|Forest of Dean Pubs - Cinderford
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Albion Inn, Victoria Street
The 1861 census gives the address of the Albion Inn as 99 Victoria Street. At that time there were seven properties in the Furnaces area between the Victoria Inn and the Albion Inn, and sixteen further properties going down the hill towards the Bridge Inn. These Victorian houses have been long demolished. A letter in the ‘Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review’ in July 1998 by Alec Pope of Cinderford High Street explains: ‘Properties in the Census Returns are all given a number. In 1861, three of these numbers give this clue as to where the Albion was. No 99 was the Albion, No 108 was the Victoria, No 124 was the Forge Hammer, the only survivor. From this, with these numbers running south to north, it may be deduced that the Albion was to the south of the Victoria and the Forge Hammer, and must have been somewhere between these and the Bridge Inn it the St Whites area.’
In 1861 Eliza and William Hore were resident at the Albion Inn, and William was also employed as a coal miner. William Dawson was landlord at the Albion c.1867 and there is no mention of the pub thereafter. The Albion is not mentioned in the 1891 petty sessions.
Barleycorn Inn, Bilson Green GL14 2LF
The owner of the Barleycorn Inn in 1889 was Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills near Weston under Penyard, Ross on Wye. Alfred conducted a malting business at Bill Mills supplying malt to a few pubs making their own beer. His brother Thomas Wintle had started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869, so although ownership of the Barleycorn Inn is credited to Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills, the beer was supplied from the Forest Brewery. Thomas passed away in 1888, leaving the brewery in Mitcheldean to his four children of which Francis had sole control by 1890. The Barleycorn Inn was owned by Francis Wintle in 1891 and 1903. Throughout those twelve years the annual rateable value of the beer house was set at £18.0s.0d and it closed each night at 11 pm.
In 1895 the Cinderford Recreation Ground on Valley Road, Bilson Green was compulsory purchased by the Great Western Railway and Cinderford Station was opened on 2nd July 1900. The Forest Brewery built the Railway Hotel at the same time to cater for the needs of passengers.
As the Barleycorn Inn was just 100 yards away from the newly opened Railway Hotel the Forest Brewery were keen to dispose of it. The Barleycorn Inn was referred to the compensation authority and it had closed by 1912.
There is now a housing development called Barleycorn Square off Station Terrace.
Landlords at the Barleycorn Inn include:
Bell Inn, High Street
Map Reference: S0655145 (approx)
The owner of the Bell Inn in 1889 was Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills near Weston under Penyard, Ross on Wye. Alfred conducted a malting business at Bill Mills supplying malt to a few pubs making their own beer. His brother Thomas Wintle had started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869, so although ownership of the Bell Inn is credited to Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills, the beer was supplied from the Forest Brewery. Thomas passed away in 1888, leaving the brewery in Mitcheldean to his four children of which Francis had sole control by 1890. The Bell Inn was owned by Francis Wintle in 1891 and 1903. Throughout those twelve years the annual rateable value of the beer house was set at £20.0s.0d and it closed each night at 11 pm.
Landlords at the Bell Inn include:
Bridge Inn, 138 Valley Road GL14 3HQ
The stone-built Bridge Inn was located at the bottom of St Whites Road at the junction with Valley Road. The Cinderford brook passes under the road at this spot. The 1919 Kellys Gloucestershire directory refers to the Bridge Inn at Cinderford Bridge. The Bridge Inn might have once been called the Railway, or have replaced an earlier hostelry of that name on the same site. The landlord of the Railway in 1863 is recorded as William Mountjoy, who had a long association with the Bridge Inn.
The owner of the Bridge Inn in 1891 was Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills near Weston under Penyard, Ross on Wye. Alfred conducted a malting business at Bill Mills supplying malt to a few pubs making their own beer. His brother Thomas Wintle had started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869, so although ownership of the Bridge is credited to Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills, the beer was supplied from the Forest Brewery. Thomas passed away in 1888, leaving the brewery in Mitcheldean to his four children of which Francis had sole control by 1890. The Bridge Inn was owned by Francis Wintle in 1903. Throughout those twelve years the annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £27.0s.0d and it closed each night at 11 pm.
In 1891 one chap bet a sovereign, in the Bridge Inn, Cinderford, that he could carry his mate to the Speech House in half-an-hour. But he stipulated that he’d only carry him and not his clothes! This remarkable spectacle passed Yew Tree Brake before the chap being carried realised that he could lose his sovereign and tried to overbalance himself, ending up being flung in the nearest ditch. Spectators of ‘Lord Godiva’ were joined by a policeman who took appropriate action and charged him with indecent exposure and the other with aiding and abetting.
Valley Road is now a sprawling industrial estate but coal mining once dominated the area. In the 1920’s the Lightmoor Pit employed some 500 men and the Bridge Inn was the nearest pub to the pit. At this time the Bridge Inn consisted of ‘serving bar, tap room, smoke room, sitting room, larder, pot house and urinal.’ After a hard day mining coal the miners must have drank several pints of Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery ales.
In 1937 ownership of the Bridge Inn passed to Cheltenham Original Brewery and later to West Country Breweries and eventually to Whitbread.
The 1996 edition of ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ (CAMRA) described the pub thus: “Modernised pub to the south of town. Comfortable with two real ales usually served. The landlord does not welcome CAMRA members!”
The Bridge Inn was trading in 2004 as a ‘free house’, but when it was put up for auction for £225,000 in September 2006 it was said to have been closed and on the market for some time. The auctioneers also mentioned that the Bridge Inn had ‘development potential’.
Steve Harborne’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ web pages, contains a comprehensive list of closed pubs. Steve has noted that the Bridge Inn closed on 1st December 2005.
A serious accident in August 2006 when a car collided with a corner of the disused pub generated a debate on the nature of the busy junction and the restrictive view around the building. When an application was submitted to the Forest of Dean District Council to convert the boarded-up pub into eight apartments in February 2008 there were strong objections. A letter in the ‘Forester’ noted, ‘With the increasing use of the units in the Valley Road Industrial Site the St Whites / Valley Road junction is becoming extremely busy and dangerous with heavy goods vehicles and large articulated lorries in particular having great difficulty in negotiating the turning.’ The correspondent concluded, ‘why not demolish the derelict pub, widen the corner and then landscape the whole area.’
The decision to either grant or refuse permission to the development was deferred whilst an independent traffic survey was conducted at the Bridge Inn junction. In January 2009 Cinderford Mayor, Max Coborn, said, ‘We are deeply concerned about the road there and want to county council to enforce a compulsory purchase order on the Bridge Inn’. He added, ‘Unfortunately the Bridge Inn will never be a pub again so the best thing to do is to knock it down and create a proper junction.’ But six months later no firm decision had been made. Indeed, there was a proposal to install traffic lights in place at the Bridge Inn junction at a cost of £215,000 to try and improve road safety. Meanwhile, the development proposal had been given outline planning permission. In February 2011 it was decided that the installation of traffic lights at the junction would be impractical. It took until October 2011 for a decision to be made when it was announced that the county council had purchased the Bridge Inn and a planning application to demolish the pub had been submitted by Gloucestershire Highways. Demolition of the Bridge Inn finally took place in the last week of January 2012.
But at least one local resident did not want to see the old Bridge Inn reduced to rubble. Robert Pryce thought that there should be a petition to save the land-mark building. He said “It is criminal that something so old, and a part of the area, is being knocked down.’ When the Bridge was standing there was a ‘Best in the West’ West Country Ales ceramic plaque still in place. Hopefully this was removed to safe keeping before the bulldozers smashed it to pieces.
Landlords at the Bridge Inn include:
Colliers Arms, 15 High Street
Crown Inn, Heywood Road GL14 2PL
The annual rateable value of the Crown Inn was set at £27.0s.0d. in the 12 years between the Gloucestershire licensing books from 1891 to 1903. It had beer house status and closed at 11 pm. Harriet Smith was the owner of the Crown Inn and it traded as a free house.
Landlords at the Crown Inn include:
Dog Inn, Victoria Street
The landlord of the Dog Inn, George Morgan, was convicted and fined 20/- plus costs for being drunk on his own premises on April 4th 1904. He had been in trouble a year before for ‘selling beer to an under 14-year old in an inadequately sealed bottle’, although he was acquitted on that occasion.
The Dog Inn closed in 1926.
Landlords at the Dog Inn include:
Dog House Micro Pub / Cobblers
On Saturday 10th October 2015 customers were invited to a ‘Drink the Bar Dry Night’ at the Cobblers where all the drinks were priced at £2 (excluding spirits). Less than a week later on Friday 16th October the refurbished bar opened as the Dog House Micro Pub.
Fleece Hotel, 18 High Street
In 1891 the Fleece Hotel was owned by the Tewkesbury Brewery Company and, according to the licensing book of that year, it was their only pub in the Forest of Dean. Ownership of the Fleece Hotel had passed to Arnold Perrett & Co. of Wickwar, 12 years later in 1903. The annual rateable value of the alehouse was £54.0s.0d. and closing time, in common with all Cinderford town pubs, was 11 pm. Cheltenham Original Brewery and West Country Breweries were the owners in later years.
In August 1895 a Mr Norman, from Gloucester, surgeon and dentist, was advertising that ‘he will be at the Fleece Hotel, Cinderford, from 11am-6pm every Thursday’… and that he used Nitrous Oxide gas for painless extraction. I wonder if those arriving early at the Fleece Hotel with a nervous disposition might have been tempted to quaff a few pints of the strongest of the Tewkesbury ales before even being administered with the dose of Nitrous Oxide gas to see Mr Norman.
In 1905 the Fleece Hotel was the headquarters of the Cinderford Football Club. The fixture list for 1906 included games with Neath, Aberdare, Coventry and Exeter.
When F.L. White was landlord in 1939 he posted an advertisement for the pub, which read: ‘A bright spot for any holiday maker! The Fleece Hotel, Cinderford. Here you will find good company, happy surroundings and a song. Together with a first-class drink. Cheltenham Ales and Stouts. Fully licensed. Bed & Breakfast.’
The Fleece Hotel was demolished c1963. Gordon Teague, the last landlord, moved to the nearby Swan Hotel.
Landlords at the Fleece Hotel include:
Forge Hammer, 115 Victoria Street
The Forge Hammer is located near the bottom of Victoria Street on a sharp bend. It is known to have been trading as early as 1832 as a beer house and in 1840 it was described as being ‘near to the iron furnance… and known by the sign of the Forge Hammer with the garden stable brewhouse buildings.’ In 1867 another reference was made to a brew house on the premises. However, some twenty years later in 1889 the Forge Hammer had been acquired by Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills. Alfred Wintle supplied malt to pubs making their ‘home brew’d ales’ so it is possible that brewing might have still taken place there. His brother Thomas Wintle had started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869, so although ownership of the Forge Hammer is credited to Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills, the beer was more than likely supplied from the Forest Brewery. Thomas passed away in 1888, leaving the brewery in Mitcheldean to his four children of which Francis had sole control by 1890. The Forge Hammer Inn was owned by Francis Wintle in 1891 and 1903. Throughout those twelve years the annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £15.0s.0d and it closed each night at 11 pm.
A long serving licensee at the Forge Hammer was William Leighton who was in occupancy from 1896 to 1935. His son, Sidney, then took over.
When the Forest Brewery put their tied estate on the market in 1923 an inventory of sale of the Forge Hammer described a serving bar, private bar, smoke room, two sitting rooms, kitchen, store room, two pot houses and a telephone room on the ground floor. On the first floor there were five bedrooms, club room, ante-room and two store rooms.
The 1996 edition of CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ described the Forge Hammer as a ‘friendly local on the outskirts of town with a central service area for bar and lounge.’ The pub has a skittle alley.
Landlords at the Forge Hammer include:
Fountain Inn, High Street / Bilson Road
George Inn, 27 Market Street GL14 2RT
Nailsworth Brewery supplied beers to the George Inn. The 1891 book of licensed premises in Gloucestershire confirms that Clissold & Sons of Nailsworth were owners. Presumably the opening of the Severn Railway Bridge between Berkeley and Lydney in October 1879 made it feasible for the Nailsworth Brewery to acquire outlets in the Forest of Dean area. It is known that the Nailsworth Brewery had its own dedicated store in Cinderford Railway station. The George, however, was the only Nailsworth Brewery tied house in the town. The George Inn was designated beer house status but the substantial annual rateable value of £30.0s.0d. in 1891 and 1903 would suggest that the premises was hardly ‘spit and sawdust’. Closing time was 11 pm.
Cheltenham Original Brewery took control over the Nailsworth Brewery in 1908 and beers to the George were then supplied from Cheltenham.
The pub was also known by locals as the 'Dog and Muffler’. The George closed in 1970.
The Gloucester Journal reported on 10th February 1973 that the George Hotel in Market Street has 'been empty for several years and each month that goes by can only add to its deterioration. It is a great pity that such a large sound building like this should go to waste, particularly when it is situated so centrally” In March 1975 Cinderford Town Council gave permission for the conversion of the George Hotel in Market Street to be converted to offices.
Landlords at the George Inn include:
Globe Inn, 115 High Street GL14 2TB
The Globe was a Wintles Forest Brewery house. In 1891 and 1903 it had an annual rateable value of £30.0s.0d. and was classified as an alehouse. Closing time was at 11 pm.
When the Globe Inn was put up for auction by the Forest Brewery in 1923 it was described as a stone and rough cast building which consisted of a bar, private bar, smoke room and kitchen on the ground floor. There were six rooms on the first floor and outside the property were a ‘small yard, coal store, two W.C’s, Coach-house, stabling for three, with good club room over and a public urinal.’ To the rear of the premises ‘is a large garden, divided into four, but with no fixed boundaries, which is used by the tenants of the Globe, and the three tenants of the cottages adjoining. In this ground is a brick-built stable, coach-house, two W.C’s, wash house and pigsty.’
Ownership of the Globe passed to Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1937 and thence to West Country Breweries. A West Country Brewery ‘Best in the West’ plaque is still in place on the outside wall.
April 1970 - The Seven Stars Inn in Cinderford will soon close. The licensee, Mr Clifford Weyman, will be moving up the High Street to take over the modernised Globe Inn.
The building, on the east side of the High Street, is set off the road and is still instantly recognisable as an old pub. It is now in use as a veterinary surgery.
Landlords at the Globe Inn include:
Golden Lion Inn / Lion Hotel, 27 High Street GL14 2SL
When John Harris was the tenant in 1861 the pub was listed as the Dolphin Inn. It appears to have been renamed to the (Golden) Lion in about 1868 when the pub may have been substantially rebuilt. In 1901 it was referred to as the Lion Family and Commercial and Posting House but just a year later a reference is simply to the Lion, Cinderford. It was still known as the Lion Inn in the Kellys 1939 directory.
Arnold Perrett & Co., Ltd, brewers on the other side of the River Severn at Wickwar near Wotton-under-Edge, were very active in late Victorian / early Edwardian times purchasing pubs to add to their rapidly expanding estate. It is probable that Diannah Smith of the Lion Inn was enticed by an offer from the Wickwar Brewery. In 1891 the Lion Inn was in her ownership and free from brewery tie, but the licensing book from 1903 indicates that it had been acquired by Arnold, Perrett & Co. The annual rateable value of the Lion Inn ale house was £61.0s.0d.
During the Coronation of the Queen in 1953 the landlord of the Lion Hotel, Tom Harvey, was most generous providing his customers with a 36-gallon cask of beer from which they could draw their drinks completely free of charge. “This is the first time and probably the last, mind” he told his locals.
In May 1968 a local at the Lion Hotel, Mr Harry Linsey, beat the record of drinking beer from the German equivalent of a yard-of-ale – a glass boot containing three-and-a-half pints belonging to landlord Mr George Beard – in an astonishing 45 seconds.
In August 2013 an advertisement in the ‘Forester’ newspaper under the heading ‘Cheers to the Golden Lion’ reported that the family-run pub had been in the same family for almost four years, and they put their success down to a ‘back-to-basics’ approach at the pub. The family said, ‘We want to go back to a more traditional time and get people in through the doors and socialise face-to-face’.” Live sports is very much a feature with every football match shown on Sky Sports and BT Sport installed so that every live game could be watched on their 6 big screens around the bar. There was also emphasis on the pub garden, “We hear people saying, ‘wouldn’t it be great if Cinderford had a pub with a big beer garden in the middle of town. It is amazing to think that even the people who come here on a regular basis don’t know about it.”
The Golden Lion made unwelcome headlines in September 2014 when a 20-year old man was caught on CCTV with a fake hand-gun on the premises which he used to point at the landlord and actually hit another man. At the court case the Judge said that no-one had reason to believe that the gun used in the domestic motivated incident was ‘anything other than real’.
The pub closed in October 2016 when the landlord decided to call it a day. A member of staff told the ‘Forester’, ‘We only found out on Friday afternoon. It’s very sad. It’s been a great place to work and we have some lovely regulars.’ A local added ‘We all knew it was on the cards but we never expected it to be this sudden.’ The landlord explained, ‘It’s been a very hard decision to make but trade has been down for some time.’ But seven weeks later the pub had opened in time for the Christmas party season.
The refurbishment of the pub included professionally drawn cartoon graffiti, and a complete bar and cellar refit. The name was also changed to simply The Lion. Marion Jayne had taken over the running of the pub, who also was at the helm of the nearby Fern Ticket. She said, ‘I don’t see there being any conflict of interest between the two pubs – in fact I think they will be complementary and make the town centre a more vibrant place to be.’
The Lion closed suddenly again in June 2018 but was soon taken on by a former Butlins redcoat, Louis West. The new look venue was a nightspot and open until 2 am. Louis said, ‘The dance floor is back in and the graffiti on the walls will go because I want to make it look cleaner and brighter. I’m going for a chic look.’
However, walking past the Golden Lion in April 2019 the premises seemed to be closed again. Their Facebook page is still active but there are no recent posts.
The pub has an unusual sign. A golden lion is crouched on a plinth mounted on a decorative iron bracket above the front door. A West Country Breweries ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque also survives.
Landlords at the Golden Lion include:
Greenview Ale and Porter Stores, Victoria Street
The Greenview Ale & Porter stores, an off-licence, was located in Victoria Street on the corner of Prospect Road. From here there are commanding views across the valley towards the woods of the Forest of Dean, perhaps the name given to the stores may have been inspired by the panorama… although it is easy to forget that when it was trading it would have overlooked an industrial landscape – hardly a green view then! It appears to have ceased trading by the end of the First World War. The late Ray Allen, a renowned Forest of Dean local historian, thought that it was also known as the Drum and Monkey.
The details listed below are believed to relate to the Greenview Ale & Porter Stores but there is an element of doubt as the 1891 and 1903 Gloucestershire licensing books simply refers to the premises as ‘having no name’. Therefore, I cannot guarantee that I have got these details right.
Jane Parsons was the owner of the premises in 1891 when it was free of brewery tie. William Thomas is listed as the occupier. In 1903 the store was owned by the Rock Brewery. The annual rateable value was set at £11.10s.0d. and it closed at 11 pm. Sales of alcohol were restricted to off the premises only.
The reference in 1903 to the Rock Brewery is intriguing. There was a Rock Brewery trading in Aberdare in Glamorgan at the beginning of the 19th century. But the succession of references for the 4 years from 1899 to 1903 tend to suggest that there was a Rock Brewery in Dursley. In 1899 there is mention of change of ownership from Mr Kibblewhite to Ambrose Drew (Rock Brewery Co.), but then in 1901 another reference gives details of Dursley Brewery Co., followed by the aforementioned 1903 licensing records of the stores when William Oakey was the occupier.
Green Dragon, Nr. Barleycorn Square
Map Reference: SO652141 (approx)
Grocer shop, Belle Vue Road
David Clarke is recorded as the owner in 1891 and 1903 and it seems that he was free to source his beers from anywhere as it was not tied to a brewery. The license stipulated that the beer house could sell alcohol off the premises only. It had an annual rateable value of £11.10s.0d. and closed at 11 pm. W.C. Ivins was shop keeper in 1891 and Frederick Gay Jnr was beer retailer and shop keeper in 1902/3.
Heywood Inn, 32 Heywood Road GL14 2QU
The Heywood Inn was located at the far end of Heywood Road at the sharp bend near Woodgate Road. The address was 32 Heywood Road. The pub overlooked Bilson Green. This was once the site of the Northern United colliery and the associated railway sidings, etc. Custom must have come from miners at the colliery. In October 1949 it was reported that there was a mounting concern over the open pits at Lower High Street, Cinderford, and near the Heywood Inn where they were said to be half full of water and unprotected.
It is recorded in the 1891 licensing book that the Heywood Inn was a beer house and was operating free from brewery tie. The owner was William Critchley. It appears to have been sold to Ind Coope & Co. twelve years later in 1903. In those years the annual rateable value was £20.0s.0d. The ownership of the Heywood Inn by the Burton on Trent brewery was not to last very long as the Heywood Inn had become a tied house of Arnold, Perrett & Co.’s Wickwar Brewery by the First World War. It had changed ownership to Cheltenham Original Breweries by 1937, and thence to West Country Breweries / Whitbread.
In the fourth edition of CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’, published in July 1978, the Heywood was described rather vaguely as a ‘typical Whitbread town local.’ Whitbread (West Country) PA was sold on hand pump.
On 23rd March 1989 the Gloucester Citizen reported that: ‘Whitbread Flowers have bade a fond farewell to licensee Mary Wynn, aged 77, who is retiring from the Heywood Inn, Cinderford, after more than 50 years behind the bar. Simon Ellicott, Whitbread Flowers area manager, presented Mary with a barometer on behalf of the company’.
Steve Harborne’s excellent ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ web pages contain a comprehensive list of closed pubs. Steve has noted that the Heywood Inn closed on 1st January 1990.
The Heywood Inn later became a private residence. In recent years a housing development has surrounded the old pub. Houses were first constructed to the front of the pub obscuring the view towards Bilson Green. Four other houses built within the immediate confines of the old pub were left uncompleted in 2007 when the contractors ran into financial difficulties. The Heywood Inn had become unoccupied by that time. A West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque that graced the rear of the old pub was either removed or stolen during this period.
In May 2009 Cinderford based builder Keith Bell took over the project. The visually unattractive and now old out of place pub was demolished when the new houses were completed.
Landlords at the Heywood Inn include:
Hunters Wine Bar and Restaurant, 37-39 High Street GL14 2S
Jovial Colliers / Colliers Arms, 15 High Street GL14 2SL
In 1891 and 1903 the annual rateable value of the Jovial Colliers was set at £18.0s.0d. During those years the beer house was owned by Levi Wilce and was free of brewery tie. Last orders at night were called at 11 pm.
Levi Wilce, the owner and occupier of the Jovial Colliers, was also one of the biggest land owners in Cinderford in late Victorian / early Edwardian times. He was listed as a butcher and farmer in 1894 and a timber merchant and farmer in 1902 There was once a timber yard on the site of Lidl supermarket in the High Street operated by Levi Wilce and the turn of the last century the timber yard employed at least 50 men. Levi Wilce was grossly obese weighing 22 stones. When he died in 1912 it required nine pall bearers to carry his coffin. He was only in his 50’s. Sadly two of his sons were killed in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
The pub was later known as the Colliers Arms. It was de-licensed in the 1950’s it became the Woodside Furnishing Store which was enlarged in 1959. The property was until recently the offices of the ‘Forester’ local newspaper. The address is 43 to 47 High Street.
Landlords at the Jovial Colliers / Colliers Arms include:
Kings Head, 1 Abbey Street GL14 2NW
The Kings Head was situated on a corner position at the ‘town’ end of Abbey Street on the junction with Woodside Street. In 1891 it was a beer house that was owned by R. Blinkhorn and free from brewery tie. Thomas Mills was the occupying landlord. The Forest Brewery of Mitcheldean (Francis Wintle) were owners in 1903. The annual rateable value was £19.0s.0d. and closing time was at 11 pm. When the Forest Brewery put their tied houses up for sale in 1923 the Kings Head, a brick built building, consisted of a ‘bar, two smoke rooms, sitting room, kitchen, a club room and three bedrooms, with a small stable and yard, store shed and strip of garden outside.’
In November 1956 it was reported that two boys aged 10 and 13 hit upon a good idea to get some money for much needed sweets. They went to the yard of the Kings Head Inn, Cinderford, and stole seven empty beer bottles and handed them in at the Prince of Wales off-licence in Pembroke Street. They then spent the money on sweets, the magistrates heard at Littledean Juvenille Court. But they hadn’t planned on getting caught, therefore the sweets left a rather sour taste in their mouths.
In the third edition of CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’, published in 1977, the Kings Head is listed as selling Whitbread PA (Pale Ale) from hand pump.
The property was last in use as business premises – Morgan & Co., Chartered Accountants. There were two large bay windows with a central wooden canopied entrance.
The old Kings Head was demolished in 2004 and four bungalows have since been built on the site.
Landlords at the Kings Head include:
Lamb, Commercial Street GL14 2RN
In the 1891 licensing book of Gloucestershire premises the Lamb Inn is listed as a beer house, free from brewery tie. Thomas Stephens was the occupier and owner. He is recorded at the Lamb from 1871 to 1892 and it seems that Mary Stephens was his wife as she is listed as occupier at the same property in 1891 and 1903. The annual rateable value was £22.10s.0d. and ‘time, gentlemen please’ was called at 11 pm. The Lamb Inn was sold by the Stephens family to the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean – (in 1903 Francis Wintle was the owner). However, in 1910 Howard Stephens was in residence. It is more than likely that the sale of the privately owned free house to Wintle’s brewery was financially an offer that the Stephens family simply could not refuse.
When the Forest Brewery put their tied estate on the market in 1923 the Lamb Inn had a ‘service bar, smoke room, beer store, kitchen and small room’ on the ground floor. There were three bedrooms and a club room upstairs and to the rear of the Lamb Inn was a ‘yard with roll-way for casks, wash-house, closet, public urinal and a long strip of garden.’ The Lamb Inn closed c.1928.
Miners Arms, Victoria Street GL14 2ET
Mitre Inn, Steam Mills GL14 3JD
In 1891 and 1903 the Mitre Inn, a beer house, had an annual rateable value of £22.10s.0d. It was a tied house of Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean. The pub closed at 11 pm each night.
When the Forest Brewery put their tied estate up for sale in 1923 the Mitre Inn was described as ‘well placed to command local and passing trade’. It was a substantial stone-built building with a ‘serving bar, public bar, smoke room, kitchen, smaller kitchen, club room, pot house and W.C.’ on the ground floor. There were six rooms upstairs and to the rear there was a public urinal and closet. The Mitre Inn had ‘cellarage in the basement’
I have found no documentation relating to the Mitre Inn after 1939, suggesting that it closed sometime during or after the Second World War.
Landlords at the Mitre Inn include:
Mount Pleasant Inn, 13 St. Whites Road GL14 3DA
The Mount Pleasant, on the junction of St Whites Road and Mount Pleasant Road, is situated on elevated land to the south of Cinderford with fine aspects over the Soudley Valley, into the Forest of Dean and onwards towards the Welsh mountains. The panoramic views are not necessarily enjoyed from the bar and ground floor of the pub, however, as the sightings are more likely to be of queuing traffic on the B4226.
In 1888 the ‘fully licensed inn’ consisted of a ‘bar, bar parlour, kitchen, back kitchen, pantry, two underground cellars, club room, two bedrooms, dressing room and store room, coach-house, three stall stable, piggeries and garden’. Together with two adjoining cottages and associated land the Mount Pleasant Inn was valued at £820.
The Mount Pleasant Inn was once a Forest Brewery house. Francis Wintle owned the property in 1891 and 1903 when the annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £20.0s.0d. (11 pm closing time).
In 1923 when the Forest Brewery put their pub estate on the property market the Mount Pleasant had a ‘serving bar, smoke room, sitting room, beer store and kitchen’ on the ground floor. There were five bedrooms and a box room upstairs. To the outside there was a ‘old range of stabling, two pig cots, urinal, closet and small strip of garden’.
The pub sign depicts a huntswoman, resplendent in black jacket, jodhpurs and boots sitting astride a horse – a brewery artist interpretation of the name Mount Pleasant.
A West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque is still in situ.
Landlords at the Mount Pleasant Inn include:
Nags Head, Church Road GL14 2EG
The present-day address of the Nags Head is 36 Meendhurst Road, which is just off Church Road. The Nags Head is situated in a hollow but there are fine views of the Forest of Dean from the pubs garden.
In the 1891 and 1903 licensing books of Gloucestershire the Nags Head is listed as a ‘free house’. Throughout those years the Nags Head, a beer house, had an annual rateable value of £17.0s.0d. It was owned by Thomas Jones in 1891 (occupier Thomas Jenkins) and Alice Jenkins in 1903. The Jenkins family sold the pub to the Alton Court Brewery of Ross on Wye in 1927. Stroud Brewery then acquired the Alton Court Brewery with their pubs, including the Nags Head, in 1956. West Country Breweries and Whitbread were the subsequent owners.
The Nags Head is a regular venue for live music. When Lin Bedington took over in October 2012 she had the help of her three daughters and son to run the pub. She said, ‘Running a successful pub these days is a big challenge but there are a lot of local people who want to see this pub kept going. We are going to keep the live music going on Saturday nights because the pub has made a name for itself for that and they pull in a good crowd. The pub has a nice feelgood factor to it and we’re going to give it a bit of a facelift. There’s also a big beer garden that we’re going to put back into use. It won’t happen overnight but we hope to be offering food as soon as possible.’ In addition to its reputation as a premier music venue, the Nags Head now hosts ‘open mic’ nights, comedy nights and pub-quizzes. On Sunday 4th August 2013 a charity raising event in aid of Cancer Research UK and the Air Ambulance helped raise £681.70.
The Nags Head is a whitewashed building with a slate roof and retains decorative etched windows.
Landlords at the Nags Head include:
New Inn, Littledean Hill
The fixed annual rateable value of £9.10s.0d. throughout the years 1891 to 1903 and its status as a beer house ‘licensed to sell ‘on’ the premises only’ would suggest that the New Inn was quite a basic and modest establishment. The earliest reference that I have come across is in 1869 when Daniel Meredith is listed as the occupier. The family were still in residence in late Victorian / early Edwardian times when M.A. Meredith is the owner / occupier.
No name, High Street
This accompanying image is of a traditional style shop which is located at the junction of the High Street and Wesley Road – and directly opposite the building that was once the Jovial Colliers pub – could possibly be the premises listed without having a name. Or perhaps not.
Thomas Cook was the owner of this property, which was listed as a beer house with a licence for off-sales only in 1891 and 1903. With an annual rateable value of £22.10s.0d. it was certainly not too basic, although the higher rates could simply be an indication that it was located near the town centre. William Bingle was the occupier at the time and in the 1902 Kelly’s Directory he is described as a beer retailer. In another reference he is credited as being an agent for the Nailsworth Brewery Company – although not necessarily operating from this establishment.
No name (off licence)
Old Engine Inn, Steam Mills GL14 3JD
Steam Mills is located just to the north of Cinderford on the A4151 road, not far from the junction with the A4136 at Nailbridge. The name given to the pub might have been a reference to a winding engine at the nearby Northern United Colliery.
The Gloucester Journal reported that the Old Engine, Upper Bilson, East Dean was to be sold by auction on Monday, the 18th day of April 1870. As the Forest Steam Flour Mills and Brewery had been set up in Mitcheldean by Thomas Wintle in March 1869 can we assume that the Old Engine was one of the first pubs to be acquired by the Forest Brewery? Francis Wintle is listed as the owner in of the Old Engine in 1891 and 1903 when the annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £30.0s.0d. It closed at 11pm.
When the Forest Brewery put their tied estate up for sale in 1923 the Old Engine Inn inventory described a ‘serving bar, large public bar, smoke room, kitchen, sitting room and covered yard with Pot House, W.C., etc.’ The first floor had three living rooms. To the rear there was a ‘Coach house, Stabling for four with loft over, good open yard, closet and urinal. Nice strip of garden.’
Old Engine Inn closed on 3rd April 2001. The property is now in private occupancy but there is still a plastic ‘Toby Bitter – Old Engine Inn’ pub sign giving an indication of its former use.
The Old Engine was put up for sale by owners Lloyd and Mary Wilce in August 1989. Lloyd Wilce was a veteran town councillor. In 2015 he successfully defended his seat. He was Britain’s longest serving councillor with 66 years’ service being first elected representing the Labour party in 1949. Sadly, Lloyd passed away on 20th February 2018, aged 89.
Landlords at the Old Engine include:
Prince of Wales, Woodside Street
The Woodside Street establishment is indeed open to question as it appears to have closed after 1903 when Frank Dykins was the occupier. The 1891 licensing book gives details that an unnamed premises had an annual rateable value of £13.10s.0d. and was owned and occupied by Thomas Burford. It operated free of brewery tie, but the records give no details on whether this was a beer house or off-licence. In 1903 a property with identical rateable values and owned by Ann Burford is listed as the Prince of Wales. (11 pm closing time).
Frank Dykins may have been a teetotaller. Alfred Dykins Commercial Temperance Hotel is recorded in 1900 as being in Victoria Street, again not too far from Woodside Street. Were Frank and Alfred related?
Prince of Wales, Pembroke Street
From the site of the Kings Head on the corner of Abbey Street and Woodside Street to Pembroke Street is not that far. Presumably those two young lads could have run the distance in just over a minute. The actual location of the Prince of Wales off-licence has to be determined but a house on the corner plot of Flaxley Street and Pembroke Street seems to be the most likely building to have once had a commercial use. Directly opposite would have been the Red Lion pub in Flaxley Street.
Queens Head, 122 High Street GL14 2TD
The Queens Head closed on 20th April 1927 – by that time the beers were probably supplied from the Cheltenham Original Brewery Company. The Queens Head is now divided into two houses, one of which, apparently, still has an old skittle alley attached to it.
Landlords at the Queens Head include:
Railway Hotel, Station Street GL14 2LG
Cinderford Railway Station was built on a recreation ground off Valley Road, which had previously hosted Cinderford’s annual fair. The GWR station opened on 2nd July 1900. It was a terminus and trains ran from Lydney via Serridge Junction. The Railway Hotel, directly opposite the station, was built at the same time by the Forest Brewery to cater for the needs of passengers and users of the railway. The annual rateable value of the Railway Hotel in 1903 was £35.0s.0d. It was classified as an ale house and closed at 11 pm.
When Francis Wintle’s Mitcheldean Forest Brewery put their pubs up for sale in 1923, the Railway Hotel was one of the most prestigious pubs in their tied estate. It was described as a modern stone built premises outside the Station, ‘placed to command a large and independent trade.’ On the ground floor there was a ‘serving bar, private bar, smoke room, commercial room, kitchen, larder, wash-house and store room.’ Upstairs were five bedrooms and a further bedroom, bathroom and lavatory on a half-landing. The Railway Hotel had a cellar in which to keep beer and to the rear there was an ‘excellent yard approached by a pair of folding gates, W.C., urinal and a small plot of land.’
Passenger services were withdrawn from the Cinderford branch in November 1958. The station remained in use as a goods depot until August 1967. Inevitably a great deal of trade was lost at the Railway Hotel when the railway station closed down. The GWR station has long been demolished.
The Railway Hotel was a Whitbread pub in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The fifth edition of CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’, published in 1980, described the Railway as a ‘friendly two bar pub opposite the site of Cinderford Station.’ Whitbread PA and Bitter were available on hand pump and Traditional Bulmers Cider was served direct from the barrel (a plastic one!).
The May Bank Holiday of 1988 saw a team of bricklayers and a team of plasterers, customers of the Railway Hotel, competing against one another in a special obstacle course laid out at the rear of the old Lister’s premises. The course included plank walking, climbing frames, nets, hoops and weight-lifting. At the end of the course, all customers had to consume a gallon of beer. This was all done for a very good cause; in aid of the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. The brickies won.
In the late 1990’s the old Railway Hotel had been transformed to a trendy young-persons venue called Trax – no doubt intended as a play on words referring to the proximity of the old railway tracks and the music tracks being played at the venue. The venture was short lived and by the middle of the decade owners Punch Taverns had renamed the pub as the more traditional Railway Tavern.
In the summer of 2007 the Railway Tavern had closed and planning application had been submitted for change of use. A revised scheme was received in July 2008 for the ‘conversion and extension to the former Railway Tavern to create ten apartments’.
Heritage: West Country Ales plaque in situ.
Owner in 2005: Punch Taverns
Landlords at the Railway Hotel include:
Red Lion, 44 Flaxley Street GL14 2DH
Flaxley Street is in a residential area just to the east of Cinderford town centre. The Red Lion, a sandstone built terraced pub, was first licensed in 1869. In 1891, 22 years later, it had an annual rateable value of £18.0s.0d. and was classified as a beer house which was free of brewery tie. John Millwaters is recorded as the owner and occupier. In 1901 he sold to Red Lion to Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery. The details of sale described it as a ‘valuable old established free beer house’.
When the pubs of the Forest Brewery were put up for sale in 1923 the Red Lion was described as stone built and ‘nicely placed to command a thriving trade’. On the ground floor there was a ‘bar, tap room, smoke room, kitchen, sitting room, larder, etc. Upstairs there were four rooms and a club room. To the outside there was a wash house, W.C., public urinal, stone erection of stabling with entrance from Flaxley Lane, brick pig cot and a ‘nice strip of garden.’
Ownership of the Red Lion passed to Cheltenham Original Brewery and then to Cheltenham & Hereford / West Country Breweries. It is thought that the pub called ‘last orders’ for the last time in the late 1960’s / early 1970’s.
The property is now in residential use. The only visible sign that the building was once a pub is a defined rectangular arrangement of bricks within the sandstone façade that once housed a ‘West Country Ales – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque. Modern UVPC windows and doors have replaced the original wooden door and sash windows.
Landlords at the Red Lion include:
Royal Foresters, 104 Littledean Hill Road GL14 2BE
An article in the Gloucestershire Chronicle, dated 29th January 1870, made reference to the Royal Foresters at Littledean Hill ‘near the Causeway Mine Works’. It was to be let on the 17th March 1870 and was described as a ‘fully licensed old established house with a good garden and about one acre of meadowland adjoining.’ Applicants were asked to enquire for details on the premises. It seems that the Alton Court Brewery of Ross on Wye may have been the successful bidder as it was one of their tied houses twenty-one years later in 1891. Beer drinkers at the Royal Foresters were able to enjoy Alton Court Beers for a further 65 years – the Alton Court Brewery was acquired by Stroud Brewery in 1956. The annual rateable value of the Royal Foresters in 1891 and 1903 was £25.0s.0d. and the alehouse closed at 11 pm.
In April 1938 a local newspaper reported on a drink-driving case: ‘Ivor Knight of the Causeway, Cinderford, a Private in the Second Gloucestershire Regiment, was charged with driving a motor car while under the influence of drink without a licence. Stanley Williams, collier, of Littledean Hill Road told the court that he was in the Foresters pub and noticed that Private Knight was a little merry. Police spoke to Mr Knight after the vehicle he was driving, ended up on its side in the middle of the road, to ascertain how much he was under the influence. They asked him to touch his nose with his finger and pronounce certain words to see if he could get his tongue around them. One was ‘Constantinople’ and the other was ‘Idiosyncrasy’. The subsequent results of this test was comical to say the least.’
The landlady of the Royal Foresters in 1967, Nan Worgan, came second in the competition held in that year to find Gloucester’s Most Glorious Granny! When Nan was selling beer at the Royal Foresters it was still selling Stroud Brewery / West Country Ales – probably Gloster Keg – but was soon to become a Whitbread pub.
The panoramic views of the River Severn as it majestically sweeps around the Arlingham horseshoe bend with the vista of the City of Gloucester and the Cotswold Hills forming the background are idyllic viewed from Littledean Hill. The Royal Forester pub benefited from probably the finest view to be enjoyed anywhere in a Gloucestershire pub garden. In 2009 Forest of Dean District Council objected to the benches and tables in the pub garden on the grounds that customers had to cross the road in front of the pub and the entrance to the garden was too close to a very sharp bend! Health & Safety Regulations gone mad!! The landlord was also told to remove a smoking shelter from immediately in front of the front of the pub – a wonderful place to sit at night to see the distant lights of both Gloucester and Bristol. A spokesman for the council said that the access to the pub garden contravened highway safety. The smoking shelter was claimed to overlook neighbouring properties.
A petition to retain the beer garden gained the support of 500 signatures, and in January 2010 many councillors were adding their weight to save the garden. The smoking-shelter, however, was found to be contravening planning regulations and the owner was asked either to remove it or replace it. Meanwhile an application was submitted in May 2009 for outline permission to build four two-bedroom dwellings on the car park. On the advice of Gloucestershire Highways another planning application was submitted to block up an existing access road and form another one.
Gloucester Cider Company was based in Wickwar (which was previously the premises of the Arnold, Perrett & Co Brewery). They produced a cider called GL. When Bulmers bought the Gloucester Cider Company in 1948 the GL brand was transferred to their Hereford Cider Works. GL cider was very popular in the Forest of Dean. Officially called Gold Label Cider, but affectionally known as Gloucester Lager, the product was finally phased out in 2009. The last few barrels were ordered by the Royal Foresters and the final pint of GL was served at the pub on St Patrick’s Day in 2010. With true Forest humour the last barrel of GL was buried in the beer garden with the epitaph ‘In Loving Memory of GL Cider. Died 17th March 2010’. Two years later the GL brand was re-launched by Much Marcle cider makers Westons. The Royal Foresters was chosen as the venue to promote the revitalised Westons GL Cider. Unfortunately the sales of the brand were disappointing and the product has since been discontinued.
An intelligence-led operation aimed at stamping out the sale and suspected illegal use of drugs on licensed premises prompted a drugs raid on the Royal Foresters in July 2012. Dozens of police stormed the premises and arrested two DJ’s who were setting up for a private party in a function room. The landlord was not impressed, telling the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘Our pub was shut for around three hours while they were here and it turned out to be a total waste of time for the police.’ He added, ‘We lost about £1,000 in takings which is disastrous for any pub nowadays.’
A planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council in September 2012 for the ‘change of use from public house (Class A4) to children’s nursery (Class D1) with the installation of fire escape and associated development. The Royal Foresters called ‘last orders’ for the very last time on Sunday 3rd February 2013. Landlord Ian Martin told the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘Pubs are finished. It’s been on the market for three years and we’ve only had one viewing. Only around five customers live within a half-mile radius and there are six or seven other pubs and clubs within a mile, so it will not be a loss to the local community.’ An auction of the pub’s memorabilia, including some brewery mirrors and a giant Kung Fu panda, was held at the same time as a recruitment event for the Little Pebbles nursery.
The Childcare Business at the Royal Foresters had closed by October 2014 and the property was put up for sale with a guide price of £345,000. The sale particulars described a wealth of versatile accommodation, good sized gardens, large car park, two independent LPG heating systems and views towards the River Severn. It was bought by Cinderford-based developer Keith Bell. An application was submitted for plans to turn the building into four apartments and create three terraced homes and a pair with two bedrooms – with car parking and landscaping. The application was debated by Cinderford Town Council in May 2015 and no objections were raised to the scheme although it was thought to be disappointed that the building could not be run successfully as a pub or restaurant.
In August 2017 an application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for the ‘outline application for erection of one dwelling at the former Royal Foresters Inn.
Landlords at the Royal Foresters include:
Royal Oak, Littledean Hill Road GL14 2DE
The Royal Oak was located at the southern end of Littledean Hill.
The 1891 and 1903 Gloucestershire licensing books rather confusingly include the Royal Oak in the parish of Mitcheldean. The nearby Royal Foresters Inn, however, is listed as being in Cinderford. The annual rateable value in those late Victorian / early Edwardian times of the Royal Oak alehouse was £15.0s.0d. and it closed at 11 pm each night. The Royal Oak was owned by Wintles Forest Brewery.
When the tied houses of the Forest Brewery were put up for sale in 1923 the Royal Oak was described as ‘well placed to command a good-class trade.’ On the ground floor there was a bar, tap room, smoke room, beer store, kitchen, pot house, wine store, closet and urinal. Upstairs there were four living rooms and a club room. To the side of the Royal Oak there was a yard with a pair of folding gates, vegetable garden, pig cot and closet. At the rear there was a meadow of roughly about three acres and ‘rough range of stabling’.
The fifth edition of CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’, published in 1980, lists the Royal Oak and describes it has having ‘lovely views over the valley’. Whitbread (West Country) PA was sold from hand pump. Real draught cider was also available. In the early 1980’s the Royal Oak was demolished to facilitate a road-widening scheme.
A housing development called Oak Field in Littledean Hill Road gives an indication where the Royal Oak once was.
Landlords at the Royal Oak include:
Royal Union, 8 High Street GL14 2SH
The Royal Union was another Cinderford pub that was once tied to the local Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean. In 1891 and 1903 the annual rateable value of the Wintle’s alehouse was £40.10s.0d. and closing time was at 11 pm. In 1923, when the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean put their tied houses up for sale, the Royal Union Inn had a serving bar, public bar, three smoke rooms, large club room, kitchen, larder and scullery on the ground floor. Upstairs there were four bedrooms and a box room. To the rear of the pub was a W.C., tiled urinal, coal shed, pot house etc. There was also stabling and a coach house and a side entrance to the yard enclosed by a pair of folding gates.
An advertisement for the Royal Union Hotel in 1939, when William Jones was the landlord, described the pub as a ‘popular house and the best of company. Cosy private rooms for large or small tourist parties.’ Cheltenham Ales and Stouts were sold at the bar.
The Royal Union had closed by 1955 and was subsequently demolished.
In 2000 a bronze statue of a freeminer was erected in Cinderford’s ‘new-look’ triangle on the site of the Royal Union pub. Anthony Dufort was commissioned to sculpt a statue and freeminer Dave Harvey was used as a model for the art work. The sculpture depicts Dave working on his knees to extract coal from a narrow seam in the Northern United colliery in Cinderford which closed in 1965.
Landlords at the Royal Union Inn include:
Seven Stars, 130 High Street GL14 2TD
The Seven Stars was a substantial stone built detached building at the bottom of the High Street, near the junction with Valley Road. A small lane by the side of the old pub connecting High Street and Valley Road is called Seven Stars Lane.
According to the 1891 Gloucestershire licensing book the Seven Stars was owned by ‘the trustees of John Embling’ but leased to Bailey & Co. This might refer to the company of R.B. Bailey who were brewers at the City Brewery, Quay Street, Gloucester. R.B. Bailey & Co. was offered for auction on the 14th November 1894 with fifteen public houses. By 1903 the Seven Stars alehouse was owned by the Alton Court Brewery of Ross on Wye. The rateable value per annum was set at £36.0s.0d. The Customers at the Seven Stars were able to enjoy their Alton Court beers until Stroud Brewery took over the company in 1956. The pub then became a West Country Breweries house.
In July 1957 Enoch Whittington, of the Severn Stars front pin skittles team, knocked down 52 pins with just 12 balls in four legs.
April 1970 - The Seven Stars Inn in Cinderford will soon close. The licensee, Mr Clifford Weyman, will be moving up the High Street to take over the modernised Globe Inn.
The pub is now in residential use. To the left of the front door is a distinct rectangular arrangement of bricks that has replaced the West Country Ales – Best in the West ceramic plaque that once graced the pub.
Landlords at the Seven Stars include:
Stockwell Inn, Stockwell Green GL14 2EH
Stockwell Green is to the south of Cinderford between St Whites Road and Church Road. In 1911 the Stockwell Inn was referred for closure by the Compensation Authority. It was described as a ‘one roomed (12 feet by 9 feet) beerhouse, located down a bad road opposite the cricket ground.’ The Stockwell Inn was trading 120 barrels of beer per year at the time of referral.
The photograph shows Mr Christopher Banks and his wife standing by the front door of the pub. There is a pig and turkey roaming in the front yard – something you don’t often see when you visit your local today! (Photo courtesy of Ann Suttie).
The owner of the Stockwell Inn in 1889 was Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills near Weston under Penyard, Ross on Wye. Alfred conducted a malting business at Bill Mills supplying malt to a few pubs making their own beer. His brother Thomas Wintle had started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869, so although ownership of the Stockwell Inn is credited to Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills, the beer was supplied from the Forest Brewery. Thomas passed away in 1888, leaving the brewery in Mitcheldean to his four children of which Francis had sole control by 1890. The Stockwell Inn was owned by Francis Wintle in 1891 and 1903. Throughout those twelve years the annual rateable value of the beer house was set at £18.0s.0d and it closed each night at 11 pm.
Landlords at the Stockwell Inn include:
Swan Hotel / Fern Ticket, High Street GL14 2SQ
The Swan Hotel, in the centre of Cinderford at the top end of the High Street, was built in 1867 on the site of an earlier hostelry of the same name.
The owner of the Swan Hotel in 1889 was Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills near Weston under Penyard, Ross on Wye. Alfred conducted a malting business at Bill Mills supplying malt to a few pubs making their own beer. His brother Thomas Wintle had started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869, so although ownership of the Swan Hotel is credited to Alfred Wintle of Bill Mills, the beer was supplied from the Forest Brewery. Thomas passed away in 1888, leaving the brewery in Mitcheldean to his four children of which Francis had sole control by 1890. The Swan Hotel was owned by Francis Wintle in 1891 and 1903. Throughout those twelve years the annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £35.0s.0d and it closed each night at 11 pm.
When the Forest Brewery put the Swan Hotel on the market in 1923 it was described as brick-built and rough cast and the ground floor consisted of a bar, private bar, ladies’ room, two smoke rooms, kitchen, scullery and pantry. Upstairs there were ten bedrooms, commercial room, bath room (hot and cold water), store room and large club room. Outside there was an ‘excellent yard with pair of folding gates, bottled beer store, coal house, stabling for six, garage for three and W.C. and public toilet.’
Sixteen years later the Swan Hotel was catering for motorists.
A 1939 advertisement noted ‘every accommodation for motor cars and cycles, commodious yard and lock-up garages.’ Sydney Bowdler was the proprietor and ‘luncheons, teas, etc’ were provided. The owner of the Swan was the Cheltenham Original Brewery Co. and ‘Cheltenham Noted Ales and Stout’ were sold.
The Swan Hotel was trading successfully throughout most of the 1960’s, 1970’s and the early 80’s when Gordon and Eileen Teague were the much-loved landlords. Gordon, who was born in Cinderford, was a man of many trades as he had started work at the Northern United Colliery, worked for the ‘Citizen’ newspaper and established a fishmongers shop in the town before moving onto the pub trade in 1961 when he was asked to help at the Fleece Hotel. Gordon and Eileen moved the short distance from the Fleece to the Swan in 1963. They were there for 25 years. During their time at the Swan Hotel a new 42 feet long skittle alley, constructed in Australian Kangaroo Redwood, was installed in 1969. It was reported ‘that the first ball was played by Mr. Wheeler, The Swan’s oldest customer.’ In March 1970 members of Cinderford Town Band played skittles for 24 hours on the Swan’s new skittle alley raising money for their new uniforms. And in November 1981 lucky Cinderford pensioner George Wick ‘won a free pint a day for a year at his local Whitbread Flowers pub, The Swan.’ On special occasions Gordon would even entertain his customers by playing on his piano-accordian. Gordon Wheeler passed away, aged 72, on 18th October 2002.
By the end of the 1990’s the Swan had closed for business and was boarded-up. Santokh Singh, the landlord of the Mount Pleasant Inn, bought the ailing Swan in 1999. He told the ‘Forest of Dean Newspapers’ “I want to make the Swan somewhere where everybody is welcome, and I am looking to re-open around Christmas,’ adding ‘I intend to turn the Swan into a going concern again as a town centre pub, refurbish the place and offer food.’
The owner of the Swan in 2005 (his name deliberately not given here) was jailed for his part in a big cigarette smuggling racket from which a hearing at Gloucester Crown Court claimed that the crime had benefited him by over half-a-million pounds, although his assets were found to be considerably less. He was part of a gang known as the Ciggie Six which evaded £5 million in duty by smuggling 50 million cigarettes from the Far East into the UK via a furniture export business.
The Swan closed unexpectedly in November 2011. A notice pinned to the door read, ‘I am sorry for any inconvenience caused but the Swan is now shut and has ceased trading. Thank you to everybody who has supported me over the years and will miss you all, well nearly all!’
It was announced in March 2012 that the Swan would be offered up for auction after it had been repossessed by the Bank. This prompted the town council to write to pub operator J.D Wetherspoon to ask if they might be interested in taking on the empty pub. However, it was decided that the pub was too small to meet their requirements. Cinderford Mayor, Max Coborn, said,’ ‘We’d like to see somebody sort it as it’s really the start of the town. It’s a great old pub and it would be sad to see it go to rack and ruin.’
The ’Forester’ newspaper headline on August 14th 2013 was ‘Swan to become Hotel Hotspot’. It was announced that entrepreneurs Steve and Marion Jayne, who ran the Apple Tree in Minsterworth, had bought the derelict Swan. Marion Jayne told the paper, ‘At the present time the hotel is uninviting, run down, it’s damp and it smells. But despite people telling me I have an impossible task on my hands, I firmly believe I can make something of it as I have a grand vision for the building.’ She said, ‘At the heart of my vision is my dream of a coffee bar to compliment the hotel and the bed & breakfast accommodation. A lot of pubs are aimed at the youngsters or the sports crowds but I am looking at something completely different. I want the Swan to have something of its Victorian and Edwardian elegance, but to make it relevant to today’s clientele and be modern in its appearance.’
When the scaffolding was erected to renovate the exterior of the Swan it was found that the render was damp-ridden and had to be removed. A large percentage of the building’s portioning walls were removed which revealed the original elegance of the building. During the renovations a West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque was removed / stolen / broken and not replaced. It was announced in July 2014 that the refurbished premises would also have a brand-new identity as the Fern Ticket. Marion explained, ‘This was a mythical ticket that people would use when they went courting years ago – a term once used for young Forest of Dean lovers who had rounded off an enjoyable walk in the countryside with an amorous conclusion.’ As for the new name she said, ‘we have chosen to rename the hotel because in recent years the Swan had a very poor reputation.’
The new look Fern Ticket was previewed with a VIP opening night on Sunday 26th July 2015 with the doors open to the public on Thursday 30th. The press release stated that the Fern Ticket will boast a large bar cum coffee lounge, smaller piano bar, restaurant area, roof terrace with function room and a weird thatched treetop house structure that looks like it has emerged fully formed from the set of the Hobbit. The pub will also have eight guest bedrooms and two self-contained bedroom flats for rent.
The running of the Fern Ticket was conducted under a tenancy agreement and it became known for its live music and screening of sports events.
A skirmish between two men during a Robbie Williams tribute night at the Fen Ticket in January 2017 apparently escalated after the pub was closed early and trouble spilled out onto the street. The police were called after one call claimed that 20 people were involved, another call said that there were four to six people in a mass fight outside the Fern Ticket. The owner said, ‘We had 300 mainly middle-aged people in here for what was a nice evening until two people decided to have a go at each other. There was a bit of a scuffle when some of their friends tried to split them up but security were in to it straight away.’ She added, ‘I decided to shut early around 12.15am because when something like that happens you have lost the atmosphere and you are better off calling it a night but from what I can gather people have been making mountains out of molehills and there weren’t 20 people involved.’
A dispute between the owner and the tenants of the Fern Ticket in June 2018 resulted in the pub being voluntarily closed. A list of incidents on the premises had been reported to the licensing authorities which potentially could have threatened the licence. The owner said, ‘They [licensing authority] clearly saw it as a problem pub and I was worried that if it lost its licence it might never get it back.’ A spokesperson for the Forest of Dean District Council said: ‘We would like to make it clear that the District Council is not responsible for the closure of the Fern Ticket in Cinderford. The licensee has chosen to close the establishment for personal reasons.’
The Fern Ticket has since re-opened.
Landlords at the Swan Hotel include:
Turks Head, Woodside Street
Samuel Meredith was also the first landlord at the Railway Hotel (q.v), which suggests that he may had had some association with the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean, maybe the Turks Head sold Wintle’s beer.
When the Turks Head was referred to the compensation authority, it was described it as ‘having three rooms for public use.’ It also stated that 'in the past three years 1,000 gallons of cider have been sold at the Turks Head’. The Turks Head closed in 1911. It was only 50 yards away from the Kings Head in Abbey Street.
Upper Bilson Inn, 30 Valley Road GL14 2PA
The Upper Bilson Inn was another Cinderford pub that was once owned by the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean. Thomas Wintle is recorded as owner in 1891 (although he had died in 1888), and his son Francis was in ownership in 1903. The Upper Bilson was an alehouse with an annual rateable value of £20.0s.0d. The pub closed at 11 pm.
The pub was the scene of a shooting incident in October 1913 involving the landlord Mr William George Price, then aged 35. It was reported that the ill-health of his wife had been causing him considerable distress. ‘On Thursday evening about 5.30 pm a couple of shots rang out from one of the rooms of the inn. The landlord was discovered in a sitting-rom bleeding from the left breast and in a dazed condition. The bullet had missed his heart and had passed out at the back beneath the shoulder. The revolver was still smoking on the floor. Although the illness of his wife was known to trouble him, he had never been heard complaining about her to anyone. The police are not looking for any other person connected to the incident.’
When the Forest Steam Brewery pubs were put up for sale in 1923 the Upper Bilson Inn was described as a ‘Substantial Stone Building with Rough Cast’. On the ground floor there was a bar, tap room, sitting room, kitchen, two beer stores, pot house, large club room, large store room (formerly a skittle alley), and two large store rooms over kitchen. There were three bedrooms upstairs and to the outside were a ‘large yard, public urinal, closet, stone erection of stabling, timber erection of pig cots and a nice vegetable garden at the side and at the rear’.
The 1939 Kellys directory of Gloucestershire gives the address as 30 Upper Bilson Road, but the modern-day address is 30 Valley Road. At one time it must have been very popular with coal miners from the nearby Northern United colliery, but today its customers are more likely to come from the industrial estate that has been built on the site of the old colliery. The Upper Bilson Inn is a simple whitewashed pub that externally has not changed very much over the years although the interior has been refurbished.
In May 1950 it was reported that the landlord of the Upper Bilson Inn had been married for 50 years and had never been to a cinema. He said that his wife had been once and had no desire to go to the cinema again.
In 1979 Bill Price, the Government Minister of Information, bought the Bilson pub in which his father had been born. Price was a former Forest of Dean Newspapers reporter and MP for Rugby.
The Forest of Dean rock band EMF had a number one single called ‘Unbelievable’ in 1990. The ‘B’ side was recorded live at the Upper Bilson Inn. Live music was showcased in the function room of the pub and the Upper Bilson became a popular music venue.
Police made an application to Forest of Dean District Council in September 2006 to review the licence of the Upper Bilson as they were concerned over the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm. Police said they were called increasingly to incidents at the pub since it gained a late licence in November 2005. Between then and September 26th 2006 officers had been called out to 16 incidents at the Upper Bilson. The worst incident, a domestic fuelled dispute, culminated in a stabbing in the pub car park. The District Council licensing committee agreed for a suspension of the licence for 28 days.
A customer at the Upper Bilson Inn wrote a letter to the ‘Forester’ newspaper in November 2006 complaining about the negative press given to the pub. He wrote: ‘All I can see at the moment is bad reports and comments about the Bilson and being a local there I and the other regulars see it in a different light. I am involved in the Bilson pool team as a player. We are there regularly to watch live football matches, and karaoke and tribute nights.’ Stan Robbins told a ‘Forester’ newspaper reporter “I’m an old age pensioner and have used the Upper Bilson for as long as I can remember, and I can honestly say it’s the best it’s ever been.’
In April 2007 the Forest of Dean district planning committee gave outline permission for three homes to be built adjacent to the pub – just feet away from the function room. Although triple glazing and two-metre high fencing was to be installed as part of the development it was feared that noise emanating from the pub could create a problem with the residents living in the new houses. Rowland Prichard of the Upper Bilson said, ‘It’s a lively pub with a function rom bordering this new development which is about eight to ten feet away. The function room and pub bar are used for live music and parties for all ages. In the summer the car park is used for charity events. These homes jeopardise the pub’s future.’
Regulars at the Upper Bilson Inn raised more than £2,800 for the Great Western Air Ambulance in October 2017. The cash was accumulated over a year of holding meat raffles on Sunday lunchtimes. Pub landlady Carol Redcliffe said, ‘We always support the air ambulance because thy saved my son James’s life when he had a very bad motorbike accident.’
Landlords at the Upper Bilson Inn include:
Victoria Inn, Victoria Street
The Victoria Inn was originally a ‘free house’, but it was bought for £350 in 1888 by Albert Wintle owner of Bill Mills at Weston under Penyard near Ross on Wye. The particulars of sale detailed an inn which contained a ‘bar, bar parlour, private sitting room, kitchen, three bedrooms, club room and cellar.’ Of interest is a declaration stating that the premises ‘was in good state but trade has declined’.
Ownership later passed to Wintle’s Forest Steam Brewery in Mitcheldean. In 1891 the Victoria was described as an alehouse that had an annual rateable value of £15.0s.0d. The Victoria Inn had closed by 1900. The license was relinquished in favour of the Railway Hotel.
The property is believed to have become the Victoria Temperance Hotel, a haven for tea drinkers and teetotallers. It is possible that the Alfred Dykin’s Commercial Temperance Hotel as listed in Victoria Street in a 1900 reference is the same property.
The ‘Forester’ newspaper reported in October 2009 that Alan Clarke, who ran the B&B in Victoria Street, had unearthed a doorway leading to a beer and cider cellar dating back to the 1850’s when he was digging up his garden to build a disabled suite. Inside the old cellar he found a vintage sign for the ‘Forge Hammer’, as well as the remains of a vintage car that Alan thought could date back to the 1930’s. He said, ’Our house used to be the Victoria Hotel which closed and the property divided into two about 40 years ago.” He added, ‘Apparently before it was the hotel it was a pub known as the Forge Hammer which is why the sign is down there. I think the Forge Hammer would have dated back to the end of the 18th century, but the property is older than that.’
Landlords at the Victoria Inn include:
White Hart Inn, 85 St. Whites Road GL14 3ER
The White Hart, located on the main B4226 road from Littledean to Coleford via the Speech House, first opened in 1834. The White Hart, opposite the turning to Ruspidge, is probably the oldest surviving inn in Cinderford. The tiny settlement of St Whites, about a hundred yards up the hill from the White Hart, is older than Cinderford itself, which only came to prominence from around 1830 onwards with the development of the coal mining and iron industries. In some references the White Hart is listed as being in Ruspidge.
The White Hart was a ‘free house’ when the 1891 and 1903 Gloucestershire licensing books were compiled. Robert Alsopp Ansley was both the owner and the occupier throughout those years and the alehouse had an annual rateable value of £25.0s.0d. It closed at 11 pm.
In February 1916 it was proposed that an old malthouse to the rear of the White Hart could be used as a miniature firing range: 'not being provided for the use of customers generally but particularly for the benefit and use of the members of the Cinderford Volunteer Training Corps’.
The Stroud Brewery Company acquired the pub. The White Hart retains a wonderful Stroud Brewery etched brewery window - almost certainly the only surviving example in the Forest of Dean. A ‘Best in the West’ West Country Ales ceramic plaque also survives as a reminder of the transitional phase when Stroud and Cheltenham breweries amalgamated, before the Cheltenham based regional brewery got swallowed up by Whitbread.
More than 200 people crammed into the White Hart in February 1949 to watch the Forest of Dean Skittles Cup final between the White Horse Soudley and the New Inn, Berry Hill. The White Horse won 310-296.
In June 1962 egg-eating champion, Les Powell, 33, went to Cinderford’s White Hart pub to eat 72 raw eggs in one sitting, after challengers bet him £70 he could not do it. TV camera crews turned out to record the feat, but sadly for Les his challengers did not. Lorry driver Les downed half-a-dozen eggs for the TV crews and went home without his money. He said: ‘I wasn’t going to eat them all for nothing, earing 72 raw eggs is no joke.’ (or yoke). His personal best in one sitting was 52.
The White Hart was put up for public auction on Wednesday 5th June 2013 with a guide price of £225,000. It was described as a substantial Forest of Dean pub with lounge bar / restaurant / function room. 2/4 letting bedrooms, owners flat. Gardens and parking (0.5 of an acre) and a separate stone-built barn. It was actually sold for an undisclosed sum before going under the hammer. The new owners took over the White Hart in July.
When new houses were being built near the White Hart in 2016 several mortar bombs were discovered. They were believed to have come from an American transport depot. However, with the knowledge that the out-building might have once been used as a firing-range is it not too far-fetched to deduce that this was the source of the munitions?
Landlords at the White Hart Inn include:
1837 Isaac James
1850 Mr Horlick
1863 William Morse
1885,1891,1903 Robert Alsopp Ansley
1906,1919 Leonard Jones
1927 Samuel M. Parry
1939 Mrs A.M. Jones
1999 Margaret McKay
2008 Paul and Sharon Cinderey
2009 Gill Brown