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Geoff’s website is ‘a massive pub crawl through time’

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The Gloucestershire Pubs and Breweries website was set up by Geoff Sandles and is a comprehensive guide to the history of 3,100 pubs in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire and Bristol.

Geoff runs the site with fellow real ale enthusiast Dave Hedges and describes it as ‘a labour of love’. They aim to document and describe all pubs, past and present, in the historic county of Gloucestershire.

“I can remember drinking at the Clothiers Arms in Bath Road, Stroud, around 1977 and the pub had become ‘free from tie’, in other words no longer associated with Whitbread,” explained Geoff.

“Apart from the better choice of ales, I couldn’t help noticing an old enamel sign attached to the pub, somewhat cracked and of some age, which advertised Stroud Brewery Ales. Perhaps that started the impetus for me to start researching the long-defunct breweries of Gloucestershire.

Geoff Sandles 2 | Geoff's website is 'a massive pub crawl through time'
Geoff Sandles.

“I then found two old licensing books in Gloucester Library which gave the names of all the pubs in Gloucestershire in the years 1891 and 1903. Those old dusty books also gave detail of the ownership of the premises and identified long defunct breweries, such as Carpenters of Cainscross, Godsells & Sons of Salmon Springs, Nailsworth Brewery and Paynes of Minchinhampton. Throughout Gloucestershire there were bygone breweries and their pubs to be researched – Arnold Perrett of Wickwar, Taylers of Northleach, Wintles of Mitcheldean, and the Cirencester Brewery (taken over by Simonds, and then Courage explaining the lack of Whitbread pubs in Cirencester).

“The old licensing books were a record of bygone times, a period in history when nearly every market town in Gloucestershire could boast having its own brewery. I found these dusty documents in the late 1990s and I knew that the fascinating information they contained would be appreciated by pub and beer lovers if, somehow, their story could be shared.

Glos Pubs web page | Geoff's website is 'a massive pub crawl through time'
The website’s home page.

Geoff decided to put the information online: “Slowly and methodically, I put all the information on a basic database and added to it the names of landlords at each individual premises. In 2000 my son, Mark, helped me put the spreadsheet online and we bought the domain name gloucestershirepubs.co.uk. The fledgling website, although basic, was well received. 

“Fast forward a few years and I was enjoying a pint or six with a few CAMRA members at a beer festival. Dave Hedges introduced himself and told me he liked the website and would love the chance to help, making it more user friendly and adding images and photographs.

“So, the long process of getting every known pub in Gloucestershire onto the website, past and present, began with each pub having its own page. Dave and I built up an impressive website but it had its limitations, when smartphones became the norm for accessing the internet the website was no longer user-friendly and we had to make a difficult decision – either ditch the whole project or start again from scratch with a completely rebuilt site.

“For about a year we couldn’t make a decision and left the old website, still OK for PC browsers, online with no updated information. There were pubs, such as the Gardeners Rest in Cashes Green, that had permanently closed yet the website gave information to the contrary. 

“So, upon renewal of the webspace, we took the bold decision to ‘go big’ investing in large amounts of storage space for developing the website. It now has more than 3,000 pubs individually listed with their own page. There must be thousands of images and photographs.

Geoff plans on continually updating the site: “I will keep on updating, adding photos and researching into the pubs of Gloucestershire both present and past. With no financial incentive for our work all we can hope for is that people find enjoyment in what we are achieving. Sometimes the list of landlords on the website helps people with their family research.”

If any Stroud Times readers would like to share photos of pubs with Geoff he can be contacted via email, geoffsandles@gmail.com

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