IT has been part of Gloucester’s folklore since the 14th Century, and now The Dick Whittington pub in Westgate Street is going through a range of identities to become one of the city’s top destinations.
The building has been a part of Gloucester for 700 years but was only converted into a pub in 1980 after serving a range of uses including as a hardware store and an undertakers.
Since then the pub has gone through a range of identities, and in its heyday was a popular final destination for revellers on their way to the nearby King of Queens club. But since the club closed down the pub has had to find other ways of attracting punters to the bottom of Westgate Street. It is now becoming a popular destination for tourists who are drawn by the pub named after the historical figure and subject of pantomines and operas.
Attempts to turn the pub into the venue of choice for Gloucester’s motown and electric dance music fans did not stick, but the Dick Whittington has experienced success with its monthly rock nights, weekly events and efforts to make the establishment the first destination on a night out, rather than the last.
Landlord Norman Ferguson, who has been at the helm for three years, said: “The pub has been through a quiet period since the Kings of Queens closed down, and Westgate Street has been forgotten about in recent years. Also when the Quays have a big event on it has a huge impact on trade. But these past three years have been successful. I was attracted to this place because of the history and the character of the building and that it was a traditional pub.
“I think that’s what people are looking for now. People go into massive places like TGI Friday’s and it’s so false it’s unbelievable. But they want more than just a boozer- they want the whole nine yards with good food, entertainment and comfortable surroundings.”
Norman has spent 20 years in the pub trade and his career has seen him move up and down the country from his hometown of Oldham.
When managing a pub in London, where he spent more than a decade, famous author Terry Pratchett was one of his regulars.
The pub holds weekly quiz nights on Mondays, open mic sessions on Tuesdays and karaoke on Thursdays, in which Norman regularly pitches in with the singing.
Séance nights are also held occasionally in an attempt to make contact with the three ghosts which are said to frequent the Dick Whittington.
Norman has plans to open the restaurant area of the pub, called the Black Cat Bar, until the early morning on weekends to cater for clubbers who are drawn away from Gloucester’s many takeaways.
It also offers one of the largest selections of locally-sourced real ales in Gloucester, with five real ales and three ciders made within 30 miles of the pub.