The Eliot Arms
As it was - The Eliot Arms in the 1950s
Alan Gaunt recalls the layout of the Eliot Arms when his father, George, was the landlord.
When brewers H & G Simonds appointed my Dad as landlord at the Eliot Arms in 1953, the pub was very different to the current building.
It was semi-detached, with a low-roofed cottage, known as Eliot Cottage, housing the local butcher's shop and greengrocers next door.
The two properties had previously been occupied as one because long-serving landlord George Woodward, who held the licence at the Eliot from 1866 to 1910, had been both an innkeeper and a butcher.
However, by the 1950s the butcher's shop and cottage were in separate occupation, having been rented by Charles F Mate since at least 1934. He then purchased the property in 1960 for £725.
Charles Mate ceased trading in about 1968 or 1969, although the butcher's shop continued in use until 1994. The ownership of Eliot Cottage then turned full circle when it was sold to the owners of the Eliot Arms to eventually become part of the hotel we know today.
To the south of the Eliot was Cecil Huxley's garage and petrol filling station which he initially rented from Simonds but had purchased in 1956 for £675. Attached to the rear of Cecil's premises was the building where Dad kept his car.
The Eliot had a gravel-surfaced car park to the front, while the rear yard was surrounded by various outbuildings.
One of these was the corrugated iron and timber panelled function room known as 'The Hut'. The pub's Thrift Club met there and, in 1955, it served as a polling station while, in 1963, it was used by the village's COSY (Cerney Over Sixty Years) Club.
The beer store and skittle alley were in the ground floor of an old stone barn. External wooden steps led up to the barn's first floor which was largely disused.
There was a large garden and paddock immediately behind the outbuildings, divided from them by a high stone wall which had been the Eliot's original rear boundary.
This land had been purchased by Simonds in 1948 but, in 1959 and retaining the garden, they marketed the paddock. This was eventually sold with access from School Lane via a new bridge constructed over the River Churn and two bungalows ('Rananim' and 'Tangmere') were built there.
The main entrance to the pub was through a central stone porch leading straight to a hatch for 'Off Sales'.
A door to the left led into the public bar with a tiled floor. There was a dartboard in an alcove by the large open fireplace and a wooden settle against the rear wall. Two long tables were in front of the settle faced with wooden chairs.
A door to the right of the entrance porch led into the saloon bar, where the floor was carpeted, and padded wheelback chairs were arranged in groups of four around small tables.
The rest of the ground floor consisted of a kitchen, a private dining room and a sitting room which additionally served as a breakfast room for overnight guests.
There was also a beer cellar where the barrels of beer were kept, and which extended under Eliot Cottage.
You can read more about Alan's life in South Cerney in 'A Quiet Authority', a biography of his father which is available to buy here.