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140 Bath Road (formerly the King William Inn)
Many public houses are named after King William IV since it was he that signed the Beerhouse Act in 1830, enabling anyone to brew and sell beer and cider, which greatly reduced the cost of a license to open a public house.
This Inn, first recorded in 1834, was chosen as the headquarters of a local friendly society founded early in the king’s reign to provide sick pay for working men, before the provision of any state assistance. The society was last mentioned in the local newspapers in 1890.
Referred to in 1859 as the King William IV, the landlord at the time was William Witts. He was the inn keeper here at least between 1850-59. The 1861 census lists Thomas Dadswell as the innkeeper. Sharing the home in 1861 was William Flight Power a compositor and later a carver and gilder. Born in Gloucester, he later moved to London and died there in 1899.
In 1870 the landlord is listed as Mr Kitchener. By 1881 the landlord was James Thomas Weeks – living here with his wife Susanna (Nicholls) and the Weeks family were here till the mid 1880s. Thomas was born in Dorset about 1850.
In the latter part of the 1800s the pub was owned by Bristol brewers Charles Garton & Co. About 1885 Thomas Coole was here with his wife Elizabeth. Born in South Cerney about 1854, his working life started as a grocer’s assistant. He was the publican of the King William until the end of the century, when he passed on the licence to Fred Pearce.
By the start of the 20th century the pub was owned by the Bavarian Brewery Company. This company, established in Somerset in 1864, was the first lager brewing company in the country.
In 1896 the King Billy, as it was known by locals, was taken over by Frederick James Pearce and his wife Clara. Born in Leckhampton, Fred was the son of a baker. In fact he started his working life as a baker before coming to the pub. He was a popular landlord with locals, getting himself into bother because of one of them with the police on one occasion in 1914. When his neighbour, a Mr Clarke, returned to his home late one evening after spending the day drilling with the National Reserves, found no stout in the house and he immediately knew who could help. Unfortunately Fred’s good deed was witnessed by the local Police and, as providing alcohol after hours was illegal, this led to his appearance in court a few days later. Because of the excellent way Fred usually conducted his Public House, the magistrate fined him a nominal penalty of 5/-. Fred’s wife Clara died at the age of 45 in 1910 and Fred probably continued to run the pub alone until 1927, when it passed into the hands of Charles Mackay who was here for the next ten years or so.
The last licensees were Mr and Mrs Samuel Francis Williams, formerly of the Fox and Hounds. They took over the licence in 1938 but were only here for a few years. Mr Williams died in June 1941, after which his wife Elizabeth ran the pub for a short time until she retired and the license was revoked in 1943. Sadly she died that same year.
From then on the former pub became residential until acquired by the adjacent cycle shop in the mid 1950s.
During the 1970s a DIY store Sheridans occupied these premises for the sale of their wrought iron gates. They sold DIY products at their shop a few doors away. The 1980s saw a company called Reprographics occupying this site, specialising in graphic artwork.
Toward the end of the twentieth century a succession estate agents occupied this site. The first was Parkers, then from 1995 to 2009 C J Hole, and now Perry, Bishop & Chambers.
Researchers: Marilyn West & Eric Miller
Updated: Stuart Manton (Oct 2015)
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