17 High Street

The Swan - history since 1834

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The history of The Swan goes back to at least 1633 and for all the period between then and 1834 it was owned by the various Lords of the Manor.  Click here to read about the earlier history       Click here to read comments about the building

From 1834 it was owned and run by the following:

Frances Gayner - Frances bought the Swan Hotel in June 1834 for £1000 and she continued running the hotel until her death in 1872 at the age of 72.  During that time she made The Swan the most important hotel in the Town used for public meetings and the meetings of the Courts and the Corporation.  It was also the centre of social life in Thornbury with dances, concerts and auctions. 

The thumbnail on the right below shows a notice for the sale of The Swan on 3rd January 1873.  Click on the thumbnail to see a larger image.

Frances was born Frances Penduck, the daughter of Samuel Penduck and his wife, Fanny (nee Child).   She married Charles Gayner in Thornbury on 25th June 1820 who become an innkeeper at The Crown Inn at 25 High Street.  Charles died on 1st September 1828 aged 28 and Frances continued running the pub there until at least 1832.   Click here to read more about Charles and Frances

Samuel Crew - the Gloucestershire Pubs website shows that Samuel was landlord at The Swan from 1872 to 1876 although we know from various newspaper reports and other sources that he was there until 1880.

Samuel had been a publican at some other premises before taking over The Swan.  In 1862 he had been at The Black Lion in Castle Street and by 1867 he had moved to the White Lion in the High Street.  He left that pub in 1869 and the 1871 census shows him at the Albion Beer House in Peckham., 

In January 1873 Samuel's father, William Crew who was living in Cromhall bought the Swan Hotel on the High Street in Thornbury as a residence for Samuel for £1450.  William's time at The Swan was fairly eventful and he got into trouble on a few occasions with the police.  Click here to read more about Samuel Crew

Following William's death in 1880 The Swan was sold to Austin Grove.

Austin Carwardine Freeman Grove  - the 1880 Rate Book indicates that Austin had taken over ownership of The Swan from the representatives of William Crew in 1880.  Austin took over the running of the hotel from Samuel Crew.  The Petty Sessional Court records show that Austin  was the owner and licensee in 1881.  Later in that year the ownership and license were transferred to Richard Quin.  The 1880 Rate Book also shows that Austin had inherited the three properties on the site of 59/61 St Mary Street which had previously been owned by his grandfather, John Carwardine and which subsequently passed to Nicholas and Julia Grove.

Austin was the son of Nicholas Cornock Grove and his wife, Julia (nee Carwardine).  He was baptised in Thornbury on 19th January 1859.  The 1871 Census shows that he was at a boarding school in Westbury on Trym in  Bristol.  In 1880 the Bristol Mercury of July 28th gave his address as Thornbury Farm when he won highly commended for his pigs!

Following his father's death in 1877 and then his mother's death in 1878, Austin was left their moiety in property at Thornbury Farm and the three properties which later became 59 and 61 St Mary Street.  Initially the property was put into trust until he became 21 on 6th March 1879.

In December quarter 1880 Austin married Elizabeth Codrington in the Barton Regis area of Bristol.  Elizabeth was the daughter of William Codrington and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Trotman) of the Portcullis in Chipping Sodbury.

The 1881 census shows Austin was hotel keeper at The Swan in the High Street.  He was living with Bessie aged 20 from Sodbury and her sister, Annie aged 16 and a general servant Ellen Derrick aged 18 from Parkwell in Somerset. 

We know from the deeds of Thornbury Farm and the St Mary Street property that Austin owed at least £400 plus interest with his property as security.  When he was unable to repay he was forced to sell all his property.  On  21st April 1881 Austin Carwardine Grove sold the properties in St Mary Street to Sidney Ponting.  Austin gave up running The Swan in 1881.  The notice advertising the sale of The Swan dated 21st September 1881 says that Austin was having to give it up because of ill health.  It didn't find a buyer immediately and Richard Quin took over the tenancy.  When it was advertised for sale again on 14th June 1882 Richard became the owner as well as the occupant.  We don't know what happened to Austin.  He died in Edmonton area of London aged 66.  He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 30th January 1925.

