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The Lord Nelson Public House



JULY 2017


P. 2-3 Introduction

P. 3-4 Materials & Methods

P. 5 Acknowledgements

P. 5-6 Part One. Cleeve: A Historical Context

P. 7-10 Part Two. The Original Nelson Inn: circa 1799-1936

P. 11-41 Part Three. From 1934 to 2016: The New Lord Nelson

P. 42-47 Part Four. Timeline for the Lord Nelson, 1799-2017

P. 47-48 Part Five. References

P. 48-50 Part 6. Postscript. Rationale for Grade II Listing Nomination

Note: This report discusses a building and site that are listed as follows as non-designated
heritage assets under the North Somerset Historic Environment Record (HER):

MNS2428 Lord Nelson, Cleeve (site of original inn)
MNS8737 Lord Nelson, Cleeve (current building)
MNS8665 Site of house and associated land/orchard/well, to east of old Lord Nelson


Written to support Cleeve Parish Council’s nomination for Grade II Listing by
Historic England, this report details the historical background, heritage aspects
and architectural details of the Lord Nelson Public House, located on Main Road
(A370), Cleeve, North Somerset.

With a timeline dating back to before 1799, the site of this pub has been a key facet in the
socio-economic fabric of Cleeve for over 200 years. For nearly all that period, that plot has
been occupied by an inn or public house spanning two quite distinct but nonetheless
blended phases. These comprised an original inn of ca. 1799 vintage, demolished 1936; and
the existing public house, built as it’s replacement from 1934 and opened in 1936.

Fig. 1: The Lord Nelson pub, July 2017. The scope of cosmetic deterioration has accelerated
over recent months, with no remedial attention being made since early 2016 to preserve the

Much of this report focuses on aspects of the current building: an iconic local landmark
that epitomizes key changes that emerged in British lifestyles during the 1930’s, and now a
building (and entire site) under very real threat of demolition.

Situated halfway between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare, the inter-war Lord Nelson was
purposely built to capitalize on the burgeoning level of leisure travel seeking to escape
urban life and find the ‘fresh air’ of coast and countryside. Constructed at a time when
motorized transport was becoming more widely accessible to the ordinary public, through
charabanc and bus outings, plus an increase in private car ownership, the Lord Nelson was


more than a mere village pub and remained in that hybrid guise until closure in late 2016.
Throughout its operational history, it was simultaneously a picturesque ‘watering hole’ for
passing tourists; a destination venue for dining and socializing; yet nonetheless still served
as the main local pub and social focus for people of Cleeve and surrounding settlements.

In 2015, Historic England undertook a detailed study of inter-war public houses across
England, culminating in a shortlisting of selected examples that were subsequently listed
at Grade II (Cole, 2015). That work confined research specifically to urban and suburban
pubs, for various reasons including “…to make the project manageable and achievable in
terms of resources” (Cole, op. cit) and as such, made no reference to the Lord Nelson in
Cleeve – which is a rural location as opposed to suburban and classed as an ‘infill village’
under North Somerset Council categorization (Anon., 2016).

However, in an externally commissioned study for Historic England, Fisher & Preston
(2015) authored an exhaustive study of 19th and 20th Century pubs across Bristol. That work
cited the Lord Nelson (within broader discussion of pubs built and operated by Bristol
Brewery Georges & Co.) whilst highlighting that, location-wise – situated in a small village,
rather than within the urban or suburban parts of Bristol - it was a quite distinct entity
from many contemporary ‘new builds’ constructed by Georges’ at the time.

Whilst various examples of ‘improved’ or inter-war pubs survive in Bristol and in adjacent
North Somerset – albeit a number since converted to retail or other use - we contend and
detail below how the Lord Nelson is uniquely important asset in the historic and heritage
timeline of the area, as well as aesthetically and architecturally within Cleeve itself. Even
in 19th Century guise, it always found a sizeable proportion of trade from travellers (then
horse-drawn), but the current entity serves as a fine and - in many key respects – entirely
original reminder of a time when public houses sought to reinvent themselves to garner
female and family patronage; when motor travel became increasingly accessible to the
masses; and when a break away from urban life to seek the solace of ‘fresh air’ became an
important component of people’s lives and leisure time. It is, in short, a distinctive marker
in time and all the more prominently so due to location and a conspicuous aspect.

Materials & Methods
Despite a paucity of site-specific records pertaining specifically to the Lord Nelson within
various key archive depositories, we nonetheless uncovered useful material gathered from
various sources including through the Bristol Museum Archives; archives of Heineken
(who adopted the compendium from Georges’ & Courage Breweries); the Yatton Local
History Society (YLHS); searches of historic back-copies of the Western Daily Press and
other key local newsmedia from circa 1880 to current; from historic mapping circa 1840 to
present and aerial photography 1940 to present (accessed via North Somerset Council’s


We traced and communicated with previous managers and staff of the pub post-1980,
allowing us to better visualize and describe changes to the building and site in more
recent decades, whilst also clarifying those features that remain original. We also traced
and communicated with the surviving relatives (daughter & granddaughter) of the
longest-serving single landlord of the current pub, serving between 1944 to 1980, who
furnished us with very useful unpublished photographic and descriptive information,
some of which is contained in this report.

To better understand the scope of changes made to the pub in more recent decades,
original planning case files were requested from North Somerset Council and made
available as microfiche copies. These covered the period 1981 to 1998 and some of the key
aspects of those files are included in this report.

Historical published literature, principally citing the pub in the period from 1799 to 1900,
were consulted, as was official Census data throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Both authors have personal experience of the site as customers. The lead author has
visited it since 2007 and regularly so as a Cleeve resident since 2013. He also prepared the
nomination which saw the Lord Nelson listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV;
Localism Act, 2011) in January 2017, work which included personal communication with
longstanding patrons of the pub; skittles teams across a number of decades, and so-forth.
The co-author (DR) was born in Cleeve in 1942 and remained resident ever since; he first
visited the pub in 1946 (to receive his first-ever orange post-war from the British Legion)
and was a regular customer from adulthood.

Site visits after the Lord Nelson closed in late November 2016 have been regularly
undertaken to facilitate exterior photography. Unfortunately, the current owners refuse
any interior access and this hindrance has meant sourcing photographic records that are
incomplete in terms of our desired level of detail. We thus received a considerable volume
of assistance through social media (people who had either worked at the pub or been
customers). Through a process of photographic composite and digital matching effort, we
include in this report evidence to demonstrate and describe the exterior and interior
features that survive from the original build in 1934.

Flights using a high definition photovideo-equipped drone were undertaken by IKF with
permission from private land just outside the Lord Nelson site footprint (without direct
overflights and with approval from NATS at Bristol Airport), in an effort to fill our voids in
knowledge regarding current building plan elevation and derive comparative modern
versus historic aerial photography.


