Tumpkinhales was the name of a crossroads about a quarter of a mile west of Hewelsfield. It was strategically important many years ago as a transfer point where goods that had been unloaded from barges at Brockweir on the River Wye were taken up the steep valley slope by donkeys and then transferred to horse and cart for the onward journey to Chepstow and other destinations. An inn had been established at Tumpkinhales by 1830 to take advantage of the passing trade. References in 1865 and 1868 are to the Tumpkin Hales Inn.
Today the crossroads on the B4288 Chepstow to St Briavels Road is in the middle of the countryside. Church Road leads eastwards to Hewelsfield village and the road leading westwards from the crossroads goes down the Wye Valley to Brockweir. It is impossible to imagine the bustle of activity that once took place in this isolated location. The Carpenters Arms was located on the north-western side of the crossroads.
The Carpenters Arms was classified as an ale house and had an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. John James Pritchard was the owner and occupier in 1891. The free house was sold to Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd., Wickwar Brewery in 1897. In late Victorian / early Edwardian times this voracious South Gloucestershire brewery had acquired more Forest of Dean pubs than any rival brewer. In 1903 ‘Time, Gentlemen Please’ was called at the pub for closing time at 10 pm.
It seems likely that John James Pritchard of 1891 was the son of John Pritchard of 1851. John Pritchard was aged 51 in the 1851 census. He would have been 91 years old in 1891!
The Carpenters Arms closed c.1965. The B4228 was improved in the early 1960’s and as the road was quite fast at this point and its potentially dangerous location on a crossroads may have been why it closed down.
Gloucester Journal: Frank Forest Column. 18th March 1972 – Pity pub had to go: It is rather sad that Hewelsfield’s public house, the Carpenters Arms, is to be pulled down in a road improvement plan. Of course road improvements are most welcome with the increasing number of vehicles taken to the highways each year, but it is a pity that an old house with such an historic past and former association with farming and hunting has to fall to make way for improvements at this spot. I understand that a nearby resident has claimed that in the 50 years he has been living at the spot there has only been one accident in the vicinity of the nearby crossroads – a non-fatal about 40 years ago.
The old pub closed its doors to the drinking fraternity more than a year ago because of declining trade, but it could still have been put to a better use than a heap of rubble. Taking all things into consideration I feel that it would have been better to have retained the old building and possibly allowed it to be converted into flats.
Landlords at the Carpenters Arms include:
1851,1885 John Pritchard (aged 51 in 1851 census)
1891 John James Pritchard
1902, 1906 Thomas Keedwell
1919 Charles Edwards
1927 William Hall
1939 Chas. J. Vincent.