According to local sources, the old Pest House in Freeman’s Marsh was used in the 19th century as a tavern called ‘The Barge Inn’ where it presumably catered not only to the needs of bargemen on the canal, but also to a new estate of labourers’ houses which had begun to develop in the fields there.
The Kennet and Avon Canal had opened to Hungerford wharf in October 1798, and work to build the canal westwards continued apace. It was opened to Great Bedwyn wharf in July 1799.
It seems that the old Pest House may have ceased to function as an isolation unit for infectious diseases by this time, as the 1848 Tithe Award map shows another Pest House, located at Sanham Green, the implication being that the older pest house had by then ceased to be used as such.
The 1841 Census includes an entry for John Soper, Publican on The Marsh. Nothing further is yet known about him or the property, but perhaps he was publican at what had on occasion been known as "The Barge Inn".