The Britannia was situated on the south-eastern corner of Coalway Cross with the entrance in Edenwall Road.
Throughout the 12 years from 1891 to 1903 the annual rateable value of the Britannia Inn, a beer house, was £16.0s.0d. Amos Smith was the occupying landlord and owner in 1891 when the Britannia was free of brewery tie. John Arnold & Sons of the High Street Brewery in Wickwar had acquired the freehold by 1903. John Arnold & Sons also owned the Plough Inn in the village at the same time, just a short distance away on the road towards Coleford.
In April 1890 a meeting of local quarrymen was held at the Britannia Inn to discuss the state of trade. It was reported that ‘this body of workmen have had to suffer much through depression in the past, but for some time matters have improved, and they are consider they consider that a corresponding improvement should take place it their wages. It was proposed to ask the masters to give them a 10 per cent advance which was unanimously carried.’ Whether or not the quarrymen received a raise in their wages is, as yet, unknown.
The Britannia was sold in September 1978. The local newspaper reported that it ‘has been sold for £38,000 to Keswick businessman Mr R. Blanton by the previous owners Mr and Mrs P. Jones-Evans. Mr Blanton and his family will continue to run it as a pub.’
In 1978 Bass Worthington and M&B beers were on offer. The Britannia was described in the 1980 edition of CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ as a “friendly free house at crossroads. Two bars knocked into one large bar.” Although Wadworth 6X was on draught the Britannia was predominantly a cider pub with Bulmers and Coates traditional cider dispensed by electric pumps. The 1996 edition of Real Ale in Gloucestershire simply states: ‘no real beer’.
A guide to Forest pubs (Jon Hurley) gave this account: ‘This is a fairly basic hostelry providing a good choice of beers which include Wadworths 6X, Strongs, Courage AK and Tartan. Hofmeister and Carling are available for the less traditionally minded boozer. There are no oak beams or brass gee-haws here although there is an open fire (albeit a horribly modern one). However, the artistically inclined will no doubt revel in the explosion of modern art which covers the wallpaper (and each one is the work of the manager). Who knows, one day he might be known as Coalway’s answer to Picasso. Buy one now while they’re going cheap.’
A rock ‘n’ roll club at the Britannia Inn was started in April 1989. The organisers, Mike and Babs Delaney, hoped to recreate the atmosphere of a 1960’s club. Mike said: “The 60’s will never die. You dress up, feel good and enjoy the music.” Monster Raving Loony Party Leader Screaming Lord Such dropped into the Britannia Inn to officially open the ‘Rockettes Club’. “Don’t stop rocking, get on with the music” he declared, spending the night at the club before returning to London. The club was a fortnightly event, held on Wednesdays from 7.30pm until closing time.
The Britannia Inn closed in 2004. I have no press cuttings in my archives detailing its closure. There certainly seems to be no opposition to its conversion to residential use.
In May 2008 the property was on the market for £114,950 described as a spacious two-bedroom apartment with road parking.
Landlords at the Britannia Inn include:
1891 Amos Smith
1903 Henry Hawkins
1939 William George Hughes
Mick and Iris Wallace