Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sir Daniel Arms


When the Sir Daniel Arms opened its doors in June 2007 it wasn't for the first time. A public house of the same name had stood in Fleet Street for around 140 years, which is somewhat surprising given a clause in the original deeds.

Old Swindon brewer John Harding Sheppard made sure he protected his business interests when he sold land called 'Upper Ground or Fosters Upper Ground' in 1848.

George Selby, a tea dealer from Eastcott, bought a piece of the land on 'the Highway called Fleet Way,' agreeing as part of the sale that he would not 'carry on or permit or suffer to be carried on ...the Trade or business of a Brewer, Publican, Beer House Keeper or Dealer in or retailer of beer or other Malt Liquor Wines or Spirits or any offensive Trade or calling whatsoever.'

By 1851 George had opened a grocer's shop on the site but the property soon changed hands. In 1858 new owner William Henry Warner drew up a seven year lease with Charles Lea, a New Swindon tailor, including that pesky clause again.

With the thirsty railway factory workers his near neighbours, Charles Lea obviously wasted no time in renegotiating the terms of his lease and Kelly's Trade Directory dated 1867 record 'Charles Lea, Sir Daniel, Fleetway.'

Lea eventually sold the property to John Platt, a Hungerford brewer. In 1917 it was owned by James John Brown of the Bell Hotel, Swindon who that year sold it to Usher's Brewery for £3,000.

A valuation made in 1932 describes the Sir Daniel Arms as having 'a public bar, Jug and Bottle, Smoke Room and private saloon.' The living accommodation above included sitting room, two bedrooms, kitchen, scullery, bath and lumber room with a further two bedrooms on the 2nd floor.

In 1939 staff included two barmaids earning 16s and 15s (about 30p) plus keep and a man who helped at weekends and was paid 10s a week (50p).

In 1970 a major revamp of the pub took place, creating a lobby and two new bars connected by a central serving area. Plans reveal the living area above had already received a makeover.

But sadly time was running out for the old Sir Daniel's as long overdue redevelopment of Fleet Street took off. Demolished in 2000, when the pub was then called The Sportsman, links with its 19th century predecessor made a surprising reappearance. Victorian artefacts including two cast iron columns, a pub sign, frontage pieces and a wooden lion were rescued by the Gloucestershire based demolition team of Ronsons.

Edwards Bar first occupied the corner site until June 2007 when Wetherspoons opened their third town centre establishment and fittingly renamed the pub the Sir Daniel Arms. Named after the first chief mechanical engineer of the Great Western Railway from 1837-1864, it was Daniel Gooch, along with Brunel, who identified Swindon as being an ideal location for a repair and maintenance depot on the GWR network.

Much of Fleet Street closed to traffic for good in February 2001. Swindon Borough Council's £300,000 plans saw the area from John Street to Faringdon Road pedestrianised and the creation of a new square at the junction with Bridge Street.

Sir Daniel Arms images are courtesy of Swindon Local Studies, visit their website on www.flickr.com/photos/SwindonLocal/ for more views of Swindon.

Sir Daniel Gooch



Sir Daniel Arms 2012 courtesy of  www.flickr.com/photos/johnmightycat/7493754184






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