The present Black Horse in Gillingstool was built in 1965 and for several years it was the trendiest place to go in Thornbury.
The building replaced an older building which was located in a position on what is now the pub car park. That old building started life as a simple beerhouse in which the beerhouse keeper sold beer to supplement the income from his main occupation. Often it would be the wife of the beerhouse keeper who actually ran the place.
Our earliest record of it being a beerhouse is the 1851 census which it was occupied by Samuel Allen. We note however that the 1840 Tithe Survey shows Samuel was a tenant of Thomas Jenkins at the same property at that time. The 1841 census shows him living there with his wife Martha. Samuel was described as a gardener in the census, but it is possible that he was also selling beer at that time.
The earliest record showing that the beerhouse was called The Black Horse was the 1881 census. The two photographs below show the old pub building. Click on each of the thumbnails to see a larger image. We apologise for the quality of the second image and would love to hear from anyone who has a better photo.
In the 1840 Tithe Survey the property was numbered Plot 517 and that it was descried as a ‘house and garden at Crossways’, one of several properties owned by Thomas Jenkins. However in his last will dated 23rd August 1838 William Greenwood left the leasehold property (occupied by Samuel Allen) to his grand-daughter, Ann Jenkins. Ann was the daughter of Thomas Jenkins and his wife, Hannah (nee Greenwood). Thomas’s name was used in the Tithe Survey presumably because she was under her father’s guardianship.
William Greenwood was the owner of a considerable number of properties in and around Thornbury and we have written more about him and his family Link with the William Greenwood page
Ann Jenkins was baptised in Thornbury on 2nd January 1822. On 28th April 1842 she married Joseph Ford, a farmer from Almondsbury at Rockhampton Church.
Thus the property passed to Ann, although the licence records show her husband, Joseph Ford as the owner.
When Joseph died aged 70 on 27th June 1883 Ann Ford was thereafter named as owner. In her will dated 30th January 1892 Ann bequeathed her ‘freehold beerhouse called the Black Horse in Gillingstool in the occupation of John Harvey to her trustees. Ann died aged 75 on 27th April 1897 and was buried in Rockhampton on 1st May 1897. Her home at her death was Crossway House. Link with 13 high street and malt house?
We are grateful to George Ford, local pub historian, for information about the pub’s later owners. In his book on Thornbury Pubs he says that when the Black Horse lost its free house status it became owned by George Playne of the Forwood Brewery in Minchinhampton. This brewer was taken over by the Stroud Brewery in 1897. They continued to own the pub until 1958 when the brewery became part of West Country Breweries. West Country was taken over Whitbread Brewery in 1962.
In the 1960s Gillingstool and the area around it underwent a lot of change. Several cottages were demolished to make space for the widening of the road and new housing estates were being built on both sides of the new road. The Whitbread Brewery demolished the old building and erected a new one, more in keeping with modern times. It was built back from the new road allowing access to a large car park.
We have been told that the new pub opened at Easter 1965. It was developed as a community pub, equipped with a new skittles alley which could be used for parties and other functions, a dart board and pool table. A large screen TV has been installed for sporting events, and special functions such as music evenings and even bungee jumping are organised occasionally.