|Forest of Dean Pubs - Placenames beginning with N
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Bridge Inn GL17 9JL
Researching the history of both the Bridge Inn and the Railway Inn at Nailbridge has raised an interesting question as both pubs predate the opening of the Great Western Railway’s extension of the Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway which did not reach Nailbridge until November 1907. The names of the pubs must relate to the earlier tramway. But was the Bridge Inn named after a bridge on or over the tramway, or simply from a crossing of the Dry Brook?
When the property of the Wintle’s Forest Brewery was put up for sale in 1923 the Bridge Inn was included in the inventory. It was listed as the Bridge House, a freehold beer house, ‘situate about two miles from the brewery and opposite Nailbridge Halt Station’. On the ground floor was a ‘shop, two sitting rooms, kitchen and large bakehouse with oven’. There is no mention of a public bar or other drinking rooms. The Bridge House had a six-days’ license and ‘in addition to the beer trade the tenant carries on an extensive business as a baker and grocer’. The sale inventory gave details of four bedrooms and a flour store on the first floor. At the side of the property was a ‘loose box, motor shed, W.C. and coal store’ and to the rear a small yard with brick out-building. There was a beer store in the basement.
James Barnett was the owner and occupier of the New Bridge Inn in 1891 when he ran it free of brewery tie. It was licensed as a beer house with an annual rateable value of £25.0s.0d. The licence, however, was for off-sales only and closed at 10 pm.. It seems that the Bridge Inn was more of a grocers’ shop and off-licence rather than a pub. Presumably it closed on Sundays. By 1903 Wintle’s Brewery had bought the premises. The Mitcheldean Forest Brewery already owned the Railway Inn in Nailbridge. Perhaps they saw a potential business opportunity from customers using the nearby Nailbridge Halt.
The passenger numbers on the branch were disappointing and the halt closed in July 1930 with the withdrawal of passenger services. The Bridge House Inn is listed in the 1939 Kelly’s Directory, but must have closed during or sometime after the Second World War. It is now a private residence called Bridge House.
Landlords / Shop-Keepers of the Bridge Inn include:
In 1891 the Railway Inn was owned by Alfred Wintle. Although not strictly a brewery Alfred supplied a few pubs with malt from his corn mill in Bill Mills near Weston under Penyard near Ross on Wye. In the process Alfred bought a few pubs which eventually passed into the ownership of Thomas Wintle who started brewing in Mitcheldean in 1869. With an annual rateable value of £25.10s.0d. the Railway was licensed as an ale house. It closed at 10 pm.
The Railway Inn was put up for sale in 1923 as part of the entire Forest Brewery property estate. It was described as being ‘situate about two miles from the brewery and occupying a commanding position at the junction of four cross-roads.’ The building was stone built and rough cast with a slate roof and comprised a bar, tap room, smoke room, sitting room, kitchen and beer store on the ground floor. There were four bedrooms on the first floor and the outside consisted of a yard, pot house, coach-house, two –stall stable, pig cot, coal shed, two W.C’s and a strip of flower garden. There were two cottages adjoining the Railway inn which were sub-let by the tenant at inclusive rents of £18.4s.0d. per annum. A later description noted that the Railway Inn was a gaunt unadorned building of grey, unpainted roughcast with a short-back-and-sides slate roof.’
In 1993 John Christian wrote to the ‘Forester’ newspaper with memories of the Railway Inn. He wrote, “The Railway Inn was the institution that put Dunk’s on the map. A jolly inn where you could get a pint or a black eye as easily as the other. Gloucester Cider was called ‘Stunem’ and it was lethal. The main reason was it was casked in old wine or brandy kegs which added to its ‘kick.” Intriguingly the area is known locally as 'Dunk’s corner’, or Dunkley’s Corner. This must be a reference to the landlord of the pub in late Victorian times - Albert Dunkley.
The Railway Inn, which was on the western side of the Nailbridge road junction, was demolished to make way for road widening and the site of the pub is now just a grassy bank.
Landlords at the Railway Inn include:
Anchor Inn, Station Road GL18 1BB
The Hereford & Gloucester canal had reached Newent in 1795, but was not completed as a through route to Hereford by 1845 – fifty years later. The canal had reached Ledbury in 1798 but the economies of constructing the canal, especially through the Oxenhall tunnel, was financially disastrous and the anticipated traffic on the canal was never enough for viability. A wharf to serve Newent town was established on the canal near Ell Bridge. The Anchor Inn was opposite Newent Wharf and, for a short time at least, served the needs of bargees working the canal.
The management of the Gloucester to Hereford canal was taken on by the Great Western Railway in 1870, and work began on converting some sections of the canal for the formation of the Gloucester – Ledbury -Hereford line. Through much of its course through Newent the railway made use of the canal bed. The line was completed in 1885.
John Allen owned the Anchor Inn in 1891 and he ran it as a free house. The Anchor Inn was classified as a beer house and had an annual rateable value of £15.0s.0d.
Lane, Bros & Bastow, brewers at the Vine Brewery in Ledbury had acquired the Anchor Inn by 1903. Even at the beginning of the Edwardian era the canal had long disappeared from Newent, so the nautical reference to the Anchor was already causing confusion. Perhaps the acquisition of the Anchor Inn by the Vine Brewery could have been motivated by the rail connection from Ledbury to Newent. By 1903 the annual rateable value of the Anchor Inn had increased substantially by £6 to £21.0s.0d, suggesting that the premises had been much improved by the Vine Brewery and possibly enlarged. Closing time was at 11 pm. Lane, Bros & Bastow were taken over by the Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1919, but by this time the Anchor Inn might have already closed.
Opposite the Fire Station in Station Road there is a property called Anchor House. I had assumed that this was once the Anchor Inn, but a glance at an old photograph (not reproduced here) shows the sign of the Anchor to be on the gable end of a building with an aspect at right angles to the road. The property is located below Anchor House and is on the corner of the old approach to the station. Believed to now be Alicias Cotage, the property has been significantly extended and altered, with the roofline now parallel with the line of the road.
Landlords at the Anchor Inn include:
Black Dog Inn, 47 Church Street GL18 1AA
The 17th Century Black Dog was once a farmhouse but it has been pub for well over 100 years.
The Black Dog can boast two resident ghosts - a 'Lavender Lady’ and 'Charlie’ - a headless Cavalier! The Lavender Lady is believed to be the unquiet spirit of one of the women who sold lavender nosegays to ward off the stench of unwashed England in the middle ages, and Charlie is believed to have been one of the unfortunate Royalists who lost his head during the English Civil War. There was a slaughter of Welsh soldiers fighting for the Royalist cause at nearby Barber’s Bridge which was originally named Barbarous Bridge.
The owner of the Black Dog in 1891 was Mary Holder and she leased the inn to Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. of the Wickwar Brewery. Mary Holder is listed at the Red Lion in 1830. The annual rateable value of the beer house was £14.10s.0d. Mary had passed the ownership of the Black Dog to the unfortunately named Fanny Holder in 1903. I wonder at the beginning of the 20th century the name Fanny has the same connotations as it does today. Was Fanny Mary’s daughter? I suspect a girl born today with the family name of Holder would never have the embarrassment of that name! Fanny Holder continued to lease the Black Dog to the Wickwar Brewery. Closing time was at 11 pm. The resident landlord / occupier of the Black Dog in 1891 and 1903 was William Wintle. Was William a member of the Wintle’s Brewery family?
The ownership of the Black Dog Inn passed to Whitbread / Whitbread Flowers. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s it was a West Country House and a ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best In The West’ ceramic plaque remains in situ.
Bluemark Developments, on behalf of owners Punch Taverns, submitted an application to Forest of Dean District Council build five homes and garages in the car park of the Black Dog in 2013 but plans were withdrawn after an outcry from regulars and customers who argued that it would ruin the historic inn. Newent Town Council claimed that the plans were ‘detrimental to the entrance of this historic market town’. The developers went back to the drawing board to modify the plans, remarking “It is a private car park and not a public one, something many of the town seem to forget. It will be one of the main sights coming into town but that is not to say that the development will be of an unattractive design.” The Black Dog closed in June 2015
Total Design Ltd. acquired the Black Dog and argued in August 2017 that building homes on the site would preserve the pub for future generations. Angela Wadley of Total Design said, “The planning application will secure the long-term future of the Black Dog by providing on site owner/manager accommodation with good quality rooms for bed and breakfast, restaurant and public bar to attract the local community and bring it back to life. This will give long-term benefits to the local community, and also encourage tourism to the area. The provision of housing to the general car park area will provide much needed housing to assist with the current status of the five-year housing land supply.”
In March 2018 Dynamic Developments Ltd submitted two planning applications to the Forest of Dean Council relating to the Black Dog. The developers sought to renovate the 17th Century coaching inn interior with the creation of two new bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and lounge on the second floor. The second application to build five two-bedroom homes in the car park was refused as the planners considered that the viability of the Black Dog as a business depended on the retention of its car park and they expressed their concerns over restricted garden sizes and the close proximity of existing houses that would be overlooked.
The Black Dog website states that it is ‘a recently re-furbished 18th century half-timbered pub located in the heart of Newent. We are a child friendly pub and welcome all members of the public including families and dogs. We have an open lounge and separate dining room with delicious daytime and evening meals. We like to keep our customers happy and entertained; we host evenings of live music, traditional pub games, have a large sports TV and offer all our customers free Wi-Fi. The pub features a sheltered outdoor smoking area and on-site parking.’
Landlords at the Black Dog Inn include:
Bull Inn, Church Street GL18 1PU
The Bull Inn, on the corner of Church Street and Bury Bar Lane, had opened by 1702. A Friendly Society met at the Bull in 1819.
Towards the end of the reign of Queen Victoria a pub crawl around Newent would have offered the chance to drink from at least five breweries. Wickwar Ales at the Black Dog and Nags Head, Godsell’s at the Kings Arms, Worcester Ales at the Traveller’s Rest, Hatton’s Northgate Brewery Gloucester Ales at the Plough Inn and Tewkesbury Brewery Ales at the Bull Inn and Red Lion. Tewkesbury Brewery leased the Red Lion but owned the Bull Inn in 1891 when the fully licensed property had an annual rateable value of £20.0s.0d. The Newent pub crawl would not have been so good from 1896 when the Wickwar Brewery of Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd bought out the Tewkesbury Brewery. The annual rateable value of the Bull Inn had increased by £4 in 1903 to £24.0s.0d. suggesting that the Wickwar Brewery had improved their newly acquired property. The Bull Inn was licensed until 11 pm.
Rewind thirty or so years to Saturday 7th May 1870. It is hoped that Mr Mons Duvalli had not been tempted to have a pub crawl of Newent town pubs before he performed his spectacular gymnastic feats. A half-inch wire rope was extended at height from out of the Market Square to the top of the Bull Inn. Mons Duvalli, not contented with doing things conventionally, put a sack over his head and walked the tightrope … backwards. An impressive stunt, but the following Monday evening he went through the same performance with the addition of ‘wheeling a barrel up the rope, and sitting midway on it, drinking half a pint of beer, and charging, lighting, and smoking a pipe of tobacco. He gave great attraction and was well encouraged.’ (source: Gloucester Journal)
It is thought that the Bull had permanently closed by the outbreak of the First World War. The building is now the Rogan Josh take-away.
Landlords at the Bull Inn include:
Cobblers Micro Pub, 7 Church Street GL18 1PU
Ian opened Cobblers in the former tourist information office in Church Street in January 2013. The planning application clearly stated that the change of use of the premises was into a micro-pub, yet the local newspapers reported that the building was going to be a micro-brewery.
Cobblers has been a great success and Ian has since opened two further micro-pubs in the Forest of Dean, in Cinderford and Coleford (both now called the Dog House). Ian said of Cobblers in Newent, “Anybody who wants music, food, TV or lager will have to go elsewhere.”
The signage says it all: “It’s a Firkin Small Pub”
Crown, High Street GL18 1AY
The Crown Inn had ceased trading by the time the enumerators had compiled the 1891 licensing records of Gloucestershire beer and ale houses. The last reference to the Crown was in 1870. It is reported that in 1725 the Crown Inn had a cockpit – the choice of entertainment in the 18th Century was certainly very different and alien to our own culture. The building, at the end of the High Street and near the junction with Ross Road, is now called Crown House. The turning to Lakeside is opposite.
Landlords at the Crown include:
George Hotel, 21-23 Church Street GL18 1PU
The George Hotel was originally a coaching house on the post road to South Wales. In 1822/23 the coaches to Gloucester and Hereford left from the George and in 1876 the Ledbury-Gloucester mail coach called at the George. In the same year (1876) the Inland Revenue office was located at the George Inn. In the 1885 Kelly's directory it is described as 'The George Commercial Hotel and Posting House.’
James Lodge was both the owner and occupier of the George Hotel in 1891 and 1903. The fully licensed alehouse had an annual rateable value of £40.0s.0d. in 1891 which had increased by £2 to £42.0s.0d. in 1903. The George Hotel was a free house, not tied to a brewery, and closed at 11 pm.
Today the brick exterior is still traditional in aspect. A white border across the pub reads 'The George Hotel. Commercial & Posting House. Circa 1649.’ There is an archway, which once gained access to the stables.
During renovation work a treasure trove of golden spade guineas were found beneath the hearth of the western fireplace in the lounge bar.
Newent is famous for its annual Onion Fayre held every September. In 2005 torrential rain in the afternoon caused the 10th annual fayre to be cancelled. At one point there was about 3 feet of water in some parts of the town and people had to find shelter in nearby pubs and shops. Police were left with no choice but to cancel the event. The George Hotel was having an outside beer festival, which had to be abandoned. Luckily the pub itself was not affected. Landlord Rod Yeandle said, “The beer festival has not gone well but we were busy in the pub because we were one of the only dry places.”
The George Hotel was crowned Les Routiers Hotel of the Year 2008. A Les Routiers spokeswoman said, “The George Hotel is 17th Century coaching inn where you can relax and enjoy a drink in the comfortable bar with its cosy open fire and wonderfully cosy atmosphere. You can choose from the extensive bar menu, much of which is created using local produce.”
In December 2011 the George Hotel was up for sale and property agents Fleurets were marketing the building. A spokesman for Fleurets said, “The hotel represents a traditional coaching house and posting inn which dates back to the mid-17th Century. It provides a mid-terraced building, constructed on ground, first and second floors, and a vehicle and pedestrian access to the rear is through an archway in the front elevation. Internally there is a busy bar to the front of the premises, restaurant facilities to the rear, letting rooms, two flats and a cottage.” He added, “We expect this delightful town centre pub and hotel will generate a great deal of interest among potential buyers.”
Rock star Brian May, the Queen guitarist, visited Newent in September 2013 to give his support to anti-badger cull protesters. He met those concerned over the badger cull in the George Hotel over a glass of Guinness. There might have been a conflict of interests and opinions if Brian May had visited on Boxing Day 2016 when the Cotswold Vale Farmers Hunt met at the George Hotel in Newent town centre for the first time in 20 years.
The George Hotel website states: You can relax and enjoy a drink in our comfortable bar with its open fire and wonderfully cosy atmosphere or choose from the extensive bar menu much of which is created using local produce. High standards of accommodation are offered, and most rooms having en-suite facilities or private bathrooms, tea/coffee making facilities.
