An iconic Gloucestershire pub is set to go out with a bang before it closes down to make way for a major road scheme.
The Air Balloon, situated next to a notorious accident blackspot, is calling last orders for good on New Year’s Eve before being demolished as part of the A417 ‘Missing Link’ scheme.
Bottlenecks at the Air Balloon roundabout near Birdlip have been described as one of the worst pinch-points on the national road network.
Earlier this year Kier Highways was awarded a £460m contract by National Highways to design and deliver the upgrade to the 3.4 mile stretch of road in a project which could take up to three and a half years to complete.
A statement from the Air Balloon over the weekend read: “As many of you will know, for a number of years now there has been talk of the new A417 highways plan, which would require the closure of our pub to make way for the new road.
“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 the new road.
“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 and we want to say thank you to everyone who has already messaged us or spoken to us to pass on their best wishes to all of the team.”
The Air Balloon pub opened in 1784 and is probably named after one of the first British balloon flights: the launching of a small hydrogen balloon by Edward Jenner on 2 September 1784, which flew from Berkeley Castle to Kingscote and then on to a field near Birdlip.
The Air Balloon’s Facebook page was flooded with messages of goodwill and memories from customers past and present.
Dave Jarrett said: “This is such very sad news. My wife and I have called in en route from our house in Ledbury to wherever we’re going, be it friends houses or airports for holidays and we’ve always found the food and service great.”
Angela Bicknell said: “My family over at least four generations have been visitors to The Air Balloon over the years. Everyone in Gloucestershire must surely know where The Air Balloon is. With colleagues working in Cheltenham and Gloucester over the years we would often meet at The Air Balloon as it was always a midpoint meeting place. The feel of the pub on entering was second to none. Always so warm and friendly. It will be sorely missed by all in Gloucestershire.”
Glyn Evans said: “That is such sad news. You’ve been a perfect meeting point for my family, and we have made some great memories under your roof and in your garden. The people behind this decision don’t understand what matters in this world.”
Nikki Harvey said: “This is such a sad outcome for a great pub. Always been a welcome stop on our route to or from a visit north. Such a shame to see a local point of reference, meeting point, journey marker gone.”