105-103 - Masons Arms
Off Licence

Located directly opposite St Matthew's Church and next to the Co-op funeral premises, the Masons Arms was at the end of a Victorian terrace that stretched to Brook Street. By 1900 a Mr Nicholls was established here as a beer retailer. In the 1930s Mr Harry Wood, also described as a beer retailer, ran this off licence. In the 1950s Ronald Neil and later Mrs Eileen Hall were the proprietors.

Picture The exterior of this off licence was flat fronted and quite smart with a combination of yellow and red brickwork. The full-length fascia board was modernised in the 1960s, boldly proclaiming 'WATNEYS OFF-LICENCE'. In addition, Watneys 'Red Barrel' signage liberally adorned the windows. In the 1960s the London brewing giant Watneys was new to Bristol, before that time the Masons Arms was one of many Georges outlets in the City.

Although comprising two buildings, No. 103 and No.105, it would seem that only No.105 was used for retail in its later days. You went in and out through the door to No.105; the door to No.103 was not used. Also the traditional style sun awning was only deployed in front of No.105. So, although it looked large from the outside it was much smaller inside than you would imagine!

The last occupant of the Masons Arms, in the 1960s, was Mrs C. Hussey. By the start of the 1970s the property was boarded up.

There was a post in front of the Masons which was apparently the scene of a serious accident involving a Morris van; the property was derelict at this point. Eventually the Masons Arms was demolished and replaced by a mediocre extension to the Co-operative Funeral Services. It was a regrettable loss.

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