The two photographs here show different aspects of the building that was the Queen’s Head in the High Street in Thornbury. The image above was presumably taken in the late 50s or early 60s after the pub closed. The image on the left was taken in the 1930s when the lower frontage of the pub was tiled.
In the absence of seeing the deeds of the property, our knowledge of the occupants starts with 1840 Tithe Survey. At that time the property was one of several properties in the area owned by Thomas Morgan. This one was occupied by George Shepherd.
George Shepherd – in the 1841 Census George is listed as a postmaster aged 28 living with his wife, Anna aged 30 and their children, Thomas aged 8, William aged 4 and John aged 4. Click here to read about George
Hugh Smart – the 1851 Census shows Hugh Smart had taken over the property from George Shepherd. In the census Hugh was a grocer aged 28 living with his wife, Jemima aged 31, his wife’s sister, Kezia Thomas who was a straw bonnet maker aged 36, and a lodger, Abraham Opperman, a unmarried jeweller aged 59 from Austria.
Hugh was born in Oldbury and baptised on 18th May 1823, the son of James Smart, a farmer and his wife, Mary. In 1848 Hugh married Jemima Thomas in the Bristol area. Jemima was baptised on 5th September 1819 in Thornbury. She was the daughter of William Thomas, a mason and his wife, Dinah.
According to local pub historian, George Ford, in 1858 Hugh obtained a licence to sell beer in addition to groceries. The 1861 Census lists Hugh as a beerhouse keeper aged 33. Now living with him and Jemima were her sister, Kezia, her father, William aged 77 and brother George aged 46.
In 1870 Hugh acquired the ownership of the house at 17 St John Street which had been the home of Jemima’s parents. Hugh, Jemima and Kezia were still in the beerhouse in the 1871 Census. They then had a little visitor, a nephew, William Jno. Moon aged 2 who was born in Horfield. In the 1871 census there appears to be another family sharing the property – John Tite, a stone mason aged 20 from Zeals Glass in Wiltshire and his wife, Mary aged 20 from Somerset and their son, John, aged 2 months also born in Somerset.
Jemima died on March 10th 1879 aged 59 years. The 1881 Census shows the beerhouse had now been given the name ‘Queens Head’. Hugh was still there as grocer and innkeeper aged 59, assisted by his sister in law, Kezia, who was his housekeeper aged 66. We note that in the Bristol Mercury of 12th April 1883 Hugh Smart was seeking work as a groom or gardener. The notice mentioned that Hugh ‘can milk’. It appears that Hugh needed some extra income on top of that he received as a publican. The licensee records show that Hugh carried on at the Queens Head until his death in 1888 aged 65.
William Underhill – the licensee records show that William took over from Hugh Smart in 1888. The 1891 Census shows that William worked as a carrier whilst also being licensee of the pub. He operated a daily service to Bristol as well as running the pub. In the 1891 Census William was aged 47, his wife, Annie, was 49. Their sons, Charles aged 22 and Frederick aged 20 were also living at the pub. In 1902 William moved to the Porters Stores in Silver Street (now known as the Barrel) taking over from his son, Frederick who had died aged only 31. William continued as licensee there until his death in 1910. Click here to read more
Richard Chapman – the Gloucestershire pubs website shows that Richard was licensee in 1903.
James and Ernest Brewer – a trade directory in 1904 and the Voters List for the same year shows that James Brewer was the publican at the Queens Head. We believe that this was James who in the 1891 Census had been a brewer living at 130 Pennywell Road, Bristol. James’s wife, Amy, was a beerhouse keeper. James was aged 40 from Tiverton in Devon. The 1891 Census shows that Amy was aged 45 and born in Bristol, but the 1881 Census had shown her age then as 44 and that she was born in Bath. We can’t trace the family in the 1901 Census.
James’s wife, Amy, died in Thornbury aged 69 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 11th February 1904. James Brewer formally transferred the licence of the Queens Head to his son, Ernest Edward William Brewer in the petty Sessions of November 1908. The 1911 Census shows James was a widower running the Swan Inn in Midland Road, Bristol. His married daughter, Amy Tyler and her husband were living with him. James died at the Swan, Midland Road, Bristol aged 65. He was described as a licensed victualler when he was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 18th June 1915.
Ernest Brewer is shown as the publican in a 1910 trade directory and the 1910 Rate Book. The 1911 Census shows Ernest living there with his family and describes him as licensed victualler. In the 1911 Census Ernest was aged 34 from Bristol living with his wife, Louise, with whom he had been married for 14 years. They had 4 children: Arthur aged 12, Florence aged 10, Adeline aged 9 and Sybil aged 6, all born in Bristol.
Ernest had married Louisa Jane Kingdon in Bristol in 1898. The 1901 Census shows Ernest was a house carpenter living in the home of his father-in-law, Charles Kingdon at 91 Philip Street, Bedminster.
Henry Heard – Henry is listed in various Thornbury directories as a beer retailer at the Queens Head between 1914 and 1935. The school records show Henry moved from Cardiff to Thornbury in 1911 when their son, Cyril Percy started at the Council Upper School.
Henry was born in Launceston in Cornwall about 1867. On 17th April 1888 he enlisted in the army at Exeter. He was said to be 21 years old at that time. He was 67 1/2 inches tall and 138 lbs in weight with a 34 inch chest. At that time his trade was a carpenter. His application form said that he had been apprenticed to Mr Prout at St Stephens in Launceston for five years. He joined the Royal Engineers from 1881 to 1891. He was examined for re-engagement in 1901 and signed on for 21 years.
In 1900 Henry married Edith Copping in the Medway area. The 1901 Census shows Henry and Edith lived in Gillingham. Henry was a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers aged 33. Edith was aged 23 born in Strood, Kent. He fought in the Boer War and served in South Africa from 1899 to 1902, being involved in actions at Belmont, Graspan and Modder River. He was discharged from the army on 16th April 1909.
The 1911 Census shows that they had moved to 217 City Road, Cardiff where Henry was described as a Steward and Edith was a Stewardess. ‘ By ‘googling’ that address we found that it is now the Cardiff Conservative Club.
Henry and Edith had at least four children: Cyril Percy was born in Monmouth on 13th April 1904, Doris Irene born in Monmouth on 1st September 1905, and a son born on 20th March 1911 (listed in the 1911 Census as Jarvis Charles and in the school records as Stanley) and Francis Leslie born in Thornbury on 14th December 1912. The Gazette 23rd January 1915 reported that an accident happened involving young Cyril. He had gone out with his father delivering beer flagons. The cart was parked in the main road at Rudgeway whilst Henry had a talk with a man alongside the cart. Cyril was sitting alone in the cart when it was hit by a motor vehicle being towed by another vehicle heading towards Bristol. Cyril was taken in the car to Almondsbury Hospital suffering from abdominal injuries and a torn bowel. He died shortly afterwards. Cyril was only 10 years and 9 months old. The three other children all managed to get places free places at Thornbury Grammar School.
The Gazette newspaper of September 1916 lists Henry as Sergeant Major of the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. The photograph on the left shows him on 6th April 1918 when 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment won the Assistant Adjutant’s Cup. We understand that the Volunteer Regiment during the First World War performed the same functions as the Home Guard did in World War II.
Henry’s daughter, Doris Heard left Thornbury Grammar School when she was about 18 in 1923 and became a student teacher at the Council School. Her two brothers left when they were younger and the records don’t indicate what they did next.
Henry and the family must have moved elsewhere in the early 1930’s. He is shown is listed in the Thornbury 1931 electoral register and in a 1934 trade directory. Doris married Reginald Dando in Thornbury in 1931.
Howard Frederick Lee – Howard Lee was the next licensee at the Queens Head. A tenancy agreement between Howard Lee and George’s Brewery dated November 1934 shows that Howard took over the tenancy for a rental of £34 per annum. At that time he was living in Bishop Road, Bishopston. Howard and his wife, Florence Agnes, were both listed as living in the Queens Head in the 1935 electoral register. The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the War shows Howard and Florence occupied the property with their widowed mothers. Rebecca was born on 4th April 1853 and Florence Good born on 4th October 1864. Both of them were noted to be incapacitated. There was one other person listed as living there but their name is blacked out.
Howard was born in Worcester on 22nd June 1891. He was the son of Reuben George Lee and his wife Rebecca. On 8th December 1918 Howard married Florence Agnes Good in Bishopston, Bristol. Florence was born in Westminster on 25th October 1891. She was the daughter of Augustus Good, a foreman in a builder’s merchants and his wife, Florence. In 1901 census the Good family were living at 20A Grayshott Road, Battersea.
During the 1920s Howard and Florence travelled to Canada. Howard had sailed to St Johns, Canada in 1911, to Montreal in 1914 and to Quebec in 1919. The records of the White Star Line shows he and Florence returned to Liverpool from Montreal in May 1923 aboard the SS Regina. Howard was described as a business manager. Their home address was 103 Bishop Road, Bristol. Howard appears to have returned to Canada later that year on the SS Megantic leaving his wife in Bristol. The record shows that he was intending to stay in Canada permanently. Another record of the Canadian Pacific Line shows that Howard returned to Liverpool from St John in Canada in 1929 sailing on the Duchess of Atholl. His home address at that time was 100 Dimery Road, Bristol.
During the War, Howard became the commanding officer of the Thornbury detachment of the Home Guard. Howard and Florence were still listed as living at the Queens Head in the 1946 electoral register, but they had moved away from Thornbury by the 1950 register. We understand that Howard and Florence had a son, Barry who went to the Grammar School.
Florence died in 1974 in the Oswestry area aged 83. Howard died aged 89 in the same area in 1980.
Frederick and Ethel M Smith – the 1950 and 1954 shows Frederick and Ethel M Smith being at the Queens Head. We understand that before moving to the Queens Head they had lived for a short time at 8 Pullins Green. They were not listed as living in Thornbury in the 1958 electoral register so must have moved away when the pub closed. The photo on the right shows Fred whilst he was in the Army.
Since the Queens Head closed the building has several uses. The pub was initially used as a doctor’s surgery by Doctors Douglas Henderson, Richard Morris and Michael Watts. Their medical practice had been located at Park House off the High Street until they moved to 65 High Street. The website of St Marys Surgery recalls that before the premises were converted to make them more suitable, the patients notes were kept behind the bar. In 1966 the practice split with Dr Henderson moving the newly built Thornbury Health Centre and Dr Morris and Watts moving to a new surgery at 36 High Street.
It appears that the upper story of the building was used as residential accommodation. The electoral registers of 1958 to 1970 show that Nellie Doris Pearce lived there. Nellie was the widow of Percy Levi Pearce and she had moved to the High Street after living for a few years in The Hollow‘ in Kington Lane.
Since that time the property has been used by an insurance broker, in 2009 it became ‘Blends‘ and in 2013 it became a ladies hairdressing salon called ‘Joelle Hairdressing‘.