We thank the following individuals, who offered essential assistance in the preparation of
this report including through sourcing and providing archive records and photography;
personal recollections and private photographs; historic newspaper clippings; and general
advice: Marianne Pitman (Yatton Local History Society); Kenneth Thomas
(Heineken/Courage Archives); Paul Chilcott; Jill Cox (nee Warner) and her daughter
Sharon Navarra; Karen Atherton; Don Veale; Mandy King; Roy King; Penny Hall; Andy
Gilbert; Sarah Smith; Annemarie Coomber; Mike Simons; Jeannie Osmond; Graham Grice;
and Cat Lodge (North Somerset Council Archaeologist). Cleeve Parish Councillors and the
Council Clerk, Gemma Richards, have unhesitatingly supported our efforts throughout.


Part 1. Cleeve: A Historical Context
The village of Cleeve, formerly Cleve in medieval times, was first recorded as a named
settlement in 1263 but late bronze age/early iron age and Romano-British camps and forts
are found in adjoining uplands and woods on the southern side of the village (Cleeve Toot;
King’s Wood; Bickley).

Whilst some surviving buildings date back as far as medieval origins (e.g., the GII listed
Goblin Combe Farm) or pre-17th Century (e.g. Yew Tree Farm, Grade II Listed), most of
Cleeve’s pre-WW1 development occurred in the 19th century, as the main Bristol to
Weston-super-Mare turnpike (now the A370) became the primary gateway from the city
out to the West Country. With a few exceptions, a majority of buildings constructed
through the 18th-19th centuries in Cleeve were sited along this road, albeit with a very
diffuse density stretching from near the Brockley Combe junction to the north, to the
Claverham (now Bishop’s Road) junction in the south (Fig. 2).

A second principal tier of development occurred in the inter-war years. This was
predominantly residential, accounting for a number of bungalows that remain in the
village on the west side of the A370; on Millier Road, Bishop’s Road and environs; plus
construction of the current Lord Nelson pub (1934-1936) and Cleeve Village Hall (1936).

The third, post-war period of Cleeve expansion was almost exclusively residential and
effectively created a now de facto ‘centre’ of the village: the 1950’s seeing development of
Woodview Drive and Bishop’s Mead; the 1960’s seeing homes built in new roads such as
Cleeve Drive and Graitney Close; and finally in Warner Close (early 1990’s), which takes its
name from inarguably the best-known and longest-serving post-war landlord of the Lord
Nelson PH (1944-1980) and long-serving Parish Councillor, Jack Warner.


Fig 2: 1884 map with main turnpike road highlighted, showing the elongate, diffuse nature of
Cleeve Village prior to 20th Century development. The original Nelson Inn is bounded in red.

Population growth of Cleeve became most marked between circa 1950 to now,
commensurate with the significant increase in housing development. The 1851 Census
recorded 475 residents, with little significant change registered in this tally by the time of
the 1931 Census. Now, the population has effectively doubled, numbering circa 900 as of
the last census of 2011*.


Part 2. The Original Nelson Inn: circa. 1799-1936
To appreciate the broader historical and heritage context of the current public house and
its importance in Cleeve requires description of its predecessor, and the direct lineage
from one to the other. A fuller timeline, 1799-2017, is provided later in this report.

Fig. 3: The original Lord Nelson Inn, viewed looking west, circa 1911. The pub was then under
Ashton Gate Brewery ownership, with Kate Lees as licensee (evidenced in sign). Source:
YLHS Archives

Earliest records of this site date back to 1799, when it was listed as “a house, garden and
carthouse”. Previous research (Campbell, 1988) showed that the Lord Nelson land was
originally under ownership of Earl John Poullet of Court de Wyck, who in 1799 rented it to
John Hill before it passed to his son William, who bought it from Poullet. The 1821 survey
of Yatton Parish (of which Cleeve remained part until 1949) includes “Nelson Inn,
Gardens, Orchards etc.”. (Sturge & Sturge, 1821). Eight years later, Rutter (1829), describing
Cleeve, noted it was “…a small inn and posting house, known as the Nelson”, where “…the
Bristol and Weston coaches generally change horses.”

Lord Horatio Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar in September 1805 – and in doing so,
became a national icon. Naming of the original inn occurred at some point between 1805
and 1821 (1821 being the first published note of a ‘Nelson Inn’), but most probably closer to
the earlier date, when Nelson’s death was a major cause celebre.


Fig. 4: Composite ‘ghost’ image, using digital alignment of the photo in Fig. 3, set against the
same view in July 2017. Note relative positions and distance to roadside of old and current
Lord Nelson buildings respectively.

The old Nelson had its frontage almost directly on the verge of the turnpike (as was typical
in the 18th-19th centuries; Figs 3 & 4). By around 1820 onwards it was a fully-fledged public
house as well as serving additional purposes (a full timeline is included later in this
report). The rear of the property was bounded essentially exactly as the footprint of today,
demonstrated by tracing numbered plots 706 (garden) and 709 (orchard) in the mapping
sequence shown at left in Fig. 5.

Through an advertisement by then-owner John Hill to let the Lord Nelson, dated 14
February 1888 (Western Daily Press archive, made available to us by Paul Chilcott, pers.
comm), we can detail the popularity, scope and style of the original building and its
grounds. The advert notes how the lease covered “the old established and fully licensed
premises known as the Lord Nelson… together with the stables, coach-house, outhouses,
pleasure and kitchen gardens, and full bearing young orchard adjoining, containing about
one acre.”

It continues: “(the pub) is admirably situated on the main road midway between Bristol
and Weston-super-Mare and is much frequented… the house is a great resort for tourists
and pleasure parties during the summer months on account of the scenery and
magnificent views to be obtained of the surrounding neighbourhood.”. Of the actual
building and grounds, the advert describes how: “…it contains bar, bar parlour, smoking


and sitting rooms, large club room. Kitchen, two large cellars, eleven bedrooms, and all
suitable offices… (outside) a pleasure garden, with summer house; large kitchen garden
and yard, stabling for 14 horses, coach house with large loft, covered carriage yard,
coalhouse, piggeries and pens.”

Fig. 5. Chronology of the Lord Nelson site as shown by official mapping (left) and aerial
photography (right, current pub only). Note the continued sequence for plots 711 and 709
from their origins (1840 Tythe map shows the same) to the current day. Plot 631, once a
house, gardens, orchard and well, would later become the car park of the existing pub.


Fig. 6: Looking east-southeast towards the original Nelson Inn, circa 1933, from a vantage
point now occupied by Woodview Drive. Note the small house towards extreme left, the
footprint of which - as seen in mapping, Fig. 5 - stood in the current Lord Nelson car park,
directly opposite the Millier Road-A370 junction (YLHS archive image)

Fig. 7. The last known image of the original inn standing in isolation before demolition:
under Georges’ branding, dated circa. 1932-33, looking northeast along the turnpike road.
(Postcard original by Michael J. Tozer)


Part 3: From 1934 to 2016: The New Lord Nelson
We attempted, through a variety of sources, to clarify the exact dates of: construction
work beginning; demolition of the old inn; and opening of the new. Surprisingly no such
records appear within the archives of Georges’ (Ken Thomas, pers. comm) and no reports
were found in a trawl of newspaper archives to afford precise dates. Nonetheless by
combined information giving year of origination, including some unique photographs;
plus additional information concerning construction of the sister-pub (Eastfield Inn) in
1934, we are confident that work on the Lord Nelson also began in 1934, with demolition of
the original inn and opening of the current one both in 1936.

In 1934, as part of a sizeable and locally dominant expansion of their business, Georges’
began work to replace the original Lord Nelson Inn with the current building. Under
creative direction of R.J. Edwards - the in-house architect for Georges’ surveying
department - the scheme was to construct a partly mock-tudor style building of imposing
stature in a rural setting, with excellent access. Rather than garnished with the ‘full tudor’
trimmings and grandeur of some earlier builds by the brewery, such as The Friendship in
Knowle (1933), the Lord Nelson project instead ‘modernised’ and somewhat subdued that
fashion; a shift in mid-1930’s architectural trend described in detail by Cole (2015). The
nod towards a mock tudor style came through Edwards’ styling retaining partly-
overhanging (‘jettied’) double gables; oriel upper front windows; a more restrained
(versus some previous Georges’ designs) latticework of black half-timber fascia cladding;
leaden main glazing throughout; brickwork front balcony; and ornate cross-work bricking
embedded on the two dominant chimneys at each end of the main building.

The Lord Nelson design was duplicated, in many key respects, by a sister-pub
simultaneously built in Henleaze and also replacing a former pub of the same name: the
Eastfield Inn. Both the Nelson and Eastfield shared commonality of their frontage, plus an
integral skittle alley (by the early 1930’s these were very popular additions in reformed
public houses across Wales and SW England especially). The broad similarities between
the two designs is striking (Figs 8 and 9).

The Lord Nelson, however, was a quite distinctive addition to the expanding new-build
estate of Georges. The plot was large: its scope to profit from the burgeoning importance
of the Bristol to Weston turnpike was an integral part of the design and business rationale
and ultimately, was exploited to the full. Unlike the Eastfield, the Lord Nelson would have
an expansive car park, specifically catering for the growing charabanc and bus trade; plus
an adjoining large function room (Fig. 10). Whilst there is an historic argument about the
precise classification of ‘roadhouses’ of inter-war vintage (Gutzke, 2005; Cole, 2015), we
suggest that the Lord Nelson was actually something of a hybrid: a destination public
house; a replacement local pub; but also a ‘roadhouse’ in the broad sense of purposefully
capturing the growing motor-borne trade of mid-late 1930’s coming from Bristol out into


the West Country. This latter point is highlighted by Georges’ own promotional narrative.
Anon (1938) describes the Lord Nelson as “on the main road to the west of England, just
beyond Brockley Combe, the well-known beauty spot… with a good pull-in for cars and

Figs 8 & 9: The Eastfield Inn, Henleaze (top, nearing completion ca. 1935 with older inn to
right) and Lord Nelson (bottom, 1938) share commonality of some dominant design features
through the work of architect R.J. Edwards and master builder Frank Wilkins (Source:
Georges’ original shots, via Heineken Archive)


Fig. 10: The positional dominance and scope of the Lord Nelson as an iconic part of Cleeve
and the Bristol-Weston road journey are exemplified in this aerial (drone) image, taken April
2017, looking south. The car park markings were a much later (1983) addition; the red-white
barriers visible adjacent to the A370 are a temporary feature to now prevent vehicle access.
Note the pub garden and orchard stretching to the upper left: both unchanged in boundary
since ca. 1800.

The master builder chosen to oversee construction of both the Lord Nelson and Eastfield
Inn was Frank Wilkins, a Clifton resident whose firm was based in Temple Meads, Bristol.
A father of four, Wilkins would doubtless have resonated to Georges’ aspirations to
construct reformed pubs that were family-friendly and it is noteworthy how in the Lord
Nelson, he built a facility that remained a much-loved focus for customers with young
children right through to 2016. Part of the appeal was the garden: by 1933, they were
becoming integral to Georges’ reformed pubs in and around Bristol (Fisher & Preston,
2015) but the Lord Nelson was particularly blessed by virtue of geography and prior
history. At the time of construction, before Cleeve’s housing expansion some three
decades later, the pub frontage looked across the turnpike to unfettered open views over
fields stretching towards Failand ridge; Clevedon and Wales. To the rear of the pub, the
garden overlaid and adapted the land previously used by the original inn (as described
prior), whilst the orchard remained unaltered, as now. The lawned garden faced
southward, with King’s Wood rising behind. Those rear views and general aspect have


changed little from 1934 to today, given the demonstrable survival of the pub’s plot since
construction to today (Fig. 11).

Fig. 11. Comparative aerial photography looking SE across the Lord Nelson from circa 1950
and 2017 (latter by drone). Note how general schematic plan of the site has changed little: a
bungalow, extreme left, has existed since original 1936 opening; homes constructed on
Cleeve Hill Road, upper left, are post-1950; whilst a bungalow (Walnut Lodge) behind the
right of the pub garden boundary was constructed post-1980’s.

Construction of the ‘new’ pub appears to have commenced around 1934, based on
evaluation of all available sources. Unlike its predecessor, the replacement was set back
from the turnpike by a quite conspicuous distance. The primary – and enforced - reason
for this, as explained by Fisher & Preston (2015), was the 1935 Restriction of Ribbon
Development Act, which required new pubs to be set back no less than 60ft from centre of
the road. At the Eastfield Inn, the new building was replacing a vintage original pub set
flush against the road edge. Georges’ plans had allowed for very precise positioning of the
new building work to be almost contiguous to the rear of the existing pub, whilst allowing
the latter to remain open and generating income.


Until very recently, we had no such evidence of this sort of ‘doubling-up’ arrangement
during construction of the Lord Nelson (unlike as reported and photographed for the
Eastfield by Fisher & Preston [op.cit; Fig. 8]). However, two unpublished photographs
uncovered in 2017 from YLHS archives (Marianne Pitman, pers. comm) and another sent
to us from the Warner family collection prove unequivocally that the old Lord Nelson did
indeed stand and remain operational whilst the new was being built immediately behind,
much as at the Eastfield Inn (Figs. 12 and 13).

Given timeline of available images, coupled to published sources including Anon. (1938)
stating the new pub opened in 1936, we believe actual construction work spanned 1934 to
1936, with the original inn also demolished 1936. As that was undertaken, an area of
garden/orchard, plus small house, were also very quickly demolished and cleared, as were
all stables and other outbuildings allied to the old inn. In Fig. 12, work to clear the garden
and plot to the left of the pub had clearly yet to begin. In Fig. 13, the gable end of the small
house is visible at extreme left of frame. Thus, preparing and clearing land for both the car
park and Function Room was left to the very end of the process and we suspect after the
new pub opened for business. This would also have necessitated filling a well (marked on
all early mapping) which supplied spring water to both house and Nelson Inn and was
located centrally towards the rear of the current pub car park.

Fig. 12. This photo, circa. 1934-1935, shows construction of the new pub directly behind the
old inn. The originator is unknown, but evidently bravely (!) climbed an adjacent power
pylon to take the elevated shot (Source: YLHS Archives)


Fig. 13. Dated 1935, this image shows the progress of building work versus Fig. 12. Note how
the working gap between rear of the old inn versus left gable of the new must have been
minimal and very cramped. (Source: Jack Warner Family Collection)

Fig. 14. Composite ‘ghost image’ of Fig. 13, digitally matched to a photo taken July 2017. The
respective footprint of old inn just ahead of the current pub’s left gable is clear. The centre of
the old inn was approximately where the current pub’s signpost stands.


The original architect’s floorplan of the current pub was unfortunately impossible to trace,
as it does not reside in the archives of Georges’ (Ken Thomas, pers. comm) nor within the
official archives we searched of Bristol or Somerset / North Somerset. These may have
been passed during corporate buyouts and sales from Georges’ to Courage and then later
to Bass Charrington, but we cannot be sure. However, we do know that no changes were
made to the original layout throughout the entire 1940-1980 period (personal
communication from various sources, including the Warner Family) and so we sought to
replicate the original plans by other means.

The earliest available planning application case files, between 1981 to 1991, contain
schematics of the then-existing layout for the entire building that we believe offer a
reliable, if not entirely exact, facsimile for original floorplans and elevations. These are
shown in Figs 15, 16, 17 & 18.

Fig. 15. Ground floor and cellar plans for the Lord Nelson, as drawn-up for Bass Charrington
in 1991 as they proposed conversion to a Toby Carvery. By this time, the open-style loggia
adjoining the function room at the rear of the property (visible top of left-most room) had
been modified in 1983 to become an enclosed extension. In every other respect however, the
pub was otherwise as originally built and laid-out. (Source: NSC Planning File 0253/91, from


Fig 16. As Fig. 15, enlarged detail of original ground floor bar layout and environs

Fig. 17: Upper floor: this plan remains unchanged barring the right-hand bedroom converted
to a kitchen in more recent years (Source: as per Figs 15-16)


Fig. 18. Elevations representative of the original build (Source: as per Figs 15-17)

Post-1980, as was commonplace with brewery-owned pubs of this size and potential, a
variety of changes were applied for and in some respects undertaken. A full timeline of
those planning applications follows later in this report, but the most important ones are
described here in chronological order.

Loggia changes: The original build, as was common among Georges’ inter-war pubs
(Fisher & Preston, 2015), included a covered patio-style loggia at the rear. This was
adjoined to the function room and provided a covered, open-air seating area facing the
garden. In 1938, Georges’ souvenir book (Anon. 1938) included a photograph of the Lord
Nelson loggia in use and a copy of that image (Fig. 19) remains at the Bristol Archives. A
recent (pre-2016 closure) image of the exterior of how this area now appears is visible in
Fig. 20. In 1983, then-owners Bass Charrington applied to change the loggia to an enclosed
extension to the function room and their original plans (Fig. 21) noted intention to retain
the loggia’s brick piers and the fanlight upper windows of the original function room rear
doors. To the best of our knowledge this was undertaken as per the planning schematics.


Fig. 19. Original loggia at rear of the Lord Nelson; circa 1936-38. (Source: Hartley
Collection/Bristol Archives). Note store wall extending behind Loggia.

Fig. 20. A modern (circa. 2000-2010) photo showing the rear of the Lord Nelson, with loggia
conversion visible at the right (via social media; possibly Greene King origination). The
white-painted store wall visible in Fig. 19 extending towards the garden has now gone
(replaced by the brick restaurant-kitchen extension dominating the left area of this shot).


Fig. 21. Plans for alteration of the original loggia (bottom) to an extension for the function
room, 1983, by Bass Charrington (Source: NSC Planning File 1111/83, via microfiche)


Revised main interior: In the 1990’s Bass Charrington, followed by subsequent owners
Marstons and then (post-1999) Greene King, all proposed and in the case of Marstons and
Greene King, undertook a variety of further changes to the original build. These were most
profound under Marstons, who through internal refurbishment rescoped the original
orientation of the bar to include an entirely new lounge bar/servery/dining area; and an
extension at the rear of the property to facilitate additional dining covers and
catering/kitchen space (as seen above in Fig. 20). However, other than cosmetically the
front section of the Lord Nelson was effectively left unaltered: most notably so within the
original smoking room in the left-hand gable; whilst the skittle alley escaped with no key
alteration from original construction. The net result of the Marstons changes, as shown in
Fig. 22, are broadly representative of the current ground floorplan of the Lord Nelson,
barring two later changes under Greene King tenure: knocking-through an entrance
between function hall and lounge bar; and creating a doorway from lounge bar to public

Fig. 22. Plan of the Lord Nelson, 1998, under Marstons Brewery ownership. Albeit a few
changes would follow (in red) under Green King post-1999 (refer to text), this schematic
remains representative of the current pub layout. (Source: NSC Planning File 2341/98)


Public Bar: Georges’ promotional photographs of circa. 1936-38 included one showing the
interior of the public bar in the right-hand gable (Fig. 23), which revealed features such as
the wooden floor still exposed today in the same room (Figs. 24, 25). We are uncertain if
the bar, or at least part of it, remains original albeit the current one certainly bears

Fig. 23. Inside the public bar, circa 1936-1938. Note serving hatchway to skittle alley at right-
hand end of the bar. The far end wall of the bar has been converted to a doorway and glazing
(1990’s-2000’s) and the porch to left has been lost. However in many other respects this
room retains the essence of the original (below). (Source: Georges’ Archives/Heineken)

Fig 24. The public bar, as photographed November 2016. Note layout remains essentially the
same as shown in Fig. 23 despite various cosmetic changes post-1980. (IKF photo)


Fig. 25. Looking across the public bar towards the front windows. Note wooden floor: the
only part of the pub other than skittle alley where this remains exposed (remainder
carpeted). (IKF photo)

Former Lounge/Smoking Room: The left-hand gable is where the lounge bar/smoking
room of 1936 vintage was situated and later amalgamated into the broader lounge bar area
through subsequent decades. Despite internal refurbishment, we believe this area remains
very representative of the original build and discussions with previous landlords/staff
supports this contention.

Whilst no historic photographs of the original room were traced, we know that wooden
wall panelling was present throughout, much as typical of other Georges’ pubs of that era
(Fisher & Preston, 2015, describe and illustrate various such examples). Fig. 26 shows this
room as of 2016, with Fig. 27 showing the broader entrance into it as seen from the rest of
the lounge bar area.

The Warner family and customers of the Lord Nelson throughout the period 1960 to
current indicated to us that the wall panelling surviving in the room today is original,
albeit painted. To support this anecdote, we compared a photograph showing confirmed
original oak panelling in the Lord Nelson, taken 1990 (Don Veale, pers. comm) with
panelling visible in photographs of the lounge/smoking room (Fig. 26). The design and
structure/features of both are identical (Fig. 28), from which we are confident of
originality. We know the fireplace in this room to be entirely original too (Warner family,
pers. comm). The broad layout of this room has changed little over the years, barring


cosmetically and through a widening of entry between it and the rest of the lounge bar

Fig. 26. View into the former smoking room/lounge bar, 2016, showing wooden (now
painted) panelling throughout and original fireplace. The door visible at right used to lead to
the entrance foyer located at the far left of the main building frontage (IKF photo)

Fig. 27. View towards the former smoking room, showing widened access of more recent
modification. Left hand door is main front entrance into the lounge bar/dinery. (IKF photo).


Fig. 28. Comparison of confirmed original oak panelling within the Lord Nelson (insert,
taken 1990 by Don Veale) versus painted panelling in lounge bar/smoking room (2016). Note
identical structure of uprights and the curved fillets visible beneath top piece.

Function Room: The sizeable function room of the Lord Nelson is a key distinguishing
feature compared to many other Georges’ pubs of inter-war vintage such as the Eastfield
Inn. The large plot allowed the architect a luxury of designing this as an almost disparate
part of the building; from 1998 and onwards into Greene King ownership it was modified
such that access was opened-up between it and the lounge bar area. A promotional
photograph (Fig. 29) showing the interior of this room, circa. 1938, offers an idea of the
original styling: well-furnished, with ornate plants and wide arched door openings to both
front and rear ensuring a well-lit and airy experience inside.

The room was regularly used for all manner of functions throughout the late 1930’s
including as the venue for auctions of property (we discovered a number of such
advertisements through archives of the Western Daily Press) and during WW2 as the
Headquarters of the Cleeve Home Guard. By the 1990’s, it was converted for a few years
into a children’s soft play area (‘Billy Bears’) under Marstons and remained such for a


while under Greene King ownership, before reversion/conversion back to a family dining

Fig. 28: Inside the function room, ca. 1938, looking towards the rear of the building. Note
tilting arched windows above doors to the loggia (replicated on front of the room too);
wooden panelling; ornate wood floors and rather low-key ceiling mouldings. (Source: Bristol

As part of the soft play outfitting, pillars were installed in parts of the room to enable
suspension of upper parts of the facility. We do not believe these serve any other
structural purpose and they are not mentioned in any planning documents we have seen.

Fig. 29 shows the function room in more recent times; fortuitously shot from a very
similar aspect to Fig. 28 and thus allowing a direct comparison from original build to
current guise.


Fig. 29. Function room / family room, children’s party circa 2015, photographed from a
similar vantage point to Fig. 28. Note the pillar erected when this room was converted into a
multi-level soft play area. Note the ornate moulded ceiling details visible in Fig. 29 survive.
(Source: Via Lord Nelson Facebook page; originator unknown).

Fig. 30. Looking towards the entrance from lounge bar to the family/function room, 2016.
This conversion is a more recent (late 1990’s) addition: previously, a serving hatch was the
original conduit where a dividing wall once stood, with a small bar on the opposing (function
room) side of the wall (IKF photo)


Skittle Alley: This was part of the original build and extends outwards from the southern
flank of the building, whereas the Eastfield Inn alley was constructed at the rear,
extending the length of the garden (Fisher & Preston, 2015, include a photograph of the
current-day Eastfield alley).

Despite being a central part of the Lord Nelson’s social and recreational importance since
inception, no historic photos inside the alley could be traced despite considerable effort.
The Warner family provided us with images depicting prize-giving gatherings there, but
only two modern photos exist to show at least part of the alley itself (Figs. 31 and 32).

We are confident that the maple floor is entirely original: it was most certainly so up to
Jack Warner’s retirement in 1980 (Warner family, pers. comm) and the original chute
remains in-situ, concealed behind wooden cladding. Many teams have played at this alley
since 1936; indeed five from Cleeve and nearby areas (Congresbury, Yatton, Burrington)
remained based there up until the pub closed (Roy King, pers. comm). Unsurprisingly, the
alley shows considerable wear but it must be noted that this uniquely original part of the
pub was twice destined for permanent conversion into dining/bar space (by Bass and later
by Marstons), but fortuitously avoided such change.

Fig. 31. Lord Nelson skittle alley, post-2005; photo has been redacted by originator to protect
privacy of a child. Note entirely original maple floor and original alley edging. The original
wooden chute, obscured by wood panelling at right, survives. (Source: Graham Grice)


Fig. 32. Additional shot of skittle alley, taken late 2016, showing original floor and the
original edging visible at base of the wall panelling, which conceals the wooden chute
(Source: Annemarie Coomber)

Exterior of the Lord Nelson: We traced or received a variety of useful and in some cases,
very evocative photographs of the pub dating broadly from 1936 to 1938; 1945 through to
1980; and various ones dating more recently throughout the ownerships post-Bass
Charrington and especially so through Greene King’s tenure, when sharing of images via
social media expanded (see timeline, later). We have been selective in this document to
reproduce only those that either illustrate the pub’s history well, or lend well to describing
those architectural features that remain original today.

The figures that follow include in some cases like-for-like collages of historic versus
current imagery, carefully aligned to allow proper appreciation of the considerable degree
to which the front elevation of the Lord Nelson retains almost all original features, despite
some (not irreversible) cosmetic changes.

The rear, as previously described, has seen various key changes (to the loggia; extension to
dining and kitchen areas etc.) but these are offset, in our view, by the completeness of the
frontage and car park as all visible to passers-by, which collectively so closely represent
the pub’s appearance when first built and opened.


Fig. 33. Frontage shots from 1938 (top) and 2017 (bottom), from same vantage. Note
originally black-painted mock tudor half-timber façade was painted cream in recent years
but all remains intact. All-wood weather porchways & glazed doors were added ahead of
each front doorway in the 1990’s but these are not an irreversible addition. (Sources:
Georges’, top; IKF, lower).


Fig. 34. Bus experts have dated the top photo, showing a coach trip from the West Midlands,
to circa. 1954. Note the ‘Georges’ signage on pub chimney. The function room doors were
dark wood at that time. Lower image: same vantage; June 2017. Rearmost chimney was
shortened during 1990’s extension work. Note the main pub sign pole remains sited in the
original circular paved base, but now showing signs of decay since early 2017. (Source: Top,
YLHS Archives; lower: IKF)


Fig. 35. A promotional shot of the Lord Nelson taken 1936 (original overexposed somewhat),
showing front annex doorway (where woman standing) as appeared before…
Fig. 36…..addition of a makeshift wood lean-to smoking shelter circa 2007, which also cuts
across the right-most door of the function room, left (Source: Fig. 35, Bristol
Archives/Hartley Collection; Fig. 36: IKF)


Fig. 37. Photograph depicting level of visitation by motor vehicles in early days of the Lord
Nelson. Bus experts have examined this image; dated it as most likely 1937; and from visible
registration plates, note that the middle bus is from Hampshire; the rightmost from a
company called ‘Monarch’ and was either en-route to, or more probably returning from, a
trip to Cheddar. (Source: Warner Family Collection)

Fig. 38: As above, dated circa. 1952-54, with the car park virtually full of sightseeing coaches
(20+ coaches just from Birmingham alone was a common sight here on a Sunday during this
era: too many to fit in the car park!). The nearest one to camera has come from Gloucester.
Note the main electricity cables running left-right above the pub: a feature that has existed
since before it was opened in 1936. (Source: Warner Family Collection)


Fig. 39. Pub frontage on Coronation Day of Queen Elizabeth II, June 1953. Note the ornate
brickwork balcony where the pub sign is affixed. A similar style was also used at the Eastfield
Inn. (Source: Warner Family Collection)

Fig. 40. Detail of the same ornate brickwork and half-timber cladding today (black fascias on
balcony were used for affixing signage by last pubco owner, Greene King, up to closure).
(Source: IKF)


Fig. 41. Lord Nelson in late 1970’s under Bass Charrington ownership. At this stage, the
frontage was cosmetically identical to original build and entirely unchanged. Note original
leaden windows and gilded ‘bar’ motifs included in some of the lower mullion windows.
(Source: YLHS Archives)

Fig. 42 (right). The sole remaining gilded ‘bar’ motif
on the lower front mullion windows, June 2017. We
believe others were removed under Greene King
ownership, but are unclear why or when. In all other
respects the lower leaden windows remain as original
and undamaged (Source: IKF)


Fig. 43. Right-hand main entrance and public bar windows. Wooden uprights and horizontal
surrounds used to be black (e.g. Fig. 41). The white wooden porches are not structural and
are a 1990’s addition. Note the leaden windows remain intact and original, barring absence
of the original gilded ‘bar’ motif in the lower centre frame as per Fig. 42. (Source: IKF)

Fig. 44. Skittle alley exterior, similarly styled as the function room: all as original. House to
the right is post-1900, with a much more recent extension adjoining pub wall (Source: IKF)


Fig. 45. Right-hand gable, July 2017, showing detail of original oriel window (with loosened
lead flashing above) and intact leaden glazing upstairs and downstairs, barring one smaller
upper pane. The black-painted plinth at the base of the public bar windows was originally
pale in colour until post-1990 and the sleeper-enclosed shrub-beds became a feature only
since Greene King ownership (1999-2016). (Source: IKF)


Fig. 46. July 2017 detail, left gable, from uppermost original leaden mullion windows of
lounge bar/former smoking room looking up to oriel window. Of this, the uppermost glazing
remains original leaden but the main windows are now plain glass, in contrast to the more
intact right-hand gable oriel (reasons unknown). Note worrying state of deterioration of
oriel wood framework in recent months (Source: IKF)


Fig. 47. Original carved wooden corbel, left-hand gable: one of a set of four and still in good
state of preservation as of July 2017 (Source: IKF)


Fig. 48. July 2017 detail: circular pub signpost base plinth (original and deteriorating) with
wooden post understood to be of Courage Brewery (1960’s) vintage, looking across towards
the pub frontage. Sleepers once bounding the gable base shrub bed have been stolen.
Remarkably and fortuitously, the pub glazing remains undamaged from vandalism at the
time of writing, despite being unoccupied since early December 2016 (Source: IKF)


Part 4. Timeline for the Lord Nelson, 1799 to 2017
Circa 1788 to 1888: After initial rental from Earl Poullet, the site is then owned
throughout this 100yr period by the Hill family: earliest records of 1799 describe it as a
"house, garden & orchards".

Ca. 1810-1852: William Hill is listed as Landlord & post receiver. In 1829, the site is
recorded by John Rutter as "a small inn and posting house, called the Nelson", where "the
Bristol & Weston coaches generally change horses." Naming of the Nelson appears to have
materialised between 1805 to 1821 (1805: Battle of Trafalgar & death of Horatio Nelson).

1824-1849: The Jury of Sewers, responsible for upkeep of Somerset's rhynes, met here for
dinner every Monday after 3 May, 24 June & 29 Sept each year. Members were fined for
absence or lateness, with half those proceeds going to the landlord. From 1849, they
moved to the Prince of Orange pub in Yatton.

1852-1888: John Hill, son of William, becomes Landlord

1888: Purchased by Mr Harry Lloyd. Records show that on October 11th, 1888, Mr H
Shiner, an auctioneer, had received instructions from Mr Lloyd to sell by auction surplus
household furniture, pigs, trap, etc. belonging to the Lord Nelson.

1889: Harry Charles Davis is listed as Landlord

1891(?)-1899: A change of ownership, date unknown, to a Mrs Ball. On June 23rd, 1899,
Mrs Ball is listed as the licensee and was selling the Lord Nelson Inn by tender.

1900: Let by Ashton Gate Brewery after purchase from Mrs Ball on October 23rd, 1900.

1901: Alfred Baillieu is now licensee and landlord

1909: An archive photo dated this year, but probably actually 1911, shows the old inn
clearly under Ashton Gate Brewery signage with “K. Lees” on the signage (see below).

1911-circa 1920: Kate Lees and Charles Lees are occupants, with Kate as licensee and
landlady. It is plausible that Charles was not permitted the licence, due to previous
criminality. On May 27, 1916, Kate Lees and her husband Charles are fined under the 'No
Treating Order' enacted in WW1 to reduce drunkeness (plain clothes police arrested them
in the pub!) and were fined £1 each, whilst a Mr Andow and his wife, the perpetrators,
were fined 2s 6d each. On June 15th, 1917, Charles Lees died. On February 14th, 1920,
Kate Lees was fined again: for serving drinks out of hours (during AM). Soon after, on
April 20th 1920, the auctioneer Mr Shiner is selling Kate Lees’ household effects of the
Lord Nelson by auction... as she is given up the tenancy with the brewery. We assume she
promptly left, and that the Dennis family took over quickly, as they came to Cleeve in 1920


1920: Harry F.J. Dennis becomes landlord of the Lord Nelson, moving there with his family
from the Robin Hood Retreat in Long Ashton. One of his daughters, Winifred, kept
memoirs (revealed only whilst this report was nearing completion) from this year through
to the end of WW2, including her times spent at the Lord Nelson from age 7.

1931-32: Ashton Gate Brewery is taken over by George’s Brewery: Lord Nelson becomes a
George's pub in 1932.

1932-33: A photo published via Michael J. Tozer and estimated as dated between these two
years shows the old Nelson, looking east, now in George’s ownership/signage.

1934: Construction of the new pub begins. The old Nelson Inn remains standing and
operational throughout the building timeline, as evidenced by two unique photos
obtained by YLHS and also made available via the Warner family. The new pub architect is
Mr R.B. Edwards, in-house architect for George’s Brewery. The builder is Frank Wilkins, a
father of four from Bristol. At around the same time (1934), work by the same
architect/builder also began on the Nelson’s sister-pub, the Eastfield Inn, Henleaze.

1936: New Lord Nelson is opened; demolition of
old inn is then undertaken and the new car park
quickly finished. This covers both the old inn
footprint (which was centred where the current
pub signpost stands); plus a house and it's land
and springwater well (all the latter were located
in the part of Nelson car park directly opposite
the current Millier Rd junction). A lawn garden
replaces garden/vegetable plot/stables/piggery &
outhouses of old inn, but with same footprint.
Orchard remains untouched.

1936: Harry Dennis is the initial landlord of the new pup, crossing-over from being
landlord at the old inn.

1940-1944: WW2 sees the Cleeve Home
Guard HQ based at Lord Nelson (1945
press clipping, right), under command
of Lt. P.G. Cerden; & regular Royal
Legion meetings. The pub also
becomes home at times to famed radio
& TV comedian couple Nan Kenway &
Douglas Young (pictured right; via BBC
Archives), who are evacuated from
London to Bristol with the entire BBC
Variety Dept. The BBC staff, including


noted stars Jack Warner (later Dixon of Dock Green)
& Cyril Fletcher, take shelter in the Lord Nelson
cellars, escaping bombing of Bristol, 1940-41 (Dennis
Memoirs refer to this). Afro-American US Army
Soldiers based in an encampment near Brockley
crossroads frequent the pub at times for tea, later in
the war towards D-Day (Winifred Bailey/nee Dennis
Memoirs, plus pers. comm. from DR’s late father).

1944: Harry Dennis dies Sept 1944, age 61

1944: Jack Warner, serving as an air raid warden; also
employed at the Lord Nelson from mid-WW2,,
becomes landlord. He and wife Molly (pictured right)
become the longest-serving landlords of the pub, in a
tenure spanning nearly 40 years. Molly is a daughter
of Harry Dennis and has grown-up in the pub with
sister Winifred.

1944-1961: George’s Brewery own the pub throughout these years

1961: Georges’ taken-over by Courage Barclay & Simonds. A valuation report by S & G
Motion lists the Lord Nelson as worth £17,500

1961-1975(?): Courage Brewery own
the pub, following their corporate
takeover of George’s.

Ca. 1975-1993: Bass Charrington
takeover ownership.

1980: Jack and Molly Warner retire
from the Lord Nelson as rental is
doubled (right: retirement party). At
that stage the pub remains essentially
intact and unchanged from original

1980: Phil and Joan Morgan takeover
as landlords for Bass Charrington

1983: Planning permission is sought and granted in April to change the original loggia at
the rear, turning it into an enclosed extension to the function room but retaining original
brick piers and elements of the original arched function room doors (NSC Planning file


1984: Planning permission in August to erect concrete linby bollards all along the pub and
car park frontage is rejected and modified, with wooden chain-link connected ones
installed instead (which remain today). A few concrete ones are installed close to the pub
sign and function room.

Mid-late 1980’s: Managers through this period for Bass Charrington include Rich
Westlake, Trish McDonald
and Steve Armstrong

1989: Molly Warner dies in
January and Jack in November;
both then living on Claverham
Rd in a small bungalow

29 May 1990: England football
legend Sir Bobby Charlton is
the surprise guest of honour at
an evening event in the
function room, as he presents
prizes for young Claverham
players (photograph, right:
note original wood panelling and floor)

1991: A planning application in
January (0253/91) by Bass to
heavily modify the pub
through major changes
(illustrated right, from original
planning files) include adding
a rear extension; large rear
conservatory; changing skittle
alley into restaurant/bar
space; adding a mezzanine
eating area aloft in the
function room; new entrance
lobby; changing the garden
into an extra car park;
landscaping the existing car
park and pub frontage are
approved pending various modification to original schematics. The scheme is to rebrand
the Lord Nelson as a Toby Carvery. The proposal becomes increasingly mired with
complexity; drags-on over 2 years and the plans are ultimately not undertaken, as Bass
seek to sell-up by May 1993.


1993: Marstons Brewery purchase and run the Lord Nelson.

1993: Richard Crabbe is landlord

1994: John and Karen Atherton are landlords

1998: A major planning
application in October seeks to
build a new rear extension and
kitchen area (NSC Planning Case
File 2341/98) and is approved,
under conditions of new sections
matching materials and essence
of existing building. The work is
undertaken by Marstons and
now represents effectively the
pub footprint of today, albeit yet
again the skittle alley was saved
from conversion in the eventual
outcome (original case file
proposal plan, right)

1999: Marstons sell-up and the Lord Nelson is purchased by Greene King. Soon afterwards,
the pub is branded as a ‘Hungry Horse’. ‘Billy Bears’, a popular soft play area erected in the
function room under Marstons ownership, continues operating for a while before being

2002: John & Karen Atherton finish as landlords

2002-2003(?): Darren & Irene Corrick are managers: dates uncertain

Many managers then under Greene King, known chronology as follows:

2003-March 2005: John & Georgie Morley

May 2005-June 2006: Mark Green

June 2006-2009: Mike & Christine Baxter

Aug. 2010-Jan 2013: Graham Grice

Jan. 2013-Jan. 2014: Kat & James Ousley

Mid-2014-May 2015: Rachel Humphries & Matt Morris

May 2015-Aug. 2015: Alex Ainsworth


Aug. 2015-Dec. 2015: Steve Lees

Dec. 2015-Feb. 2016: Alex Ainsworth

May 2016-Sept. 2016: Mike Harmon

Sept. 2016: Greene King place the Lord Nelson on open market, priced £625,000

Oct. 2016: Penny Hall becomes the last manager through to closure

Nov. 2016: Lord Nelson is sold to Tout Ltd. Of Cheddar, having bid/paid £700,000 plus
£126,000 VAT (Land Registry, AV232855, 25 Jan. 2017)

Nov. 25 2016: The last day of trading, finishing with a closing party/wake, attended by
many people from the area and previous staff and landlords

Nov. 26 2016: A group, Friends Nelson, submits a nomination to have the pub listed as an
Asset of Community Value by North Somerset Council and starts a petition to support
this, which gains ca. 700 signatories in a week before submission to the council

Dec. 9 2016: Tout Ltd. complete the purchase and take possession; Greene King begin
stripping their equipment from the pub and the signage is removed

Mid-Dec. 2016: Tout Ltd. make initial indications of their proposal to demolish the site
and replace with a 24hr filling station, Budgens supermarket and other business.

Jan. 11 2017: North Somerset Council designate the Lord Nelson as an Asset of Community
Value under the Localism Act. 2011

Feb. 14 2017: Tout Ltd. publicise their plans to demolish the pub and replace with a filling
station/Budgens/hair and beauty salons/café-bar. Their scheme is met with widespread
local opposition

May 2017: A Freedom of Information Act request from North Somerset Council reveals the
wider scope (and difficulties) of Tout Ltd’s aspirations through pre-planning consultations
and these are publicised in local newsmedia. Cleeve Parish Council decides to pursue all
means to ensure the Lord Nelson building is conserved and demolition prevented.

Part 5. References
ANON. (1938). Bristol Brewery Georges and Company Limited, One Hundred and Fifty Years
of Brewing, 1788-1938. Bristol: The Firm.

ANON. (2016). Sites and Policies Plan (Part 1): Development Management Policies. North
Somerset Council


CAMPBELL., M.V. 1988. Cleeve Parish Survey. Bristol & Avon Archaeological Research
Group., Bristol

CAMPBELL, M.V. (Ed.) et al. 2011. A Survey of the Ancient Parish of Yatton including
Cleeve and East & West Hewish. Yatton Local History Society

COLE, E. 2015. The Urban and Suburban Public House in Inter-War England, 1918-1939.
Historic England Research Report Series no. 004-2015 (Volume 1).

FISHER, F., & R. PRESTON. 2015. The Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Public House in
Bristol. English Heritage Project NHPP 4A1 6942

GUTZKE, D.W. 2005. Improved Pubs and Road Houses: Rivals for public affection in
interwar England. Brewery History 119: 2-9

RUTTER, J. 1829. Delineations of N.W. Division of the County of Somerset and of the
Mendip Caverns. London.

STURGE, Y & J.P. 1821. Map of Yatton. Somerset Records Office/Archive


Part 6: Postscript. Rationale for Grade II Listing Nomination
In supporting our contention as to why the Lord Nelson deserves GII listing, we align our
case to key statutory listing principles as laid-out by the Department of Digital, Culture,
Media & Sport (March 2010 guidance) and Historic England’s Designation Listing Selection
Guide: Commerce & Exchange Buildings (April 2011).

Citing both the above documents:

"Architectural Interest. To be of special architectural interest a building must be of
importance in its architectural design, decoration or craftmanship…”

"Historic Interest. To be of special historic interest a building must illustrate important
aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural, or military history and/or have close
historical associations with nationally important people. There should normally be some
quality of interest in the physical fabric of the building itself to justify the statutory
protection afforded by listing".

“Rarity: …Listing in the past has favoured the opulent and the grand at the expense of the
more modest… consequently the latter have suffered disproportionate loss. Listing should
aim to redress this balance where special historic interest clearly resides in unadorned fabric
on the grounds of rarity.”


“Alterations: Commercial premises are intrinsically prone to change and alteration, and
cannot be expected to survive in their original configuration. Careful assessment is needed
as to whether enough survives of the special interest for designation to be warranted.
Sometimes the special interest will be concentrated in a single aspect of a building… Front
elevations can sometimes be sufficiently interesting or rare architecturally to warrant
listing, even if the interior has been substantially altered or even lost.”

“Authenticity: Care needs to be taken as a fair number of shop fronts that look original
often turn out to be modern reproduction, and attention is needed in confirming
authenticity when assessing for designation… this applies to pubs as well.”

Our Case for the Lord Nelson:
This is a statuesque building situated within the overall low-key, small-scale development
of Cleeve through the ages and has become an iconic and talismanic part of the village –
for both local people and passers-by alike – since 1936.

The Lord Nelson has inarguably marked and sealed a key niche in regional social and
cultural history. Our report has highlighted how the development of the site, from 1799 to
1936, ultimately formed a key focal part of the village and ultimately by 1936 - until
construction of the M5 through North Somerset in 1973 - became the single most
important ‘watering hole’ waypoint for leisure travellers between Bristol and Weston-
super-Mare. It is an enduring, imposing and conspicuous marker of a slice of British
history: nestled in almost misplaced fashion near Brockley and Goblin Combes, on the
former gateway turnpike road that evolved into the A370 of modern times. It is a bespoke
product of a period when motor travel became accessible to the masses and escape to the
countryside and coast suddenly came more easily into reach.

And its importance was not solely confined to Bristolian or North Somerset travellers:
photographic evidence shows coaches there circa 1937-1950 had originated from
Birmingham and the West Midlands; Hampshire; Gloucestershire and elsewhere. It was as
important then to motorists and buses as, e.g., the Gordano Services are today on the M5.

Older traditional inns sat along the same turnpike road at locations elsewhere along the
route (e.g. through Flax Bourton, with the Jubilee Inn & George Inn; in Backwell with the
New Inn; and through Congresbury, such as Star and the GII Listed Ship & Castle).
However, none of these were inter-war reformed pubs and indeed the only other such
example along the A370, the Rising Sun at Backwell, was never considered as a key
waypoint for public and tourist transport such as charabancs and coaches.

Our research has outlined how the Lord Nelson is a fine, well-built and in a number of
respects largely complete and original exemplar of the (now increasingly rare) partly
mock-tudor ‘reformed’ or ‘improved’ pubs constructed by The Bristol Brewery Georges’ &
Company in the early/mid-1930’s. These are increasingly few in number across North
Somerset and the Lord Nelson is essentially unique as a heritage asset of that type on the
entire A370 between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare (as previously noted, the only other
similar pub – the Rising Sun, Backwell - was never of such scope).


We have demonstrated photographically and descriptively how the Lord Nelson retains a
front elevation effectively as originally built, barring some non-destructive wooden add-
on’s (porches and smoking shelter). Much of the original leaden glazing remains intact as
does all the original brickwork, including ornate balcony and main chimneys; plus half-
timber facia and other details. We accept that the rear elevation is much changed from the
original, especially through conversion of the loggia and a subsequent 1998 extension. Our
plea is that the overwhelmingly original frontage of this building, including car park (still
with original stone walls), function room and skittle alley, are assessed as a collective
entity and as such, their originality outweighs any changes made at the rear of the

Despite internal reconfigurations post-1980 (as are common to virtually all larger pubs of
that vintage), various original features remain: notably oak-wood wall panelling in (at
least) the smoking room/lounge bar; original fireplace in the same room; some elements
of the ceiling styles; wooden floors now concealed beneath carpeting; and doubtless other
aspects that we have not included in our report due to lack of internal inspection since the
pub closed.

Crucially in our view, the entire skittle alley remains effectively as constructed and fully
functional, despite cosmetic and ageing wear. Given the loss of alleys of similar vintage
from other pubs in North Somerset (such as at the Rising Sun, Backwell – converted to
restaurant area) and nationally, we cannot stress enough just how unique this aspect of
the Lord Nelson is, and deserving of conservation on that merit alone.

The overall site plan survives exactly as originally laid-out: the expansive car park, walled
garden and orchard - all collectively listed as an Asset of Community Value - have not
changed (as discussed in this report) since 1936 nor in so many aspects since earlier ca.
1800 heritage. That in itself is unique, in an age where public house ‘surplus’ land is often
lost through sell-off.

In summary: This is a precious, unique heritage and architectural asset within both
Cleeve and North Somerset as a whole. Under the garish modern trimmings of more
recent PubCo ownerships and their branding, its true historic and heritage value has been
routinely overlooked or masked. To the best of our knowledge, no other 1930’s era
building anywhere along the A370 is currently listed: a real gap in preserving a key
historic chapter of this former gateway turnpike road. To see this finely-crafted building
razed to the ground, along with historic garden plot and car park, would be to lose a
crucial part of the broader North Somerset ‘story’; a building passed by thousands of
commuters and travellers every day and readily identifiable to them… even if they’d never
stopped there before in their lives. Demolition would, in the view of an overwhelming
majority of Cleeve residents, be an utter travesty.

We urge Historic England to look favourably at the case for listing this beleaguered, but
very deserving, fine building.