Hospital Arms

Hospital Arms

According to local history, a Joseph Henry Ezra, born in Manchester in 1846 and discharged from the 11th Hussars at his own request whilst stationed in Colchester, took on the beer house around 1885. Joseph died in 1891 and his widow Mary Ann took over the licence. She died in 1907, and their daughter and son-in-law, Ada and Herbert Bibby, took over until Herbert’s death in 1923. Truman’s sent their beer from London by sailing barge to the Hythe and thence to the pub by horse drawn dray.

Apparently, there was always a jar of home produced pickled onions on the bar, as bread, cheese and pickled onions were sold together with a pint of beer and clay pipe full of tobacco.

Before the 1914-1918 war, the pub would open at 6.00 am for the benefit of the servants (gardeners, grooms, coachmen etc) going to work at the big houses of the gentry in the Lexden Road area.

Joseph’s granddaughter, Mabel, grew up in the pub and remembers having to empty the spittoon, a job she hated. When she married in 1912 on Christmas Day (the only day that the pub was closed), a newspaper report of the wedding noted that the presents included a ‘music stool with cabinet from the pub’s Loan Club members’.

Over time, the pub became known as Ward 9 by doctors and staff alike, seemingly to allay suspicion amongst patients that their care was in the hands of drunkards. The hospital ceased its main business in the 1980s with the building of a new hospital in Turner Road, making it opportune to change the pub’s name to the Tap & Spile.

In the late 1990s, it reverted to the Hospital Arms.