|Forest of Dean Pubs - Placenames Coleford
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Angel Hotel, Market Place GL16 8AE
In the 1891 and 1903 licensing books the Angel Hotel is designated as an alehouse with an annual rateable value of £17s.3d.0d. The hotel was in the ownership of Edwin R. Blayne in 1891, yet twelve years later the enumerator has entered Mrs Edwin R. Playne at the Angel which might suggest that she is a widower. The Angel Hotel was free from brewery tie in 1891 and 1903. In common with all Coleford town pubs closing time was at 11 pm.
When the Angel Family and Commercial Hotel was put up for sale in 1898 it comprised of ‘twelve bedrooms, four sitting rooms, bar, kitchen, back kitchen, club room, tap room, vaults, good cellarage and stabling for forty horses.’
In 1939 the Angel was advertised as a free house – ‘a first-class residential hotel in the centre town of the Dean Forest with every modern service. Ideal headquarters for every class of tourist. Famed for its excellent cellars and good food.’ Bass & Worthington beers were sold on draught.
Bill Nash emailed me from Australia in 2000 with his reminiscences of the Angel Hotel in the 1960’s: "Percy Paddock moved from the Kings Head to the Angel Hotel and he had a wooden leg which he would remove and put on the bar on the odd occasion, usually when he wanted to encourage the customers to go home. The leg was often propped up behind the bar as he deftly hopped from the bar to the tap room with tankards for refilling. There was a 'back room’, which I can still see in my mind now, having been taken there by my father on a number of occasions as a youngster. Licensing hours seemed not to apply in the back room, which was accessed through the bar or the private part of the pub. My mother was often livid when my father returned from his pre-Saturday drink at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I can remember being told to fetch him and having to go in through the back door”.
The Angel Hotel reputedly has a ghost of which staff have named Fred. He is seen floating about making himself known. Children have been heard running around in the rooms and a Victorian lady has been seen in the Royal Room. A young chap called Jack is said to haunt the Wye Room and glasses often fall from shelves and objects are moved mysteriously. Paranormal investigations have recorded talking and whispering. In October 2009 landlord Ben Fullwood said, ‘We have had a number of strange things happen such as glasses falling and smashing for no reason and showers turning themselves on. One guest left after only staying for one night as they said they felt someone get into bed with them.’ The hotel dates back to the 1600’s and one room was previously used as a mortuary and embalming room. A paranormal investigation at the Angel was carried out by clairvoyant Toni Hunt and her colleague Adam Heath who filmed the evening. Toni said, ‘we plan to sell tickets so people can come and observe the investigations and the proceeds will go to Cancer Research UK.’
The Angel Hotel was put on the market in January 2011 after the owning Pubs ‘n’ Bars chain went bankrupt in 2010. Early in 2012 there was speculation that pub chain JD Wetherspoon had expressed an interest in acquiring the Angel Hotel. However, a spokesman for the well-known chain said, ‘We are interested in Coleford but we will not talk about individual sites.’ The administrators for Pubs ‘n’ Bars – a pub company that had a portfolio of 20 pubs, mostly located in the South of England with a combined total of 6.25 million – were still marketing the Angel Hotel in February 2013 with an asking price of £450,000. Negotiations with JD Wetherspoon had broken down.
The Angel Hotel was purchased by the Chapman Group in March 2014. The pub company already owned the New Inn Hotel, Station Hotel and Dick Whittington pub in Gloucester, and the Tudor Arms Hotel in Tewkesbury. Chris Chapman of the Chapman Group told the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘The Angel Hotel is in such a good position – it’s in the centre of a nice town in the middle of the beautiful Forest of Dean. With so many attractions nearby, it makes for the ideal hotel.’ He added, ‘It would be good to have a small micro-brewery that can supply the rest of my pubs as well. This is one of the ideas we’re playing with as we’ve got so much room in Coleford.’ The Chapman Group were owners of the 16th century Angmerling Manor country house in Wessex Sussex of which Chris Chapman said that his group would style the nine bedrooms of the Angel Hotel. Mr Chapman said, ‘We’ve checked the roof for leaks and fixed the tiles where needed. Once we finish that we will start work inside from top to bottom. There’s a lot of work to do but the improvements will have an impact.’
South Coast Inns Group now own the Angel Hotel of which Chris Chapman is a director. Please visit their website for more details.
Landlords at the Angel Hotel:
Bell Inn, Newland Street GL16 8AJ
The Bell Inn was opposite the Baptist Chapel on the south side of Newland Street. This is according to the surveyor S.G. Gregg who marked it on his Coleford plan of 1849. Gregg’s plan notes that the site of the Bell Inn ‘was replaced by Newland Street Garage and was later occupied by Hodge’s Electrical Stores.’
Perhaps the Bell Inn was used almost exclusively for construction workers employed on erecting the Newland Street Baptist Chapel from 1814 to 1839. The distinctive church, designed in a debased Romanesque style, was designed by C.G. Searle. It is still a prominent feature of the Coleford landscape. The Bell Inn would have served the needs of the church builders for 25 years.
Almost in the shadow of the Baptist Chapel is an impressive skew railway bridge made of local sandstone. It carried the Coleford, Monmouth, Usk & Pontypool Railway which was authorised in 1853 and had opened in 1861. Notwithstanding that the railway line was not a commercial success and had closed as a through route by the end of 1916, the construction work involved – just 14 years after the completion of the Baptist Church – might have saved the Bell Inn from closure.
In the 1891 Gloucestershire licensing book the Bell Inn is listed in the ‘Parish of Newland’, in the petty sessional division of Coleford. James Beard was the occupier / landlord of the ale house and the Bell had an annual rateable value of £11.10s.0d. The owner was Owen James and the pub was trading as a free house, with no brewery tie. There is no mention of the Bell Inn in the 1903 records.
