Spring & Summer 2022
Snippets from Bath
The Brunning & Price conversion of the old Garfunkel’s restaurant on the ground floor of the former Empire Hotel in central Bath is nearing completion. The new venue is called the Architect, and, at the time of writing, it is billed to open at 5pm on Thursday 23 June. We understand that there should be six or more cask beers available at what is expected to be a mainly food-led venue. The website for this newest addition to Bath’s real ale scene is https://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/architectbath/.
Landlord and co-manager of the highly successful Raven, Tim Perry, has left the pub after 17 years. In that time the Raven has been branch Pub of the Year or City Pub of the Year on at least three occasions. We wish Tim well whatever he is planning to do in the future. Tim is a potter and has decided to go full time in his ceramics business, Perryspace Arts. Also in the city centre, Sam Weller’s re-opened following a fairly major refurbishment on Monday 2 May. It is now a wet-led pub with extended opening hours. Two cask beers were available during a visit soon after re-opening: Butcombe Original, which is likely to become the regular beer, and Oakham Citra, a guest.
A planning application has been made to convert the former premises of King Edward’s School on Broad Street into a hotel. The school was built between 1752 and 1754. It closed as a school many years ago and has been largely empty since. It is listed on the Historic England Heritage At-risk Register due to concerns about the deterioration of premises due to lack of use. There had been a previous, successful planning application to convert building into a hotel back in 2010. This new application seems to be similar, but with some changes to the original scheme involving the internal and external alterations that are being proposed to this Grade II listed building.
Going out to the southern outskirts of the city, the freehold of the King William IV on Combe Down, which we believe has been closed since around the start of the pandemic, is on the market for an eye-watering £1 million.
In the wilds south of Bath
There is a planning application in with Bath & Northeast Somerset Council to convert the function room of the King William Inn at Tunley, which is midway along the road between Bath and Timsbury, into a four-bedroom private dwelling. The planning reference is 22/01240/FUL.
In and around Bradford-on-Avon
A planning application has been made to Wiltshire Council to convert the Bear on Silver Street into flats. This town centre pub was acquired by Usher’s in the 1990s. around ten years later it closed and was almost lost for good. An attempt to revive the pub by Blindman’s Brewery effectively saved the pub from permanent closure at the time, although the brewery did not eventually take it on as part of its estate. In more recent years it has specialised in pies, and for a while it hosted an Indian restaurant in the courtyard, tucked away behind the main bar. It would be a shame to lose this pub; it would certainly detract from the variety of the pub scene in central Bradford-on-Avon. The deadline for objections was 20 May with a decision due on 8 June.
The Cross Guns at Avoncliff re-opened on Friday 18 March, following a short period of closure for a revamp. Box Steam Tunnel Vision was the cask beer available on the day of re-opening, but we understand that the landlords are intending to serve two beers on handpump on a regular basis. This late 17th century, Grade II listed pub, which overlooks the river Avon beside the imposing edifice of John Rennie’s Avoncliff Aqueduct, which carries the Kennet & Avon canal over the river, will now be open daily (10-11 Mondays to Saturday, and 10-8 on Sundays).
News from Warminster
Despite numerous objections, the planning application to convert the Organ Inn in Warminster into a private residence was agreed by Wiltshire Council on 18 March. Over its relatively short modern existence the Organ, which was forced to closed by the exigencies of the pandemic, was one of the finest pubs in the entire Bath & Borders area, was made branch Pub of the Year in 2019, and was twice made “rural” Pub of the Year in previous years. It will be sorely missed; the Warminster pub scene will not be the same.
Prince of Wales in Dilton Marsh on course to re-open soon
The Prince of Wales, which closed in May 2020, looks set to re-open in the next few months. The pub was acquired by the local Fairfield Trust, which runs a long-established agricultural college for students with learning disabilities in the village. The college already provides many local amenities, including a coffee car, shop and post office, garden centre and conference facilities. And now it has a pub and, as with the other amenities, the college aims to provide training in a pub setting for its students. The building has undergone a major renovation. Almost every part of the structure – roof, rendering, internal walls, ceilings, fireplace, bar etc – has been either removed and replaced or remodelled. At the time of writing (late May) the pub was still encased in scaffolding, but most of the external works seems to be nearing completion. An advert has gone out for a pub manager. Meanwhile the name of the pub is to change to the Weavers, reflecting the common occupation of the villagers of a bygone era. In fact, there was a pub in Dilton Marsh called the Weavers, on Silver Street, at the Westbury end of the village, which closed sometime in the first half of the twentieth century. For a while, my great-great grandfather was landlord there.
New Brewery in Westbury
We have learned that a new micro-brewery should be opening in a commercial unit on Northacre Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Westbury. This is True Story Brewing. A licensing application has been made for an on licence at the brewery itself, which can be found at 7 Curtis Place, off Kingdom Avenue, whilst there are also plans to open an outlet in Bath.
Four beers were in production at the point we first became aware of the brewery in early April. Hazy Plan (4.5%), the flagship beer, is a hazy pale ale made with new world hops, which impart a tropical flavour. Next up in strength is If I Say So (5.0%), a wheat beer, which combines various traditional Belgian wheat beer styles and hop-forward IPAs. The recipe uses a heavy wheat base, lemon-accented hops and Belgian yeast. Summer Crush (6.5%) is a fruited sour and is described as easy on the tartness and generous on the fruit, large amounts of which are used in the secondary fermentation. Freshly Squeezed (7%) is a hop-hazed New Zealand style IPA, stacked with late and dry new world hops, juicy and tropical.
Expansion of the Bath & Borders branch area
CAMRA’s Heart of Wessex branch, which was established in 1999 and straddled southwest Wiltshire, southeast Somerset and north Dorset, has recently closed. Its area is now being re-allocated to the adjacent branches, which includes Bath & Borders. In a sense we are getting back some of the pubs that used to be in our area before Heart of Wessex was formed. Discussions, which are being led by the West Dorset branch, are still ongoing, but it looks likely that Bath & Borders will take back Bruton and, possibly, Castle Cary, and the villages around, such as Evercreech, Alhampton, Ditcheat, North and South Brewham, and Shepton Montague. Our pubs officer Hugh has already had a bit of tour of the area, and a branch visit to two of our new pubs, the Alhampton Inn and the Manor House at Ditcheat has (at the time of writing) already been scheduled in for mid-June.