Sidney Cummings was listed at the Vauxhall Brewery in Barton Street in 1892. The Vauxhall Brewery was sold in 1899 for £6,050 to Mitchells and Butlers by the trustees of Helen Brown. (Source: Century of British Brewers plus 1890-2004 Brewery History Society).
Gloucester Journal: November 18th, 1876: The housewarming dinner to welcome Mr. H. Sansom, the new proprietor of the Vauxhall Inn, was held on Tuesday with a bill of fare containing nearly every delicacy of the season.
Gloucester Journal: November 23rd, 1878: Gloucester and the Electric Light – A meeting was held at the Vauxhall Inn on Thursday evening to consider the lighting of the City and the desirability of taking powers for adopting the electric light. The following resolution was agreed to: “That it is desirable that the Corporation give notice at once that they intend making an application to empower them to use and sell the electric light and to borrow capital to provide the necessary machinery and works.” A deputation was appointed to wait upon the Town Council.
The Vauxhall Inn was built in 1876 by brewers Mitchell & Butlers of Cape Hill, Birmingham. The address in 1885 is given as 64 Lower Barton Street. The Vauxhall replaced a pub of the same name that stood on the site. In 1859 it was described as the Vauxhall and tea gardens, and at one time there was a private zoo attached to the premises. The original Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were designed to reflect the famous Vauxhall Gardens in London. The gardens and zoo extended as far as Ryecroft Street. When Mitchell & Butlers rebuilt the Vauxhall Inn no expense was spared. The Birmingham based brewers were keen to expand their tied estate out of their home area using the railways. By constructing a pub of grandiose and elegant proportions they were effectively advertising their products.
The Vauxhall Inn is undoubtedly a Victorian gem. The exterior has glazed tiles, ornamental carvings and etched windows. It is Gloucestershire’s most impressive pub frontage. To the side of the pub British Telecom have erected two modern pay phones that spoil the architectural aesthetics of the listed building. The Vauxhall still retains two bars but the elegance of the interior, once resplendent with mahogany bar fittings and decorative tiles, has been mainly lost over the years – a victim of successive brewery refurbishments and ‘improvements’.
The Vauxhall Inn also boasted a bowling green (now the car park). It is said that the legendary W.G. Grace played here after retiring from cricket. The cellar of the pub is particularly large and was used as a police cell in Victorian times. The cells were purpose built by the local constabulary to hold drunken persons when the main police station cells were full.
Early in August 1981 vandals went on a window-smashing spree, causing at least £1,100 of damage. There were several, presumably unrelated incidents in Gloucestershire, but the worst case involved the wanton destruction of one of the Victorian etched brewery windows at the Vauxhall Inn. Landlady Mrs Katherine Brabham told the ‘Citizen’, “It really made us sick. The Vauxhall is an historic building and by smashing the window, the vandals have destroyed a bit of Gloucester’s heritage. It is doubtful whether the window will ever be restored.” The same weekend of wanton window smashing saw the breaking of a window at Marks & Spencer’s in the city centre and another in Minsterworth.
The skittle alley in the Vauxhall Inn was refurbished in the summer of 1983. After a period of inactivity with no active skittles teams the alley was given a face-lift with a new wooden replacement. The ‘Citizen’s’ skittles correspondent, Norman Baldwin, wrote: “I was pleased with what I saw, a well-lit freshly painted room with a shiny new alley. It could do with a little more spectator area but that’s not really possible. However, this does have the effect of keeping both teams pretty close together, and if you are two friendly sides, as on the night when I visited, it makes for a very cosy atmosphere. I had time, after the match, to try out the alley and I found it to be a pretty true one.”
Gloucester Citizen. Advertisement Feature. Monday, September 10th, 1984. New Look at the Vauxhall Inn. The Vauxhall Inn, in Barton Street, Gloucester has re-opened after extensive refurbishment and redecoration. The public bar still has the same attractions for its regulars, with darts, shove-ha’penny, etc., but now with a lot more comfort.
“The lounge bar was a different concept altogether. Our idea,” says Ray Huxtable, Bass sales manager, “was to create an interior to match the superb exterior which, after fitting new carpets, furniture, floral decoration, etc., we have achieved.”
Licensee Roger Brabham and his wife Kit from Bristol took over about ten years ago and are both very involved with the local community atmosphere the pub has always enjoyed. “Strong local demand and interest in skittles for our regulars warranted the installation of a new skittle alley which is available for private parties,” says Roger. Katherine (or Kit as she prefers to be called) takes great interest in the catering side of the business. While Roger prefers to be where all good licenses should be, with his customers – serving behind the bar. The introduction of draught Bass, their ‘Rolls-Royce’ale, complimented with Tennents Pilsner Lager will surely strengthen its position on the Gloucester good pubs map.
In the mid 1990’s John and Lena Godsell worked hard to make the Vauxhall a real community pub and raised lots of money for charities. In December 1997 John converted a large part of the pub to the biggest Santa’s Grotto that Gloucester has ever seen for the benefit of under-privileged children – complete with a real donkey! After John and Lena suddenly left the pub early in 1998 the Vauxhall closed for refurbishment. Period Victorian features including patterned tiled floors were uncovered during the improvements. Wreckage from the ill-fated tall ship ‘Maria Asumpta’ were displayed alongside a scale model of the Cutty Sark and other boating memorabilia. The Maria Asumpta was refitted in Gloucester Docks in May 1995 two weeks before it ran aground in North Cornwall claiming three lives.
Despite the best intentions of successive landlords in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the Vauxhall continued to be frequented by ‘the wrong sort of customer’. There was also complains about loud music emanating from the pub. A previous landlord told the ‘Citizen’ that the criminal fraternity surrounding the pub was making his life a misery. He said: “It was just too difficult to get rid of the sigma at the pub, even after spending money doing it up.” In August 2005 the landlord of the Vauxhall left without warning and the pub remained closed for five weeks without the pub company knowing! Shortly afterwards Gloucester police were called to the empty premises to deal with squatters. Evidence of drug abuse was found at the old pub. In September 2007 an application was submitted to Gloucester City Council to convert the premises into a block of flats.
The building is now in use as a mini-supermarket, fortunately the exterior of the old Vauxhall Inn is preserved.
Owners in 1998 Bass Leasing
Owners in 2005: Mentor Inns
Landlords at the Vauxhall Inn include:
1856,1859 Robert Long
1876 H. Sansom
1879 G. Spafford (sic)
1885 William Caswell
1893 Mrs E. Pollard
1902,1906 George Pollard
1907 Mrs E. Pollard
1919 Joseph Price
1927 Warner R. Jones
1936 F. Shrive
1939 William Yorke Milward
1957 A.E. Antill
1971,1985 Katherine ‘Kit’ and Roger Brabham (1985 – Kit and Roger Brabham)
1998 (March) Gordon Kennedy-Begg
1998 (Sept.) Reg Daldry and Robert Myatt
1999 (Nov) Bev Vallender
1999 (Dec),2003 Michelle and Joe Lynch
2003 Julie Harris (manager)