The Bell was subsequently demolished and houses now occupy the site.
Buck, Market Place GL16 8AE
There are no references to the Buck in the 1891 Gloucestershire licensing books, and it seems that the Buck Inn had ceased trading by the 1870’s. Details are sparse and further research is necessary to ascertain if the information is correct.
The 1830 Pigots Directory lists Richard Porter at the White Hart in Coleford, and in the 1851 census (then aged 39) he is described as a ‘Wine & Spirits Dealer’ A quick calculation shows that he would have been only 18 when he had the White Hart in 1830! John William Watts had a wines & spirits business with some connection to the White Hart in 1885.
Is there a connection with the Buck Inn and the White Hart? Did John William Watts acquire Richard Porter’s Wine & Spirits business?
Butchers Arms, Lords Hill, Coalway Road GL16 8BD
Above: Site of the Butchers Arms.
The Butchers Arms was located on corner of the Market Place and Lords Hill- at the foot of the B4228 road leading to Coalway. The Kings Head Hotel would have been opposite. The approximate site of the Butchers Arms is now occupied by Stanley Racing bookmakers. (2 Lords Hill) and the Tourist Information Centre.
James Cullis was the landlord of the Butchers Arms in 1877. The 1891 licensing records indicates that the Butchers Arms was an alehouse with an annual rateable value of £12.10s.0d. The owner was S.R. Davis and the Butchers Arms was a free house, with no brewery tie. James Fox was the occupier.
There is no mention of the Butchers Arms in 1903 suggesting that it closed down in late Victorian / early Edwardian times. In 1936 the site was in use as the offices of Herbert Williams, the Magistrates’ clerk.
Coach and Horses, Market Place GL16 8AW
The Coach and Horses was situated on the north side of the Market Place, immediately to the left of the Old White Hart. It was one of the early inns of Coleford, contemporary with the Angel Hotel, Kings Head Hotel and the Plume of Feathers, but obviously not as successful as it was put up for sale as early as 1752. It was sold to William Peters and it appears to have ceased trading by the time of the sale was confirmed in 1761.
The building is now occupied by Carpenters D.I.Y.
Dog House / Cobblers, 13-15 St John Street
Inspired by the success of his first micropub in Newent, Ian Jones opened his second ‘Cobblers’ in St John Street Coleford in December 2013. Previously the building was in use as a carpet shop. An advertorial in the ‘Citizen’ and ‘Forester’ newspaper gave details, ‘Cobblers Micropubs love Coleford and that is exactly why we chose the town to open our second, award winning pub here. We offer something different for those that want to enjoy a civilised drink in good ‘grown up’ company with no televisions, loud music, fruit machines or juke boxes to ruin the atmosphere. You will be made very welcome by Ian, Andrea or Kelly who will be able to talk you through our range of real ales (normally six available), wines and still ciders. We also give you the perfect excuse to walk the dog as we welcome socialised pooches at any time. Sorry but we are not licenced to allow under18’s on the premises.’
The name of the micropub was changed to the Dog House in December 2014. Greg Daniel and Stephanie Rogers took over the running of the pub. The bar was given a complete makeover giving the premises a more welcoming feel. A dedicated Facebook Page was set up giving details of all the activities happening at the Dog House, including a charity quiz night and occasional live music evenings.
The Dog House is my own local pub and I can testify that it is absolutely wonderful. The beers are constantly changing, interesting, always in perfect condition and Greg usually ensures that a dark beer is on offer next to the popular golden style ales. The Dog House is a worthy entry in the 2019 CAMRA Good Beer Guide.
Feathers / Plume of Feathers Inn, 30 Market Place GL16 8AA
The Plume of Feathers was open in 1654 and possibly even before that. The late Ray Allen wrote in the Forest Review newspaper (Sept.1998) about Coleford pubs and, of the Plume of Feathers Inn, he wrote: ‘It was sold in 1672 by Stirley Kedgwin Snr. to Richard and Mary Sladden, the latter being Kedgwin’s daughter. It was acquired by the Hall family of Highmeadow who rented it out in 1769 at 1s.6d. weekly. Henry Jenkins bought the inn from Lord Gage when he wound up the family’s local estate that century.’
The Feathers Inn was put up for auction on 23rd March 1827. The inn was owned by Henry Jenkins, an innkeeper and stonemason, who had been declared bankrupt in 1819 and had served time in a debtor’s prison. He had no option but to sell his real estate which included the Feathers Inn. The auction was held across the road in the Kings Head. The Feathers was described as ‘a freehold property being the real estate of Henry Jenkins, late of Coleford aforesaid, innkeeper and stone cutter, an insolvent debtor, who was discharged from the King’s Bench Prison, in or about the month of February 1820’. The sale particulars described ‘all that commodious inn and public house, called the Feathers Inn, situate in the centre of the said town of Coleford, together with two large yards, four large stables & other attached buildings, with the appurtenances thereto adjoining, late in the occupation of Mr George Wintle, and now of Mr Richard Smart, as tenant thereof.’
In 1830 it is documented that Thomas Plaisted carriers ran a service from the yard of the Plume of Feathers to Gloucester.
The Plume of Feathers, an alehouse, had an annual rateable value of £21.12s.0d. in 1891 and 1903. Amos Smith is listed as the owner in 1891 when the inn was operating as a free house, with no restrictions on beer supplies. Yet just 12 years later the Feathers had been leased to the Ashton Gate Brewery in Bristol. It was owned in 1903 by the representatives of Mary Ann Smith.
In March 1988 the local newspaper reported that a pair of Courage Brewery Shire Horses drew an admiring crowd outside the Feathers Inn in Coleford. They were advertising the County Cricket team’s visit to play against the pub side.
