The licensing books for Gloucestershire in 1891 and 1903 have fascinating information on the bygone breweries that once owned the Travellers Rest. The owners in 1891 are documented as the Worcester Brewery Company. Twelve years later in 1903 the owners are listed as the Dursley Brewery Company, presumably that refers to the business of Thomas W. Elvy of Dursley. The annual rateable value of the property also increased six pounds from £14.0s.0d. in 1891 to £20.0s.0d. in 1903. The Travellers Rest was licensed as an ale house.
It is worth speculating how the Worcester Brewery Company had an interest in owning a pub many miles away from Worcester. Perhaps their beers were transported by barge down the River Severn to Over near Gloucester, where they could be transferred onto another barge for the journey along the Gloucestershire and Herefordshire canal of which the course ran behind the Travellers Rest. Clearly that would have been a journey of at least two days, and quite a circuitous route. That begs the question was the journey suited for the transportation of beer from brewery to pub. Did the quality suffer? Maybe that was a contributory factor in the ownership of the Travellers Rest being transferred to the Dursley Brewery in 1903.
The Dursley Brewery Co. had acquired the pub by 1903. Perhaps the Dursley beers arrived via the railway, which superseded the canal.
Stroud Brewery Company had taken ownership of the Travellers Rest by the mid 1950’s. Cheltenham brewed beers were supplied to the pub after the amalgamation of Stroud and Cheltenham breweries in 1958 to become West Country Breweries, and thence ownership passed to Whitbread.
The pub was compulsory purchased by the Highways Agency in the early 1990’s for road widening. It was envisaged that the Gloucester – Newent – M50 link road would be upgraded to trunk road status but the plans were aborted. The pub was then leased from the Highways Agency to Malcolm Ward and it reopened again as the Malswick Arms. A conservatory was added to the restaurant area and during the VE and VJ celebrations in 1995 army tanks were parked outside the pub.
The pub closed again for a couple of years before reopening once more as the Travellers Rest.
In September 2013 the Travellers Rest was bought by the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust. The Travellers Rest had strategic value as it was the only waterside pub on the entire 34 mile stretch from Gloucester to Hereford. The long-term vision of the Trust was to use the projected profits from trade at the pub to contribute towards the full restoration of the canal. It was perceived as an ambitious but achievable goal. The Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust already owned the Wharf House restaurant at Over near Gloucester which was trading successfully, so the acquisition of the Travellers Rest was seen as a positive move and a long term investment to generate income for the canal restoration. After refurbishment the pub was relaunched as the Malswick House. A spokesman from the Canal Trust said, “There are other pubs within walking distance of the canal, but this was the only one right on the water itself which would have made it a significant attraction.”
The Malswick House built up an excellent reputation for its food and became an established destination pub / restaurant, but unfortunately it was not well supported by local residents. When the B4215 closed for five weeks in the summer of 2017 the Malswick Arms lost its lucrative passing trade adversely affecting the business. In December 2017 trustees of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust were given notice that the charity’s subsidiary company the Wharf House Company, owners of both the Malswick House and the Wharf House pub and restaurant at Over, had made losses of £100,121. The Malswick Arms had made a loss of £62,000, yet the Wharf House had made a £32,000 profit in the same period. The Wharf House Company owed £436,930 to the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust. When a new board was appointed to the Wharf House Company Ltd in October 2018 it was discovered that the Malswick House had been losing money over several years, even preceding the road closure.
The Malswick House shut its doors to the public and there were fears that the closure could be permanent. Thankfully it opened again in October 2021.
Landlords at the Travellers Rest / Malswick Arms include:
1876 William Wintle (Travellers Rest Inn)
1885 Charles Greenaway
1891 Henry Marks.
1902 Charles Coates
1903,1906 Alfred Coates
1919,1939 Ernest Hayward
1955-1963 Steve Wetson (then owned by Stroud Brewery)
1995 Malcolm Ward
1998 John and Rosalind Griffiths
2008 (Feb) Jodie Bush and Donovan Kelly