The building was originally the offices for John Dobell & Co Limited, wine and spirit merchants. The address was given as 20, Colonnade, Cheltenham. Within the same buildings and extending into the first floor was the St. Albans Hotel of which the main access was in County Court Road.  Dobell’s had a small portfolio of pubs in Cheltenham, including the Britannia in Fairview and the Restoration Inn in the High Street.

Clarence Mason Dobell & Cyrus Faulkner Dobell were the owners of the St Albans Hotel in 1891 and at that time the annual rateable value, reflecting its prestigious location in the town centre, was £153.0s.0d. The premises was fully licensed as an ale house and, although owned by Dobell’s, was listed as a free house. During the next twelve years the rateable value per annum rocketed by £85 to £238.0s.0d. in 1903.

1950 Advertisement. Courtesy Steve Lawrey.

The association with the Hertfordshire town of St Albans is not immediately apparent and the name of the hotel has no obvious local connection. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s the St Albans was an Ind Coope pub. The pub changed its name to Dobell’s in the late 1980’s (to be confirmed). This is a rare occasion where a change of name is totally justified. The new frontage to the Promenade was opened in 1990. Hitherto the main entrance was in County Court Road.

Courtesy Michael Wilkes

In October 2006 the future of Dobells seemed to be secured as the premises was being refurbished. An advertisement was placed in the local newspapers seeking chefs, kitchen assistants, bar & waiting staff. ‘We are undergoing a significant refurbishment to transform this pub to celebrate its heritage as the site of a famous wine merchant. We will deliver quality food, wines, cask ales and stunning service’.

Owners Mitchells and Butlers put the Dobells pub on the market and it closed in April 2008. It was bought by Costa Coffee which opened in the premises in November of the same year. Much of the original structure was retained in the conversion to a coffee shop. It was the second Costa Coffee in Cheltenham – the other being in the High Street.


1844 Charles Scott (St Albans Hotel Tap)

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