Richard Quin - Richard took over The Swan in 1881, initially as the tenant of Austin Grove.  When the property was put up for sale again in June 1882 Richard bought the property. 

Census records indicate that Richard was born in County Meath, Ireland about 1835.  We don't know anything about Richard's early life.  The Bristol Mercury reported on 10th December 1870 that Richard had taken over the licence of the George and Dragon in Winterbourne.  The 1871 census shows Richard was an innkeeper at 'The Dragon inn' Winterbourne.  He was aged 34 and born in Ireland living with his wife, Elizabeth aged 38 who was born in Bristol.  We suspect that Richard had married Elizabeth Watkins in the Clifton area in 1870. 

Elizabeth Quin died on 19th August 1879 at the George and Dragon Inn in Winterbourne.  Her will was proved on 2nd October by her husband Richard Quin a licensed victualler and sole executor. 

In March quarter 1880 Richard married Elizabeth Mary Offer.

On August 23rd 1880 it was reported that the application for an outdoor licence for the publican Richard Quin of Winterbourne was opposed because the premises were said to be unsuitable.  It was said that Richard had kept other premises without a complaint and the objection was refused.

 The 1881 census shows Richard and his family had moved to The Swan at Thornbury.  In the census he was described as a grocer and beer retailer aged 45.  His wife was Elizabeth aged 32 born in Winterbourne and they had twin sons, Richard jnr and Hugh Sutley both aged 5 months (born on 4th November 1880).   Also living with Richard and Elizabeth were Elizabeth's widowed father, Christopher Offer a wheelwright aged 82 and her unmarried sister,  Elizabeth, aged 50 and Richard's step-daughter, Mary E. Offer aged 9 who was born in Winterbourne.  Richard had married Elizabeth Mary Offer in the Barton Regis area in 1880.

The Quins moved to Thornbury shortly after the census.  Richard was shown as running the Swan Hotel and Posting House when it was put up for sale in June 1882 and he purchased it at the auction for £1660.  Their third son, Oswald Wyndham, was born in Thornbury on 27th January 1882.  Their daughter, Daisy Louise was baptised in Thornbury on 17th December 1884 at which time Richard was described as a hotel keeper.  The 1885 and 1890 Rate Books show him as owner and occupier of the Swan Hotel on the High Street, but we know from the Petty Sessional records that he sold it to the Anglo-Bavarian brewery in 1890.  The trade directories at that time describe the Swan as a 'family and commercial hotel and posting house'. 

Richard also played in role in the community.  He was appointed as an overseer of the poor in 1890 and in 1892.  He tried unsuccessfully to become parish councillor in 1894.

The 1891 Census shows Richard and 'Mary E' still lived at the Swan Hotel.  They were living there with their four children, Mary's sister, Elizabeth and a domestic servant, Emily Alway aged 21 from Tockington. 

It is an interesting sign of the times that in 1898 Richard was advertising The Swan as being 'suitable for lady and gentleman cyclists'.

He was still listed in the 1899 trade directory and 1899 Rate Book as being at this address.  Entries in the trade directories suggests that Richard was also a wine and spirit dealer.  He claimed to be the first retailer in the West of England to import Jamesons' Dublin Whiskey.

The records of Thornbury Grammar School show that twins, Richard and Hugh, were admitted there in May 1895 and Oswald started there on 3rd January 1896.  The records of the Thornbury Parish Fire Brigade show that both Oswald and Hugh Quin enrolled in the service at the first meeting in 1899 and Oswald was one of eight men to be given uniforms bought by the Parish in February 1900.

The little photograph above shows Richard.  It was extracted from a photograph of Thornbury Gleemen taken in 1896.  The Gleemen were a singing group who sang in and around Thornbury for many years.

Richard gave up the hotel business in September 1899 after 18 years running the Swan.  There was a sale of effects belonging to the Swan on 23rd October 1899.  Click on the thumbnail image on the right to see the full details of the sale.  It shows the sale included several horse-drawn traps and equipment which indicates that they had made their own beer on the premises.  Local people seemed sorry to see the Quins retire and a committee was formed, a collection made and Richard and his wife were presented with a piano and an address signed by 100 inhabitants as a sign of their appreciation.

The 1901 Census shows him living at 10 The PlainHe was described as aged 65, living on his own means and born in County Meath, Ireland.  He was living with his wife, Elizabeth aged 50 born in Winterbourne and their children: Oswald W, a draper's apprentice aged 19 and Daisy L a dressmaker aged 16, both of whom were born in Thornbury.  Richard is listed as living there in trade directories in 1902 and 1904.  Although listed in the 1904 directory, we think Richard and Elizabeth moved away from Thornbury in 1903.   Richard is listed as being the landlord of the Crown Hotel in Gosditch Street in Cirencester in 1903 and 1906. 

Their daughter, Daisy Louise, married Wilfred George Bridges in Thornbury in 1908.  Wilfred was an automobile engineer who came from Cirencester.  The two of them settled to live in Cirencester and the 1911 census shows them living there in 14 Gloucester Street with their son, Wilfred Thomas Richard Bridges.  

Elizabeth Mary died in Cirencester aged 59 in December quarter 1906 and Richard died there aged 76 on 11th May 1911. 

It seems that Oswald took over the Crown from his father as he is listed as the landlord in 1913.  In the First World War, Oswald served in the Grenadier Guards.  He spent long periods serving in France and was wounded in the neck and chin 1916.  He was discharged in 1919.  He later moved to London where he married Winifred Cox in Chelsea in 1923.  Oswald's brother, Hugh married Louisa Edwards in Wolverhampton in 1914.

The Brewery Owners

The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery - the records of the Petty Sessional Court show that Garton & Co. brewers took over the ownership of The Swan in 1890 from Richard Quin.  The 1894 and 1899 Rate Books indicate that the property was then owned by Charles Garton & Co.  The 1905 and 1910 Rate Books show The Swan was owned by the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery Company.  Charles Garton was one of the owners of the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery.

The brewery was based in Shepton Mallett in Somerset.  Originally called the Shepton Mallett Pale Ale Brewery it was renamed The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery in 1872.

In 1890 it was reported that the beer brewed at the Anglo-Bavarian was sold throughout England and the Channel Islands by 250 agents.  However the brewery’s main area of sales was export.  Beginning in 1875, beer was transported to a bottler in London, from where it was shipped to Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, South America and West Indies.  Overseas sales were in the order of 1.8 million bottles per year.

The Company was forced to change its name on 14th December 1914 to Anglo Brewing Company, dropping any suggestion that it was associated with Germany following the outbreak of war.  This didn't prevent the decline and the brewery was forced to close in 1920.  On 1st December 1921 The Swan was sold to W. J. Rogers, a brewery based in Bristol.

W. J. Rogers Ltd. - it appears from the deeds that W. J. Rogers Ltd took over the ownership of the property from the Anglo Brewing Company on 1st December 1921.  'Rogers' was a brewing company established in 1845 at Jacob Street in Bristol.  The brewery made pale ales and stouts which, in 1891, were sold in 25 tied houses in Gloucestershire.  The company was acquired by a brewery from Reading called H. & G. Simonds Ltd. in 1935 and ceased brewing in 1952.  The Swan was conveyed from the ownership of W. J. Rogers to H. & G. Simonds on 30th May 1938.

Simonds Brewery - Simonds took over The Swan on 30th May 1938 following its acquisition of the W. J. Rogers Company.  Simonds was a brewery based in Reading.  In 1960 the company amalgamated with Courage and Barclays to become Courage, Barclays and Simonds and The Swan was conveyed to the new company on 29th September 1962.  The name of the company became shortened to Courages in 1970.

Since 1970 the brewery and pub business has undergone major changes.  Courages was taken over by Imperial Tobacco Group in 1972 and they were subsequently acquired by the Hanson Trust in 1986.  In the breakup of the company and in response to the Government's 'Beer Orders' policy the pubs were sold off to a 'pubco' known as Inntrepreneur Estates.  We don't know how or when but The Swan subsequently became owned by another pubco known as Enterprise Inns.

 

SUBSEQUENT TENANTS

Hamilton Wintle.  The Gloucestershire Pubs website show that Hamilton was the landlord at The Swan in 1900 to 1901.  The Bristol Mercury dated 30th September 1899 reported that Hamilton had been granted a licence to take over The Swan from Richard Quin.