The former Coach house is now a well-appointed restaurant with a full A La Carte menu available every evening. The restaurant is also available for private functions weddings, meetings or social gatherings. We also have two other function rooms, the larger one with a full stage in it making it ideal for larger parties (up to 200 people) and gatherings such as weddings where you may require bands or other forms of entertainment.
Landlords at the George Hotel include:
Kings Arms, Ross Road GL18 1BD
Godsell & Sons, brewers at the Salmon Springs Brewery in Stroud, owned the Kings Arms as early as 1891. The logistics of getting the beer from Stroud to Newent could not have been straightforward with horse pulled brewery drays. Presumably the journey was done in two days, first to Gloucester and then the following day to Newent. The Kings Arms must have been one of Godsell’s furthest pubs from the brewery. The pub was a fully licensed alehouse with an annual rateable value of £20.0s.0d. in 1891. Twelve years later the yearly rates had gone up by a significant £14 to £34.0s.0d. Perhaps the Kings Arms had been substantially improved or structurally altered by 1903. The Kings Arms, in common with all other Newent town pubs, closed at 11 pm.
Sid Knight was a long serving landlord at the Kings Arms from 1966 through to 1985. He started to pull pints in 1962, and before that worked at Gloster Aircraft Company as a draughtsman for 27 years. Sid was a well-known figure in local sports circles and during his tenancy with Whitbread at the Kings Arms he had seven skittle sides using the alley.
In 1999 Newent Mayor, Councillor David Blick, was drinking at the Kings Arms when he mentioned to landlords Roger and Jenny Bennett that the town should have a Harvest Home festival. This spurred the regulars to hold the Harvest Home at the Kings Arms. Over £300 was raised and the proceeds were donated to the Newent Home from Home. The evening closed with a skiffle band and some rock and roll. The local clog dancers also gave a performance ‘which went down very well and sounded dramatic on the wooden floor.’
The Kings Arms had closed by the beginning of the 21st Century and for more than two years it was boarded up with an uncertain future. Sue and Fred Ellis signed a 10-year lease at the end of 2011 to get the Kings Arms back on its feet. Fred had previously been landlord at the Malt Shovel in Ruardean but ill heath forced him to take early retirement. He was told he had a 50/50 chance of surviving a vital operation. “I came through the operation”, he said, “At first I kept pinching myself to make sure I was still here, but now I’m fighting fit’. Rejuvenated and regenerated Fred and Sue decided to turn the fortunes of the Kings Arms around, “It’s fantastic to be back and I’m looking forward to getting the Kings Arms back in its feet.”
Landlords at the Kings Arms include:
Nags Head, 12 Broad Street GL18 1AH
Thomas Bailey was the owner of the Nags Head in 1891 and he leased the pub, licensed as a beer house, to Arnold, Perrett & Co’s Wickwar Brewery. The annual rateable value was then £12.0s.0d. In 1903 Thomas Bailey had sold the pub to Ind Coope & Co., of Burton on Trent. The rateable value per year had increased to £17.0s.0d. Upon the acquisition of the Nags Head the front façade was modified and the inscription 'Celebrated Burton Ind Coope & Co. Ales & Stout’ were added in lettering above the ground floor.
The Nags Head appears to have ceased trading during the First World War. In 1932 the building was in use as premises for the Newent Women’s Institute and the distinctive Ind Coope signage had either been removed or covered over. For many generations of Newent families the building will be remembered as being a bank. Barclays Bank closed on November 19th 2017. The Grade II listed property was put on the market for £279,000 with the sale particulars stating that the building dated back to the 17th Century and was ideal for development with a courtyard garden in a prominent town centre location. An application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council in August 2018 for the conversion of the former bank in Broad Street to five self-contained flats.
It is pure speculation but, as I write this in June 2019, I wonder if the refurbishment of the exterior of the building will reveal the long-lost ‘Celebrated Burton Ind Coope & Co’ sign.
Landlords at the Nags Head include:
New Inn, High Street GL18 1AS
The New Inn was a superb black and white panelled timbered ancient building in Newent High Street. It is now a private house called Linkwood Cottage.
James Cook (senior) owned the New Inn in 1891 and 1903 when it was free from brewery tie and had an annual rateable value of £14.0s.0d. James Cook was the occupier. It is not known if the landlord was James Cook (senior), or his son. The New Inn was licensed as a beer house and closed each night at 11 pm.
In the 1901 Census C.J. Cooke is listed as a Billposter at the New Inn. An old photograph taken c.1911 shows the inn sign displaying T.E. Thomas as the landlord.
Plough Inn, Culver Street GL18 1DB (Great Boulsdon GL18 1JJ)
The Northgate Brewery in Gloucester, trading as Hatton & Co, owned the Plough Inn in 1891, although just five years later Hatton & Co was acquired by Ind Coope Ltd. The Burton on Trent based brewery were obviously keen to secure outlets for their beer in Newent as they had just purchased the Nags Head in Broad Street and invested in the property and added impressive Ind Coope signage on the façade. Yet, for some reason Ind Coope did not take on the ownership of the Plough Inn. In 1903 the pub was owned by Flowers & Sons of Stratford on Avon.
When the Northgate Brewery in Gloucester owned the Plough in 1891 the annual rateable value was £12.0s.0d., but this had increased by £13 to £25.0s.0d. when Flowers & Sons were owners in 1903. The Plough was licensed as a beer house and in 1903 closed at 11 pm. The extra hour drinking time also strongly suggests that the Plough was sited in the town of Newent rather than in the countryside. (rural pubs usually closed at 10 pm).
‘Mike’ contacted me about his early memories of Newent growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s. He wrote, “The Plough was certainly located in Culver Street (then called Culvert Street) and was 100 yards or so up from the Nags Head. I know this because I lived in the house opposite for almost twenty years before 1965. It was one of my entertainments to watch the barrels being heaved off the delivery lorry and rolled down into the cellar. It was certainly a Flowers pub and, to the best of my memory the publicans were Dick (presumably Richard) Morgan and his wife, Doris. In those days it never seemed to me to be particularly well-frequented and I guess a dwindling clientele led to its demise not long afterwards. It was converted into living accommodation.”
Landlords at the Plough Inn include:
Red Lion Inn, 2 Broad Street GL18 1AH
The brick built Red Lion is on the corner of Broad Street and Market Square. It was once known as the 'Red Lion Commercial and Posting House’.
The Red Lion is a rare example of a licensed premises where the annual rateable value decreased in the twelve years of enumeration from 1891 to 1903. The rates were £28.0s.0d. in 1891 and down by £4 to £24.0s.0d. in 1903. It is possible that the earlier valuation included a parcel of land that was sold off, but that is pure conjecture. Thomas Hartland owned the Red Lion in 1891 and he leased it to the Tewkesbury Brewery Company. At the time they also owned the Bull Inn, just a few yards away. When Edwin A. Jones had taken ownership of the Red Lion in 1903 the pub was operating as a free house. The Red Lion was a fully licensed ale house and closed at 11 pm.
The Red Lion became a West Country house in the late 1950’s and then ownership passed to Whitbread, and Whitbread Flowers. A reminder of its past brewery heritage is a ‘West Country Ales – 1760 – Best in the West’ ceramic plaque which is still inlaid into the wall.
In January 2008 part of the Red Lion was re-opened as the Alicia Restaurant. An ‘eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in June commented, “The Red Lion is a fine old local with beams, wooden floors and a large TV for sporting events. Enter through the double doors in the corner opposite Newent Market House and upstairs you’ll find a completely different environment. This is the recently opened Alicia restaurant, extended and refurbished and now boasts its own bar.” Head chef Dean Tickner said, “The restaurant is going really well at lunchtime and we get quite a few parties in”, adding “The evenings are still a little uncertain. We can have 20 people booked in for one night, and none the next.” The review was very complimentary, giving a score of 10/10 for service, food and value for money. The Alicia restaurant at the Red Lion held a medieval banquet to celebrate St Georges Day in April 2008. The staff wore period costume to serve customers and a folk band played medieval music. Activities also included face painting, a coconut shy, apple bobbing and an archery competition. The funds raised were donated to a Cancer charity.
In November 2011 police were called to a town centre brawl in Newent. Trouble flared after a group of unruly customers left the Red Lion and congregated nearby at the Market Hall. 30 people were believed to be caught up in the disturbance. A man tried to intervene as a policeman went to arrest a 21-year-old woman for being drunk and disorderly. Two police officers ended up grappling with a group of about six people and one PC was kicked in the head whilst he was on the ground. A spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said, “There will be an increased presence in Newent during the weekend and right up to Christmas.” A 31-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assault and another 21-year-old man held on suspicion of obstructing a police officer.
When new landlords moved into the Red Lion in September 2015 they made a determined effort to turn the pub into a family-friendly establishment. The landlord took a hard line on anti-social behaviour and suspected drug-dealing. He said, “It’s a community and I don’t tolerate that sort of behaviour. We have pool, darts, hockey and many clubs that come here.” Sadly the landlords were subjected to a hate campaign which culminated in an early morning attack when three masked yobs smashed every ground floor window with scaffolding bars. The landlady said, “I have worked in pubs all of my life and I’ve never come across anything as bad as this. I’m a nervous wreck because I don’t know what they’ll do next.”
The Red Lion Bar & Kitchen is now a ‘family-friendly, contemporary all-day destination’. A wood-burning pizza oven has been installed and traditional sour-dough is used to make authentic pizza. The bar offers ‘an array of bottled beers, lagers and ciders, plus San Miguel on tap’. There is a ‘selection of great wines, an extensive gin menu served with Fever Tree tonics, plus some soft drinks including some especially for children.’ The promotion continues, ‘If you fancy a coffee while catching up with friends we have a full coffee menu, the beans are freshly roasted to our own recipe, plus various teas, hot chocolate and freshly squeezed orange juice.’
Landlords at the Red Lion include:
Royal Oak, Market Place
Landlords at the Royal Oak include:
Travellers Rest / Malswick Arms (House), Gloucester Road GL18 1HE
It is worth speculating how the Worcester Brewery Company had an interest in owning a pub many miles away from Worcester. Perhaps their beers were transported by barge down the River Severn to Over near Gloucester, where they could be transferred onto another barge for the journey along the Gloucestershire and Herefordshire canal of which the course ran behind the Travellers Rest. Clearly that would have been a journey of at least two days, and quite a circuitous route. That begs the question was the journey suited for the transportation of beer from brewery to pub. Did the quality suffer? Maybe that was a contributory factor in the ownership of the Travellers Rest being transferred to the Dursley Brewery in 1903.
In 1891 the Travellers Rest was tied to the Worcester Brewery Company, a rare outlet in Gloucestershire. The pub is so named because it was originally sited near the Gloucester and Hereford canal. It is probable that the Worcester brewed beers were taken to the Travellers Rest via the River Severn and then up the canal. The Dursley Brewery Co. had acquired the pub by 1903. Perhaps the Dursley beers arrived via the railway, which superseded the canal.
Stroud Brewery Company had taken ownership of the Travellers Rest by the mid 1950’s. Cheltenham brewed beers were supplied to the pub after the amalgamation of Stroud and Cheltenham breweries in 1958 to become West Country Breweries, and thence ownership passed to Whitbread.
The pub was compulsory purchased by the Highways Agency in the early 1990’s for road widening. It was envisaged that the Gloucester - Newent - M50 link road would be upgraded to trunk road status but the plans were aborted. The pub was then leased from the Highways Agency to Malcolm Ward and it reopened again as the Malswick Arms. A conservatory was added to the restaurant area and during the VE and VJ celebrations in 1995 army tanks were parked outside the pub.
The pub closed again for a couple of years before reopening once more as the Travellers Rest.
In September 2013 the Travellers Rest was bought by the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust. The Travellers Rest had strategic value as it was the only waterside pub on the entire 34 mile stretch from Gloucester to Hereford. The long-term vision of the Trust was to use the projected profits from trade at the pub to contribute towards the full restoration of the canal. It was perceived as an ambitious but achievable goal. The Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust already owned the Wharf House restaurant at Over near Gloucester which was trading successfully, so the acquisition of the Travellers Rest was seen as a positive move and a long term investment to generate income for the canal restoration. After refurbishment the pub was relaunched as the Malswick House. A spokesman from the Canal Trust said, “There are other pubs within walking distance of the canal, but this was the only one right on the water itself which would have made it a significant attraction.”
The Malswick House built up an excellent reputation for its food and became an established destination pub / restaurant, but it was not well supported by local residents. When the B4215 closed for five weeks in the summer of 2017 the Malswick Arms lost its lucrative passing trade adversely affecting the business. In December 2017 trustees of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust were given notice that the charity's subsidiary company the Wharf House Company, owners of both the Malswick House and the Wharf House pub and restaurant at Over, had made losses of £100,121. The Malswick Arms had made a loss of £62,000, yet the Wharf House had made a £32,000 profit in the same period. The Wharf House Company owed £436,930 to the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust. When a new board was appointed to the Wharf House Company Ltd in October 2018 it was discovered that the Malswick House had been losing money over several years, preceding the road closure.
The Malswick House has now closed and faces an uncertain future.
Landlords at the Travellers Rest / Malswick Arms include:
Ostrich Inn GL16 8NP
The 13th century Ostrich Inn is opposite the impressive Newland church - known as the 'Cathedral of the Forest’ which contains the "Miners Brass", just one foot high, which depicts a helmet, crest and figure of a mediaeval miner of the Forest of Dean with a hod and pick in his hand and candlestick in his mouth. The inn might have originally opened for the purpose of accommodating the workers who were building the church. The unusual name could be a corruption of the medieval name‘hostelry’, or from the coat of arms from the local Probyn family, who were iron ore merchants and landowners.
The owners of the Ostrich Inn in 1891 and 1903 are recorded as the Trustees of Bell’s Charity. The Ostrich was licensed as an ale house with an annual rateable value of £14.10s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm. Although the Bell’s Charity ran the pub as a free house in 1891, twelve years later it was leased to Oliver Burgham’s Redbrook Brewery.
There was once a large oak tree in a field just to the north of the Ostrich Inn called the Newland Oak which was reputed to have been one of the largest trees in Britain with a circumference from 41 to 52 feet. It collapsed in 1956. The venerable tree achieved its reputation because it was a great survivor. According to diarist Samuel Pepys there was a terrific gale in 1662 which blew down hundreds of trees in the Forest of Dean, but the Newland Oak survived into the mid 20th Century. Vandals set fire to the remains of the tree in 1970, but a tree planted from cuttings in 1954 now stands in its place.
The Campaign for Real Ale have listed all the pubs in the UK that have unspoilt interiors that are of historic interest. The National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors is a joint project with English Heritage. The Ostrich Inn is recognised as being of Regional Importance. Geoff Brandwood describes the Ostrich as a ‘late 17th century inn that was last refitted in the 1950s and is little changed since. A flagstone passageway runs from the front door to the rear. To the left the main bar, which would have two small rooms in the distant past, has a very large old stone fireplace with huge stone lintel and there are shutters on the windows. It has a bar counter installed in the 1950s, bar back shelves look more recent, the dado panelling has bench seating attached, and there are two curved high backed settles. On the right of the passage is a small dining room which would also have been two very small rooms in the past but has been one for some time. Outside gents' and ladies' at rear.’
The Ostrich Inn has built up an excellent reputation for its cuisine, gaining many recommendations over the years. In 1998 the Ostrich was commended by the Harden Guide for its ‘bewildering variety of good food that is on offer in this cosy if slightly eccentric inn’
Kathryn Horton took over the unspoilt country pub on October 30th 2000. She had previously been a columnist for ‘Penthouse’ magazine and had written an article giving advice to men readers how to spice up their sex lives through food. She gave naughty step-by-step guide on how to produce three-course meals to woo the ladies. She turned her imaginative writing skills to her Valentine’s Day menu at the Ostrich. Foie gras stuffed chicken supreme with masala cream sauce became heaving breast of local bird willingly stuffed with a large portion of sumptuous sausage melting into a satisfying cream. Also on the menu was well-buttered crumpet and finish with a hot sticky and moist aftermath pudding.
In 2015 she was voted Licensee of the Year by the Good Pub Guide. Kathryn was praised by the judges for her warmth and generosity of spirit. “I am absolutely delighted,” she said “It doesn’t get any better than this. We have been recommended in the Good Pub Guide for the last 14 years and we were nominated for the top award once and we got into the top 16, but to win a national award like this outright is fantastic.”
An ‘eating out’ review in January 2013 commented, ‘The first thing that strikes you on arriving at the Ostrich Inn is the charm. With its fire roaring in the corner, low-beamed ceilings and ambient music, you can see why it is such a hit.” The reviewer summed up with: “The Ostrich manages to blend the charms of traditional inn, with quality food very well. The real ales on offer – as well as a burgeoning wine list – gives yet more variety to customers looking for variety when eating out. Though eating of the restaurant-style menu is quite expensive, there is no denying the service, quality of produce and attention to detail to everything that goes in eating and drinking at the Ostrich makes it excellent value for money. My partner described it as one of the best meals he has had in three years, and the Good Pub Guide, the AA Pub Guide and the Harden’s Restaurant Guide also speak very highly of this wonderfully homely and award-winning establishment.”
A routine food hygiene inspection in 2017 found the kitchens to be in good order but the mandatory paperwork relating to food preparation had not been maintained to the prescribed authority standard resulting in a single star rating (out of 5 stars). Kathryn Horton explained, “It’s a bit of a blow being linked with dirty kitchens because I haven’t done the paperwork but that’s my own fault and a situation I am planning to rectify soon.”
Landlords at the Ostrich Inn include:
Anchor Inn, Church Road
The Anchor Inn was located close to the banks of the River Severn at the northern end of the town. It was built c1710 and was frequented by men working on the river. In 1828 the landlord was summonsed and prosecuted for ‘keeping the Anchor Inn open for purposes other than the reception of travellers’. The Anchor Inn closed between 1860 and 1867 and was subsequently demolished. Newnham Police Station was built on the site of the Anchor which has since been converted to residential.
Landlords at the Anchor Inn include:
Bear Inn, Back Lane now Church Road GL14 1AR
The Bear Inn was located at the junction of Passage Lane and Back Lane. It was once one of the most prestigious inns in Newnham on Severn. In 1759 the borough and manorial courts of Newnham were being held at the Bear Inn. In 1837 it was offered for sale together with the ferry and a fishery. Petty sessions were apparently held at the Bear by 1856, but the inn had gone out of business by 1879.
The Bear Inn is now a private residence called Passage House. There is also an adjacent property called Bear Cottage that still retains raised plasterwork on the side wall, which probably once displayed the pub’s name.
Landlords at the Bear include:
Black Pig Micro Pub, High Street GL14 1BY
The Black Pig is a micro-pub located in the back yard of the closed Ship Inn, specialising in real ales and gins. There are tables and chairs laid out in the courtyard for outside drinking. The Black Pig is an integral part of the Ship Inn which is currently up for sale with permission for conversion to alternate use.
Britannia Inn, High Street GL14 1BB
It is thought that the Britannia Inn was licensed for only a short period during the late Victorian period. The inn is only documented in the 1890’s and early 1900’s.
The Britannia Inn is now a private residence called Britannia House. The seventeenth century timber framed twin gabled building has exposed timbers on the left gable. It has a newel stair in a projecting wing to the rear. A door in the property has a decorative leaded window with an illustration of Britannia with the name below the image.
In 1891 the Britannia Inn was owned by G. Bowyer and the pub was free from brewery tie. With an annual rateable value of £16.0s.0d. the Britannia was licensed as a beer house. At the start of the Edwardian era in 1903 the ownership had passed to Sarah Wood who had leased it out it to Francis Wintle’s Mitcheldean Forest Brewery. Closing time was at 11 pm.
Landlords at the Britannia Inn include:
Lamb and Flag, High Street GL14 1BU
When the property called Gable House was put on the market in June 2019 it had as asking price of £495,000 and the was described as a ‘superbly presented Grade II listed property with origins believed to reach back to 1500c. This beautiful home retains the character and integrity of the original building. Particularly impressive architectural features of the property are the exposed oak A frame and beams. A good-sized cellar provides useful storage space.’
H.T. Balfour owned Letters in 1891 and 1903 and it was free from brewery tie. Letters was licensed as an ale house but had a six-day licence, so it presumably closed on Sundays. The annual rateable value was set at £40.0s.0d. which tends to suggest it was quite a prestigious establishment. Closing time was at 11 pm. H.T. Balfour was also listed as occupier in 1891, and Temple L.Carter was resident at Letters in 1903.
(Lower) George Hotel, High Street GL14 1BS
The (Lower) George was located a few yards to the west of the clock tower on the junction with Station Road. Referred to as the George Hotel in 1927 it had earlier been known as the Lower George. This is to distinguish it from the Upper George further up the High Street. At the rear of the building in Station Road there is still a prominent sign which reads ‘The George Hotel. Family & Commercial’.
The Wickwar Brewery were the owners of the Lower George Hotel in 1891 and 1903. Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. also supplied their Wickwar ales to the Upper George. Licensed as an ale house, the annual rateable value in 1891 and 1903 was £45.0s.0d. Closing time was at 11 pm. Ownership then passed through a succession of operators based at the Cheltenham Brewery – Cheltenham Original Brewery, Cheltenham & Hereford Breweries and West Country Breweries. It closed in the early 1970’s and it may have retained its West Country Ales signage even in Whitbread ownership.
The landlord’s name in the 1930’s was Tom Jones, but apparently it’s not unusual.
Refurbished between 2003 and 2005, the property now houses the George Café, which was set up as an outreach venture in by the Camphill Village Trust. An ‘eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in October 2007 commented that although the George is ‘already known for its large gallery and weaving shop, its home-cooked food is a bit of a local secret.’ A tapas meal was enjoyed, and it was noted that ‘although by day it is popular for coffee and cakes and pannini lunches the place changes at night into a relaxed space with a more grown-up feel.” Another review in April 2010 said, ‘As soon as you enter the front door you know that you are in for a treat; the George Café breathes atmosphere. The rooms tell the story of its past as a village pub and the décor is warm and tasteful, while providing the ideal backdrop of contemporary paintings.”
In April 2018 the decision was made to close the George Café after running for years at a loss. A spokesman for the Camphill Village Trust said, “We believe we are unable to continue subsidising the cafe. Whilst we are sorry we are no longer going to be able to run the George Café we would like to thank all our customers and in particular the local people who have supported both the charity and the people we have worked with for many years.” In response a community share offer was launched in March 2019 to save the George Café. In the first week of its launch £110,000 was promised with the share offer achieving 75 per cent of its target. Siobhan Smith, chairman of the Newnham on Severn Community Benefit Society (NoSCBS) said, “More than half of Newnham’s population are over 45 and of that number 31.6 per cent are 60-plus. Community facilities are a lifeline to people who live in isolated locations. Forest of Dean District Council has also registered the George as an Asset of Community Value, safeguarding it from change of use.
The aim of NoSCBS is to secure the George for community use. The proposals are for an all-day café and bakery, gallery and venue for music and events, a business hub offering flexible short-term workspaces, a permanent home for the village Post Office, retail space and meeting / function rooms. In July 2018, however, the Camphill Village Trust could not be contacted. A spokesman said, “We would like to talk to someone at the Camphill Village Trust what they plan to do with the building and find out if we can buy it for the community, but so far we haven’t got a response from them.” Negotiations with the Trust were ongoing in January 2019.
Landlords at the Lower George include:
New Inn, Hyde Road GL14 1DE
S.A. Green is recorded in the licensing books as the owner of the New Inn at Newnham in both 1891 and 1903. It was free of brewery tie. The annual rateable value of the premises, licensed as a beer house, was £18.0s.0d. and it closed at 11 pm. In 1909 the New Inn was purchased by Francis Wintle of the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean.
Later, in 1923 the New Inn was put on the market as part of the Wintles’ Forest Brewery property estate. On the ground floor there was a tap room, beer store, three sitting rooms, a cider store and a kitchen. There were four bedrooms and two other rooms above.
When the New Inn was offered for sale again in 1937 the sale particulars included both the pub and an adjacent property called New Inn Cottage.
Newnham Railway Station was situated in a cutting on the north-west side of the town. It opened in 1851 with the commencement of services on the Gloucester to Chepstow line. For over 50 years Newnham was a through station on the Great Western Railway route to South Wales. From 1907 passenger services started on the branch towards Cinderford. A bay platform was added in the cutting to facilitate the Cinderford branch trains but was rarely used as trains usually proceeded to Gloucester and back. The services on the branch line ceased on 3rd November 1958 but the through station continued to serve passengers until November 1964.
New Zealand , Dean Road GL14 1HH
Edmund Blewett owned the New Zealand Inn in 1891, and it was a beer house with no brewery tie. There was a family dispute within the family as a year earlier in February 1890 ‘William Blewett, a Cinderford collier, was suing Edmund Blewett of the New Zealand Inn, the executor of the late William Blewett, to recover £39.15s.4d., which was due to him in the will.’ The Blewett family were certainly characters of questionable morality as John Blewett, landlord of the New Zealand in 1854, was fined for opening after hours. (John Blewett died in December 1878, aged 84). In 1903 Sarah Ann Blewett was the owner of the New Zealand. It had an annual rateable value of £18.0s.0d. and closed at 11 pm.
In 1916 the license of the New Zealand was transferred from John Henry Legg to Frederick Henry Reed, but the licence was voluntarily lapsed in 1917.
Landlords at the New Zealand include:
Charles Bailey was listed as the owner and occupier of this establishment in 1891, but twelve years later it seems that he had passed away as ownership in 1903 was recorded as being with the trustees of Charles Bailey. Eliza Bailey was the occupying landlady. The premises was licensed as a beer house and was free of brewery tie. The annual rateable value was set at £22.10s.0d. and it closed at 11 pm.
The family history of the Bailey family might give some clues on the whereabouts of this mysterious Newnham beer house. There was a Charles Bailey listed in 1876 as a ‘Coal merchant, grocer, haulier and railway agent’ in the High Street, Newnham.Old Horseshoe Inn
The Old Horseshoe Inn is included in the 1871 census when it was in the tenancy of Selim and Ann Hobbs. I have found no other records and it does not appear in the 1891 Gloucestershire licensing book- unless the premises listed without a name (see above) had previously been known as the Old Horseshoe Inn.
Railway Inn, Station Road GL14 1DA
Newnham Railway Station was situated in a cutting on the north west edge of the town. It was originally opened for passengers when the Gloucester to Chepstow section of the South Wales Railway was completed in September 1851. The New Inn was nearest pub to the station but visitors to Newnham arriving by train would have walked past the Railway on their way to the town. The pub catered for train passengers until the station was closed in November 1964.
F. Jones is listed as the owner of the Railway Inn in 1891 and 1903 and it was beer house with no brewery tie. The annual rateable value was £18.0s.0d. and closing time was at 11 pm.
Adrian Eyles and Kathleen Croft ran the Railway Inn in the late 1990’s. It was a free house. Kathleen said, “It’s very much a traditional pub with stone-flagged floors in both bar areas but we do a lot of good home-cooked food, so we are about to open a 40-seat restaurant upstairs.” Adrian left the Railway in 2000 to run the Ship Inn in the village.
The Railway Inn had a restaurant called Carriages which was in a room above the main pub. Carriages Restaurant was featured in an ‘eating out’ review in July 2007 and was summed up by ‘it might not offer haute cuisine but the food was thoughtful, well-cooked and reasonably priced, perfect for when you don’t feel like cooking. Although it was the beginning of the week the pub still had a fine atmosphere and the service was warm and friendly.’ Mention was also made of the Railway’s pizza which ‘are fast gaining a reputation in Newnham on Severn, not least because they can be ordered as takeaways, a rare treat for a small village.’
When cider enthusiast David Price took over the Railway, he tried to take the record for the biggest selection of cider in a pub. In June 2004 he said, “It is important to keep our local brews available such as perry produced from Blakeney Red Pear trees, and it is possible to do this now that so many are being bottled.” His well-stocked cellar housed 35 different types of cider. Five traditional ciders were on draught on the bar, with one being featured as ‘Cider of the Wik’. By 2008 David had amassed an amazing 60 ciders and perries. His devotion to the cause of preserving traditional ciders was rewarded by the Gloucestershire Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale with the Railway being named their Cider Pub of The Year in 2007 and 2008. Dave said, “It’s good to be recognised for our range. We have some fantastic locally made varieties like Severn Cider made by Nick Bull and Cadogans, which are both made in Awre. We have one called Tosher’s Tipple from Pleasant Stile near Littledean and there is even one maker in Drybrook called Dave Burson, who preserves an orchard of old apple varieties, and his Hare Church cider is marvellous.”
The Railway Inn was declared Gloucestershire CAMRA’s Cider Pub of the Year again in 2013 when Dave beat off strong competition from the Jolly Brewmaster in Cheltenham. Dave said, “It’s nice to have it back.” He regained the distinction of best Gloucestershire CAMRA cider pub for the next four consecutive years.
Just before Christmas in 2017 Dave closed the doors of the Railway Inn. There were a number of factors that him to this decision, but the overriding reason was that Dave’s doctor had told him that he had to change his lifestyle. Some residents had also complained about the noise from fans at the back of the pub which resulted in the enforcement of a noise abatement order. Dave said, “You have people who move near a pub and complain about the noise. Staggering.” Parking at the pub was also a problem with patrons being told they could not use the empty car park opposite the pub. Another factor was the re-positioning of the bus stop near the clock tower to the end of the village, causing problems for Dave’s elderly regulars who had to climb up a hill to reach the pub. Dave said, “I was going to sell it and retire but the sale fell through so sadly I have decided to close the doors for now. Christmas is good for the books but it’s a lot of extra work for me.”
The Railway Inn was put up for sale in January 2018 with an asking price of £450,000. It has since re-opened under new ownership and, essentially not much has altered. It still has an impressive range of ciders. A Flowers Ales plaque that was once in situ by the front entrance is now on display inside along with an impressive collection of local photographs, stone jars, railway paraphernalia and other miscellany. The Railway has a juke box almost entirely devoted to classic rock. With the combination of cider and loud rock music the Railway is very much a down to earth locals pub.
Landlords at the Railway Inn include:
Ship Inn, High Street GL14 1BY
The Ship Inn was once a ‘home brew’ pub. An advertisement appeared in the Dean Forest Mercury when Robert George Taylor was proprietor, ‘Ship Inn, Newnham. The above inn now having been thoroughly renovated, will be re-opened on Wednesday 14th January 1885 for the sale of wines, spirits, home-brewed beer, bitter ales, Burton ale, etc. Commercials will find a good accommodation at moderate prices.’
The brewing of beer on the premises seems to have ceased just six years later when Stroud Brewery acquired the Ship Inn. In late Victorian and Edwardian times Stroud Beers were probably carried by train across the Severn Railway Bridge to the Forest of Dean and then by horse and dray to the Ship Inn. The annual rateable value of the Ship Inn was £27.0s.0d. It was licensed as an ale house and closed at 11 pm.
Hannah Purnell was the licensee of the Ship in 1891. There was an old wooden pub sign preserved in the pub giving details that, ‘Hannah Purnell, Licensed Retailer of Ale, Porter & Cider. British and Foreign Wines and Spirits, etc. Dealer in Tobacco.’
The pub briefly closed down in the late 1990’s.
In December 2006 an ‘Eating Out’ review was very complementary about the Ship Inn and how it was ‘making waves on the gastronomic front’. The transformation of one of the bars at the pub into a classy restaurant was described as trendy and comfortable. Landlord Adrian Eyles said, “Basically I’m just being very selfish. I serve the food I like and the décor is what I’d choose myself.” The decoration with colours of creams, blues and greens, with wooden floors and bar ‘give the feeling of being on a Cornish coast rather than a short walk from the banks of the Severn.’ As for the cuisine, a reviewer in 2013 commented about the steak, “It was the best rump steak that I have ever eaten. It was sealed on the outside, and a consistent pink from the edge to the middle. This had been cooked perfectly and the quality of the steak was beautiful. The meat was tender and packed full of flavour.”
On the menu in 2012 was a Titanic burger, consisting of a quarter pound gourmet steak burger, quarter pound pork sage and onion burger and quarter pound minted lamb burger with two Americano buns, two potato rosti and sliced gherkin accompanied by apple sauce, tomato chilli salsa and minted jelly. Anyone completing the mammoth challenge of eating the beast was applauded by a ring on the Ship’s bell.
Officers from the Forest of Dean District Council took legal action against landlord Adrian Eyles in September 2007 after the exterior of the Ship Inn was painted bright blue. It had previously been painted pink. The Council objected because it was thought the bright blue colour was inappropriate for a listed building in such a prominent position in a conservation area in Newnham High Street. After the expense of refurbishing the pub Adrian was fined £650 (including costs and surcharge fee) for failing to complete and return a Planning Contravention Notice (PCN) in time. Newnham Councillor, Diana Edwards, said, “I’m horrified by this, it’s completely unfair. The District Council are asking Mr Eyles to go to much expense in repainting the pub in the first place. What is more important to them, the form or the colour? People in Newnham are used to that colour now. What is more important than the colour is that it is a superb pub that provides superb meals. I think what goes on inside is more important than what goes on the outside.” But a District Councillor spokesman said, “We will now issue an enforcement notice which will require him to repaint the building.” Adrian Eyles submitted another application to the Forest of Dean District Council in July 2008 for ‘heritage teal blue with white ivory windows.’
In November 2008 Adrian Eyles expressed concern that the pub trade was in decline. He told the ‘Forester’ newspaper. “Figures for October are up 10% on this time last year although overheads have also gone up. The rises in the price of fuel, labour and food prices mean the profit margin is dramatically reduced. The pub trade is not the business it once was. There has been a complete cultural shift away from people coming in for a drink after work or meeting at the pub. You now have to look for other forms of income.”
A Little Ship Takeaway was launched in December 2008 at the Ship Inn advertising, ‘for quick suppers (Tues-Sat evenings) try our authentic home-made Italian Pizzas cooked to order.’ In January 2015 a retrospective application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council to allow a take-away service at the Ship Inn.
A planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council in March 2010 for listed building consent for internal and external alterations with refurbishment of bar in existing outbuilding to the rear of the Ship Inn. This was later opened as the Black Pig Ale House, located in the Ship Inn courtyard.
Forest of Dean District Council gave their approval to an application to convert the 17th century coaching inn to three private apartments in February 2017. A statement from the Council concluded “Whilst it is considered that the applicant has not demonstrated that the business is no longer viable it is clear that there are alternative facilities available to the residents of the village and therefore the removal of this facility can be justified.” Owner Adrian Eyles responded, “I am heartbroken and absolutely gutted. I have invested half a million pounds and 12 years of blood sweat and tears and I just can’t make it work. I have a phenomenal record of turning pubs around but I can’t do it with the Ship. I think it is a sign of the times. People are just not coming out like they used to. If you just look at all the other pubs that have closed recently they tell me the same story. It’s hard to believe now but there used to be 27 pubs in Newnham. I shall run the pub as my baby until the very last possible moment.”
A 230-strong e-mail petition, signed by concerned locals (and fictional characters including Star Wars drone R2-D2) was handed in protesting about the pubs closure. One opponent said, “There has been a Ship in the village since 1637, for most of the time it has thrived. I blame it on the decisions of the landlord. With the right strategy and customer-friendly approach, the Ship could once again become a thriving business.” A Newnham councillor said that whilst he had been approached by many people concerned about losing the Ship they all admitted that they hardly ever used the pub because it was cheaper to stay in and buy drink and food from supermarkets. Landlord Adrian Eyles argued that if all the people who signed the petition drank or ate at the Ship on a regular basis he would not have to close its doors.
When put on the market in March 2017 the sale particulars gave details that ‘the development is divided to either side of the carriage entrance. The left-hand side was the original Ship Inn. The new development of this side consists of; a four-bedroomed (two en-suite), two-storey house: an attached one-bedroomed apartment with separate entrance. There is a garden together with two parking spaces. The right-hand side consists of a five-bedroomed, two-bathroom, mainly ground floor house with a separate entrance, garden and two parking spaces.’
The property was still on the market in June 2019 with an asking price of £575,000. It was described as a commercial opportunity for a former public house with permission to convert into a café, retail shop unit and takeaway. The sale also included the ‘operational real ale / gin bar’ (the Black Pig).
Landlords at the Ship Inn include:
True Heart, High Street
Stroud Brewery owned the True Heart in 1891 and 1903. Licensed as a beer house it had an annual rateable value of £18.0s.0d. and closed at 11 pm.
Union Inn, High Street GL14 1BW
An 1876 reference lists the property as the ‘Union Inn and Posting House, High Street’. However, despite its status as a Posting House it seems that the Union Inn closed just a few years afterwards. There is no mention of the Union in the 1891 Gloucestershire licensing book.
The property, which is located on the right-hand side of the A48 as you enter Newnham from the Gloucester side, is now called Union Cottage. It was on the market in June 2013 with an asking price of £209,950. The Grade II listed former inn was described as a home of immense character maintaining many original features including inglenook fireplaces and original beamed ceilings. The origins of Union Cottage are believed to date back to the 18th century and is possibly the oldest property in the historic village of Newnham on Severn. ‘The comfortable family accommodation extends to two reception rooms, kitchen/breakfast room, office, four double-bedrooms and a large family bathroom. The charming partially walled garden to the rear provides a good deal of privacy and decurity.’
Landlords at the Union Inn include:
Upper George, High Street GL14 1BB
The Upper George Inn, on the eastern side of the High Street, is now a private house called the Sanctuary. The Upper George was so called to distinguish it from the George Inn (or Lower George), west of the clock tower.
The Upper George once contained rooms known as the Sanctuary rooms which were under the jurisdiction of the Hundred of St. Briavels, and the local Newnham Justices had no authority over those criminals and debtors facing trial there. Mabel Woods in her history of Newnham wrote, ‘as the Magistrates of St Briavels were not likely to trouble themselves over miscreants from their own centre, and only connected by founderous and miry roads, it is easy to surmise that many a Newnham debtor escaped prison by this means, for violating sanctuary was a thing never dreamt of by authorities.’
In 1891 Mary Ann Weaving is recorded as the owner of the Upper George although she leased the property to Arnold, Perrett & Co, Ltd. By 1903 the Wickwar Brewery had bought the pub outright, securing yet another outlet for their beers in the Forest of Dean. The Upper George had ale house status with an annual rateable value of £25.0s.0d. Closing time was at 11 pm. An inventory made in 1907 described the premises as having four bedrooms, landing, sitting room, two attics, kitchen, ante room, smoke room, yard, laundry, front passage, billiard room, bar, beer cellar and spirit cellar. Cheltenham Original Brewery owned the pub in the 1930’s and the deeds of the Upper George then passed to Cheltenham & Hereford and thence to West Country Breweries.
The Upper George called 'last orders' for the last time in 1970. The Hyett family moved across the road to the Ship Inn.
The Sanctuary was on the market in April 2017 with an asking price of £650,000. The property was described as Grade II listed set in the heart of the picturesque riverside village of Newnham on Severn. Its history spans several centuries with medieval origins. It is a 15th and 16th century timber frame house with the addition of a Georgian bay and a later kitchen. The rooms have excellent proportions as one would expect of a house of this quality and are furnished and decorated to reflect the essence of this style of dwelling. The main three-storey house benefits from three large reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, four bedrooms, two-bathrooms and a large two-roomed cellar. In addition there is a separate but connected two storey building, the ground floor former stable having previously been used as a retail shop. There is also a large first floor games room together with a separate study. This building could either be used for retail or with the relevant planning permission converted to accommodation for separate use or as part of the main house. The gardens to the rear of the house overlook the river in a south easterly direction enjoying sunshine for a large part of the day.
Landlords at the Upper George include:
Victoria Hotel, High Street
The Victoria Hotel is an imposing stone-built building at the 'top end' of Newnham, opposite St Peters Church. The building dates back to 1622, and was once the private residence of Thomas Crump. The wide portico with paired columns was probably added when the building became an inn and posting house between 1836 and 1840.
In 1891 and 1903 the Victoria Hotel had a substantial annual rateable value of £90.0s.0d., and the establishment was a fully licensed alehouse. William Henry King was both the owner and proprietor and there was no brewery tie. Closing time was at 11 pm.
When the proprietor of the Victoria Hotel, William King, died in 1913 the 'important freehold property' was put up for auction on Wednesday 22nd October. The sale particulars described an 'old established, first class, fully licensed hotel and posting house with extensive stabling and garage - the whole being about 4,300 square yards in extent.'
The booklet 'Gloucestershire Pubs', published in 1924, gives a description of the Victoria: ‘Although this house is by no means one of the oldest in the county, yet it embodies many delightful architectural features dating from the early 17th century, and including several Adams fire-places, Dutch tiling, a magnificent carved oak staircase, black with age, and a spacious gallery. Possibly the most interesting feature of all is a painted glass panel, dated 1622, depicting the familiar fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant. The legend accompanying the quaint painting is written in the old style and may be rendered thus: The Grasshopper came into the Aunts (sic) and demanded a part of theer corne, whereupon they did aske what hee had done in the sommer and he said he had song and they sayde if you song in the sommer then daunce in the winter.
The strong street frontage, painted white, has since 1948 lost several original features including a balustraded parapet and a central pediment.
The Victoria Inn was closed and empty in October 1985 when the unique ‘Grasshopper’ stained-glass window, priced at £10,000, was stolen. Considering its prominent position half-way up the carved oak staircase, it is incredulous that the then owners said they didn’t even know the window existed and were shocked when they found out the value. -
In June 1986 John and Margaret Turner from Kidderminster bought the Victoria Hotel with a view to restoring the 300-year old building back to its former glory. It had been standing unloved and empty for a year. They said, “When we arrived there was very little here at all. We even had to put in new sinks.” One of the regulars had taken a photograph of the original ‘Grasshopper’ window and an attempt was made to reproduce the missing panel on a plastic transparency that was fitted into the replacement window. Unfortunately, the sun quickly bleached the reproduction and it faded quickly.
John and Lyn Andrews, who previously ran the Butchers Arms in Clearwell, moved into the Victoria Hotel in 2000. They were victims of two break-ins in which cigarettes and money were stolen and faced criticism for asking non-hotel users to stop parking their cars on their land in front of the hotel. Mrs Andrews said, “We want to turn the Victoria back into a successful hotel and we are doing it all off our own backs. Most people in the village have been really supportive of us but there are just a few small-minded people. But we certainly won’t let these problems stop us.”
The Victoria Hotel hosted Sunday Jazz evenings at the beginning of the new millennium. A ‘gig review’ reported that the reviewer had ‘listened to Danny Moss at the Victoria Hotel, one of the greatest – if not the greatest – British mainstream tenor saxes in the business, perform a concert which compared with the best one might hear anywhere in the country.’ had A ‘family meal’ review in the ‘Gloucester Citizen’ in March 2002 was complimentary about the food. ‘As for the restaurant, the roast beef was succulent and my daughter’s Chicken Kiev was very tasty and the vegetables were excellent.’
The neighbouring garage was set ablaze by an arson attack at 2.30 in the morning on Saturday 26th May 2001. Flames were spotted at the back of the garage and the alarm was raised. Guests and staff at the Victoria Hotel had to be evacuated. Although the hotel only sustained minor smoke damage, the fire completely destroyed the back of the two-storey Victoria Garage, several cars and a workshop. Lyn Andrews said, ‘The experience was very frightening, but we had neighbours rallying around and taking people in. The Post Office was very good as they took people in as well.’ There were twelve guests in the hotel at the time of the fire, plus six staff and family. It turned out that one of the staff, who was living and working at the Victoria Hotel as an odd-job man, started the fire in revenge for the ‘anti-gay hostility’ that he had experienced in Newnham and that he believed that the garage was the property of the landlord whom he had accused of homophobic behaviour. The court heard that firefighters had dragged away four liquid propane gas cylinders from the blaze which were in danger of exploding.
The Victoria Hotel closed on April 12th, 2007. The Victoria had been losing money for a considerable time and the decision was taken to close it down because the hotel was deemed to be longer viable. Twenty full and part time staff faced redundancy. The Commercial manager of the Victoria said: "There are no plans to sell the hotel at the present time and we're reviewing our options. The loses relate to lack of use and the overall cost of maintaining the staff and the facilities". The fixtures and fittings of the Victoria were removed.
The closure of the Victoria Hotel was vehemently opposed by some residents which culminated in a hate campaign targeted at owner and entrepreneur Brian Bennett. This followed speculation that the building might be demolished, and the lucrative site be redeveloped. A spokesman for Mr Bennett’s company, however, reassured protesters that there were no plans to flatten the Grade II listed building. “We’ve made a commitment to the Forest of Dean District Council to come up with a residential scheme of the adjoining garage site of a standard and architectural merit that will benefit and enhance the village. We appreciate the concerns about this hotel and would like to reassure residents we have the best interests of this important building at heart.”
The fabric of the Victoria Hotel was left to decay and slowly deteriorate to the dismay of Councillor Diana Edwards who commented in February 2008, “We are all concerned at the obvious deterioration of the building which people in the village view with great affection.” Over two years later some remedial work was done to the exterior of the old hotel including replacing some of the plasterwork and applying special breathable paint as a preservative. Brian Bennett said, “We are very pleased to at long last be able to carry out this improvement to a very important building in Newnham.”
Even after the building was given a makeover the Victoria Hotel was left untouched for another six years. Thieves stole copper piping and metal from the building in June 2012. In October 2016 builders moved in to remove its crumbling façade in preparation for a full-scale redecoration. A spokesman from Forest of Dean District Council confirmed that the owner wanted to turn the property into upmarket flats and negotiations were taking place with the owner to ensure the building was maintained to a certain standard including making it watertight.”
At the time of writing in May 2019 the renovations to the old Victoria Hotel are still ongoing and the forecourt remains fenced off. However, the façade has now been restored and it no longer can be regarded as an eye sore.
Landlords of the Victoria Hotel include: