Where was Bathwick Tavern?

Prolific local historians Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott say in their book The Lost Pubs of Bath that Bathwick Tavern used to be at 10 Sydney Buildings (now No. 13!). They say also that the lost pub surrendered its licence in 1877 – which is about five years before No. 13 was built!

The misunderstanding came about because number 10 in Sydney Buildings has moved around over the years. From the early 1850s until 1880 ( i.e. three years after the pub itself had closed) that was the house number of Bathwick Tavern. For the first few years of its long life the Tavern was referred to as No. 9 Sydney Buildings, a number with its own complicated little history.

It seems that for six year or so after the pub closed nobody lived there: indeed the original building may have been refurbished or replaced during those years, to reappear around 1884 with the name Sydney Lawn (still on the gate-posts) and no number. That remained the situation till 1902, when the number 10 returned from its travels and came to rest where it is now – on the building that may or may not have been Bathwick Tavern but is certainly in the same place.

During most of those years, from 1888 to 1902, the number 10 was attached to today’s No. 13. This house is one of a terrace of five that first appeared in the Bath Directory of 1884/5 and was built a year or two earlier. Its name until 1888 was Cattete Villa, its companions being Grindley, later Guindy, Lodge (today’s No. 12), St. Ronans (No. 14), Brighton Villa (No. 15) and Eton Villa ( No.16).

Chris Morrissey

First posted on, March 2008

Were there TWO Taverns?

Was today's No. 9 ever called Bathwick Tavern ? The case for saying that it was looks fairly strong. To quote the present owner's daughter in a recent article in the Bath Chronicle: "It's easy to see why this was the perfect location for a canal-side pub many years ago. As the story goes, the barge workers would take advantage of the garden steps that lead right down to the canal and would often drop in for a refreshing drink". So the location is right, the layout of the house also, and in the 1841 census the head of the household at No.9 was John Mott, a beer seller.

Mr.Mott may have pioneered the sale of beer on this part of the canal but several lines of evidence indicate that from a few years into the 1840s the trade moved to the house next door. One is that from 1848 onwards census returns and directories describe the occupant of that house, today's No. 10, as a beerhouse keeper. In the 1871 census No. 10 is specifically referred to as Bathwick Tavern.

In the deeds of today's No. 12 there are references to Bathwick Tavern that put it on the same plot of land as today's Nos. 12 to 16. John Pinch the Younger owed £1,100 on the plot when he died in 1849, so his creditors put the only building on it at that stage, named as Bathwick Tavern, up for public auction. In the event the tavern was "bought in" by the main creditor, entitling him to the rent paid by the beerhouse keeper and a share in his profits.

A recurring name in the history of this part of the road is that of John Lockyer Huntly (sometimes spelt Huntley). Mr.Huntly was an engraver and copper plate printer, also a Freeman of Bath, who had a shop at 2 Pulteney Bridge. That is given as his address in 1822, but the Bath Directory for 1828 records that his residence was 5 Sydney Buildings. (Today's No. 1 had not yet been built, so 5 Sydney Buildings in 1828 was probably today's No. 6).

It seems that Mr. Huntly's engraving business did so well that he was able to buy a plot of land in Sydney Buildings and put up three houses known originally as 1, 2 and 3 Ivy Cottages. Now Nos. 7, 8 and 9 Sydney Buildings, the three houses make their first appearance in the 1841 national census returns. In that year and till 1851 at least Mr. Huntly lived at what became No.7, but in 1856, aged 80 and long retired, he was at No. 9. This house of the three continued to be called Ivy Cottage till 1876 or later.

[There are several uncertainties in those paragraphs - corrections would be welcome, and also more information about the tavern(s), Mr. Huntly/Huntley, etc. C.J.M. 29/10/08]

Chris Morrissey

First posted on, October 2008

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