over the safety of the building.

Using a hydraulic lift, firemen toppled two large blocks of stone weighing about a quarter of a ton from the top of the building, and once this operation was completed, those involved were satisfied that the three-storey building, which had been gutted in the fire, was safe.

The Fire Service was first called to the scene at about 11 am, when smoke and flames were seen coming from the top windows of the empty building which has been used by tramps. Although the cause of the fire is still unknown, there was a “lot of rubbish” inside the building according to one officer. This caused a great deal of smoke and firemen used six sets of breathing apparatus to battle the blaze. Five fire engines and the hydraulic lift attended from Gloucester and Stroud stations.

Courtesy Paul Dowle

The Citizen, 22nd December 1980 – Market Parade re-opens: Market Parade, Gloucester, was fully opened for traffic this morning following the fire in the Spread Eagle Hotel on Saturday. Council building inspectors looked at the building this morning and decided there was no danger of the façade falling into the street. The pavement will remain closed until dangerous pieces of glass have been removed from cracked windows.

Officials will meet representatives of the owners of the Spread Eagle, Messrs Tescos, before Christmas to discuss the long term future of the building. A council spokesman emphasised that the interior of the building is now extremely dangerous.

The Citizen, 12th May 1981 – Spread Eagle bites the dust: The derelict Spread Eagle Hotel in Market Parade finally bit the dust over the weekend when it was demolished. A spokesman for Tesco’s who own the site- said a recent fire precipitated demolition.

The site is due to be sold and prospective purchasers had asked that the building be demolished before hand. Mr Roderick Winterhalder from Tesco’s said the site would be boarded off. “The building was in quite a dangerous condition, so it had to be pulled down.”

Mr David Evans from the City Council’s planning department said the council was hoping for a scheme to be put forward for a comprehensive redevelopment of the whole area fronting Market Parade Kings Square to Northgate Mansions. The planning committee has already refused an application on the former Pearce Pope site on the corner of Kings Square. “The Spread Eagle site would come within the plan”, said Mr Evans. “We have not been approached by the prospective owners of the site. But we would hope to get all parties together to discuss the development of the whole area.”

The Citizen, 12th June 1981 – Hotel site sold: The site of Gloucester’s Spread Eagle Hotel – empty for nine years – has been sold for about £50,000. But it is still not clear what is going to happen to the site. No one was available for comment at the offices of the purchasers, Principality Holdings Ltd., of Bristol, today.

City Planning Officer, Mr Ian Stuart said the City Council hoped that the site would be used for retailing and car parking as part of the comprehensive development of the city centre up to Kings Square. The site, formerly owned by the supermarket chain, Tesco, has planning permission for ground floor showroom with two floors over, totalling 29,000 square feet.

It is a prime site, fronting onto Market Parade and opposite the bus and railway stations. The site has been vacant since 1972. For 200 years before that it was Spread Eagle Hotel.

Landlords at the Spread Eagle Hotel include:

1856,1859 William Holtham

1879,1885 Henry Charles Grogan

1893 Mrs M.J. Bramham

1902 Charles Bramham

1906 Mrs Mary Jane Bramham

1919 Stanley George Smith

1927,1939 Mrs Isabella Smith

1957 R.T. Cosgrove

1960-1972 John and Joan Watts – on closure moved to the Royal Hotel

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