The earliest reference we can find of the pub dates from 1864, when it was being used as the venue for a meeting of the Royal Lord Belgrave Lodge of Oddfellows. In those days it was called the Talbot Inn. We don't know when the name was changed, but by 1890 it had become the Grosvenor Arms, and a third floor had been added. It subsequently became the Grosvenor Arms Hotel.
A meeting of the Royal Lord Belgrave Lodge
The pub went through a purple patch in the sixties and seventies under the aegis of Ted Roberts, when the great and the good of Cheshire used to flock there.
This room is now the library.
The fireplace is now a door
The entrance hallway. The stairs have gone,
but there's still a bar
The Grosvenor was the second pub that we opened in the Chester area after Harkers, and it was one of the 'white elephant' sites that we seem to be fond of - when Jerry and Graham first looked at it, it was shut up and in a sad state of repair. It was damp, musty and unloved.
The Grosvenor Arms in 1890
The story of how we got it is great - Allied Lyons had the lease, but had seriously failed to maintain the property, which they were contractually obliged to do. They were looking to sell the lease on for a hefty amount, but by dint of some hard-ball negotiating, they ended up paying us £60,000 to take it off their hands - a sweet result. The Grosvenor estate, who owned the property, have proved to be lovely people to do business with, and share many of our core values.
Part of the Grosvenor estate
Many people thought we were bonkers to spend so much on a site with such a history of failure, and of course we're very pleased it has proved to be so successful.
Amazingly little has changed in 110 years,
apart from the addition of the flat roofed
annex on the right of the building
Anyway, the building is not that great - it was designed by a famous local Victorian architect called John Douglas. People rave about his work and there are all sorts of societies and individuals devoted to preserving the buildings he designed, but Jerry for one thinks he was an architectural vandal. He destroyed many of the fine medieval buildings in and around Chester in the name of progress, re-facing them with fake black and white timbering and often simply demolishing the original. His designs are made to look good from the outside but are often impractical, with windows you can't see out of and doors in the wrong place. Jerry should know because he lives in one. Still, John Douglas wasn't alone - the Victorians were generally arrogant when it came to building, believing that the past was worthless and just had to be replaced with the new and the modern. It all happened again in the 60's. Plus a change...etc.
Photos courtesy of the archive dept, Grosvenor Estates, and Alan Cotton.