Researching the history of both the Bridge Inn and the Railway Inn at Nailbridge has raised an interesting question as both pubs predate the opening of the Great Western Railway’s extension of the Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway which did not reach Nailbridge until November 1907. The names of the pubs must relate to the earlier tramway. But was the Bridge Inn named after a bridge on or over the tramway, or simply from a crossing of the Dry Brook?
When the property of the Wintle’s Forest Brewery was put up for sale in 1923 the Bridge Inn was included in the inventory. It was listed as the Bridge House, a freehold beer house, ‘situate about two miles from the brewery and opposite Nailbridge Halt Station’. On the ground floor was a ‘shop, two sitting rooms, kitchen and large bakehouse with oven’. There is no mention of a public bar or other drinking rooms. The Bridge House had a six-days’ license and ‘in addition to the beer trade the tenant carries on an extensive business as a baker and grocer’. The sale inventory gave details of four bedrooms and a flour store on the first floor. At the side of the property was a ‘loose box, motor shed, W.C. and coal store’ and to the rear a small yard with brick out-building. There was a beer store in the basement.
James Barnett was the owner and occupier of the New Bridge Inn in 1891 when he ran it free of brewery tie. It was licensed as a beer house with an annual rateable value of £25.0s.0d. The licence, however, was for off-sales only and closed at 10 pm.. It seems that the Bridge Inn was more of a grocers’ shop and off-licence rather than a pub. Presumably it closed on Sundays. By 1903 Wintle’s Brewery had bought the premises. The Mitcheldean Forest Brewery already owned the Railway Inn in Nailbridge. Perhaps they saw a potential business opportunity from customers using the nearby Nailbridge Halt.
The passenger numbers on the branch were disappointing and the halt closed in July 1930 with the withdrawal of passenger services. The Bridge House Inn is listed in the 1939 Kelly’s Directory, but must have closed during or sometime after the Second World War. It is now a private residence called Bridge House.
Landlords / Shop-Keepers of the Bridge Inn include:
1891 James Barnett
1903 Robert Elliot
1923 Joseph Bowers
1939 Thomas Cannock