Created By: Cheltenham Local History Society
Designed by John Forbes, the architect of the Pittville Pump Room, the oldest part of the building dates from 1822. One of the first landlords was Mr James Carter, who celebrated the birthday of Princess (later Queen) Victoria, in 1837, by displaying a large illuminated star at the front of the building.
Upstairs at the rear is a large assembly room, which is now a restaurant. For many years it accommodated meetings of the Independent Order of Oddfellows, an international fraternity consisting of lodges, first documented in 1730 in London. The beehive symbolises working together for the common good, the declared purpose of the Oddfellows, and probably the inspiration for the pub's name.
A map of 1857 shows that a gentlemen's urinal was located on the pavement in front of the inn, which must have been a great relief to patrons, if not to local residents!
In December 1886 there was a serious fire at the Beehive. Early in the morning the gas lamp lighter was on his round, turning out the street lights, when at 6.20am he noticed a fire through the door of the Inn. The alarm was sounded at the fire station at 6.45am and the brigade turned out promptly, followed by the police. They found the bar in flames and the cellar and a bedroom above also burning. It took an hour to get the fire under control and the damage was estimated to cost around £200 (more than £20,000 in today’s money).
In 1905 the Beehive was raided by the police and six men were arrested, suspected of illegal horse-race gambling on the premises. The force had kept watch from the top floor of an empty house in Montpellier Terrace in the morning and had seen many men and boys going in and out of the Inn. Inside they found betting slips, sporting papers and cash.
In the 20th century the Inn was a favourite destination for the doctors and nurses from nearby Cheltenham General Hospital and remains at the heart of the local community.
Proceed on to Back Montpellier Terrace, which marks the line of an ancient field track, and turn right. Walk to Bath Road, cross carefully at the traffic lights and stand in front of Cheltenham College.
This point of interest is part of the tour: A Walk on the South Side - from Cheltenham to The Suffolks