The 1996 edition of ‘RAIG – Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ described the Feathers as a ‘friendly town-centre pub. Home cooked food served at lunchtime (not Sunday). By arrangement parties can enjoy a Bierkeller atmosphere with steins of ale. Outdoor seating in the courtyard in summer.’
The owners of the Feathers in 2007 were Inns 2B Inn Ltd
Landlords at the Plume of Feathers include:
The late Ray Allen, a local historian, researched the old pubs in Coleford in the 1990’s and he made reference to Gregg’s plan of the town in 1849. According to surveyor S.G. Gregg the Fleece was in the High Street (becoming Trotters drapery shop). Ray, however, considered that the Fleece was in the Market Place located immediately to the right of the Feathers Inn on the site now occupied by Dean Conveyancing Property Lawyers. (31 Market Place – GL16 8AA). When Ray Allen did the research and followed it up in an article in the ‘Forester’ Newspaper in September 1998 he noted that ‘the adjacent furniture shop [to the Feathers] which used to be the Trotter’s emporium was once the Fleece Inn’.
There are no records of the Fleece Inn in the 1891 Gloucestershire licencing book. Clearly more research needs to be done to clarify the actual location of the Fleece. It is surprising that there are no other references to the Fleece Inn. In fact, did the pub exist at all?
Folly Inn, Rock Lane, Whitecliff
This establishment really is intriguing and mystifying, actual documentation is scarce and a lot of the following information maybe conjecture.
Rock Lane is an ancient sunken pathway which leads from Perrygrove (by the Lucozade / Ribena Suntory) down the hillside to Whitecliff, where it emerges directly opposite the long defunct Whitecliff Ironworks. It is known that these workings commenced in 1798 and came into operation about 1801 or 1802. A public house to slake the thirst of those men involved in the construction of the ironworks or those workers producing iron at the furnace would be entirely expected, but the Folly Inn is documented in the straggling and sparsely populated settlement of Whitcliff as early as 1757 – forty years or so before the ironworks. Whitecliff, itself, is about a third of a mile to the south-west of Coleford on the road to Newland.
Whitecliff Ironworks were not a success and the production of iron was limited mainly due to the quality of the coke used. A second furnace came into operation in 1808, but the entire works had been abandoned by 1816. If the Folly Inn was to benefit from custom from workers from the Iron works, either in construction or production, it was only for 18 years.
Yet 75 years after the failure and abandonment of the Whitecliff Ironworks the Folly Inn is still trading. The 1891 licensing records describes it as a beer house with an annual rateable value of £11.4s.0d. George Davis is listed as the owner, and Milson Davis is the occupying landlord. The Folly Inn was free of brewery tie. Twelve years before that, in 1879, John Taylor is detailed as the owner.
The license of the ‘Folly Inn in the Parish of Newland’ was voluntarily lapsed upon the granting of a new licence for the Rocklea Hotel in Symonds Yat (in the Parish of English Bicknor). The Victoria County History of Gloucestershire states that the Rocklea Hotel changed its name to the Royal Hotel in 1901 or 1902. The present-day Royal Lodge in Symonds Yat East is a very grand establishment which was originally built in 1876 as a Royal hunting lodge and was converted to a hotel in the 1920’s. Was this the Rocklea Hotel?
In Heather Hurley’s book ‘The Pubs of the Royal Forest of Dean’ (Logaston Press 2004) she notes that the Folly ‘is now a heap of stones alongside Rock Lane’ On exploring the ancient trackway in the Spring of 2019, with white garlic flowers and bluebells transforming this secluded path into something quite magical, I discovered that there are definitely signs of a deserted building just a few yards uphill, opposite the old ironworks. Two upright stones suggest the entrance of a collapsed doorway but there is only a scattering on stones amongst the encroaching vegetation. If this forgotten structure was the Folly Inn it must have been a very small and unique beer house, something akin to a hermits’ cave nestling on the side of the valley. Perhaps then it was an entirely different landscape, with no mature trees hiding it from view. The Folly Inn might even have had an open aspect facing the Whitecliff valley.
If the Folly Inn was built in an eccentric architectural style of which the name seems to suggest, it seems odd that there is so little historical account of it. Normally such a quirky establishment would be rooted in local folklore.
George Inn, 12 St. John Street GL16 8AR
The site is now occupied by Cinnamons Indian Restaurant & Takeaway at 12 St John Street. The Dog House micro-pub is almost directly opposite Cinnamons. The Indian takeaway service is excellent. You can order your curry at the Dog House and they will bring it to you whilst you enjoy your pint!
Jovial Colliers, Gloucester Road
Landlords at the Jovial Colliers include:
Kings Head Hotel, Bank Street GL16 8BA
The Kings Head Hotel is an imposing building at the bottom of Bank Street on the junction with the Gloucester Road. The address was originally Market Place, changing to Bank Street c.1902.
The Kings Head was where the very first shots of the Battle of Coleford were fired in 1643. The battle broke out as a militia of Foresters banded together to fight 2,000 Royalist soldiers marching through the town from Raglan on their way to an attack on Gloucester.
The late Ray Allen wrote in his 'Forest and Wye Review’ article (September 1998): " By 1785 it was becoming an important coaching inn for stagecoaches serving the Gloucester - Monmouth route. In 1904 the police successfully asked the magistrates to order up the bricking up of two back doors as they couldn’t cope with malefactors eluding them when they came in the front door”.
When the Kings Head was put up for sale by auction on Friday 15th July 1864 the inn was freehold and contained a garden, coach-houses and other outbuildings.
In 1891 and 1903 the Kings Head was owned by Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd of the Wickwar Brewery. The annual rateable value was £20.16s.0d. and the Kings Head had alehouse status. (11 pm closing).
The fifth edition of ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ published by CAMRA in 1980 described the Kings Head as an ‘Old Whitbread Pub recently reopened as a free house. Four hand pumps in L shaped bar. Dance Floor’ Whitbread Bitter was dispensed by hand pump.
Porky’s nightclub at the back of the Kings Head was effectively closed by the courts in November 1990 after the special hours certificate was revoked. Porky’s had previously stayed open until 1 am on Thursdays and 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. A new nightclub, Blondes, was launched with a Hallowen party on Saturday 30th October 2010.
Danny and Sarah Swartout took on the lease of the Kings Head in September 2010 and hoped to reinvigorate the pub by giving it a makeover. Danny, then aged 29, told the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘My background is in the building business and we’ve done up a few nightclubs and pubs in Southampton and Winchester. The last place we took on was a bit of a dive but we turned it into one of the busiest places in town. The plan with the Kings Head is to give it some fresh paint and update the furniture. The bar area will be traditional but we want to modernise the back to give it a nightclub feel. We’ll also be offering food next year when we get the kitchen up and running.’
The Kings Head closed its doors soon after Christmas 2011. A spokesman for the owners, a member of the Danter family from Symonds Yat, told the newspaper, ‘It would be soon be re-opening under new management. It’s been closed for refurbishment and will be back open very soon.’
Ifor Squire took over the running of the Kings Head and had re-opened the bar area at the end of January 2012. Ifor’s father had been the landlord of the Red Lion in Cinderhill and he and told the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘I’ve been brought up in pubs so I think I know a bit what the public wants.’ He added, ‘I’m old school. It worked all those years ago so I don’t see why it can’t today.’ His immediate plans were to transform the former Blondes nightclub into a restaurant area and to bring back traditional pub games like darts, snooker and pool. He said, ‘When the Kings Head came up I thought I’d give it a go because I don’t think it’s a pub that has reached its full potential.’
It seems that the Kings Head had closed for good by November 2013. The Forest Upcycling Project, a charity providing second hand household goods for people on low incomes, had moved into the empty building a year later in November 2014.
Coleford Town Council applied to secure listed building status on the Kings Head Hotel at the end of 2014. Town Clerk Annie Lapington sought advice from English Heritage and discovered that any building built before 1700 should be a listed building. She said, ‘It’s one of the oldest buildings in town and certainly pre-dates 1700. It holds a lot of historical value to the town and it’s a shame that it’s fallen into such disrepair. Having it as a listed building should help – rather than it end up being knocked down’
Landlords at the Kings Head include:
Lamb Inn / Pig and Whistle, 12 Gloucester Road GL16 8BL
The Lamb Inn, at 12 Gloucester Road, was formerly known as the Pig and Whistle. It was probably trading under that name when it had the Jovial Colliers in competition on the opposite (western) side of the road.
In 1891 the Lamb Inn was leased to the Blakeney Brewery but was owned by Henry Salmon of the Coleford Brewery. This apparent conflict of interests can be explained by the fact that brewing at Coleford had ceased by 1889 and their trade was taken on by the Blakeney Brewery, but the Lamb was still owned by Henry Salmon. In 1903 ownership had been transferred to Mary Fox, who was also the landlady of the Plough Inn at Coalway. Arnold Perrett & Co. Ltd. of Wickwar had taken over the Blakeney Brewery and closed it from the 30th day of March 1897. In the 1903 licensing book the Lamb Inn was a beer house with an annual rateable value of £11.4s.0d. It was also a free house, but the Lamb must have been acquired by the Stroud Brewery in early Edwardian times as they offered to relinquish the license of the Lamb Inn in favour of the nearby Royal Oak at the foot of Gloucester Road. Coleford town magistrates must have argued against Stroud Brewery’s proposals as the Royal Oak closed but the Lamb survived until the 1960’s.
The building that once housed the Lamb Inn is a substantial structure. It is possible that it was entirely remodelled or rebuilt by the Stroud Brewery Company after the Royal Oak had closed. A request for information on the Forest of Dean Facebook group yielded information that the Lamb Inn had a magnificent wooden bar.
James Frank Taylor is listed as the landlord of the Lamb Inn in the 1939 Kelly’s Directory. The Taylor family were still in residence in 1950 when the local papers reported on the tragic news of their beloved pub-dog, ‘Grit’. ‘It is not often that the death of a dog evokes public sympathy, but when the news spreads that ‘Grit’ Taylor of the Lamb Inn, Coleford, had become a victim of a road accident, many were visibly upset. He was a wonderfully, intelligent and faithful old spaniel, who never forgot kindness and had an amazing memory. He loved children and frequently saved them from the dangers of the road. He could cry when asked to and could almost be made to speak. But with advancing years he gradually became deaf and blind and as he crossed the road he became a victim of an accident himself.’
At one time the old Lamb Inn was in use as a laundrette. It is now divided into residential apartments.
Landlords at the Lamb Inn include:
Market Tavern, Market Place GL16 8AE
The Market Tavern was located to the left of the Angel Hotel. It was a modest establishment catering for market traders but seems to have ceased trading by the middle of the nineteenth century. The 1891 Gloucestershire licensing book makes no reference to the Market Tavern.
The building was in use for a long time as a shoe shop but has recently been converted to Platinum World Travel Agency.
In recent years there was another Market Tavern at 5/6 Market Place in Newland Street, which later traded as the Red Lion.
Masons Arms / Help Me Through The World, Boxbush Road GL16 8DN
In 1867 the pub standing at the junction with Staunton Road and Boxbush Road was called ‘Help Me Through the World’ – a name the premises had for a very short period of time. In 1877 the inn is recorded as the Masons Arms (see also the Masons Arms in Newland Street).
In late Victorian / early Edwardian times the Masons Arms was a beer house with an annual rateable value of £12.6s.0d. George Jones was the owner in 1891 and Sarah James in 1903. The Masons Arms had no brewery tie.
In 2000 Bill Nash emailed me from Australia about his early drinking days in Coleford. He wrote: "The Masons Arms (as I knew it) at the foot of Boxbush Road was, I believe, in the early 1970’s run by a Ken Morgan, who had moved there from the Swan when it closed. I remember many a Sunday morning game of darts at the Masons Arms during my drinking apprenticeship. I don’t ever remember being asked my age, which was a good job because everyone knew who we were and how old we were.”
The Masons Arms was acquired by Francis Wintles’ Forest Brewery of Mitcheldean and in the 1930’s, following the takeover, it sold Chelt Ales from the Cheltenham Original Brewery. A legacy of its days as a West Country Breweries house in the late 1950’s / early 1960’s is a ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque.
In November 1966 a local newspaper revealed that the secret of a long life may have been in the beer of the Mason’s Arms in Coleford as the average age of customers was said to be 80.
The fourth edition of Gloucestershire CAMRA ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ published in July 1978 described the Masons Arms simply as a ‘small friendly pub just off town centre.’ Whitbread PA was available on hand pump. The Masons Arms closed for a period in the mid 1980’s and was purchased from Whitbread in the early 1990’s. The owner decided to change the name of the free house back to ‘Help Me Through the World’.
The 1993 edition of ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ described the pub as basic ‘with tiled floor and posters on the walls. Had a ninety-year spell as the Masons Arms but has now reverted!’ Beers were supplied from Courage Brewery, Wadworth of Devizes and the Freeminer Brewery from the Forest of Dean (Sling).
Help Me Through the World closed in the Autumn of 1995. The owner of the property in 2000 had kept the interior unchanged, and it is likely that the original layout and features of the Masons Arms are still intact today.
Landlords at the Masons Arms include:
Masons Arms, Newland Street GL16 8AJ
Although there were once two pubs called the Masons Arms in Coleford they probably never traded under that name at the same time. The Masons Arms on the corner of Boxbush Road traded as Help Me Through The World until 1877 when it was renamed the Masons Arms.
It is possible that when the Masons Arms in Newland Street, just off the Market Place, closed down in the middle of the nineteenth century the name was transferred to the pub in Boxbush Road. Perhaps a landlord of the Masons Arms in Newland Street simply transferred the name to his new premises.
The old Masons Arms in Newland Street is now a motorcycle shop called ‘Biker Dean’. (5 Whitecliff)
Nags Head / Travellers Rest, Whitecliff GL16 8NB
The 1830 Pigot’s directory and 1837 Robson’s Commercial Directory refer to the Travellers Rest at Whitecliff, which by 1842 had become the Nags Head.
In the 1891 and 1903 petty licensing books the Nags Head is described as an alehouse with an annual rateable value of £11.2s.4d. William Page was the owner in 1891 but the lease was taken by John William Watts, of the Wine & Spirits Stores in St John Street. Twelve years later in 1903 the Nags Head had been sold to Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. By the beginning on the Edwardian era the Wickwar Brewery owned more pubs in the Forest of Dean than any other brewery, even more than the Forest Brewery (Francis Wintle’s) in Mitcheldean.
An inventory of sale dated 1937 suggests that the Nags Head might have ceased trading before World War Two: ‘Parish of Newland – Nags Head: “All that messuage or dwelling house used as a public house and known as the Nags Head with the outbuildings garden and cottage and all other outbuildings and appurtenances thereunto belonging and the piece or parcel of pasture land or orcharding adjoining the same containing altogether four acres and twenty three perches (more or less) situate at Whitecliffe in the Tything of Coleford in the Parish of Newland in the County of Gloucester.”
The building retains the name Nags Head in private residency.
Landlords at the Nags Head / Travellers Rest include:
Old White Hart, 6 Market Place GL16 8AW
Thomas Brown, Hubert Towlins, Thomas Cooper, Richard Jenkins, and Thomas Kilby all of Berry Hill, were summonsed for refusing to leave the White Hart public house in Coleford on the 26th March 1870. On account of the previous good character of the four defendants, they were only fined five shillings each.
When John Hullett owned the Old White Hart in 1891 he was free to obtain beer from any brewery of his choice as it was free of tie. Edward James Highley was the occupying landlord who had been in residence for at least 21 years. He had a secondary occupation as a butcher. The annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £20.0s.0d. In 1903 the Old White Hart was leased to Ind Coope & Co., brewers of Burton on Trent. John Hullett had died as the ownership of the Old White Hart were being sorted out by his representatives. Ind Coope & Co. were probably the purchasers. The present day exterior of the Old White Hart has signage claiming that it is an “18th century pub and brew house”, although I have found no documentation confirming commercial brewing on the premises. However, the premises might have been shared with John William Watts’ wine & spirits business.
A 1939 advertisement for the White Hart described it as the ‘Centre Hotel of the Centre Town of the Dean Forest’. The proprietor was R.F. Sayell and the fully licensed hotel catered for parties, and bed and breakfast, luncheons and teas were available on ‘moderate terms’. The advert drew attention to the ‘Civility and Service’ and noted that ‘Buses to all parts start from here’. Ind Coope & Allsops Noted Beers & Stouts were sold – ‘The Best of Burton Brew’.
In May 1959 the local newspaper gave an amusing account of an unusual feathered customer at the pub: ‘A grey racing pigeon, run over and left for dead in a Coleford street was nursed back to health by White Hart landlord Jack Saunders. The pigeon, christened Jenny, had broken limbs and a missing tail, but Jack made splints and looked after it. After two months of lying motionless in the pub, the bird gradually recovered, before eventually flying through an open window. However, the next morning, and every morning after that, Jenny was Jack’s first customer – waiting outside the pub for the doors to open at 11 am so she could spend her days warming herself by the fire until closing time. The bird even developed a liking for beer!’
In the 1996 edition of CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ the White Hart is described as a ‘comfortable two bar pub with restaurant offering good local food.’ Of note is that Ind Coope Burton Ale was the real ale on offer. At that time Ind Coope beers had been sold at the Old White Hart for almost a century.
After a crucial World Cup Qualifying game on October 11th 2003, in which England drew 0-0 with Turkey, excited England fans who had watched the football in the Old White Hart spilled into St John Street and made racist taunts to staff in a nearby Turkish kebab shop and scuffles ensued. Police were called to the scene and a spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary remarked: “We really will not tolerate this sort of behaviour and landlords and landladies risk their livelihoods if they allow it. They could lose their licences.”
Today the Old White Hart is a shadow of its former self. My own ‘local’ is the Dog House Micro-Pub just a few doors down from the Old White Hart. Whenever I pass the Old White Hart it appears to be empty and I really am concerned about its long-term future. I have made an effort to drink in there, but one solitary handpump offering Old Speckled Hen with no obvious throughput makes me wonder if the pub can even sustain sales of any real ale in drinkable condition. A review on Facebook commented: ‘Last summer I had a pint of IPA beer here. It was off. Then in January I tried another. It too was off. Definitely my last time. My guess is that the landlord has few customers and therefore the beer goes off. If you like your beer tasting sour, then I recommend the White Hart. Otherwise no!’ Another unfavourable review in 2016 remarked ‘My girlfriend's lager glass was dirty with bits in the drink, smelly mould was on the wall in seating area, and toilets were grotty.’ On my visit I opted to drink keg cider. The landlady was very friendly but, again, there less was than a handful of customers in the pub, including the pub dog. The interior of the Old White Hart still has plenty of character. A wonderful stone fireplace dominates one room and there is a separate lounge area – a rarity in a pub these days. But investment to bring the pub up to standard is desperately required. The question is, can such expenditure be justified in the current economic climate? The pub is big, probably too big for modern requirements. It saddens me to say that I really think the days of the Old White Hart are numbered. Even a respected brewery like Wye Valley would be hard pressed to make this work if they took it on, there simply isn’t enough potential footfall in the area.
Landlords at the Old White Hart include:
Prince of Wales, Sparrow Hill GL16 8AS
The Prince of Wales stood on the junction with the Staunton Road and Sparrow Hill, diagonally opposite the former Masons Arms (Help Me Through the World).
Robert Morgan was the owner and occupier of the Prince of Wales in 1891 which he leased to Eliza Burgham of the Redbrook Brewery. Twelve years later in 1903 the pub was in the ownership of Oliver Burgham’s Redbrook Brewery. Eliza, his mother, had died in 1902. The Prince of Wales was designated as a beer house, and it had an annual rateable value of £11.4s.0d.
The Redbrook brewery and its 22 tied houses were acquired by Ind Coope & Co. of Burton on Trent in 1923. In 1932 the Prince of Wales was leased to Ind Coope & Co. of Burton on Trent from a Mr. A.W.T. Claridge at a rent of £20 per annum.
The late Ray Allen, a respected Forest of Dean local historian, made extensive notes of Coleford pubs. In September 1998 he wrote an article for the Forest & Wye Review newspaper. He gave the following account of the Prince of Wales: “It survived one of the ‘purges’ of pubs launched by the authorities eager to cut down on working class drinking. While Britain’s restricted licensing hours were introduced as part of the WW1 war effort, an early attempted cull was made in 1907/8. In his evidence to the licensing magistrates Superintendent Griffin claimed that the Prince of Wales was frequented by ‘the lowest of the low’. Showing unexpected perspicacity, the panel asked him where such people might drink if the pub were closed. It was pointed out that if these unsavoury characters were in the Prince of Wales, then the police knew where to find them. Furthermore, there had been no conviction for poor behaviour by landlord or customer for 17 years, so the licence was renewed.”
The Prince of Wales Inn was compulsory purchased in 1938 by Gloucestershire County Council to allow for the widening of the Staunton Road. The pub was demolished in 1939.
Landlords of the Prince of Wales include:
Queens Head / ‘Jenny Lind’, Spout Lane GL16 8DP
The Queens Head was apparently affectionately known as the ‘Jenny Lind’, but the reasons behind the alternative name has yet to be determined. Jenny Lind was born in Sweden and was a famous soprano singer. She was known as the Swedish Nightingale and achieved worldwide fame before settling in England. She died in 1887.
The Spout was a natural spring that once supplied most of Coleford town water supply. A small brew house was established at the Spout. In 1864 Henry Salmon was running the Coleford Brewery there and he was advertising 'Bright and Sparkling Ales. Old Beer and Porter. Warranted pure and brewed from the finest malt and hops.’ Henry Salmon still owned the brewery in 1851 but the brewer was recorded as Thomas Steel. It seems logical, therefore, that the brew house (Coleford Brewery) at the Spout supplied its ales to the Queens Head. The Coleford Brewery had closed by 1889, it has been suggested that a contributing factor of its demise was pollution of the water course.
Landlords at the Queens Head include:
Railway Inn / Dennises’, St. John Street GL16 8AE
Dennises’ was described as being ‘next to the Angel’, but it is probable that it shared the same premises or site of the Railway Inn. It was presumably named after James Dennis who was landlord at the Angel Hotel in 1856. The late Ray Allen noted that ‘James Dennis was owner in 1869, running a wine & spirits business in direct competition to the White Swan’s John William Watts in the Old Wine Vaults immediately opposite.’
The 1891 licensing records give details that the property was owned by the ‘Executors of James Dennis’ and was leased to the Cheltenham Original Brewery. The occupier was William Wilkes. However, in an 1870 reference Dennises’ was the ‘agent for Allsopp’s and Bass’s ales, and Guinness Extra Stout.’ The licensing books of 1891 and 1903 designate the premises as an alehouse. It had an annual rateable value of £17.3s.0d. In 1903 Lydia Cullimore is listed as the owner and it was a free house, with no brewery tie.
According to the research undertaken by Ray Allen it closed in 1931. The premises has since been in use as a fish & chip shop, the offices of the South Herefordshire Agricultural Co-operative Society Ltd., a furniture shop and a sports shop.
Red Lion, Cinder Hill GL16 8HJ
Cinder Hill is a continuation of the High Street which leads up the hill to High Nash at the south of Coleford. The site of the Red Lion is now occupied by Brunsdon Doctors’ Surgery, a distinctive round building, just up from the Fire Station. The landscape has changed completely over the years as views from the back of the pub would have once overlooked the railway with views over towards Coalway. At one time the Red Lion in Cinder Hill had a malt house, brew house, stables for travellers’ horses and a garden used for fetes.
In February 1900 the local 'Forester’ newspaper gave the following account:
'On Thursday last the Midland and Great Western employees at the two stations in Coleford met at the Red Lion Inn to partake of supper together, a few friends also being invited. About 40 sat down to partake of the good things provided by host and hostess Whittington, to which, needless to add, full and complete justice was done. Mr William Morris, ex station master, who is jocularly designated the 'perpetual chairman’, was unanimously voted to preside over the proceedings, and after the removal of the cloth the loyal and patriotic toasts were heartily drunk. The chairman then gave the toast of 'the railway companies of the town' coupling with it the names of Messrs. Dowdeswell and Collins, the respective station masters. The chairman said that it was some 23 years ago since they sat down to their first railway supper in that house (1877). They all knew they were possessed of two very good station masters, and he was sure that they would drink to their healths in a hearty manner. In reply, Mr Dowdeswell said he had been in the GWR service for 26 years, and for the past six years had resided in Coleford. Mr White submitted the health of the 'draymen and porters' and the 'host and hostess' and 'the press' were the remaining toasts, and the rest of the evening was devoted to conviviality, some capital songs being rendered. All too soon the hour for departure (12 o'clock) came, the Coleford bench of magistrates having generously granted an hours’ extension for the proceedings.”
In the 1891 and 1903 Gloucestershire licensing books the Red Lion is tied to John William Watts who operated a wine and spirit business in St. Johns Street. The Red Lion is categorised as an alehouse with an annual rateable value of £14.8s.0d. (Closing time 11 pm). When John Watts died in 1921 his estate was put up for sale and the Red Lion was described as a ‘stone built and slated double fronted premises situate fronting the main road to Lydney, close to the Railway station’. The inventory of sale went on to describe a ‘front bar, private bar, living room and back kitchen. Good underground cellars, club room and four bedrooms. Attached is a useful yard with premises recently used as a carpenter’s shop, malt houses, stabling for four horses and piggeries. There is a small garden attached and a good pump is on the premises, the whole now let to Mr Albert Edmunds on a Quarterly Tenancy at a rental of £25.0s.0d. per annum.’
The Stroud Brewery Company eventually acquired the Red Lion to add to their tied estate, and ownership subsequently passed to West Country Breweries and Whitbread. The Red Lion is included in the third edition of Gloucestershire CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ published in 1977 when the pub was selling Whitbread PA on handpump. The Red Lion gets a brief mention in the 1990 CAMRA publication ‘Pubs in Gloucestershire’ but may had already closed by then. There was a campaign to try and stop the Red Lion from closing and regulars managed a ‘stay of execution’ by appealing to English Heritage for preserving a centuries old building but the bulldozers knocked down the pub in 1992.
Ifor Squire and his son Mark took over the running of the Market Tavern in the town centre (see White Horse) and changed the name to the Red Lion as a nod to Ivor’s father who was landlord of the Red Lion in Cinder Hill.
Landlords at the Red Lion include:
Royal Oak, Gloucester Road
The Royal Oak was situated on the eastern corner of Gloucester Road and Lords Hill facing the Market Place. The Kings Head Hotel was opposite on the western side of the crossroads. In 1798 an inn trading under the name of the Bear is shown to be trading at this location. It is possible that the name changed to the Royal Oak from the Bear after the Act of 1835, which prohibited bear baiting. This, however, is purely conjecture, as political correctness had not infiltrated English society and traditions in the early part of the nineteenth century!
In 1891 the Royal Oak is described as an alehouse and had an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. It was trading as a free house, with no brewery tie, and the owner was Thomas M. Edwards.
There is no mention of the Royal Oak in the 1903 Gloucestershire licensing book, but contemporary records indicate that the Stroud Brewery Company had acquired the Royal Oak in 1900.
The license of the Royal Oak must have been under review as the Stroud Brewery were prompted to relinquish the license of the Lamb Inn in Gloucester Road in favour of the Royal Oak – the sacrificial Lamb! However, it was the Royal Oak that did not have its license renewed and it closed c1910.
After closure the premises was used as an auction room and a second hand shop before succumbing to the bulldozer. As you approach Coleford from the east on the B4226 and come to the traffic lights in the town centre there is a raised embankment on the left-hand side of the road. The police vehicles parked on this elevated piece of land are in the car park of Coleford Police Station and stand on the site of the Royal Oak.
Landlords at the Royal Oak include:
Unicorn Inn, Market Place GL16 8AA
John Hullett is listed as the owner of the Unicorn in the 1891 petty licensing book. It had an annual rateable value of £14.10s.0d. It was leased to J.W. Watts.
John William Watts was a wine and spirit merchant who established his business in Coleford c.1880. (see Wine & Spirit Vaults, St John Street). At the turn of the eighteenth century he owned a few public houses in Coleford including the Red Lion in Cinder Hill and the Unicorn Inn. In the 1903 licensing book John William Watts is listed as being the owner of the Unicorn Hotel. He also seems to be in residence there.
When John W. Watts died in 1921 his considerable property estate, including the Unicorn Hotel, was put on the market. It was described as ‘a very valuable fully licensed premises occupying one of the most important positions in the town with a frontage to Market Place of about 20 feet.’ On the ground floor there were two front bars, smoke room, large sitting room, kitchen, pantry and scullery. The first floor comprised of a sitting room, five bedrooms and box room. The details of sale put emphasis on the ‘large underground dry cellarage’.
Of interest is the description of the outside of the Unicorn Hotel: ‘At rear with side entrance is an extensive range of buildings, formerly Malt House, which are readily convertible into stabling or warehouse, and attached to same is a pleasant walled-in garden and lawn’.
There seems to be no records of the Unicorn Inn after 1939.Unicorn House is now a jewellery, bag and scarves shop (Celestial Adornment Co.) and a Baguette shop which is located on the corner of Mushet Walk - the pedestrian access to the Co-Op and Pyart Court.
The front façade of the building once had a distinctive moulded plaster cast of a Unicorn which was in situ for many years after the pub closed. Its disappearance was discussed in the letters pages of the ‘Forester’ newspaper in 2014 when a correspondent claimed that the Unicorn was still extant in 2004, but was contradicted when a letter in reply stated that he had worked at Unicorn House for the previous owners in the late 1980’s and had no recollection of the plaster cast being in situ then.
Landlords at the Unicorn Inn include:
White Hart / Wine & Spirit Vaults, St John Street GL16 8AW
John William Watts is known to have had a wine & spirits business in St John Street and in 1885 there is a reference to John William Watts at the Wine & Spirit Vaults. At the turn of the eighteenth century he owned a few public houses in Coleford including the Red Lion in Cinder Hill and the Unicorn Inn. In the 1903 licensing book John William Watts is listed as being the owner of the Unicorn Hotel. He also seems to be in residence there.
Perhaps the Old White Hart had an adjoining wine & spirit business, either integral or separate to the pub itself with John William Watts as owner. Certainly, the size of the Old White Hart is large enough to accommodate another business within the same premises. This, however, is only conjecture.
White Horse / Shinnanigen’s / Market Tavern / Red Lion - 5/6 Market Place, Newland Street GL16 8AQ
Early references to the White Horse are circumspect. There are no references to the White Horse in either the 1891 or 1903 licensing books of Gloucestershire, and contemporary town and county directories give no mention. S.C. Greggs Coleford plan of 1849, however, locates the White Horse Inn ‘in the High Street’ – clearly incorrect as it was in the Market Place in Newland Street, almost in the shadow of the Coleford’s distinctive clock tower.
S.C. Greggs notes that the White Horse is ‘now Smith’s newsagent’s’. This is not the familiar W.H.Smith’s but a local business. It would appear that the premises at 5/6 Market Place was in use as a newsagent’s and also a bookshop ran by Mr Nash. The building only gained a licence for alcohol again in comparatively recent times – probably after a gap of 100 years of not being a pub.
In the last thirty years or so the property has been through many transformations. In the early 1990’s it was Bistro Lautrec; a pseudo Irish pub called Shinnanigen’s; the Wine Bar and the Market Tavern (2006). It’s last incarnation as a public house was the Red Lion, run by father and son Ivor and Mark Squire. Ivor’s father had been the landlord of the Red Lion in Cinder Hill.
It is now a bijou French styled restaurant – Le Petit Hibou.
When put up for sale in May 2018 for an asking price of over £400,000 the property was described as an ‘unique opportunity thriving local business set within a former public house, spacious and characterful living accommodation above, all being situated in the heart of a popular Forest town’.
White Swan, 19 St. Johns Street GL16 8AP
The White Swan was located on the western side of St Johns Street. In the Gloucestershire licensing books of 1891and1903 the White Swan, a beer house with an annual rateable value of £11.4s.0d, is listed under the ownership of John William Watts. He was a businessman who ran his wholesale wine and spirit business in St Johns Street.
When John Watts died in 1921 the White Swan was offered for sale as part of his estate. It was described as a ‘stone built and slated single licensed house, with a double frontage of about 29 feet into St Johns Street, and with entrance at rear from Old Tramway Lane known as the White Swan, Coleford.’ On the ground floor there was a front bar, private bar, tap room, living room, cellarage and coal shed. The first floor comprised of two bedrooms and a sitting room and there were a further two bedrooms on the second floor. The details went on to say that ‘there is a good pump on the premises, and gas is laid on. It is now let to Miss Mary Fox on a Quarterly Tenancy, at the low rental of £16 per annum.’ In 1903 Mary Fox was the landlady of the Plough Inn at Coalway and, at that time, she also owned the Lamb Inn in Gloucester Road.
Wintle’s of Mitcheldean purchased the White Swan, and from 1930 beers were supplied from the Cheltenham Original Brewery following their acquisition of the Forest Brewery. The final pints were pulled in the White Swan in the early 1950’s. Upon closure the landlord, Ken Morgan, is believed to have moved to the Masons Arms in Boxbush Road
The building is now occupied by the Tram Stop fish and chip shop at 19 St John Street.
Landlords at the White Swan include: