The Radnor Hotel
30 St Nicholas Street, BS1. c. 1925? – c. 1976.
The Radnor is the only gay pub in Bristol we know of before the 1960s. Its history is unclear since nothing could be written down or publicised before 1967.
It was certainly gay by the early 1940s and people have told us it was gay in the 1930s. The Broadhurst family had run it since 1925 so it may have been gay for that long. Charles Broadhurst held the licence 1925-38, then Grace Broadhurst (possibly his wife) who held the licence until 1953 and died aged about 80. Grace’s daughter, Joan, then took over; she had married a Dutchman, Gerald Weegenaar, who kept it until his early death in 1963.
In about 1975 it was taken over by David Brokenbrow who decided that gay customers were not welcome, although in July 1976 Gay News reported that some women still drank there. It then traded as The Porcupine, but has been vacant for some years.
The pub was long and narrow, and had a sort of snug bar at the back, divided from the street end by a step and a curtain, where the most outrageous queens congregated. A table was always reserved for a group known as The Tea Set.
The bar was ruled for nearly two decades by Peggy Hancock (Auntie Peg) who first visited the pub in 1938 aged 15, but began work there about 1955. There were three young barmen, known as Bubbles, Edwina and Victoria Melita. The clientele was mixed – in the daytime straight, mainly farmers and traders from St Nicholas Market, plus a few of the more respectable sort of prostitutes. By night and at weekends gays and theatricals from the Old Vic in King Street or from the Hippodrome, including the actors Anton Walbrook, Eric Portman and the drag artiste Danny La Rue.
“It was packed with queens: if you didn’t get there by 9 o’clock, you couldn’t get in the door”.