Hamilton was born in Elberton near Thornbury in 1863, the son of George and Elizabeth Wintle.  His mother appears to have died in childbirth so Hamilton was brought up by his father on 'Village Farm' in Elberton.  George Wintle as well as being a yeoman was a brick manufacturer.  It appears that his sons took over this business as Hamilton was named as a trustee of Miss Maria Wintle who died on November 2nd 1889 and in the newspaper announcement he was described as a gentleman of Olveston.

The 1891 census shows Hamilton living on his own means in Olveston.  We know from the passenger records listed on the Ancestry website that Hamilton had visited America in 1891 and he returned from New York to Liverpool on the SS Umbria in June.

Hamilton was a partner with his brother Percy George Wintle in the brick and tile works at Littleton upon Severn.  The partnership was dissolved on 30th April 1898 and the company continued under the management of Percy George Wintle.

 He was elected to Olveston Parish Council in April 1899.

The 1900 Rate Book shows Hamilton at The Swan.  He didn't stay there long.  The 1901 census shows he was living in Bridge House, Weston near Bath.  He was described as a single man, living on his own means aged 35.

Hamilton died at the Full Moon in North Street, Bristol on 8th April 1908.  He was aged 45 and had been living at Churchways Crescent, Horfield.  The probate record described him as a 'retired licensed victualler'.

Walter Lovell - the Gloucestershire Pubs website shows Walter was landlord at the Swan in 1901 and 1902.  The 1901 census shows Walter as a widowed hotel keeper aged 46 who was born in Hinton Blewett, Somerset.  He was living there with his daughter, Ruth, aged 19 and son, Evelyn, aged 12, both born in Sandiacre, Derbyshire and four servants.  The records of the Thornbury Grammar School show that Evelyn was admitted to the school on 1st February 1901.

Walter was born in Hinton Blewett in Somerset about 1854.  He was the son of Thomas Lovell, a carpenter and farmer, and his wife Prudence (nee Curtis).  In 1861 the family were living at 5 The Street, Hinton Blewitt.  By the 1871 census Walter had left home and was working as a railway porter at Claines in Worcestershire.  The 1881 census shows him living at Sandiacre in Derbyshire.  He had become a railway stoker.  In 1877 Walter had married Ann Elizabeth Towle who came from Sandiacre and they had a son, Harold Fred born in 1880.  The 1891 census shows that the family had moved yet again.  They were now living in 32 Midland Terrace, Hellifield in North Yorkshire.  Walter was now an railway engine driver and they had three extra children: Ruth aged 8, Prudence Ann aged 6 and Walter Evelyn aged 1.  We don't know what happened to the Lovells after they left The Swan.

Thomas Rowe Seldon - according to the Gloucestershire Pubs website Thomas was landlord of The Swan from 1902 to 1906.  The thumbnail on the right shows an advert for The Swan when Thomas was the landlord.  Click on the thumbnail to see the full image.

According to a family tree posted on the Internet, Thomas was born in Barnstaple in Devon on 28th December 1860.  His parents were Thomas Priscott Seldon, a maltster and spirit merchant and his wife, Mary Jane.  In the 1861 and 1871 censuses they were living in Boutport Street, Barnstaple and earlier trade directories indicate that the Seldons had a long established wine and spirit business there.  The 1881 census shows Thomas Rowe living with his brother James H, a maltster and wine merchant and Arthur F a solicitor's articled clerk in Zephyr Cottage, Barnstaple.  Thomas had become an ironmonger's apprentice.

In 1890 Thomas married Annie Blatherwick in Lincoln.  Annie was born in Braerbridge, Lincolnshire about 1865.  The 1891 census shows they had settled to live in Ebberley Lawn, Barnstaple where Thomas had become a wine, spirit, hop and manure merchant.  Their son, Tom Christopher was one month old.  They were still in Bouthport Street, Barnstaple in the 1901 census.  They now had Reginald William aged 8, Jack Prescott aged 5, Richard Henry aged 3 and Catherine Mary aged 1.

By 1902 the family had moved to Thornbury.  The records of the Thornbury Grammar School show that Tom and Reginald were admitted to the school on 29th September 1902.  Thomas died on 3rd April 1906 aged 46.  In his probate record, he was described as 'of the Swan Hotel, Thornbury'.  Administration was granted to Annie, his widow.  Their son, Reginald ventured overseas and in 1921 he married Aileen Ackerley Towers in Montevideo, Uruguay.  They seemed to remain in South America and Reg died in St Paolo in Brazil in 1970.

William Sylvester Pegg - according to the Gloucestershire Pubs website William was landlord at The Swan from 1906 to 1919.

William Sylvester was born in Cardiff in 1880.  He was the son of Samuel Pegg and his wife, Charlotte Elizabeth (nee White) who were living at 27 Oakfield Street, Roath in Cardiff.  By 1890 the family had moved to live at Morton Maypole where according to the Bristol Mercury newspaper 'Captain Samuel Pegg' had become Constable of Kington and later Oldbury.   The 1901 census shows William living with his parents at Morton Maypole and he was described as a farmer aged 21.

On 2nd June 1904 William married Catherine Annie Armstrong.  Catherine was born in the Weston near Carlisle in Cumberland in 1883.  In the 1901 census Catherine and her brother Leonard were living with their uncle Harry Potts and his wife, Marion in Thornbury Cottage in Castle Street.  William and Catherine had three children: Kathleen Charlotte born on 24th July 1905, Mary born on 31st October 1908 and Catherine born on 21st August 1910.

The 1911 census shows the Swan Hotel had 15 rooms.  William Sylvester Pegg was the hotel proprietor.  He was aged 32 and born in Glamorgan.  His wife was Katherine Annie Pegg aged 28 born in Weston in Cumberland.  She was assisting in the business.  They had two daughters with them, Mary aged 2 and Catherine aged 7 months.  Another daughter, Kathleen Charlotte aged 5 was entered but crossed through as she was staying in Bridgewater.  Two visitors were staying in the Hotel and there was also an assistant manager (domestic), Edward Jones aged 47 born in Clifton and two servants.

It is interesting to note that during William Pegg's tenancy he was renting a plot of land in Gloucester Road, just down from the Savery forge there.  The land was being used as a market garden to provide the hotel with fresh vegetables.  It became known as 'the Swan garden' and was still being referred to by this name as late as 1934 when the Pitchers did some work there.  Click here to read more about this property

William was the Vice Chairman of the Thornbury Conservative Association  in 1909.

During the First World War William served in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars.  He enlisted at Gloucester on 1st September 1914.  We know from a report in the Gazette dated 16th January 1916 that 'Sergeant Pegg, one of the Gloucestershire Yeoman who have done such splendid service at the Dardanelles.  During the whole time was on the Gallipoli Peninsular he enjoyed good health, but at the time of writing he was at an Australian hospital in Egypt, but hoped to be discharged shortly.  Sergeant Pegg is expecting to obtain leave to visit his home at Thornbury where he will receive a cordial welcome from a large group of friends'.

William's Army Service records show he went to Egypt in April 1915.  He suffered from loss of memory caused by sunstroke in Alexandria in June 1915 and sent to convalescent home and a trip to Lemnos.  On returning to his unit he went with his regiment to Gallipoli.  When he returned to Egypt in November he had jaundice for a month and complained about pains in his head whenever exposed to the sun.  He was sent home to England sailing on the HS Maniton from Alexandria on  15th January 1916 and on 17th April 1916 he was transferred to Home Duty.  We know from the lists of parcels sent to the troops at Christmas that William was based in Ipswich at Christmas 1916 and at Clacton in 1917.  He was then Quarter Master Sergeant.

In 1918 he was serving in Dublin when he got leave to return home to sort out the arrangements for transferring the license of The Swan.  The Swan still seemed to have had a rather different reputation from the other pubs in the town.  When the transfer of license was reported in the newspaper it is noticeable that the chairman of the magistrates commented "this is rather an important house and requires someone who knows something about the licensing laws.  We want the hotel to maintain its past reputation and history".

William was demobbed on 15th January 1919 from Dublin.  We don't know what happened to the Peggs after that time.  They do not appear in the Thornbury electoral records.

William died on 29th May 1939 aged 59 when he was living at Llandaff, Elvaston Road Hexham, Northumberland.  He was however buried in the same grave as his father in Thornbury Cemetery.

Stanley Cyril Wakefield - first applied to take over the license of The Swan from William Sylvester Pegg in October 1918.  Stanley was born in the Lechlade area in 1891.  The 1911 census shows he was an assistant on a farm in Bagpath.

When he applied to take over The Swan in1918 he was described as being 'of Lechlade, married with two children and recently discharged from the Army on health grounds having served in France.  He was a farmer and wholesale corn and grain merchant and had no previous experience of running a licensed premises.  Stanley was unable to attend the court session and was only granted a temporary licence.  In November 1918 Stanley was still unable to attend because of influenza and the temporary license was extended.  In January 1919 Stanley again applied for a permanent transfer of the license to him.  He was unable to satisfy the court that he would be living on the premises and explained that is health was not good enough for him to manage the premises.  He emphasised that he had had a very good manager who had satisfied the police in the way he had managed the hotel.  Anglo -Bavarian Brewery, the owners explained that Stanley had asked for his tenancy of the property to be terminated and they were seeking a new tenant.  We suspect the Stanley's manager was 'E. Wigley' whose name is shown on a billhead dated 1918.

Henry Plant - the 1921 electoral register shows Henry as being at The Swan and he was listed as being there in the 1925 Valuation List.  The Gazette reported on 6th November 1926 that the licence had been transferred from Harry Plant to Arthur Reginald Phern.  We don't know any more about Harry.

Arthur Reginald Phern - it was reported on 6th November 1926 that Arthur Reginald Phern was taking over the licence of the Swan.  He had previously been the manager of the Kings Hall Cinema in Old Market Street, Bristol.  We wonder whether Arthur had been the manager at the Kings when there had been a major fire on 26th March 1926.  The cinema had to close for six months whilst repairs were carried out and it opened again on 4th September 1926.

The 1927 electoral register shows that Arthur Reginald Phern was living at The Swan with Louis Phern and Mary Phern.  We are puzzled by the Pherns as we can find no record of them in the births, marriages or deaths in England and Wales.  We know that by 1931 Arthur Reginald was living in Teignmouth and he was listed in the Phonebook as being there until at least 1937.  We note that there was the birth and death of a Reginald Phern in the Stroud area in 1917 and that his mother's name was Barnett.  It is strange that there is no further trace of the family.

John Cornock - the Gloucestershire Pubs website shows that John (or 'Jack' as he was known) was the licensee at The Swan from 1931 to 1945.

John Cornock was born in Shipperdine on 19th November 1869.  He was baptised on 1st December 1869, the son of John Cornock, a farmer and his wife, Jane (nee Pullen) who lived at Oldbury Naite.  The 1881 census shows the family were then living at Naite Road Cottage where John's father was a farmer and fisherman.  By the 1891 census the family were shown as being in Shipperdine.  The census shows that Kate was born in Cleeve in Somerset about 1864.

In 1892 John married Kate Gage and the 1901 census shows that they had settled to live in Shipperine near to John's now widowed mother.  They had two children: Alice Maud aged 6 and William John aged 2.  The 1911 census shows them still there.  Alice was now helping on the farm doing dairy work.  John's daughter, Alice married William D Savage in the Dursley area in 1925.  We understand that John was the landlord of the Prince of Wales Hotel in Berkeley before he moved to The Swan.  The Gloucestershire Pubs website shows John was at the Prince of Wales at Berkeley Road in 1927.

The 1931 and 1935 electoral registers show John, Kate and son William John all living at The Swan.   On 4th August 1936 Kate died aged 75.

John carried on living at The Swan.  In 1942 he married Christabel Bignell.  John was aged 73 at the time whilst Christabel was a lot younger, having been born in the Dursely area on 25th April 1904.  They were shown as being at The Swan in the 1946 and 1950 electoral registers.  John died at Hill on 18th December 1952 aged 83.  The address given in his probate record was Medlands Hill, Falfield.   Christabel died on 19th November 1979. 

Francis W. G. Turner - the 1954 electoral register shows Francis living at The Swan with Mary E. Turner.  We don't know anything about the Turners except that in 1938 Francis married Mary E Turner in the Kingswood area.

John Sandham - according to the website 'Gloucestershire Pubs' John was licensee at The Swan in 1954.  This appears to be confirmed by the Thornbury Town Guide for that year.  The Thornbury Flower Show programme for 1956 also shows J A Sandham as the proprietor.  The 1958 electoral register shows John A Sandham and Vera Sandham living at The Swan, although the pubs website indicates that the pub had been taken over by Joe Whitehead in 1955.

John Sandham married Vera Woodman in the Sodbury area in 1948.

Joe Whitehead - according to the website 'Gloucestershire Pubs' Joe was licensee at The Swan from 1955 to 1971, although the electoral register was still showing John Sandham, the previous licensee living there in 1958.

We are very grateful to Ron Holpin who wrote about Joe in his excellent book on the history of Thornbury and District Skittles League.  The book says that 'Joe Whitehead was born in Wolverhampton in 1907.  He had an older brother Jim and a younger sister Nellie.  His ambition as a young lad was to become a professional footballer.  In 1927 at the age of 20 he was on the books of Wolverhampton Wanderers and looked to have plenty of promise.  But all that came to an abrupt end when he broke his ankle very badly'.

Joe met Sarah Gaunt who came from a little village called Daisy Bank, which was situated between Bilston and Dudley, which is not far from Wolverhampton.  They were married in the Dudley area in 1929. Joe and Sarah moved to  Horfield in Bristol.  Joe went to work in the Bristol Aeroplane Company.  On 1st May 1935 their first son James (Jim) was born.

When the Second World War broke out Joe went to work at Parnell's at Yate, making gun turrets for aircraft.  He remained there all through the war.  In 1945 their second son Nicholas (Nick) came along.  By this time they had moved to Station Road in Kingswood (Bristol).  They later moved to Holly Hill, Kingswood, where they opened a General Store.

Joe's sister Nellie had been in the licensed trade for some years and it was his ambition to one day run a pub of his own.  He registered his name with Simonds Breweries of Reading (who at that time were the suppliers to the Swan Hotel, Thombury) and was eventually given the go ahead to move in.  Joe and Sarah sold their shop in Kingswood in 1955 and moved to Thombury, becoming the Landlord and Landlady of the Swan Hotel.

Almost immediately Joe got involved with the Thombury & District Skittles League, by becoming its Treasurer, a post he held for the next 12 years.  Giving the job up at the end of the 1966-67 season. Sarah and Joe always worked very hard at running the pub and at the end of every skittles season, always did the catering for the Annual Presentation/Dance, which was held in the early days, at the Cossham Hall.

In 1971, 16 years after moving to Thornbury, Joe suffered a very bad stroke and was paralysed down the right side.  They had to give up the pub because Joe was unable to work and they moved to Bath.  Joe's condition continued to trouble him and in 1973 he passed away aged 66.  His wife Sarah lived on until 1995 and passed away at the age of 88.

Since 1971 there have been lots of other landlords and landladies.  The 'Gloucestershire Pubs' website mentions D Revill-Johnson in 1973, John Littler in 1977 - 1978, Aiden Tierney in 1978 - 1981, Simon Potter in 1982, Michael Griffith in 1990 and David Birld in 1991. 

Roland and Rosina BryceThe image on the left is a thumbnail image of Roland and Rosina Bryce.  Please click on it to see the larger photograph.  In March 1988 the Thornbury Gazette reported that a new swan had been installed on top of the porch over the front door of the pub.  Apparently the wooden swan that was there before fell apart during renovation work the previous summer.  The porch remained empty for some six months and the Town Council had expressed its concern.  The then owners Courage Breweries explained that the delay had been caused by the problem of finding a suitable bird.  They had contacted the Wildfowl Trust for help in remodelling a bird and a fibreglass swan was then created by Fibreglass Applications of Westbury in Wiltshire at a cost of £1,500. 

In the early 21st Century the pub went into decline, faced with stiff competition and a fall in the number of people going out for a drink.  There were a number of very short term licensees who tried to make a go of it.  It was closed for a few years as the pub was put up for sale by Enterprise Inns.  With no chance of a likely buyer it was assumed that the pub was gone for ever.  Then in 2011 it was restored to its former glory and opened by Sandra Davies.

 This page was last updated: 25/06/2014