Cheltenham Bar Wars

MFA Bowl has not always been home to Bar Wars. In fact it didn't even start there. Back in 2000 the quiz was invented to cure some student boredom in Cheltenham...

At 8.30pm on Sunday 27th February 2000 the cry ‘Let the wars begin’ sounded out across Park Bar, Cheltenham at the University Of Gloucestershire. It may now be in a different location in a different city but nearly twenty years later the Wars have yet to end.

Bar Wars was born out of boredom. Sunday nights at Uni were a dreary affair – with many students still recovering from Saturday night most just wanted a quiet few drinks in the bar – but there was no atmosphere. An unsuccessful indie night had been and gone and the only music came from the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire machine by the staircase.

Leon Oldman & Lee Chadwick, both studying at the university, wanted to change that. After trying to find a decent pub quiz in Cheltenham they decided to start their own. They hammered out a format and even tested it in the kitchen of their Halls on their co-habitants.

Amazingly Park Bar & The Student Union at the university gave them permission to give it a go and, thanks to its lively mix of pop culture based trivia, and unique use of sound effects and music themes Bar Wars was an instant success. By June, and the end of its first run Bar Wars was regularly attracting 20 teams and had started up a second weekly quiz on Thursday nights at FCH Bar in Cheltenham.

Leon & Lee celebrated in style hosting Ultimate Bar Wars at Park Bar on Thursday 15th June 2000 where FCH teams battled against Park bar teams to find the overall champions with a grand final ending in a tie that could only be settled by a tense game of giant Jenga – there were over 200 in the audience and you could have heard a pin drop for the final few bricks!

There were wobbles – changes in staff at the different venues and Lee leaving university meant there were some periods of hiatus but by the end of Bar Wars run in March 2002 it was playing 3 times a week and had appeared at four different venues across Cheltenham. The final Cheltenham Bar Wars in March 2002 was a charity quiz with all money donated to RAG week - and fittingly - was hosted from the stage at Park Bar where it had all started.

Lee & Leon also went on to host and DJ at other Student Union events across the University’s three sites and even at their annual summer ball at Cheltenham’s famous racecourse and DJing two of the University’s annual Christmas balls.

While Leon has now gone solo for the Hereford version of Bar Wars it isn't without Lee’s support – he sent a message of good luck before the first Hereford quiz back in 2004.