A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

The Vanished Pubs of Chester Gallery

The Swan Hotel, no 60 Foregate Street, was popularly known as Eddie Davies'- "The hotel with the famous fim performing parrots". During WW2, it was a regular favourite with American servicemen.

One John Deane, prebendary of Lincoln and rector of St. Bartholemew the Great in Smithfield, London, in need of investment properties to help fund a school he was founding in his birthplace, Northwich, purchased an inn in Foregate Street by the name of The Swan in 1557. The inn and surrounding land had formed part of the dissolved estates of The Fraternity of St. Anne's, a little-known religious foundation that formerly existed in the vicinity of St. John's Church. The inn was later recorded as existing in 1615. Most of the buildings in the street were burned to the ground during the Seige of Chester in 1645-6 and the later Swan rose upon the site of its destroyed earlier namesake. Its licencee was Thomas Bulkeley who died in 1783 "after many years being master of the house". The landlord in 1850 was Evan Roberts, in 1857-60 Robert Rider, in 1873 John W. Massey, when the place was described in the trade directory as a 'Spirit Vaults'. In 1880 it was William Clark (its address was given as no 52 Foregate Street at this time). In 1902 the licencee was A Q Roberts, in 1910 Samuel H Janion and in 1914 Edward Eccles. After many year's service, Eddie Davies retired in 1945 and his son Royds Edmund Davies took over until the place was sold to C&A Modes in 1973. The pub kept going under a number of managers until it was sadly demolished.

Its site- and that of the neighbouring Classic cinema- were, until its sad demise in 2009, occupied by a branch of Woolworth's- and soon to be Primark. See a photograph of them just before demolition in our 'History of Chester Cinema' here).

In October 2013, we had the pleasure of meeting Eddie's daughter (and Royds' sister) Mrs Josephine Dean, who was raised at the Swan and who is just one hundred years old! When asked about the sort of clientelle the house attracted, she replied, "it was all very nice until the Yanks came and then it went a bit wild for a few years, but settled down again after that. My dad did his best.."

Returning again to those parrots, reader Paul Adamson told us, "The Steward’s wife at Chester Golf Club in the sixties was Mrs Amy Cartledge. She was an animal lover and amongst her menagerie was an old parrot. Often standing delicately on one leg with an inscrutable look he would come out with the most appalling language. Embarrassment would abound as its owner tried to explain that you hadn’t heard what you thought you had heard. Only to have her efforts dashed as he forcefully repeated his epigram. I was astonished to learn at the time that captive birds such as this can enjoy a similar, if not longer, life expectancy than human beings. Apparently, as a younger, more impressionable bird, he had spent the war years in a cage on the bar of the Swan Hotel in Foregate Street. I understand that Churchill once mischievously taught a parrot to swear and it seems that the young GIs who used to frequent the Swan during that dark period must have had the same idea!"

article about parrots 1945

classic cinema and swan inn 1970
Foregate Street in 1970: the Classic Cinema and the Swan Hotel.

swan inn

swan court 1920
Behind the inn was this mean row of tenements known as Swan Court, seen here in 1920

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