Historic rural pub to call last orders after 220 years on New Year’s Eve

 (Air Balloon / Facebook)
(Air Balloon / Facebook)

The Air Balloon pub in Gloucestershire, more than 200 years old, is closing on New Year’s Eve to make way for a new highway.

The 18th-century Cotswold stone pub confirmed to patrons that it would be closing its doors for good after final orders on December 31.

The pub sits in an area of outstanding natural beauty and offers superb views of Gloucester and the Severn Vale.

But plans to develop the A417 highway, to replace the ‘missing link’ between the Brockworth Bypass and Cowley Roundabout, have been given government approval, resulting in the demolition of the historic building.

“We have loved serving you all over the years but sadly the time has come where the pub will be closing in order to make way for a new road,” Air Balloon staff wrote on Facebook.

“Our final day will be New Year’s Eve, when we are closing at 5pm. As you will understand, this is a difficult time but we’re looking forward to giving everyone a last great Christmas with us to remember.”

The closure is “such sad news”, one patron wrote, while remembereing “great memories” in the pub garden.

Another person wrote: “I am so sorry this historic pub and building is going to be demolished to make way for traffic.

“It’s a huge shame this can’t be taken down and rebuilt somewhere else.”

Another visitor said their family had been visiting the pub for four generations.

“Everyone in Gloucestershire must surely know where The Air Balloon is.”

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There has been a pub on the Crickley Hill site near Birdlip for at least 230 years, until the £460 million road scheme was announced in November.

The establishment opened in 1784 and is likely named after one of the first British balloon flights by Edward Jenner in September of that same year.

The small hydrogen balloon flew from Berkeley Castle to Kingscote and onto a field near Birdlip.

The landlord in 1856, Richard Tuffley, was brewing home brewed ale on the premises, Gloucestershire Pubs said. The inn was owned as part of the Cowley Manor estate until the twentieth century.

The pub was bought by Greene King in 2004.

The establishment sits on a junction notorious for car crashes - with an estimated 340 deaths there between 1999 and 2014.

Demolition of the pub was first proposed by Highways England in 2019.

A new dual carriageway on the so called ‘Missing Link’ part of the A417 is due to open around 2024. The new route will run from the top of Crickley Hill to the Cowley roundabout.

In November National Highways’ chief Executive Nick Harris said the investment will improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion.