|Forest of Dean Pubs - Placenames beginning with B
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Old Ferry Inn, Beachley Peninsula NP16 7HH
Possibly the oldest of these is the Old Ferry Inn, which lies under the shadow of the original Severn Road Bridge. An inn was recorded on the site in 1651 trading as the Green Dragon, which belonged to the Philpot family. By 1728 the name of the inn had changed to the Ostrich.
In 1828 the pub was described by Charles Heath of Monmouth as ‘A spacious and commodious inn, that occupies an easy elevation above the shore of the river, enlivened by an extensive prospect over Gloucestershire, interspersed with towns, villages, churches, and a variety of other interesting objects. Indeed, the pleasantness of the walk, through the finest meads and pasture lands, with the splendid rivers rolling on each side their waters to the ocean, added to its easy distance from Chepstow, renders it an object worthy the stranger’s attention. The house is fixed up in the most elegant manner, and visitors will meet with every accommodation, from its present occupier, Mr Williams. To the premises are attached two gardens, parallel with the course of the Severn, with seats in each, for enjoying their beauties, in which the Church of Oldbury is a prominent feature in this fine picture.’
Heather Hurley in her book writes: “Due to an increase in travel and transport and the turnpiking of the road to Beachley in the mid-18th century, the old inn was modified and renamed the Beachley Passage Hotel to cater for those using this important link in the road network. Illustrations of the late 18th century reveal a large inn, sporting arched windows, pitched roofs and many chimneys on a building standing high above the tidal Severn and reached by a long-curved ramp.”
The premises later became known as the Beachley Inn (1855 reference). By 1863 the inn was known as the Ferry Hotel. In 1851 the occupier was Mrs Ann Williams who was 76 years old and widowed. She was still in residence four years later in 1856. Twenty years later (1876) a Miss Ann Williams (daughter?) was listed at the Ferry Inn and Refreshment Rooms.
The opening of the Severn Railway Tunnel in 1886 was significant as it took passengers away from the river crossing at Beachley. There are no records of the Ferry Hotel in the 1891 and 1903 licensing records indicating that it had also closed with the demise of the passenger ferry. The ferry went of use and did not reopen until 1926 to cater for those wishing to cross the channel with motorcars. The reopened Beachley Ferry Hotel was ideally situated to cater for the needs of the motorist – ‘a modern and well-appointed hotel overlooking the River Severn.” There were three ferries using the crossing, the largest of which could only accommodate 17 cars. Not surprisingly there were often lengthy queues waiting for the ferry. When the Severn Bridge opened for traffic in September 1966 the Beachley – Aust ferry was made redundant. The last remaining ferry ‘the Severn Princess’, which entered service in 1959, lay beached beneath the Old Ferry Inn for many years after it was rescued from Ireland in 1999 after being purchased for a guinea. There are plans to restore it to its former glory. It is now berthed in Chepstow under the railway bridge awaiting restoration.
A visit by Jon Hurley in 1981 (extracted from “The Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean”) gave the following account: “To suddenly arrive at the ‘Ferry’, after spending a peaceful morning wandering about the Forest of Dean, is quite a shock to the system. Here, under the awe-inspiring steel skeleton of the Severn bridge, with its constant stream of juggernauts traversing the sky, and fronted by the swirling murkiness of the River Severn, crouches this rather unique pub. Anyone who has ever visited an English seaside resort and who has enjoyed hearty esplanade grub will feel suddenly nostalgic for the forgotten fifties when they walk into the Ferry.
In August 2000 staff and guests escaped in their night clothes when fire caused damage estimated between £20,000 and £30,000 at the Old Ferry Hotel.
In May 2018 the Old Ferry Inn was put on the market with a guide price of between £260,000 and £300,000. A spokesman for the auction company said ‘In view of the impending abolition of the tolls on the Severn Bridges at the end of the year it could be an extremely attractive opportunity either to be operated as a going concern with more people likely to be attracted to the area or, subject to planning, to be developed for alternate uses.’
At the time of writing in April 2019 the Old Ferry Inn remains closed. The Beachley Barracks, a British Army base and home of First Battalion the Rifles, is earmarked for closure in 2027. No doubt a long term business plan for the viability of the Old Ferry Inn will take this into consideration and be mindful of the isolated location of the Old Ferry Inn, effectively at the far end of a peninsular with absolutely no passing trade… except for the continual stream of traffic passing overhead on the M48 Severn Bridge.
Three Salmons Inn, Beachley Road NP16 7HG
In the 1891 and 1903 licensing books the Three Salmons is recorded as an ale house with an annual rateable value of £16.5s.0d. It was trading free of brewery tie and closing time was at 10 pm. Eleanor Cowper was the owner. The Three Salmons had a long association with the Saunders family. An 1856 reference lists T. Saunders as landlord of the Salmon Inn. Trade directories from 1876 to 1892 give information that Philip Saunders was the occupier / landlord. George Saunders was at the Three Salmons in 1903, and Mrs Millie Saunders in 1906.
No further entries are found in contemporary trade and county directories which suggests that the Three Salmons had closed before the outbreak of the First World War. Heather Hurley in her book “Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean” notes that in 1935 the Three Salmons was a boarding house, shop and post office.
A reference in an old directory gives the location as Farmer’s Folly Colliery, Shortstanding.
In the 1891 and 1903 licensing books the Globe is described as a beer house and had an annual rateable value of £13.0s.0d. It closed at 10pm. In 1891 it was operating free of brewery tie and was owned by J. D. Loxley and in residence as landlord was Albert Hughes. Lloyd & Yorath, whose Cambrian Brewery was based in Newport (Monmouthshire), had acquired the Globe Inn by 1903. Thomas Gwilliam, who was also a miner, had the honour of serving their beers – rare for the area. (he was also at the Globe in 1906). Thomas was a keen sportsman and he set up Berry Hill rugby club which was based at the Globe.
For at least twenty years Arnold Martin kept the Globe (listed in 1919 and 1939 trade directories).
The acclaimed but often controversial playwright Denis Potter was born in Berry Hill in 1935. In his book ‘The Changing Forest’, which was first published in 1962, he described the changing seasons in the Forest of Dean with reference to his local pub: ‘At the Globe, my favourite pub, the fireplace was piled high with huge, blazing lumps of local coal, and the early arrivals were smacking their hands over it, talking in low, cold voices. Some of them had come through the lanes or across ‘the meand’, or even through the wood, now a huge soft cathedral of cold. The Forest is beautiful at this time in a different, more aloof fashion than when green with summer, and the feel of the place becomes more immediately apparent. I suppose one feels a return to the sense of isolation and severely separated villages, that, too, there is something unbearably evocative about the stamping of feet outside the blazing windows and the bustle of coats, hats, greetings which follows.’
In the 1960’s and 1970’s the Globe Inn was branded as an Ansells Brewery pub…beer from the Midlands.
In more recent times Jessie Ellis was landlady from 1994 until she retired in 2009. When Chris Luxton took on the pub in 2013 he realised that the Globe could not survive purely as a drinker’s pub. He said in 2016, ‘when I took over here the Globe would be the last place you would go for food but all that’s changed. We are a pub that sells food rather than a restaurant that sells beer. Definitely not gastro.’ He added, ‘We also like to have real ale from local brewers like Wye Valley and Bespoke on tap. And in summer we get a lot of visitors from the local camp sites and holiday cottages.’
Kings Head (King of Spain), 28 Grove Road GL16 8QH
In the early 2000’s the pub had a change of identity and was re-branded as the King of Spain – a tapas bar.
As editor of ‘the tippler’ the magazine for the Gloucestershire branches of the Campaign for Real Ale, I wrote this article in the autumn of 2006: ‘The Kings Head at Berry Hill, just to the north of Coleford, opened again in August after a six month period of closure. In its last incarnation the pub was a tapas bar called the King of Spain but it will now revert to its true identity. Gary Hogsden is a real ale man through and through and takes great delight in serving his Wye Valley Brewery beers and Brains SA in tip top condition. He has also launched a menu using fresh local produce.’
In May 2010 an application was submitted to the Forest of Dean District Council to demolish the old pub and build four self-contained units on the site. In February 2011 estate agents were marketing the property as an ‘superb development opportunity with full planning for the existing dwelling to be converted into three two-bedroom apartments as well as a pair of semi-detached properties to the rear’. The guide price was £250,000. The decision to call time on the Kings Head was met with mixed responses from the community. Dr Steve Yeates, a research fellow of historical landscapes at Wolfson College Oxford, conducted a survey into the building and submitted his findings to the planners. He claimed the building could actually date back to 1683-5 and remarked “If this is the case then it is an important building in the Forest of Dean, being of a similar date to the Speech House.” Conversely a neighbour living next door to the Kings Head said “We’ve had problems over the years with noise and it never shutting on time. The pub has run at a loss for years so there’s no point in keeping it open.”
The Kings Head is located on the unclassified road into Berry Hill about a quarter of a mile from the A4136, just past the Coverham Road junction. The building is still undergoing restoration work and the image on Google Maps (April 2019) shows the property is now looking rather neglected.
New Inn (Pike House Tavern), Grove Road GL16 8QQ
The New Inn had a change of identity, presumably in the 1960’s, and became known as the Pike House Tavern. The site of the pub was on or near to an old turnpike.
Emily Jones was the owner of the New Inn in 1891. At that time the pub, designated a beer house, was free of brewery tie and was occupied by landlord William Aston. Within twelve years (1903) the New Inn had been acquired by the Wickwar Brewery (Arnold, Perrett & Co., Ltd.). The rateable value per annum was set at £11.4s.0d. and the public house closed at 10 pm. Thomas Kilby ran the New Inn in 1903 and John H. James was in residency in 1939.
The Pike House was put up for sale in September 1999 for £119,000. A single storey restaurant was later added to the side of the pub and, in the process, a West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque, which was situated in the original wall, was removed or destroyed. Trade suffered during the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak and then a building company carried out poor quality work whilst refurbishing the pub and went bankrupt before the costs could be reclaimed. The Pike House closed in October 2006 and was immediately boarded up. A local businessman had bought the pub. He told the local press “This is a fantastic location and has enormous tourist potential but it needs investment to upgrade it.”
In March 2007 there were plans to build a motel on the site. Coleford based developers Brook Planning Consultancy argued in a letter sent to the district planners that there was a need to improve the quality of accommodation and facilities in the Forest of Dean to encourage tourists to stay in the area rather than simply be day visitors. Outline permission was granted to build several new visitor rooms on the site. Four months later in July permission was granted to convert the Pike House Tavern into seven flats. A petition was raised and signed by 19 residents who argued that the pub could be a viable proposition and a community asset if properly run. However, councillors passed the application with no debate with 16 in favour and one abstention. It was thought that the close proximity of the Kings Head in Berry Hill would be sufficient to serve the needs of the community. Yet within just a year or so that had also closed.
An application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council in late May 2009 for the ‘erection of a building comprising twelve flats. Construction of new vehicular access and provision of parking facilities and communal garden area. Use of existing outbuilding as bin store and cycle shed. Demolition of existing public house.’
The Pike House was finally demolished in October 2009 some three years after the pub served its last pints. The building had been boarded up for so long it was causing concern. A neighbour living opposite the pub told the local papers that he would have loved it to stay open as a pub but it was becoming an eyesore. He said: ‘I have picked up needles and all kinds of rubbish there when I walk my dog so hopefully the building work will put a stop to that.”
Rising Sun Inn, (Gamekeepers Inn) Lower Lane, GL16 7QN
It seems that the Monmouth Brewery purchased the Rising Sun from the previous owner Margaret Young who in 1891 ran the ale house free of brewery tie. The Rising Sun had an annual rateable value of £14.0s.0d. and closed at 10 pm in 1903.
In more recent years (1970’s & 80’s) the pub sold beer from Allied Breweries and the signage indicated that Ansells Ales from Birmingham were available. In February 1997 it had a change of identity as the Gamekeepers Inn, of which it is still known today. At the time of re-opening the menu included such exotic dishes as kangaroo and wild boar.
In March 1998 a fire broke out at the Gamekeepers Inn caused by an electrical fault in the central heating system. The fire gutted the kitchen and lounge bar. Licensee Lawrence Brown, his wife, three children and two dogs were led to safety through a bedroom window. It opened again on July 24th 1998 after a massive refurbishment and redecoration inside and out. In 2000 Lawrence’s luck changed. He placed a 50 pence combination trifecta bet on the first three horses to pass the finishing post at the Grand National and won £9,000. Bad luck, however, returned on the morning of Saturday 20th October 2001 when the pub was deluged with rain water from flash flooding.
Landlords at the Rising Sun / Gamekeepers Inn include:
Wintles Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean once owned the Red Hart and in 1891 and 1903 their ale house had an annual rateable value of £16.0s.0d. and closed at 10 pm. When the Red Hart was put on the market in 1923 it was described as being built of stone, with rough cast and occupying a good position. The Red Hart was freehold and fully licensed and let to Mr William Payne ‘a tenant of over 13 years standing’ and had the low rent of £24 per annum with a ‘rent of £2 per annum paid for the brewery for the adjoining orchard which is let with the house’. The particulars of sale gave the information that on the ground floor was a bar, tap room, smoke room, beer store, large store rooms, kitchen, pantry, wash-house and W.C. There were four bedrooms on the first floor with a large sitting room, box room and tank room. Outside was a coach-house and loft, closet and urinal, small garden and a brick built stable with room for two horses with a loft over.
Wintles Brewery was acquired by the Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1937 and the Red Hart exchanged ownership in the process. Through the subsequent changes and acquisitions the pub became tied to Whitbread. A legacy of the past is the West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque that still adorns the wall. The Red Hart finally became free of tie and since then the inn has flourished and has won many awards and accolades over the years.
The Campaign for Real Ale has bestowed many awards to the Red Hart and at the time of writing in April 2019 it is currently Forest of Dean CAMRA Pub of the Year – a distinction that has been awarded to the pub many times. In fact it was Gloucestershire CAMRA’s first Pub of the Year. Landlady Sharon Hookings said ‘We concentrate on the quality of beer for our customers. We keep one local beer, four other beers and a traditional cider.’ In 1994 the Red Hart was named CAMRA Regional Pub of the Year.
When the Bespoke Brewery opened in 2012, in the shadow of the old Wintles Mitcheldean Forest Brewery malthouse, it was entirely appropriate that the Red Hart was chosen to be the first pub to showcase their Saved by the Bell – a light hoppy bitter.
The Red Hart also has an enviable reputation for the quality of its cuisine and attracts diners from far and wide. In an ‘eating out’ review for the ‘Citizen’ newspaper in March 2013 the reviewer wrote, ‘As you step through the cottage-style door of the Red Hart the feeling of warmth embraces you. The pub has a roaring wood burner, traditional flag stones, oak beams and memorabilia along its window sills and on its walls. With candles lit on every table the atmosphere obviously attracts all age groups, young couples, older groups, families and people just dropping in for a drink. The specials boards was special! There were dishes including venison, scallops and tapas.’
Sharon at the Red Hart said “At the Red Hart we welcome everybody, Ollie the pub spaniel is always pleased to greet new customers, including children and dogs.’
Landlords at the Red Hart include:
The license was transferred to a property opposite, facing the church on the sharp bend on the A48 coming down the hill from Newnham.
In 1891 and 1903 the Bird in Hand was designated an alehouse and had an annual rateable value of £18.0s.0d. It closed at 11 pm. The Bird in Hand was owned by Samuel P. Evans & Co in 1891, who was the owner of the nearby Blakeney Brewery. Drinkers at the pub only had another six years to enjoy the taste of their local beer as the Blakeney Brewery closed on 30th March 1897 following the acquisition of the Wickwar Brewery (Arnold Perrett & Co., Ltd.) who were rapidly expanding their estate at the time. The Bird in Hand was a Wickwar Brewery pub in 1903.
The Bird in Hand closed in the mid 20th century. For almost one hundred years the Ancient Order of the Foresters in Blakeney met at the Bird in Hand.
The building is now residential but until 2013 the ground floor was occupied by Second Image Ladies Hairdressers. The property has a bay window fronting the main road which was presumably, in times gone by, a distinctive feature of the Bird and Hand. Also of note is that the corner of the building is recessed enabling pedestrians better access on the tight corner.
Landlords at the Bird in Hand include:
Cock Inn, Nibley Hill GL15 4DP
The annual rateable value of the Cock Inn was £18.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903 and it closed at 11pm, perhaps unusual considering its rural location. It was designated alehouse status.
The Cock Inn has had some interesting brewery owners. In 1891 it was owned by Bailey & Co. Presumably this was the business of R.H. Bailey & Co., of the City Brewery, Quay Street, Gloucester. According to the Brewery History Society (A Century of British Brewers Plus 1890 to 2004) R.H. Bailey & Co were put up for auction on 14th November 1894 with 15 public houses. Perhaps the Cock Inn was the furthest tied house from the Gloucester City Brewery. The City Brewery brewery was bought by Tayler & Co. of Northeach. The pubs were sold piecemeal. R.W. Miller & Co, operating from the Stokes Croft Brewery in Bristol, acquired the Cock Inn. Miller’s beers were quite a rarity in Gloucestershire. It is worth noting that the black and white image of the Cock Inn indicates that it was also a free house after the Second World War and had the inviting message ‘All Beers Drawn from The Wood.’
In the 1950’s the Cock Inn was part of the Stroud Brewery Co’s estate and a West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque is a reminder that it also had an association with the Cheltenham brewery and hence Whitbread.
The owners of the pub in the mid ‘noughties’ transformed the Cock Inn by introducing quality cuisine. A 2006 ‘eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper concluded ‘I have no problem at all recommending a visit to the Cock, perhaps to try out their much more extensive menu which is available through the week and features delights like rabbit pie’. Christmas dining in 2015 gave a selection of main courses including Crispy Scottish salmon, tarragon pomme puree, winter greens, pickled carrots and Cullen skink velouté.
In the early Spring of 2019 an application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for change of use from public house to residential.
Landlords at the Cock Inn include:
Kings Head, High Street GL15 4EB
In 1891 and 1903 the petty sessional records give detail that the Kings Head was an alehouse. It had an annual rateable value of £27.0s.0d. and closed at 11 pm. Alfred Butler was the owner throughout those twelve years and the Kings Head was free of brewery tie.
In the 1960’s the Kings Head was substantially refurbished. The so-called ‘improvements’ instigated by the brewery architects included the removal of the fine 18th century Venetian window on the ground level which spoilt the frontage of the pub – thankfully the Venetian window on the upper storey was retained.
The Kings Head closed in May 2008. It was reported in the press that the pub had closed because the rent demanded from the pub company was too high and the tenants could not make enough money. The owner of Blakeney Chip-in chip shop opposite the Kings Head told the ‘Citizen’ “It’s a great shame”, and there were fears that the building would be converted to residential use. However, just six weeks later a new management stepped in and reopened the Kings Head… “I’ve got the cellar sorted out so all the beers are right and the next thing is to get the food going” said the new tenant. Despite the best intentions the Kings Head closed once again. It reopened once again in May 2011. On the opening night 200 people turned out to celebrate the revitalised Kings Head. Hayley Kear said “They say this is a dying trade but the response we had from the community was incredible and I’d like to thank them for such a warm welcome.” She added “We want to do something for everybody, a bit like the old-fashioned village pubs that catered for all ages” An ‘eating out’ review in August 2011 gave this account ‘You can get some really good meals at this pub if you eat within certain times of the day. Between noon and 7pm there are set menus for only £5 or less – which include such favourites as fish and chips and steak baguettes.’ Another review in April 2012 stated that the Kings Head serves a variety of foods, the most popular being their hearty steaks.
The old Kings Head is now trading as La Dolce Vita, a traditional Italian restaurant. The name means ‘the good life, full of pleasure and indulgence’ and is also the title of a Federico Fellini 1960 film.
Landlords at the Kings Head include:
Swan Inn, Swan Lane GL15 4EF
Those words seem to contradict the fact the Swan Inn is not mentioned in either the 1891 or 1903 licensing books of Gloucestershire beer houses, alehouses and other licensed premises. It is thought that by the 1870’s it had become a Temperance Hotel and therefore did not have to be included in the enumeration.
Landlords of the Swan Inn include:
Travellers Rest, Blakeney New Road GL15 4DE
The annual rateable value of the Travellers Rest was £18.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903 and the documentation state that William Adams was owner and the premises was free of brewery tie. It closed at 10 pm.
Landlords at the Travellers Rest include:
Tump House Inn, New Road GL15 4DG
Henry Adams was the owner of the Tump House Inn in 1891 and it traded free of brewery tie. It was classified as an alehouse and the annual rateable value was £18.0s.0d. It seems that the voracious appetite of the Stroud Brewery Company to gain more public houses bought out the Tump House from Henry Adams as in 1903 it was a Stroud Brewery pub. Closing time was 10 pm.
The 1960 celebratory book on 200 years of brewing at the Cheltenham and Stroud Breweries has a photograph of Mrs Francis Biddington who is said to have been resident at the Tump House since 1904. Presumably Miss Francis May Reeves, listed in the 1939 Kelly’s Directory, is her maiden name.
On 11th June 1999 the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley ‘Review’ newspaper gave the following account:
“The pub was located at the end of a little valley shown as Old Furnace on old maps and would have served the iron smelters operating along the stream,” he says. “At that time it was a two-up, two-down cottage with a single storey brew house alongside. Business must have been good in the early 1800’s, for a new extension adding a substantial high ceiling bar was constructed over the brew-house – with a large meeting room with access from the pub at first floor level.
“A separate cider mill was built at some stage with a horse driven crushing wheel and trough, and cider press which exists unchanged to this day. Until 1937 the pub was brewing its own beer and cider but it was then bought by the Stroud Brewery. The cider mill continued to be used for the benefit of the licensee’s family.
“The function room was for many years the largest meeting room in the village and was used by a number of organisations. Many Foresters will have memories of the pub as a family meeting place at weekends – though only the men were allowed in the bars and the women and children gathered in the area in front of the building.”
In April 2012 the former inn was put on the market with an asking price of £435,000. The details of sale were: ‘The property is at present arranged as two self-contained cottages, one as a rental property. Also included in the package is a detached cider barn with original press, crusher and apple bin, all set in about and acre of garden and ground bounded by a stream. The property is divided into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage and a three bedroom, three bathroom cottage. There is a wealth of character throughout with Inglenook fireplaces, wood panelling, original stone staircase and exposed floorboards. An ideal country retreat for two generation dwelling combined with the potential for income as a holiday cottage or Bed and Breakfast.’
The building is now called cider barn, a self-catering holiday cottage at the Old Tump House.
Landlords at the Tump House Inn include:
Two Bridges Inn, Howell’s Lane, Ayleford GL15 4AF
The Two Bridges had a low annual rateable value of just £9 in 1891 and 1903. Designated a beer house it was owned and occupied by Thomas Collins who ran the pub free of brewery tie. Closing time was at 11 pm – perhaps unusual for its rural location.
I received a letter from Miss M. Collins, the daughter of the last landlord of the Two Bridges Inn – Frederick Oswald Collins. She told me that her family had run the pub for several generations. Her grandfather was William (Willie) Harry Collins. She wrote: “Ye Olde Two Bridges Inn ceased being a public house in the early 1950’s but my father still lived there until his death in 1977. It was sold and renovated to a private dwelling.
“My father didn’t speak much about his relations, so I don’t know that much about the Collins side of my family. I can remember my mother saying that the pub had been in the Collins name for about 300-400 years. The Two Bridges also had their own football team and a brass band who both used a wooden building called the Band Shed. It served as a place for band practice and the footballers to wash and change.”
Landlords at the Two Bridges include:
Victoria Inn, New Road GL15 4DD
The annual rateable value of the Victoria Inn was £18.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. Registered as a beer house it was owned and occupied by John Houdley in 1891 and he ran the pub free of brewery tie. However, it had been acquired by the Alton Court Brewery in Ross-on-Wye in 1903 when it closed at 10 pm. The Cock Inn closed at 11 pm, an extra hour drinking time for those it the know!
The ill-fated Forest of Dean Central Railway ran from Awre Junction, on the South Wales Railway main line to New Fancy Colliery to the north east of Parkend. The only village on the 4 ¾ mile branch was Blakeney and a station was built just to the north of the Cock Inn, although it never appeared in railway timetables and it is doubtful if the station saw any passenger traffic at all as the Forest of Dean Central Railway was essentially only ever used for goods traffic. The stone-built station was dismantled for use at the Dean Forest Railway where it serves passengers at Whitecroft. The FoDCR opened in 1868, yet due to competition from the Severn & Wye Railway who had also gained access to the collieries, traffic diminished on the Blakeney line and had closed altogether by 1949.
Maybe the fortunes of the Victoria and Travellers Rest were also linked with the failure of the Forest of Dean Central Railway. It maybe pure conjecture but the 1861 census gives enumeration to a Victoria beer house and the Act for the construction of the FoDCR was passed in 1856; could the promise of passengers on the proposed railway been an incentive to establish a licensed house nearby?
Landlords at the Victoria Inn include:
Yew Tree Inn, Church Square GL15 4DX
When Maria Howell left the Yew Tree in October 1903 a public auction was held to dispose of stock which included ‘cider casks, an iron-framed piano, a barren cow, twenty-four lambs and seventeen fowl’.
The foot-and-mouth outbreak of April 2001 coincided with the arrival of an Irish couple at the Yew Tree. On their first day they had to contend with the stench of animal carcasses being burnt on a gigantic pyre in the village and consequently no prospect of any tourists. The Yew Tree had ceased trading by 2003 and the building was left unoccupied. In March 2007 an application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for ‘alterations and extensions and refurbishment of existing buildings to form a residential care establishment.’ A further application to the Council in August 2009 submitted plans to ‘Discharge of conditions (02), (03) and (06) on Listed Building Consent (Colour of lime render, porch details and colour finishes to doors, windows and frames.)
The Yew Tree is now in residential use, but a West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque has been retained in the development.
Landlords at the Yew Tree Inn include:
In the 1891 licensing records of Gloucestershire the Sloop Inn is described as an alehouse, free of brewery tie, with an annual rateable value of £18.0s.0d. It was owned by William Greening who must have accepted an offer from the Nailsworth Brewery – based on the other side of the River Severn – as it was in their ownership in 1903. The rateable value was unchanged. The Sloop Inn had a licence that enabled it to sell intoxicating liquor until 11 pm – surprisingly late for such an isolated pub, although it is not difficult to imagine drinking going on even after permitted. An interesting thought is how the beers from Nailsworth were delivered to the Sloop Inn. Were they delivered by horse and cart via Gloucester, loaded onto a train and taken over the Severn Railway Bridge to the south and distributed from Cinderford or, perhaps, taken across the River Severn on a ferry boat?
I was told an interesting tale by Mike Buckland, who lived near Bollow, some years ago when he sent me an email. He said that there are very tall plane trees lining the banks of the River Severn near to the site of the old Sloop Inn. He explained that the River Severn was once an active waterway and boatmen would drive wooden posts along the banks to secure their boats. Some of these wooden stakes rooted and eventually sprouted into trees.
The Sloop Inn closed on 20th April 1927. The building is now a private residence called the Sloop, located up a private drive off Goose Lane.
Landlords at the Sloop Inn include:
The original Cross Keys was located on the on west side of the High Street near the junction with the main Coleford to Lydney Road (today the B4231). This is the oldest part of Bream and at the junction there once stood a maypole 40 feet high. A modern estate nearby is called Maypole Road. The Cross Keys described as being ‘at the maypole’ in 1792. The New Inn was on the opposite side of the road.
The Stroud Brewery Company were in ownership of the Cross Keys as early as 1891 when the annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £13.0s.0d. It remained at the same level in 1903. ‘Last orders’ were at 10 pm.
At the beginning of the 1960’s the newly established West Country Breweries had become the new owners of both the New Inn and the Cross Keys. It may have been the acquisition of two pubs facing each other, and maybe not trading to their full potential, which led the company to dispose of both houses and transfer the licence of the Cross Keys to the ‘top end’ of the village of Bream where their had been a population shift. The original Cross Keys is now in residential use and called Old Cross Keys (GL15 6EH).
The second Cross Keys (GL15 6JS) had been originally built as a gentleman’s outfitters but had later become a dental surgery. The property is of a solid sandstone construction with twin-gables, but the ground floor has been extensively re-modelled and is of contrasting brick with a central porch.
In October 1998 the Cross Keys was re-invented and rebadged ‘The Hedgehog Ale & Eating House’. An advert / article in the ‘Forest & Wye Review’ reported ‘Formerly the Cross Keys, the Hedgehog is at the centre of the village and has undergone a massive £100,000 investment to provide a superb new venue for the Forest of Dean. With the redevelopments having increased the interior space, the Hedgehog now includes a new dining area and bar, offering a wide range of beers, ciders, wines and spirits, as well as a selection of bottled English and Belgium Beers.’
The pub reverted to the more traditional ‘The Keys’ during its last few years as a licensed house. When advertised for sale in September 2012 the guide price was £140,000 - £160,000 and comprised of three bar areas, kitchen, cellar, two en-suites, sitting room and kitchenette, outbuildings and garden. A planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council in March 2013 requesting the conversion of former public house to five residential units, demolition of outbuilding and construction of first floor rear extension.
The property has now been converted. A casualty in the transitional works was a very fine, and almost certainly unique, wall mounted pub sign bracket with the West Country Ales ‘castle’ emblem prominent in the iron-work.
Landlords of the original Cross Keys include:
And the second Cross Keys:
Kings Head, Beech Way/ Brockhollands Road GL15 6ND
In 1891 and 1903 the Kings Head was owned and tied to Francis Wintle in Mitcheldean, the only pub in Bream where Forest Brewery ales were available. Not that the beer drinker in 1903 would mind too much, however, as the choice was impressive with Anglo-Bavarian Ales from Somerset, Arnold Perrett Wickwar Ales, Barnard Brothers ‘Feathers Hotel’ home-brew’d ales, Godsell’s of Stroud, Stroud Brewery Ales and Roger’s Bristol Ales all available in the village. Bream was a fine place for a pub crawl, but the straggling nature of the village necessitated a determined walk to sample all those beers.
In 1903 the annual rateable value was set at £12.0s.0d. and the Kings Head was classified as an alehouse, with a 10 pm closing time.
Wintles Forest Brewery was acquired by the Cheltenham Brewery in 1937. Through the evolution of West Country Breweries and latterly Whitbread, the last landlord of the Kings Head, Mr D. Price, was probably selling fizzy keg Tankard when the pub closed in February 1973… the days of foaming pints of Wintles’ fine Mitcheldean ales at the Kings Head a distant memory. The pub had an affectionate name of ‘Dapper’s’… Dapper Price perhaps?
Landlords at the Kings Head include:
Masons Arms / Skipp’s Off-Licence, Bowson Road GL15 6LA
The Masons Arms had a long association with the Skipp family, and it was also sometimes known as Skipp’s off-licence. George Skipp is resident in 1891, W.Skipp (beer retailer) in 1899, Susan Eliza Skipp (beer retailer) is in the 1902 and 1919 Directories, and Stuart Skipp was at the off-licence in 1939.
The residential property still retains the name the Masons Arms.
Miners Arms / West End Inn / Old Winding Wheel, Coleford Road GL15 6EU
William Camm, the grandson of the licensee of the Miners Arms of the same name, wrote in his book ‘Bream through the Ages. Volume 1.’ (published in 1979). At the time the pub was trading as the West End Inn because of its location to the west of Bream. He wrote: “May I add a few lines as regards the West End Inn, the Miners Arms. This is now a Free House, and under the present owner it is undergoing restoration, especially to the lounge, which is now fast becoming a very up-to-date room and furnished somewhat in the style of modern inns, but giving an ‘olde world’ impression. It is quite interesting to see that the two old fashioned fireplaces have been uncovered – one at either end of the lounge – with quite large lintels. Possibly, my grandfather stoked these fires close on a century ago when he was the licensee.”
When the old Miners Arms / West End Inn was refurbished in 1979 it reopened as The Old Winding Wheel.
In 1994 the Olde Winding Wheel had been converted into apartments. The estate agent marketed the development as thoughtfully converted from the original Winding Wheel Public House, purchased after it had become redundant. ‘The building has been given a new lease of life as a much-needed, low cost housing for first time buyers in the village. The apartments are also suitable for retired accommodation. The development has only three remaining units, which will have a choice of bathroom colours and carpets together with double glazing, panelled inner doors and stained woodwork throughout. The one-bedroom units start at £27,970.’
Landlords at the pub include:
Miners Rest, off New Road , Breams Meend (Tufts), GL15 6HW
There is some confusion to the validity to the reference of Richard Wilden as tenant of the Miners Rest given in the 1891 petty licensing book. The census of that year gives the age of Richard as being only 14! However, it is likely that Richard shared the same name as his father.
Richard Heath was the owner of the Miners Rest in 1891 when it was trading free of brewery tie. In the next twelve years it came into the ownership of the voracious Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd., who were rapidly buying out pubs to add to their increasing number of houses. In 1903 the Miners Rest had an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. (unchanged since 1891) and closed at 10 pm. It had beer house status.
Landlords at the Miners Rest include:
New Inn, High Street GL15 6EH
The Cross Keys Inn was situated on the opposite side of the road. In 1864 a village wake was held at Whitsuntide in which villagers competed for prizes strung on a rope across the roadway between the New Inn and the Cross Keys. In 1924 the annual Bream fair is documented as being held in a field near the New Inn and the Maypole.
The New Inn was owned by James Howell but leased to Barnard Brothers in 1891, but twelve years later it is documented that Barnard Bros were owners of the pub which was designated an ale house and closed at 10 pm. The rateable value was £11.4s.0d. Barnard Brothers were brewers based at the Feathers Hotel in Lydney. This was the only outlet for brothers Samuel and John Barnard in this area of the Forest of Dean. Other pubs supplied by this small family brewing business were the Bridge Inn and the Step a Side in Lydney and the Dukes Head in Woolaston.
Alton Court Brewery of Ross on Wye then held the New Inn in their tied estate. Alton Court Brewery was acquired by the Stroud Brewery in 1956, but just a couple of years later the Cheltenham and Stroud breweries amalgamated to form West Country Breweries. It seems that the New Inn was surplus to their requirements and it seems to have closed down soon thereafter.
In February 1983 the Dean Heritage Museum Trust is reported to have purchased the building, but it appears to be still in residential use.
Landlords of the New Inn include:
Oakwood Inn, Mill Hill GL15 6HS
Samuel Musgrove was the owner and occupier of the Oakwood Inn in 1891 when the pub traded free of brewery tie. The annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £12.0s.0d. Anglo-Bavarian (later Anglo) Brewery in Somerset had acquired the Oakwood Inn by 1903. ‘Supping up’ time was 10 pm. When the Anglo Brewery ceased trading in 1921 the locals quenched their thirsts with Arnold Perrett’s Wickwar Ales. Ownership of the Oakwood Inn then passed to the Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1937. Just before the pub closed it was tied to West Country Breweries. There is a rendered rectangular patch on the wall of the building, which presumably once housed a West Country Ales plaque.
In Heather Hurley’s book ‘Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean’ (Logaston Press) an inventory of sale for the Oakwood Inn in 1937 reads:
The stream running through the Oakwood Valley was used to power a corn mill as early as 1520. A foundry had been established on the site by 1852, which manufactured nails for export. It had closed by 1859 but was later worked by the Pearce family and had closed again by c1916. The Oakwood Valley was also rich in deposits of coal and iron ore, of which the latter has been mined since Roman times. The Flour Mill Colliery site is now the home of a Steam Locomotive Restoration and Repair Shop.
It is worth noting that the name of the landlord of the Oakwood Inn in 1939 was Sidney James – probably not the ‘Carry On’ actor though!
Landlords of the Oakwood Inn include:
Rising Sun, High Street GL15 6JF
The Rising Sun has been trading as a pub since 1787. Heather Hurley writes in her book ‘Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean’, “From the late 18th century the Rising Sun was the meeting place of a local Friendly Society, a venue for political meetings, the headquarters of a local Rugby Club and a place to roller skate!”
Thomas Morse (Junior) owned and occupied the Rising Sun alehouse in 1891 when it was trading free of brewery tie. It had an annual rateable value of £16.0s.0d., a figure that was maintained in the subsequent licensing book enumerations of 1903 when the closing time was 10 pm.
In 1903 the Rising Sun was owned by W.J. Rogers & Co, Jacob Street Brewery in Bristol. The beers were probably shipped to the Forest of Dean by rail, most likely through the Severn Tunnel. According to the licensing books of 1891 and 1903 Rogers & Co Bristol Ales were only available in five Gloucestershire outlets – all in the Forest of Dean. The Rising Sun, and indeed the village of Bream, must have been frequented by enthusiastic Edwardian beer connoisseurs!
A century later the Rising Sun also enjoyed an excellent reputation for the quality of its ales. It was named CAMRA Forest of Dean sub-branch Pub of the Year in 2002 and 2003. Peter and Julie Hinks introduced a large and varied range of real ales of all types, mainly from small micro-breweries. They also changed the name of the pub back to the Rising Sun – it traded as the Village Inn for a period in the 1990’s.
In October 2017 a planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council to change part of the Rising Sun into a Co-op retail store. The pub owner explained, “The plans are for an ancillary building which we would never fill with business from the pub. If the plans go through they will secure the long term viability of the pub. It has never been our intention to close the pub and we do not have any plans to move away.”
West Dean Parish Council applied in December of 2017 to have the Rising Sun listed as a community asset (ACV) in a well-meaning move to stave off possible closure of the last pub in the village of Bream, no doubt the recent demise of the Keys being a factor in their decision making. However, the owners of the Rising Sun were dismayed at the prospect of the ACV listing. He wrote to the district council, “I find the timing of this application by members of the West Dean Parish Council highly coincidental, coming at a time when I have a planning application ongoing with the Forest of Dean District Council regarding the change of use of a currently disused section of the building for retail use. This planning application has been made in regard to a part of the property that currently plays no part in the day to day running of the pub as a business and is, at the moment, costing us the owners a significant amount of money each month in terms of mortgage and council tax etc.” He added: “Aside from the fact that an ACV order does not preclude the change of use of ancillary property to our core business, our intention in making the planning application was to render our entire property effectively mortgage-fee by generating income from that section of the property by means of a long term lease to a third party. This would also have made it a more attractive proposition to a prospective purchaser should we at any time in the future decide to move on and sell the pub as a going concern. Therefore, in applying to have my property listed as an ACV, the applicants are not only seeking to prevent me changing the use of any part of my property for whatever their reasons. They are also effectively putting in motion a chain of events which would ultimately bring about the very situation they say they wish to avoid – namely the possible closure of the last pub in Bream – due to non-viability of the business.”
There is a West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque still in situ at the Rising Sun.
Landlords at the Rising Sun include:
Two Swans, High Street GL15 6JS
Dinah Smith was the owner of the Two Swans beer house in 1891 and at the time the pub was leased to Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. It would usually be expected that the Wickwar Brewery would purchase the leasehold but twelve years later in 1903 the Two Swans had been acquired by the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery of Shepton Mallet, Somerset. The beer house had an annual rateable value and closed at 10 pm.
Landlords at the Two Swans include:
There is a reference to a Quarrymans Arms at Brierley in 1853 which ‘was the meeting place of a Friendly Society.’ The pub got its name from a quarry but custom also came from miners employed in the nearby collieries. The White Swan is mentioned in Brierley a few years later located in a ‘former cottage by the road’. Whether or not this was at the same property as the Quarrymans Arms is not clear, but by 1879 the premises had become known as the Swan Inn.
Esther Smart was the owner of the Swan Inn alehouse in 1891 and 1903. The pub was free of brewery tie and had an annual rateable value of £22.10s.0d., closing at 10 pm.
Heather Hurley in her book ‘Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean’ writes: “In 1990 the Swan, by then a Whitbread pub, was described as ‘Externally, a pleasant looking little white-washed boozer with useful parking’, but its bar was ‘awkwardly laid out with a long bench’, and the lounge was ‘equivalent to the parlours in miners’ terraces’. The interior of the Swan Inn was described as ‘basic’ in the 1996 CAMRA ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ book.
A review of a family meal at the Swan Inn as featured in a ‘Citizen’ article in August 2001 was not that complimentary about the décor, describing it as slightly ‘sad looking’ and commented that “if you order a ploughman’s you get a piece of bread big enough to feed a family of seven for a week, and cheese to match.” The reviewer added; ‘The service was very friendly and quick and it cost £15 for all seven of us to have a one-course lunch – which makes it exceptional value for money.”
The Swan Inn closed suddenly in October 2008 and it was feared that the community of Brierley would lose their only pub. It was alleged that some of the locals at the Swan had personal grievances with the new tenants at the pub. One villager said: “The pub was the centre of the community and the whole village used to meet there but when the new landlords took over they seemed nice enough but things changed pretty quickly. They appeared rude to the locals and they banned certain people for no reason so we stopped going there.” At the time Admiral Taverns owned the Swan and it is possible that the relations between the tenant and pub company might have also been a contributary factor. The tenants left the pub without warning and the pub stood eerily empty with umbrellas outside and beer mats left on the tables.
The Swan Inn was in business again in June 2009. An ‘eating out’ review commented that the since the new hosts had taken over the running of the Swan the pub had received a complete makeover. ‘It’s been a case of out with the old and in with the new, both in the bar and in the restaurant. As for the menu, all the food is largely home cooked and what you would expect from a small traditional pub.’ Anthony Thomas said “Many villagers had feared the pub might be turned into flats after the previous owners left without warning in October.”
In February 2010 the Swan had become a Thai restaurant and takeaway. Philip and Tina Vitaya were a Thai couple keen to transform the Swan Inn from a traditional pub. The authentic Thai cuisine restaurant at the Swan Inn was named Thai Boy 88, after Philip and Tina’s son. An ‘eating out’ review in the local papers noted that ‘the décor hasn’t completely changed, but to reflect the Thai atmosphere there was oriental music playing in the background and various Buddhas on the wall as well as statues.’ The reviewer commented ‘Some of the meals such as the spare ribs and sweet and sour chicken have echoes of Chinese cuisine, but what sets them apart are the rich and distinctive hint of herbs, lemon grass, coconut and ginger.’
In September 2011 the Swan Inn had diversified and was marketing itself as the Swan Lake Russian Restaurant. ‘We bid you a warm welcome to Gloucestershire’s only Russian restaurant. A little piece of Russia in the Forest of Dean. Our restaurant is small, intimate and very different. A Russian Georgian experience not to be missed!’ The opening hours were somewhat restricted being open only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 pm. An ‘eating out’ review in November 2012 noted that the ‘restaurant has been charismatically decorated to ensure the customers get a full and genuine Russian experience from the handcrafted wall plates which were locally sourced from a small village in Russia through to the Matryoshka dolls’ On the menu were dishes including Lesnoe Chudo (wild boar medallions), Telyatinas Yablokamy and the speciality Swan Lake dessert consisting of light choux pastry delicately moulded into the shape of a swan.
In April 2015 an application was submitted to Forest of Dean District council for change of use into a residential dwelling. It was noted that the pub ‘had been closed for sometime’. In November 2017 another application was submitted for change of use. The Swan Inn has now permanently closed.
Landlords at the Swan Inn include:
BROADOAK, Near Newnham on Severn
Broadoak Inn, Quay Lane GL14 1JE
In April 2000 I had an email from Gordon Hunt from Derbyshire who told me that his 4X great grandfather, John Hunt, was landlord at the Broadoak Inn when he died in October 1830. He said that the inn was taken over by Richard Jackson, the brother of Edward Jackson who ran the Trumpet Inn in Southgate Street, Gloucester. “Edward’s wife was a granddaughter of the above John Hunt and from their first three children being baptised at Westbury on Severn between 1828 and 1832 I would guess they were at the Broadoak Inn until they moved to the Trumpet Inn.”
The Broadoak Inn was located on the banks of the Severn a little further upstream to the White Hart. Heading out of the village in the Gloucester direction there is a railway bridge over the A48. Just before the bridge on the right is Quay Lane. The pub was at the end of the lane and the building is now a private house.
Landlords at the Broad Oak include:
White Hart GL14 1JB
In 1891 and 1903 the annual rateable value of the White Hart was £21.10s.0d. Stroud Brewery Company were the owners of the alehouse which, in 1903, is documented as closing each night at 11 pm.
Indeed, the White Hart had a long association with the Stroud Brewery. It seems likely that the company took advantage of the opening of the Severn Railway Bridge in 1879 and acquired pubs in the Forest of Dean area soon afterwards. The White Hart became a West Country Breweries house in 1958 when the Stroud and Cheltenham breweries merged and subsequently became tied to Whitbread. A reminder of its past heritage is a West Country ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque still in situ.
It seems incredible today that in 1997 the White Hart was in the news for voluntarily introducing a smoking ban from just part of the bar and eating area. Under the headline “We’re backing the smoke-free pubs” the ‘Citizen’ reported on 20th September, David and Hazel Piner of the White Hart said “The pub is much more pleasant and trade has actually increased since we decided to have smoke-free areas. I used to be a smoker and when I realised what a horrible anti-social habit it is, so in December we banned cigarettes from part of the bar and our eating area and it has done us no harm.”
A year later David and Hazel were in the news again when they entered a Pub Garden of the Year award. The White Hart was positively bursting with summer colour cascading from the roof, hanging baskets and flower beds. David told the ‘Citizen’ in August 1998 that despite never reading a gardening book and finding television gardening programmes boring, he had planted more than 50 troughs, boxes and pots and 20 hanging baskets at the White Hart. “The money I spent getting the garden into shape was a drop in the ocean compared to the extra trade it has generated. Many people pop in after work for a bit of liquid refreshment and that has resulted in a large increase in turnover – all thanks to my flowers”.
In 2007 the White Hart was owned by Greene King of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. In October 2008 the landlord decided to make the menu more upmarket and specialised in seafood dishes. Chips were definitely off the menu. Some of the regulars were not made welcome which prompted the landlord to tell the local newspaper: “We aren’t a typical boozer. It isn’t the kind of place to come if you want to stand around and drink. People don’t like the fact we don’t want to entice that kind of person to the pub.” The newspaper made an analogy with the TV series ‘Fawlty Towers’. A remark in the letters page a week later said: “they only seem to cater for lottery winners”.
The White Hart is now part of the portfolio of Quality Inns, who run five other pubs in Gloucestershire and two in Dartmouth, Devon. The county pubs are (in April 2019) the Frocester George, the Salmon at Wanswell, the Bell Inn Frampton, George Inn Cambridge and Fagins in Brookthorpe.
The White Hart website says: ‘Our bar has a license until 1.00 am and it is well stocked with premium lager, real ales, traditional cider, fine wines and many of your favourite spirits and gins. Our restaurant now offers all the traditional favourites such as haddock and chips, chicken stack with cheese, bacon in barbeque sauce or many of our Meat Grills such as 8 oz surf & turf with our chefs specialising in using all the best of local produce. We also have a dog friendly dining area!’ ‘The White Hart boasts a large patio and garden area to the rear of the pub. This spacious area delivers superb views of the infamous (sic) River Severn and in turn has beautiful sunsets set across the landscape. We have a covered area if it gets chilly and many nautical curiosities spread throughout the garden and pub. We even have our own lighthouse!’
A fifteen feet tall chainsaw sculpted dragon is now a prominent feature in the pubs car park. Helen Price previously ran the Cross Keys Inn at Goodrich where the dragon was once displayed and on moving to the White Hart in April 2015 the sculpture travelled with her on a flat bed lorry.
Landlords at the White Hart include:
George’s Bristol Brewery owned the pub in the 1950’s, which passed into the ownership of Courage Brewery. The Bird in Hand later became a Free House but still sold beers from Courage’s Brewery in Bristol.
In September 2001 a former landlady of the Bird in Hand, Elsie Jones then aged 95, was taken back to the pub for a meal by her family. Her daughter, Glenda Griffiths, told the Gloucester ‘Citizen’: “My mother’s parents, Annie and Amos Smith, had run the Bird in Hand Inn from the late 1920’s up until the early 1950’s when my grandmother died. My dad, Sydney, said about moving down there, so that’s what we did. The pub was very much spit and sawdust and all the miners used to come in there regularly. There were four children and my grandfather to look after, so my dad worked during the day and my mother was in charge of running the pub.” Mrs Jones was born in Broadwell and lived close to the pub. Her father was born at Berry Hill. When Elsie married Sydney they moved to Gloucester because her husband was in the RAF, but returned to the Forest to run the Bird in Hand. Upon retirement Sydney and Elsie moved just four doors away from the pub but in 1993 they moved to a residential home in Gloucester. Mr Jones passed away in 1999. When Elsie revisited the Bird in Hand on her birthday in September 2001 she had a wonderful welcome and even served a few pints behind the bar. Her daughter Glenda said: “We had a wonderful meal and my mother was just over the moon to be back there.”
In January 2008 there were rumours that the Bird in Hand was about to close. The ‘Forester’ newspaper reported that contrary to closure rumours, Broadwell’s Bird in Hand pub is very much open for business. The pub is open seven days a week, serves food and has a range of local live bands. The landlady said: “We don’t know where these rumours originally came from, but they’re totally wrong.”
In July 2009 the Bird in Hand had suddenly closed down and was effectively mothballed with contents and fittings intact. Inside the pub was a juke box, quiz machine and fruit machine as well as drink. The premises was broken into by a 35 year old local man and £10,000 worth of damage was done smashing and kicking open the machines trying to retrieve money. Probably exhausted by the effort it seemed that he helped himself to a glass of wine. Forensic evidence found a size nine footprint on the front panel of the fruit machine which matched the sole of a pair of Nike trainers the police found at his home. Furthermore, his DNA was found on the wine glass. The judge said that he had smashed his way into the equipment just to get hold of a few handfuls of coins.
In September 2010 an application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for change of use of the former public house into a ‘place of worship’. Salvation Army church captain Vivienne Prescott said: “We didn’t want a conventional church building because we aren’t really a conventional church. We were looking for a community space where we can bring people together and that’s something pubs are ideally suited for.” The plans were to keep the bar in place but instead of alcohol serve tea, coffee and soft drinks. The skittle alley would be sound proofed so that it could be used as a rehearsal room for young bands. The application received backing from the council. Richard Phelps, councillor, said: “It’s a shame that we lost a pub there, but it’s great that the building is going to be used. It has been left to rot really since it closed so this is great for Coleford.”
The residents of Broadwell at least had something to celebrate in April 2013 when their local social club reopened. The Broadwell & District Ex-Servicemen’s Club was built in the 1930’s but closed temporarily after running out of money. A committee member said, “This is now the only pub in the village so it’s a very special place to the community.”
Landlords of the Bird in Hand include:
James Gwyn was the owner and occupier of the Rising Sun beer house in 1891 but twelve years later in the 1903 licensing lists James had died as the ownership was in ‘The Representatives of the late James Gwyn’. The annual rateable values were set in both years at £12.0s.0d. and the Rising Sun closed at 10 pm. The pub operated free of brewery tie.
When new managers Joe and Janet Perry took over the running of the Rising Sun it seemed like the pub was trading well. A fund-raising evening on 28th August 1999 raised £600 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. There was a pig roast, tug-of-war, disco, darts and skittles knockouts. Customers were entertained by the Drybrook Brass Band and Morris Dancers. There was a raffle to win a colour television – A Matsui 14”remote control TV… highly desirable then, but in the context of today’s OLED flat screen technology the prize seems almost insulting.
There was some controversy when the Rising Sun suddenly closed in October 2001 apparently without any warning. The ‘Citizen’ newspaper reported on 20th December 2001 that the Rising Sun had been purchased by a London lady who had submitted an application to Forest of Dean District Council for change of use from public house into a house. Gordon Shingles and Ivor Beddis from the village of Broadwell were infuriated at the proposal. Gordon Shingles said, “The pub has always been very popular with the community and so many of us use it. We even had darts and skittles teams here. Ever since it closed people have had to travel a long way to play. We feel the heart of the community has been ripped out.” The men collected 300 signatures protesting about the closure and handed them to the council.
Initially it seemed that Forest of Dean District Council were supportive as they had described the pub as an ‘important community resource.’ However, ‘last minute information’ supplied by the applicant seemed to influence the planning departments decision. The pub never reopened and is now residential. In the intervening 18 years or so the old Rising Sun, once with an open aspect facing the road, has been mostly obscured by the erection of fences and hedges. A West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque survives in situ.
Landlords at the Rising Sun include:
Brockweir was once the furthest place upstream on the River Wye where cargoes could be transferred from sea-going ships, up to 90 tonnes, to smaller barges travelling towards Hereford. It’s difficult to image such a bustling scene today in such a quiet backwater. Amazingly this small picturesque Wye Valley village is reputed to once have 16 beer and alehouses. Pubs included the Bristol, Severn Trow, Royal Arms and the New Inn.
The New Inn would have catered for the stevedores loading and unloading ships at the nearby quayside. The interior of the pub has large oak beams, which is thought to originally come from a ship built in Brockweir. The village once had a thriving shipbuilding, fitting-out and repair industry so there might be some validity in the story.
In 1891 the New Inn was a free house with an annual rateable value of £10.5s.0d. The owner was a Mrs Alice Dibben who might have passed the running of the pub to her daughter as in 1903 it is recorded that Ellen Dibben is the owner. The New Inn was designated ale house status and in 1903 the premises called ‘last orders’ at 10 pm.
The New Inn was later acquired by Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery and through the process of amalgamations and the closure of the Mitcheldean Brewery it eventually became a Whitbread pub. The legacy of its days as a West Country Breweries house is evident by the ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque which is still inlaid into the wall. In 1981 the New Inn had a change of ownership and the pub was renamed the Brockweir Country Inn.
In June 2016 the Brockweir Inn was for sale with no onward chain with an asking price of £349,950. This prompted the Parish Council to register the pub as a community asset. The parish clerk said: “The pub is currently for sale and we feel the need to protect it by nominating it as a community value asset (ACV) so that it will continue to be a public house and serve the community. It provides a focal point for the parish for various activities such as music evenings and a book club.”
The Campaign for Real Ale ‘What Pub’ website gives this account of the Brockweir Inn: ‘Blessed with two cosy bars of differing character, both a symphony of stone, this quirky and much-loved hostelry generates a convivial, warm and calming atmosphere. There is a small dining area to the rear, while upstairs there is a popular community games room (with book swap scheme) available for meetings and functions. Outside is a lovely walled garden, a beautiful sun-trap for those wanting to relax away from hectic modernity. An undervalued and veritable gem of the Wye Valley.’
The Brockweir Country Inn voluntarily closed on March 17th 2019 following an enforcement notice issued by the Environment Agency and Forest of Dean District Council. A notice dated 8th April 2019 was displayed in a window which explained that the owners had relocated to France and that ‘the property has now been sold and will remain closed whilst extensive and essential repairs are made. This fine historic inn dating back to 1700 has faithfully served our community and visitors for 300 years but it is in desperate need of a considered, careful and extremely sympathetic restoration to help guarantee its long-term future at the heart of the community. The new owners are working with Forest of Dean District Council and were made fully aware of the conditions prior to purchase and are now working with the Environment Agency and the FoDDC to ensure compliance.’
There is optimism for the future of the Brockweir Country Inn. However, when I visited Brockweir in late April 2019 I was saddened to see that the ‘Best in the West’ ‘West Country Ales’ ceramic plaque had been badly damaged and will almost certainly be a casualty in the forthcoming renovations.
Landlords at the New Inn include:
Royal Arms Inn, Underhill NP16 7NQ
Charles M. Brown is listed as the owner at the Royal Arms alehouse in both 1891 and 1903 when the license was free of brewery tie. The annual rateable value was set at £12.0s.0d. and it closed at 10 pm.
Landlords at the Royal Arms include:
Horse Shoe Inn, GL18 2DP
In 1891 the Horse Shoe Inn was a very basic hostelry. It was privately owned by William Sayce who was also the occupying landlord. The beer house only had an annual rateable value of £9.0s.0d. per annum.
In 1903 the Horse Shoe Inn was owned by the Vine Brewery in Ledbury, Herefordshire, trading under the name of Lane Brothers & Bastow. Only four pubs in Gloucestershire were tied to the brewery. Between 1891 and 1903 the annual rateable value of the Horse Shoe Inn had increased by £15 to £24.0s.0d. suggesting that the Vine Brewery substantially improved the premises when it purchased the Horse Shoe Inn from Mr Sayce
. In 1903 the pub closed at 10 pm. The Vine Brewery was acquired by the Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1919.
A footpath passing through Brooms Green has been designated the Poets Walk, a waymarked route which links up places of historical and literary interests related to the so-called Dymock Poets – Robert Frost, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Gibson and their contemporaries. It was in the surrounding countryside that these poets passed their leisure hours in the summer of 1914 before the outbreak of the First World War. No doubt they supped Ledbury brewed beers and local cider at the Horse Shoe Inn.
The Horse Shoe Inn passed to the ownership of West Country Breweries in the late 1950’s and subsequently became part of the enormous Whitbread pub estate. It was later sold and in the 1990’s operated as a Free House. The pub had two bars and a restaurant.
On 3rd January 1998 an ancient wassail ceremony was revived at Brooms Green. The evening began at the Horse Shoe Inn where revellers drank cider. They then went to adjoining Charles Martell’s farm where a specially made cake was placed on an Old Gloucester breed of cattle. According to legend if the cake falls off from the front when the oxen shakes his head it would be a good year – and a poor year of it falls off the back. The evening continued at the pub where the revellers took it in turn to drink out of a special wassailing bowl made of sycamore wood. A folklore expert read an oration to a Dymock Red apple tree, calling for a good year. To finish off the evening the Forest of Dean Morris Men performed the mummers play and the wassailers sang carols and songs.
Just a couple of years later the Horse Shoe Inn was put on the market. Ken and Jackie Thomson served behind the bar for the last time on Thursday 31st May 2001 before retiring. The pub had been sold and during the last evening an auctioneer sold a large collection of horse brasses and old agricultural equipment which adorned the walls of the pub.
An application for ‘change of use’ had been submitted to Forest of Dean District Council by Mr and Mrs Thomson, but this was later withdrawn. A planning officer said: “The parts of the building which are currently used as a public house cannot be altered or occupied without a change of use permission.” The pub was bought by a couple who immediately declared the business was unviable and submitted an application for change of use to ‘Bed and Breakfast’ accommodation. This was refused.
However, locals were clearly concerned about losing their pub. Violet Mowbray, a previous landlady of the Horse Shoe Inn told the ‘Gloucester Citizen’: “In the 1960’s we had a little shop in there as well. My father was born there and my aunt, Violet Hawtin, went to live there when she was ten months old. She celebrated her 100th birthday in February, and she doesn’t approve of the pub closing down and neither do I.”
Mark Haslam, area organiser for CAMRA Herefordshire, said that the sale of the Horse Shoe Inn was ‘cynical opportunism’ and claimed that the pub was the nucleus of the community. This was endorsed by local resident Les Manns, who considered that the Horse Shoe Inn was the ‘real heart of the village’.
In August 2001 sixty people met in Brooms Green and Ryton Village Hall and voted unanimously to continue their campaign against the closure of the 200 year old Horse Shoe Inn to a private house. The campaigners met again at the Village Hall in January 2002 where they created a replica of their pub. The ‘Citizen’ reported that ‘Locals set up a bar, dartboard, pool table, tables for quoits, skittles, dominoes and crib – and even put up the same posters as were in their beloved Horse Shoe Inn. Beer was supplied by a Malvern brewery – and for a £3 entrance fee – locals could get a free drink and a Ploughman’s Dinner.’
The application for change of use was protracted and suffered from continual delays. The property is now Horseshoe Inn House offering self-catering accommodation. The following is taken from their web pages:
‘Once the village pub, but now a quiet and relaxing destination for self-catered accommodation. Horseshoe Inn House is situated in the hamlet of Brooms Green, on the Gloucestershire and Herefordshire borders and 4 miles away from the busy and historic market town of Ledbury. The M50 motorway is easily accessible about 5 minutes away and there is a mainline railway station on the Hereford to London at Ledbury. We are half an hour from Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester and Cheltenham and an hour from Birmingham, Cardiff and Hay on Wye.
We are in an ideal location to explore the beautiful countryside of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. This includes The Forest of Dean, The Wye Valley, the Malvern Hills and the Welsh borders. It is an area also closely associated with the Dymock Poets and the village of Dymock is 2½ miles away.
Landlords at the Horse Shoe Inn include:
The tramway was converted to a railway from Bullo Pill Junction in 1851 and the branch line served a number of colleries and industries in the Forest of Dean including Shakemantle and Eastern United. Passenger traffic on the branch line was introduced in August 1907 and a halt immediately to the west of the road bridge over the A48 was conveniently sited near to the Railway Inn. Passenger traffic on the branch line continued until November 1958. The branch line to Cinderford off the South Wales main line began with a stiff gradient of 1:54 heading up the Soudley Valley towards the 1,064 yard long Haie Hill tunnel. It must have been a wonderful experience sitting in the back yard of the Railway Inn supping beer whilst listening to the sounds of Great Western pannier tanks attacking the climb from Bullo Pill Junction.
Railway Inn / Bullo Cross Inn GL14 1DZ
The Stroud Brewery Company purchased the Bullo Cross Inn in 1947 and in 1958 it later became a West Country Breweries house, but it closed soon afterwards. It was certainly delicensed in 1966.
It is now a private residence. In December 2000 the old pub was put up for sale with an asking price of £498,500. The sale particulars detailed a period three storey three / four bedroom property with three acres of garden, orchard and paddocks. With detached annexe, agricultural barn and stable.
Landlords at the Railway Inn / Bullo Cross Inn include: