Gillingham’s survivor pubs | Then and Now

At least externally, two of Gillingham’s pubs have barely changed in the 120 years between these two pictures, says Roger Guttridge.

The c1900 picture from Barry Cuff ’s postcard collection appears in David Burnett’s latest book Lost Dorset: The Towns.

Confusion reigns over the address of the Phoenix Inn at Gillingham, which some sources give as High Street, others as The Square and which until the 1880s was in Bridge Street.

Names aside, the location has changed remarkably little in the 120 years or so between the taking of these two pictures.
For one thing the two pubs in the picture not only survive but retain their names, although the Phoenix (near right) has changed from ‘Commercial Hotel’ to ‘Inn’.

The Red Lion is a few doors further along on the right. Between them are the former Free School, which was founded in 1516 and survived until 1876; Mayflowers the florists; the Topsie Rabbit Kindergarten; Stone House; and Reynolds’ pet supplies and boot repairs. The Square end of the Phoenix (near right in the bottom image) is now the Gillingham Tandoori Indian Restaurant.

On the far left of the pictures (where the two boys stand) is the entrance to Church Walk, leading to the parish church.
Beyond the boys today are the art shop Scenes, a couple of takeaway shops, the Studio and Rutters the solicitors. The large three-storey building in the middle of the terrace formerly hosted Silvester Edgar’s watchmaking, printing and bookbinding business but is now residential accommodation.

by Roger Guttridge

by Roger Guttridge

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