A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

The Vanished Pubs of Chester Gallery

Still familiar to shoppers in Chester's Foregate Street, even though it has long ceased serving beer, is The Royal Oak (no. 44). Above we see it sometime in the 1970s and below as it appears today.

royal oak signThe inn was listed in Cowdroy's Directory in 1789 when the licencee was Mrs Faulkener. The licencee in 1828 was Elizabeth Morris, in 1850-57 Thomas Sudlow, in 1880 (when it appears in a Cheshire directory as no 34) Margaret Holland, in 1902 Henry Cross, in 1908 Richard Bardsley, in 1910 William Tidswell, in 1914 Peter Lawson, in 1942 James Eugene Kimpton. Charlies Farmer was the landlord in the 1950s and 60s, John Walsh in the late 60s and in 1978-9 it was Martin Powers.

On the same site formerly stood an inn by the name of The Sign of the Crow which was first mentioned in documents in 1580 when the landlord was William Cotgrave- who was also a fishmonger.

A carved date, 1607, appeared on the front of the second building and its name had changed to The Royal Oak by 1703. The entire inn was once again rebuilt in 1920 and this date, together with the construction date of the first inn- mysteriously altered to 1601- was inscriped on the facade.

The inn was badly damaged by fire on Christmas morning 1908, when several upper rooms and the staircase leading to them were destroyed. Fortunately licencee Richard Bardsley, his wife and two children were unharmed.

The pub sadly closed down in the 1980s and later became a branch of the electrical retailers Dixon's, and then Curry's, which in turn closed in 2009. In May 2011, it was announced that the grocery chain Waitrose was to establish a convenience store within the old pub. This in turn closed when their full sized store on the site of the Boughton Retail Park, not too far away on the banks of the Shropshire Union Canal, opened in November 2014. Then, in April 2015, the place re-opened yet again as a health food store. Through all these changes, this fine building has happily retained the old pub name and carved oak tree on its facade.

The Chester historian Frank Simpson wrote in 1926 that at one time there were no less that five public houses adjoining each other on this spot.

royal oak

royal oak advert

party at the royal oak 1949
Harold & Gladys Madeley's silver wedding, upstairs at Ye Olde Royal Oak in 1949 (thanks to Chris Kemp)

royal oak today

waitrose in the royal oak

holland and barratt

Do you have any more information about this old pub?

Chester's Vanished Pubs parts 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | gallery

Site Front Door | Site Index | Chester Walls Stroll | Old Pubs Gallery | Previous Picture | Next Picture