The 1906/1907 Matthews Directory of Gloucester refers to the Spirit Vaults although no address is given. However this is known to be an earlier name of the Union. It changed name to celebrate the union with Ireland. In 1919 the address of the Union Inn was 22 Westgate Street. On renumbering of Westgate the address had changed to 43 Westgate Street.
In 1936 the Union Inn had a six day license and presumably closed on Sundays. The Union was tied to the Stroud Brewery in the 1950’s.
In the late 1980’s the pub was renamed the Tailors House after Beatrix Potter’s book ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’. The property to the right of the pub, which was previously a newsagents shop, was purchased by Whitbread to enable the pub to be enlarged. This was once the workshop of Mr Pritchard, a tailor, who is said to have inspired the young Beatrix to write her story when visiting Gloucester.
The Citizen, 21st July 1987 – A union ahead?: The Union Inn in Westgate Street, Gloucester, is to be amalgamated with the shop next door, if the City Council approves. The result of this union will be a much more spacious pub. Whitbread Flowers, who own the pub and the shop next door – currently let to Merretts the newsagents – have made a planning application to double the size of the bar.
Drawings show a new entrance to the pub where the present entrance leads onto the side passage and new wooden framed windows with small panes of glass to replace the existing shop windows of Merretts. Both buildings are listed of historic and architectural interest and are in a conservation area.
The Citizen: Wednesday, September 9th, 1987 – Gloucester pub to double in size: A pub in Westgate Street, Gloucester, can now be doubled in size! The City Council’s planning sub committee last night gave permission for the Union Inn to be extended into what is now Merrett’s newsagents shop. The character of the old pub will be extended to the next-door building, according to drawings shown at the meeting. Deputy City Planning Officer, Mr Jeremy Schofield, said that the plan as opposed by the Westgate Association because of the loss of a retail shop and the overprovision of refreshment outlets in the area. But he added that it was the council’s policy to encourage plenty of pubs and cafes in the City’s premier tourist area. The upper floors of the Merrett’s building have a completely false front and Whitbread’s will be asked to investigate what is behind the frontage as part of the rebuild.
Mr Schofield added that Whitbreads were seeking to sell the former Rendezvous café in Westgate Street as a shop so the balance would be somewhat redressed for the loss of Merretts. The committee approved the Whitbread proposals for the Union.
In the mid 1990’s leaded light windows and oak panelling were removed from the façade of the pub by Whitbread as part of an refurbishment of the Tailors House. (The new Whitbread etched windows were smashed by vandals in August 2000). In March 1998 Ron and Sally Watkins left the Tailors House, bringing to an end nearly 50 years of the Watkins family at the pub. The new landlord, Nick Spencer, introduced a solid oak upright piano to encourage the patronage of the more mature clientele. The piano was played on alternate Sunday evenings – but only one person could play the old tunes!
Nick Spencer commissioned local artist Louise Harward in the summer of 1999 to draw a series of murals in the pub depicting five scenes from Beatrix Potter’s ‘Tailor of Gloucester’ story. In 2002 the staff at the Tailors House made a traditional Lamprey Pie to present to the Queen for her Golden Jubilee (see Lamprey Hotel for details of the tradition).
The name reverted back to the Union Inn in November 2003 amongst some strong controversy. Although it was recognised that the Union Inn was a long-established name it was felt by some that the name Tailors House had more relevance to the history of the building. This, however, was strongly contested by the landlord who wrote in the ‘Citizen’: “since the name change trade has increased substantially, proof if any were needed that the Beatrix Potter connection was hackneyed.” The murals depicting the scenes from Beatrix Potter’s book were painted over as “they make it look like a kid’s bedroom rather than a pub.” The front of the pub was replaced in traditional style as part of the makeover.
The pub now trades as the Sword.
This page will be updated with additional information.
1893 Mrs H. Bright
1906 W.F. Davies (Spirit Vaults)
1919 Herbert Lapworth
1927,1957 Ernest J. Brown
1960’s – 1979 Peggy Watkins
1998 Ron and Sally Watkins (Tailors House)
1998 (March) ,2003 Nick and Cheryl Spencer (Tailors House)
2003 Peter Charles (General Manager, The Union)
2005 Peter Sinclair and Elizabeth Giles (The Union)
2004 Brian Base
2006 Neil Phelps and Trevor Rees