The earliest known reference to the Anchor Inn in Lydbrook is in the ‘Gloucester Journal’ dated 30th November 1807 when the inn was being offered for sale. However, the building may date back to the 15th century. Mary Wilce paid five shillings in poor rates in 1831, when the rateable value was set at £4. The Anchor is situated on the parish boundary of Central and Lower Lydbrook, opposite the 16th century timber-framed Sarah Siddon’s house, on the left-hand side of the road going uphill from the River Wye.
Gloucestershire Chronicle March 26th 1870: ‘Thomas Phelps and William Brazington were caught for being drunk, creating a disturbance and refusing to leave the Anchor Inn at Lydbrook. Phelps was fined 30 shillings and costs or one month, and Brazington was fined five shillings and costs or thirteen days imprisonment.’
The Russell family owned the Anchor Inn at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1891 A.J. Russell is listed as owner, and in 1903 the ownership was in the hands of the Representatives of William Russell. Robert Russell is recorded as being in occupancy at the Anchor Inn in 1869 and 1870 and, at that time, he was also the owner of the Lydbrook Chemical Company. It was classified as an alehouse and had an annual rateable value of £24.15s.0d. Although operating free of brewery tie in 1891 the leasehold had been secured by the Wickwar Brewery of Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd in 1903. In 1932 the rateable value had increased to £32.0s.0d.
The Meek family were in occupation at the Anchor during the First World War. Private Lionel J. Meek, ‘of the Anchor Hotel Lydbrook, and previously a collier at the Arthur Edward Colliery in Lydbrook, died in active service.
It closed on 9th May 1954 when John Cooper was the licensee, at that time probably selling Cheltenham Original Brewery ales. The license of the premises was relinquished and transferred to the Bailey Inn at Yorkley. In 1967 the premises was owned by Edwards Transport and the structure of the inn had fallen into disrepair.
The Anchor Inn was bought by Dave Price in 1979. After a long period of closure for the Anchor Inn reopened with a restrictive restaurant licence in 1980, gaining a full on-licence in 1981.
Citizen – Thursday, May 15th, 1980: Bid to re-open pub rejected: For years the Anchorage public house was the central point of the Forest of Dean village of Lydbrook. Silent films were shown at the pub, children played happily on the merry-go-round and swings in the grounds and the local rugby club used the premises as their changing quarters. However, in 1954 it closed and the property fell into a state of disrepair. Just under 18 months ago, college lecturer Mr David Price acquired the premises and set about restoring them to their original condition. He had hoped to re-open the public house but those hopes were dashed by licensing justices at Coleford, who decided there was not sufficient need for another public house in the village. Mr Price said his wife and three children would help in the running of the public house and restaurant and presented a petition signed by 101 people who wanted to see a public house re-opened on the site. Local people also gave evidence in support of the application, as did the landlord of the Rock Inn at Hillersland, Mr Stanley Harding. Evidence opposing the application was given by three licensees. Mr Leslie Farmer (The Jovial Colliers), Mrs June Cooper (The Royal Springs) and Mr Donald White (Pike House, Berry Hill). They argued that the Lydbrook area was already well served with public houses and that the opening of another licensed premises would seriously affect those people already in business.
Forest of Dean & Ross-on-Wye Pubs. A critical guide by Jon Hurley (booklet, 1991): A new broom was sweeping furiously when we called, carpets were being tacked and the paint was flying. The new owner has some positive ideas and is determined to raise the standards. Pay him a visit and we’re sure you’ll like his style. Real ale and good food was promised and there is a good sized garden for kiddies.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Gloucestershire Branch) published a ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire guide in 1996 which described the Anchor Inn as ‘an old pub with buildings on site reputed to be 15th century. Restaurant at weekends. Folk nights on Wednesday.’
An ‘Eating Out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in April 2008 was very complimentary about the Anchor Inn, concluding with, ‘eating at the Anchor was completely delicious experience, food beautifully presented and efficiently served. This was a Sunday afternoon well spent.’ A follow up review in March 2010 commentated that ‘with B&B rooms available at this village inn diners come from far and wide to sample its traditional English menu – with pies as a speciality’ The reviewer added, ‘We were seated in the restaurant that had the cosy features of an old country pub with a stunning log fire crackling in the background.’
On 6th January 2011 the Wyedean Earth Mysteries group met at the Anchor for a wassail. Their good luck did not extend to the fortunes of the Anchor as a pub as it ceased trading shortly afterwards.
A planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for ‘change of use of public house to residential dwelling’. The building is now a charmingly converted holiday cottage designed as accommodation for up to 22 people. The conversion was sympathetically done to retain the feel and ambience of the old Anchor Inn, complete with the bar. The Anchor also has woodburning stoves. The holiday complex has seven bedrooms, all of which are en-suite. The Anchor has a large kitchen and meals can be served on an impressive twenty seat dining table. The front bedrooms overlook the picturesque Sarah Siddon’s House, reputedly the childhood home of actress Sarah Siddons (b.1755, d.1831)
Landlords at the Anchor Inn include:
1807 John Banton
1831 Mary Wilce
1840,1856 Edwin Thompson
1863 John Hancorn
1869, 1870 Robert Russell (owner Lydbrook Chemical Company)
1876 Edwin Jones
1878,1879 Robert Banks (from the Kings Head, Cinderford)
1879 A. Burgham
1885 William Burgham
1887,1891 Hannah Burgum
1894 Mr. Phelps
1895 Edwin Jones
1897, 1906 Mrs Ellen Phelps
1912,1913 Frederick Jones (moved to the Sawyers Arms, Lydbrook)
1914 Osborne Meek (to Feb’ 1914)
1915 George Meek
1925,1927 Mary A. Meek
1935 Gertrude and Sidney ‘Squib’ Howells
1938 John Cooper (closed 9th May 1954)
1979-1983 David Price
1983 Barbara Williams
1985 Alan Sharp and Yvonne Woodhouse
1988 Irene Breakwell and Sheila Tropman
1990 Stephen J. Tomkins
1992,2010 Alan and Erja McLean