|Forest of Dean Pubs - Placenames - Oakle Street to Purton
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Oakle Street Hotel / Silent Whistle GL2 8AG
Oakle Street is a small scattered settlement on the unclassified road leading from the A48 near Minsterworth northwards towards to the A40 near Churcham. The lane is intersected about half-way along by the Gloucester to Chepstow section of the railway line to South Wales. The Great Western Railway constructed a station at Oakle Street which opened in September 1851. Given its isolated location the railway station was never going to have great patronage, yet surprisingly the rural station survived until Dr Richard Beeching axed it in his infamous rationalisation of British Railways. Oakle Street Station closed on 2nd November 1964.
It is likely that the Oakle Street Hotel was purpose built for the Forest Steam Brewery under the instructions of founder Thomas Wintle, who had established a brewery in Mitcheldean in 1868. Given the fact that Oakle Street station was an isolated country station serving a sparse and scattered population, it is perhaps surprising that the Forest Brewery should wish to have built an hotel there in the first place. Francis Wintle owned the Oakle Street Hotel in 1891 and 1903. Licensed as an ale house it had an annual rateable of £25.0s.0d. in 1903 and closed at 10 pm.
The Oakle Street Hotel might have been used by a handful of people either waiting for or disembarking from trains but located in a quiet country lane it was never going to get much custom from passing trade on the roads eiher. The route from Gloucester towards Ross on Wye passed to the north, and the route from Gloucester to Chepstow passed to the south. Today the lane through Oakle Street is often used as a ‘rat-run’ for motorists trying to avoid congestion at Highnam Court, no doubt to the annoyance of residents.
When the estate of the Forest Brewery was put up for sale in 1923 with 72 licensed houses the Oakle Street Hotel was described as Freehold and fully licensed. Perhaps optimistically the sale details said that the ‘imposing modern brick-built premises situated outside Oakle Street Station on the Great Western Railway was well placed to command a good trade.’ The ground floor contained a Bar, Tap Room, Smoke Room. Sitting Room, Kitchen, Store and toilet. On the first floor were six bedrooms and toilet and the cellar provided ‘excellent cellarage for beers, wines and spirtits.’ To the rear there was a god yard with brick and timber outbuildings comprising cart shed, stabling for three horses, store house with loft, trap shed and urinal.
In the 1990’s the Oakle Street Hotel was revived and relaunched as the Silent Whistle.
An application was submitted to the District Council in February 1999 for change of use to residential. Landlord Mike Topping said, “We have been here for three years but if the local people don’t support us then what can we do?” The local parish council objected to the proposed closure. Churcham Parish Council Peter Hayes said, “The parish council realises it can’t object to what is a commercial enterprise but we are writing to the District Council saying we would deplore the loss of a village amenity such as the pub because it is the only meeting place for people in Churcham. Those who like a drink will have to drive further and we haven’t got a village hall so it would be a loss on both counts.”
Landlords at the Oakle Street Hotel include:
British Lion GL15 4JZ
Above: Site of the British Lion (It was here somewhere). Click here to see an old map of Parkend.
Parkend was once a hive of industrial activity with a large tin plate works, coke yards, cinder tips and railways and tramways threading their way through the complexes. The British Lion Inn was on the Ivy Moor Head Branch Tramway leading onto the Parkend Coal Company’s Tramway. Over time the once industrial landscape of Parkend has changed beyond recognition and it is impossible to visualise how the now picturesque village once looked.
Intriguingly the British Lion was tied to the Cirencester Brewery in 1891- as far as I have ascertained it was the only pub selling Cirencester beers in the Forest of Dean. Their motivation must have been the captive trade from men working in the hot environment of the nearby furnaces and tin works. The logistics and economics of transporting casks of Cirencester beer the considerable distance from the Cotswolds to the Forest of Dean may be the reason why Cirencester Brewery sold the British Lion to rival brewers Godsell & Sons of Salmon Springs, Stroud who were owners of the pub in 1903. At least Godsell’s already owned and supplied a few pubs in the Forest of Dean.
The annual rateable value of the British Lion was £12.0s.0d. and it was licensed as an ale house. Closing time was at 10 pm.
The British Lion closed in 1922, surviving the demise and closure of the Parkend tin works. The approximate site of the British Lion is where the Parkend Workingmen’s Club now stands in Lion Row, just off Yorkley Road.
Landlords at the British Lion include:
Fountain Inn, Fountain Way GL15 4JD
The 1891 licensing book records Elizabeth Burgham as the owner of the Fountain Inn. In other contemporary accounts she is referred to as Eliza Burgham. She was the owner of the Redbrook Brewery, and when she passed away in 1902 the brewery was bequeathed to her son Oliver. Yet in 1903 the Fountain Inn is recorded as being in the ownership of George Gunter, who (according to the records) ran the Fountain Inn as a free house. The annual rateable value of the Fountain Inn in 1891 and 1903 was £15.10s.0d. and it was categorized as an ale house with last orders and ‘time’ at 10 pm.
In a 1939 advertisement it is referred to as ‘Ye Olde Fountain Inne’ ‘An ideally situated and comfortable country inn set amidst a glorious forest background. Free House (fully licensed). Bass and Worthington on draught. Light meals. Bed and Breakfast. Indoor sanitation and every modern convenience. Phone 15.’ It appears that indoor toilets were something of a luxury in 1939!
There were once railway sidings running immediately in front of the pub. The short Parkend Goods Branch only extended as far as the road to Coleford near the saw mills. In 1900 a gentleman complained to the Commissioners of Woods stating that "it was bad enough stepping out of the Inn onto a public road but that, if this were successfully negotiated, access was gained onto an unfenced railway where shunting was often taking place at night!” The sidings were last used for the shunting of loaded wagons of ballast from Whitecliff Quarry coming down the steeply graded Coleford branch, configuring the short trains into longer consists for onward travel down towards Lydney Junction to connect with the main line. The last ballast trains from Whitecliff Quarry ran down the Coleford branch in 1967 and the line was closed. Shunting operations at Parkend were both time consuming and labour intensive. It is possible that in quieter moments railway staff might have been tempted for a quick pint at the Fountain, although that was before stringent health and safety regulations and running beside heavy loaded goods trucks and de-coupling them with just an iron pole wearing a jacket and flat cap would definitely not have been advisable after supping a few pints! Lorries continued to take stone from Whitecliff Quarry to the Parkend branch to be loaded onto goods trains until 1970.
In March 2011 the Forest Paranormal Investigations team (FPI) were invited to the Fountain Inn for a séance and claimed that they caught the apparition of former landlady Margaret Gunter who ran the pub with her husband George from the 1890’s. Paula Meek from FPI said, “There was a lot of banging and tapping going on and then fellow investigator Adam Heath saw it with his own eyes. It tapped the camera which drew our attention to it.” Adam said, “When I played the footage back and saw the face it was an incredible feeling. It was like the face just jumped out at me.” The ghostly image was compared to a photo of Margaret Gunter hanging in the bar of the Fountain and the similarities took them by surprise. He added, “After ten years of working in the paranormal field, to finally get something like this was amazing. We are one step closer to proving there is life after life.”
The Fountain Inn closed in 1976 and, for a few years, became a guest house before it eventually reopened as a free house.
An ‘Eating Out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in August 2010 enthused, ‘When city types think of an English country boozer, they picture something very much like the Fountain. They imagine a pub nestled between a stream and a sleepy village, where cheap pints of brown ale are drawn by barmaids who are on first name terms with every single one of their customers. It’s always a pleasure to discover these pubs exist. Michelle Powell has been in charge at the Fountain since 1990 – plenty of time to perfect the country pub formula. Everything is just what it should be. Obscure iron implements swing from the ceilings, the walls are covered in photos of the local cricket team, the outdoor tables catch the setting sub and service comes with an unobtrusive smile.’
Michelle and Alan Powell celebrated 25 years at the helm of the Fountain Inn in December 2015. They had just recruited two new experienced chefs to the team. Michelle said, “We’ve always been fortunate to have had a good food trade here, but now we feel the time is right to raise our standards even higher. We’re not aiming to become gastro-pub – we want to remain the family friendly, good value for money venue we’ve always been. The Fountain’s vision is a simple one – to offer a range of top-quality pub food at competitive prices with everything home-made using locally supplied ingredients wherever possible.” A range of gluten-fee and dairy free items are also on the menu.
Today the Fountain Inn is conveniently situated a few yards from Parkend Station, the present northern terminus of the Dean Forest Railway. The Fountain obviously does good trade in the summer season from passengers arriving by train, but custom also comes from the nearby Whitemead Leisure Park and those just enjoying the cycling and walking tracks in the area. At the rear of the pub is the Fountain Lodge, an ex-butcher’s shop and meat warehouse, which was converted in 1993 to provide hostel accommodation for groups and has proved popular with organised clubs and family get-togethers.
Landlords at the Fountain Inn include:
New Inn / Woodman Inn GL15 4JF
Parkend would have made an excellent venue for a pub crawl in late Victorian England as a variety of breweries supplied the village pubs amongst the exciting backdrop of industrial activity. In 1891 it would have been possible to drink Blakeney Forest of Dean Brewery Ales, Cirencester Brewery Beers, Redbrook Brewery Ales and – at the New Inn - Arnold Perrett beers from Wickwar. Not a bad selection. The Wickwar Brewery (Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd.) owned the New Inn in 1891 and 1903. It was licensed as an ale house with an annual rateable value of £25.15s.0d. in 1891, decreasing by 5 shillings to £25.10s.0d. in 1903. Closing time was at 10 pm.
In 1939 an advertisement for the New Inn, Parkend, Nr. Lydney, proclaimed that it had ‘excellent hotel accommodation in the very heart of beautiful woodlands with magnificent scenery on all sides. Bed and Breakfast. Teas. Parties catered for by arrangement. H. & C. water system and all modern requirements. Buses to all parts pass the doors. Terms moderate’.
The Woodman Inn overlooks the village cricket field. In August 1970 a mighty six hit during a game smashed a window at the pub, which was then still called the New Inn. In the 1970’s that the pub was renamed the Woodman. It was the policy of Whitbread to change the names of the New Inn’s in their estate to reflect their local connections. For example, the New Inn in Gretton became the Bugatti because of the links with the nearby Prescott Hill Climb and the New Inn at Shurdington became the Cheese Rollers after the crazy tradition of chasing a rounded cheese down the precipitous slopes of nearby Coopers Hill.
The Gloucestershire Branch of CAMRA described the Woodman as an ‘amazing unspoilt Forest pub opposite the cricket ground’ in their 1996 edition of ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’.
A ‘family meal’ review in the ‘Citizen’ newspaper was very positive on their experience at the Woodman in July 2001, “Our children thought the food was outstanding. I thought that my chicken was outstanding, and my husband thought that his roast lamb was outstanding. Good value too at £44 for lunch for seven.” An ‘eating out’ review in November 2009 remarked that the Woodman had one of the most impressive menus in the Forest of Dean, literally catering for every taste.’
The pub is affectionally known as the Woody, and in August the pub holds a Woodystock festival with live bands and entertainment.
Landlords at the New Inn / Woodman Inn include:
Railway Inn / Travellers Rest, Fancy Hill GL15 4JN
Passenger services on the Severn & Wye Railway from Lydney Junction to Drybrook Road commenced on 23rd September 1875. The branch line crossed the unclassified road leading to Moseley Green on a level crossing and the Railway Inn was situated a few yards to the west. At some time in its history the inn was known as the Travellers Rest and the signal box at the railway level crossing took on this name. The name of the pub was changed in 1875 because of confusion with the Travellers Rest at nearby Blakeney.
It is not clear what came first – the inn or the railway. Before the construction of the Severn & Wye Railway there were tramways serving the iron furnaces, tin plate works, stone works and colleries in Parkend. Maybe the inn was named after these early tramways.
The Railway Inn was put up for auction at the Feathers Hotel in Lydney on Wednesday 23rd April 1884. It was described as ‘being close to the Severn & Wye and Severn Bridge Railway Station’ and comprised a ‘Bar, tap-room, parlour, club-room, four bedrooms, front kitchen, back kitchen or scullery, large and commodious cellar, large front and stable yard containing brew-house, stabling for four horses, hay loft, piggery, etc. The property sale was aimed at ‘brewers, innkeepers, capitalists and others’.
In 1891 the Railway was owned by the delightfully named Samuel Price Scrivenger Evans of the Blakeney Brewery near Newnham on Severn. Patronage of the Blakeney Brewery had passed to Arthur Burke who sold the business in 1897 to the Wickwar Brewery. ‘Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. of Wickwar Brewery having purchased the Blakeney Brewery from Mr Arthur Burke, beg to notify that the Blakeney Brewery will be closed from 30th day of March 1897 and that the business in future be carried out from their stores in Lydney.’ The acquisition of the Blakeney Brewery secured two tied leasehold houses, the Vine Tree in Monmouth, the Lamb Inn in Coleford and three freehold houses – the Bird in Hand in Blakeney, the Albion Inn in Viney Hill and the Railway in Parkend.
The Railway Inn was licensed as a humble beer house and had an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm.
The Railway Inn closed in 1959. It is now a private house called Old Railway Inn.
The Dean Forest Railway has expressed interest in extending their line northwards towards Speech House Halt near Cannop Ponds, and ultimately Cinderford. Whether this will ever come to fruition is dependent on re-instating the level crossing at Travellers Rest and working out how a live steam railway can share the same trackbed as the already established and popular cycling trail. In 2001 there were even plans for a rail freight depot at the old Coleford Junction that was turned down by county planners.
Landlords at the Railway Inn include:
Royal Forester, Upper Road GL15 4RD
The first reference to the Royal Forester at Pillowell dates from 1843. William Worgan was the owner and occupier of the Royal Forester in 1891 when it was a free house. The annual rateable value was £12.0s.0d. and it was licensed as a beer house. By 1903 the Royal Forester was tied to Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery. Closing time was at 10 pm.
When the Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean put their business and properties up for sale in 1923 the Royal Forester was included and described as a ‘freehold beer house’ and a ‘very nice compact stone-built property’. On the ground floor there was a bar, smoke room, beer store and two kitchens. On the first floor there was three bedrooms and a club room. Outside there was a good garden, brick-built stabling for two, pig cots, urinal, etc., occupying an area of about half an acre. The details went on to say ‘the property is of freehold tenure and let to Mr Thomas James, a tenant of about 16 years standing, on quarterly tenancy at the low rent of £30 per annum.’
The Royal Forester closed in 1958. The property in Upper Road is now in residential use and is named ‘The Foresters’.
Landlords at the Royal Forester include:
Swan Inn, Phipps Bottom GL15 4QU
The Swan Inn was situated at Phipps Bottom on the hairpin bend that divides Pillowell from Yorkley. The Rudge Brook flows under the road at this point. The property was a private house built c1698, which first became licensed in 1874. In 1889 the Swan was bought by Arnold Perrett & Co. Ltd. The annual rateable value was £12.0s.0d. and it was classified as a beer house. Closing time was at 10 pm. Arnold, Perrett & Co’s Wickwar Brewery sold the Swan Inn to the Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1927.
March 1968 was once of the wettest months ever recorded in the Forest of Dean. The worst affected areas were in Lydney where persistent heavy rain caused the River Lyd to overflow severely flooding properties in Newerne Street. Rudge Brook at Pillowell also overflowed and the Swan Inn was deluged with four feet of flood water. Things were so bad that the council launched a Flood Relief Charity Fund to help those struggling to cope with the long clear-up job.
John Camm, landlord of the Swan Inn in 1986, had a rather cheeky offer for his customers. He said, “Customers of this hostelry will be issued with official Forest of Dean Fern Tickets when they call in for a pint. The ticket allegedly gives the holder the right to sink into the lush greenery with a sweetheart and let his passion takeover, without fear of interruption from Forest Rangers.” John’s ticket bore the rhyme: ‘Have you ever made love in a bed of fern? Then, alas my friend, you’ve a lot of learn.’
In 1999 the Swan became an unlikely place to showcase local and regional cheeses. The Forest & Wye Review newspaper reported that ‘at the tiny Swan Inn on the Whitecroft-Pillowell border, you won’t find a pool table – there isn’t room for one – though quoits board stands in the corner. There is no fruit machine, and no piped music either. For bar meals there is no big list of cooked food. Instead, the wall blackboard lists 32 farmhouse cheeses – plus a selection of home-made cheese tarts. The cheeses are sold not only as pick-and-mix ploughman’s platters, but as take-away and free home delivery boxes. There is also a selection of home-made chutneys and pickles.’ The pub was renamed the Swan Inn Cheesehouse Restaurant and Bar and every Saturday between 11.30 am and 2.30 pm a range of speciality cheeses were on display to taste and discover. There was also a ‘Cheese of the week’ on offer.
The change from a traditional village pub to a specialist cheese emporium was not to everyone’s taste and it caused considerable resentment with the old pub regulars. It was also claimed that the landlord had imposed rules barring the wearing of shorts. In July 2000 up to 40 former customers set up their own makeshift drinking place on the bank opposite the Swan to protest at the changes. One of the protesters said “On September 2nd 2000, twenty-one of us walked out at once and nobody intends going back in there. There used to be two darts teams, one quoits team, two crib teams and a darts team based at the pub, but he has lost the lot and even the village brass band doesn’t hold its harvest festival in there now.” It was also claimed that the Swan at Pillowell had one of the best quiz teams in the Forest of Dean.
The landlord regarded the disgruntled group as childish and tiresome. Of the protests he said, “I will bring harassment charges. I’ll take them to court and they will have to face the consequences. I’ll still be here at the end of the day.” He maintained that “for each dissatisfied customer there were ten who are more than happy by the way I am running the pub”. He added, “We are looking to have a civilised pub and we expect people to be reasonably well behaved, reasonably well-dressed and reasonably well-mannered.” An ‘ex-customer’ wrote a letter in the ‘Forester’ newspaper commenting, “The landlord may own the building, keep it clean and serve the drink but it’s the public who keep it going, who spend the money to give the landlord his living, which makes that building into a public house. After all, a public house without the public is just a house.”
In December 2001 the Swan Beerhouse was offering at least 120 bottled conditioned beers (Real Ale in Bottles) from small and micro-breweries from the West Country and from throughout England. There was a home-delivery service in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Somerset, Avon & Wiltshire.
The Swan pub was taken over by Matthew Tie in 2006. He added an extension to the bar and commented, “It’s given us a lot more space and business is good. We do food in summer, when there are more visitors around, especially walkers and cyclists.”
In February 2010 an application was submitted to the Forest of Dean District Council for ‘alterations and change of use of existing public house to residential dwelling. Erection of a detached private car garage (demolition of existing garage).’ The refurbished property was on the market in July 2012 with a guide price of £329,995. It was described as a detached four / five bedroom (two with en-suites) former public house. Four reception rooms, double garage and parking. Huge amount of accommodation. Potential for two family / extended family living.’
Landlords at the Swan Inn include:
Royal Oak GL17 9UG
In the 1891 licensing book the premises is listed without having a name, but in 1903 it was referred to as the Royal Oak. The Wickwar Brewery (Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd.) were the owners. The Royal Oak had the status of a beer house but sales Wickwar Gold Medal Ales were limited to ‘jug and bottle’ and consumption was not permitted inside. The annual rateable value of the premises in 1891 and 1903 was £14.0s.0d. and closing time was at 10 pm.
Cheltenham Original Brewery acquired the Oak Inn in 1937. The sale particulars of that year specified that a water pump on the premises had to be made available for public use during daylight hours. In September 1939 Thomas Reid, licensee Royal Oak, was fined ten shillings on three counts of permitting liquor to be consumed on the premises and drinking it on common land. Hitherto it had been common practice for customers to stand just outside the door to enjoy their drinks.
Landlords / Keepers of the Royal Oak include:
Brick House GL17 0HG
The details I have relate to the Brick House in the Parish of East Dean. I am assuming that the Brick House was in Plump Hill as there is a private residence called Brick House on Plump Hill. It is the red house on the left of the A4136 road travelling up the hill from Mitcheldean.
Emma Barnard was the owner and occupier of the Brick House in 1891. The licence was for off-sales only, so the Brick House was effectively a ‘jug and bottle’ off-licence. It must have been quite basic as the beer house only had an annual rateable value of £8.0s.0d.
There is no mention of the Brick House in the 1903 Gloucestershire licensing book.
John Jones was the owner of the Nags Head in 1891, a beer house which was free of brewery tie. The occupying landlord was David Simmons. The Simmons family had taken full ownership of the Nags Head in 1903 when Daniel Simmons was the owner and Moses Simmons was the landlord. The annual rateable value of the Nags Head was £15.0s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm.
There seems to be no mention of the Nags Head after 1903, suggesting that it had closed by the time that the First World War had started in 1914.
Above: Photo taken 26th June 1961.
In 1884 there was a skirmish between Morris dancing sides from Ruardean and Mitcheldean meeting at the Point Inn. It is said that an argument between the two sides started following a dispute on who had the right to dance there. During the fight a dancer fell to his death down a well. Was it an accident or was he deliberately pushed? After the incident Morris dancing is said to have faded out in the Forest.
The licensing books of 1891 and 1903 give detail that the Point Inn, an ale house, was free of brewery tie and had an annual rateable value of £25.5s.0d. Caroline Mason was the owner in 1891 and Samuel Harris in 1903. Closing time was at 10 pm.
The Point Inn was then acquired by Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery in Mitcheldean. In 1923 the brewery and the property estate were put up for auction. The Point Inn was described as being ‘substantially built with rough cast front and slate roof. On the ground floor there were two bars, a smoke room, sitting room and kitchen together with two beer stores, coal and other stores, coach-house and a small yard with a well. On the first floor there were four bedrooms, sitting room, store-room and a large club room. Outside the Point Inn was a two-stall stable, pig cots, urinal, etc and to the rear ‘a good garden and meadow, in all about two acres’. The sale particulars went on to say that ‘the property is of freehold tenure and let to Mrs Mary Grimshaw, a tenant of about 27 years’ standing on quarterly tenancy, at total rents of £32 per annum.’
The Point Inn was demolished in the early 1960’s to facilitate road improvements on the A4136.
Landlords at the Point Inn include:
Greyhound Inn, The Slad GL14 1JX
The Greyhound Inn is located halfway between Elton corner and Littledean on the A4151. The parish boundary of Elton extends almost to the Greyhound and a pub called the Plough Inn on the Elton Road may have been in very close proximity. The Greyhound and Plough Inn do not appear to be contemporary with each other, so it is possible that the licence of the Plough may have been relinquished in favour of the Greyhound.
George Baker was the owner and occupier of the Greyhound in 1891. It was licensed as an ale house was free of brewery tie. The Greyhound had an annual rateable value of £18.0s.0d. and closed each night at 10 pm. The Stroud Brewery Company had acquired the pub in 1903
The Forest of Dean Branch of Gloucestershire CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) declared the Greyhound their ‘Pub of the Year’ in 1999.
Charity events held at the Greyhound Inn during 2000 raised an impressive total of £7,000 for the Air Ambulance.
When Tony and Doreen Lorimer moved to the Greyhound Inn in July 2007 they had a nightmare beginning when the usual placid stream running through the pub garden burst its banks, flooding the pub just three weeks after they moved in. The pub regulars took matters into their own hands and built an impressive barrage made of sleepers to divert the stream back around the pub. Firefighters from Cinderford arrived very quickly and spent the next hour diverting the river away from the pub – they then even spent time drying the carpets while everyone carried on drinking and eating. Doreen said, “We had three or four inches of water through the pub but the fire brigade were wonderful.” A family wake which as being held at the greyhound carried on late until the night. Tony and Doreen held a party to thank locals for their support in June 2008.
An ’Eating Out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in July 2009 remarked, ‘The Greyhound has a homely feel with resident cats and dogs roaming around the garden and even a large fish tank separating the bar from the conservatory. In the restaurant the tables look out over the beer garden where there are hens walking around. The pub is cosy and friendly and offers a variety of home-cooked food to appeal to all tastes.’
In 1989 local Cinderford plasterer Bill Taylor built a Diplodocus dinosaur in the pubs garden. Affectionately known as Horace it was a distinctive and much-loved feature of the Greyhound Inn for over 20 years. In 2010 when new owners took over the pub, Horace was looking decidedly worse for wear. His tail was missing and parts of his body had badly worn out and needed touching up with a new lick of paint. An appeal to the local newspaper to track down Bill was successful, and he returned to fix the Diplodocus - now renamed Dino the Dinosaur. The landlady said, “I’ve fallen in love with him. I quite often talk to him when I go and collect the glasses from the garden.”
Sheila Whyment took over the Greyhound with business partner Chris Harrison in August 2010. Sheila had ben running successful restaurants and bars in Corfu for the previous 25 years and hoped that she could bring a touch of the Mediterranean to the Forest of Dean. An ‘Eating Out’ review in November 2010 noted that the menu was mainly pub favourites with Greek influences such as starters of salami, cheese and olives. Sheila recruited an ex-army chef to introduce more Mediterranean food to the menu.
Gareth and Lyn Davies had previous experience of running city pubs in Birmingham so the move to the Greyhound in September 2011 was certainly a change. Lyn said, “You never know who is going to walk through the door of a country pub. On New Year’s Day our car park was full of horses as the riders had stopped in for a drink. You certainly wouldn’t expect that in Birmingham.” The vintage motorcycling club met in the pub again and there were plans to revive the harvest festival. A quiz night held in the Greyhound with funds raised going to Littledean Church of England Primary School was described as “absolutely heaving”. Gareth said, “This has been a successful pub for 100 years and there’s no reason why it can’t continue to be so.”
An armed raid took place at the Greyhound Inn just after 10 pm on Friday 2nd September 2016. Just after closing time a young woman knocked on the door of the pub seeking help because she claimed her car had broken down. A gang of four teenagers then burst in and threatened a member of staff with a knife before stealing watches and money from a safe. The inquiry became one of attempted murder because the gang of four had attempted to set fire to the pub before they left. The victim smelt burning and was able to raise the alarm. A 19 year-old man, two 16 year old boy and a 14 year-old boy, all from Gloucester, were arrested in connection with the case and bailed.
In January 2017 the Greyhound was put up for sale, marketed with an asking price of £185,000. The agents stated that the property ‘is a quaint cottage-style country pub set in 0.7 of an acre. It is currently closed and is smoke and fire damaged. The pub has bar and restaurant facilities along with three bedrooms as part of the owner’s accommodation’.
Horace, or Dino the Dinosaur, was bought by collector Graham Gardiner in April 2018 and he now resides at Grahams home in Walmore Common. Graham has renamed Horace once again and even given him a sex change. Now called Doris she enjoys life in retirement with Graham near the banks of the River Severn
The Greyhound is now closed. A planning application for change of use to residential has been submitted to the Forest of Dean District Council.
Landlords at the Greyhound Inn include:
Purton Passage House Inn / Ship Inn / Severn Bridge Hotel GL15 4AX
There was once a ferry crossing from Purton to Sharpness and the Passage House Inn provided refreshment for travellers using the Severn crossing. In 1726 Martin Inman was operating the ferry and was also innkeeper of the Purton Passage. Twenty-six years later James Inman was keeping the Passage House Inn and operating the ferry. The rates of passage across the River Severn in 1798 were one shilling for a man and horse, nine pennies of a horse, three pennies for a foot person, six pennies each for horn calves, three pennies each for calves and two shillings and nine pennies per score of pigs and sheep.
The Great Western Railway opened their South Wales line from Gloucester to Chepstow in September 1851 and the railway took the route of the banks of the Severn through Purton. There must have been access across the railway to the river ferry, which was still in operation. The Severn & Wye and Midland Railway Company opened their railway from Lydney Junction to Sharpness in 1879 and it crossed the river over an impressive bridge, which was 4,162 feet long in total with a thirteen arch stone approach viaduct on the Forest of Dean side. There were two dominant 327 feet spans on the Severn Railway Bridge with nineteen smaller spans. There was also a swing bridge on the opposite side of the river taking the railway over the Gloucester-Sharpness canal. A railway station called Severn Bridge was opened in 17th October 1879 at Purton.
The Purton Passage House Inn is also listed in the 1861 and 1870 Kelly’s commercial directories. In 1875 both the Purton Ferry and ‘Purton Passage House or Ship Inn’ was offered for sale in lots. The inn was described as full-licensed freehold and ‘the house, which stands on the Banks of the Severn, is Stone-built and Slate-roofed, in good repair, and commands extensive views. It contains good entrance hall, large smoking room, parlour, kitchen, back kitchen, pantry, store-room, cellars etc, and eight capital bedrooms.’ The outbuildings comprised a brewhouse with furnace, indicating that the Purton Passage House or Ship Inn once brewed its own beer. Also included were stabling for four horses together with a stone-built cottage and about two and a half acres of productive orchard, meadow land, kitchen and pleasure gardens.
By 1885 the name of the inn had been changed to the Severn Bridge Inn and a 1901 advertisement noted that it was ‘five minutes-walk from the Severn Bridge Railway Station. The hotel is situated on the banks of the Severn overlooking the Severn Bridge, the Sharpness Docks, the Stroud Valleys and the Cotswold Hills. Good accommodation for parties, etc.’
The Minister for Parliament J.T. Agg-Gardner, proprietor and owner of the Cheltenham Original Brewery, owned the Severn Bridge Hotel in 1891 and 1903. It was classified as an ale house with an annual rateable value of £25.15s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm.
In the 1993 of ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’, compiled and researched by CAMRA, the Old Severn Bridge Hotel was described as ‘Named after the now demolished railway bridge. Spacious Hotel with three bars. Children’s play equipment in the garden with excellent views across the river. Good value home-made food.’ The three beers on tap at the time of the survey were Draught Bass, Hook Norton Best Bitter and Marston’s Pedigree.
The Severn Bridge Hotel closed in 1996.
Landlords at the Purton Passage / Severn Bridge Hotel include: