The King's Head Hotel (no 2 Grosvenor Street, corner of Whitefriars) was closed and demolished in 1986. The site of this handsome building is now occupied by what was until recently Jessop's
camera shop and insurance offices within a 'Tudor Lego-style' development by the name of 'Friarsgate'.
The pub was listed in Pigot's Directory for 1818-20 when the licencee was William Roberts. The licencee in 1840 (when the house was also listed as a coaching office) was Thomas Onslow, in 1850 John Roberts, in 1857 P J Bedson, in 1880 John Parry, in 1902 Thomas Bridge, in 1910 John Sampey, in 1914 Alexander McLean, 1970s Jack Blackwell (see below). The photograph second from bottom shows the name 'Henry Barber' in large letters below the pub's name. Where did he fit in?
A gentleman by the name of Arnold ('Arnie') Green had the place "for many years". Does anyone know when?
The King's Head- or an earlier inn on its site- was previously called The White Horse, and prior to that was called The Horse and Baggs.
In November 2007, Graham Blackwell wrote to us, "My uncle Jack Blackwell was the landlord of the King's Head Hotel, which must have been around the early 1970s. He was well known in publican circles around Chester and I remember after his funeral, when licensing hours meant closing at 3pm, that all attendees were cordially invited to spend the afternoon in a variety of establishments all over town! I think it ended in the sadly demised Commercial. (open again now!)
Jack's last 'post' was running the bar at the Gateway Theatre. Since embarking on family history and knowing nothing about my own family (and sadly now no-one to ask!) I have often wondered how many other establishments Jack had been involved in. I know he got the sack from many due to his liking for the drink. Nothing to do with Chester I know but the list also includes Hawkstone Park Hotel in Shropshire, the Equestrian Club in Raby Mere and hotels in Blackpool and the Isle of Man! I think I have some of his genes!"
Another contributor told us, "Graham Farrell was the licensee of the Kings Head in the early eighties. A natural host, he would interact well with his customers and always 'keep the party going'. Some of the locals at that time nicknamed the place the 'Temple of Doom' on account of that you’d always be persuaded to drink more than you had originally planned. Well…that was their excuse anyway.
The pub attracted a lot of passing trade and as such Graham had to put up with his fair share of oddballs. He wasn’t in the best of health at this time but won through decisively with the support of his wonderful family. He left for pastures new in 1985.
I always thought that the building fitted perfectly on that corner – the original architect got it just right. I‘m not so sure that its replacement was quite as well thought out".
Compare the very different layout of the windows and other features in the old engraving, below left, with the more recent photographs.
We thought this sad, anonymous comment about the King's Head's demise was worth sharing.. "I used to work there till they closed it. It wasn't supposed to be pulled down, one of the contractors misread the plans and started to take the left side of the building down, no one stopped him and the rest had to be pulled because it was unsafe Tthe original plan was to leave the frontage, plus the two cottages on the corner, they managed to save the cottages only. One man's mistake cost the city a fantastic pub and the-then council chalked it down to an 'oops' moment, no one got much of a reprimand and it wasn't even reported on in the papers".
A close namesake, the 17th century Olde King's Head, continues to thrive today, close by, in Lower Bridge Street..