The 1891 licensing book records Elizabeth Burgham as the owner of the Fountain Inn. In other contemporary accounts she is referred to as Eliza Burgham. She was the owner of the Redbrook Brewery, and when she passed away in 1902 the brewery was bequeathed to her son Oliver. Yet in 1903 the Fountain Inn is recorded as being in the ownership of George Gunter, who (according to the records) ran the Fountain Inn as a free house. The annual rateable value of the Fountain Inn in 1891 and 1903 was £15.10s.0d. and it was categorized as an ale house with last orders and ‘time’ at 10 pm.
In a 1939 advertisement it is referred to as ‘Ye Olde Fountain Inne’ ‘An ideally situated and comfortable country inn set amidst a glorious forest background. Free House (fully licensed). Bass and Worthington on draught. Light meals. Bed and Breakfast. Indoor sanitation and every modern convenience. Phone 15.’ It appears that indoor toilets were something of a luxury in 1939!
There were once railway sidings running immediately in front of the pub. The short Parkend Goods Branch only extended as far as the road to Coleford near the saw mills. In 1900 a gentleman complained to the Commissioners of Woods stating that “it was bad enough stepping out of the Inn onto a public road but that, if this were successfully negotiated, access was gained onto an unfenced railway where shunting was often taking place at night!” The sidings were last used for the shunting of loaded wagons of ballast from Whitecliff Quarry coming down the steeply graded Coleford branch, configuring the short trains into longer consists for onward travel down towards Lydney Junction to connect with the main line. The last ballast trains from Whitecliff Quarry ran down the Coleford branch in 1967 and the line was closed. Shunting operations at Parkend were both time consuming and labour intensive. It is possible that in quieter moments railway staff might have been tempted for a quick pint at the Fountain, although that was before stringent health and safety regulations and running beside heavy loaded goods trucks and de-coupling them with just an iron pole wearing a jacket and flat cap would definitely not been advisable after supping a few pints! Lorries continued to take stone from Whitecliff Quarry to the Parkend branch to be loaded onto goods trains until 1970.
The Fountain Inn closed in 1976 and, for a few years, became a guest house before it eventually reopened as a free house.
An ‘Eating Out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in August 2010 enthused, ‘When city types think of an English country boozer, they picture something very much like the Fountain. They imagine a pub nestled between a stream and a sleepy village, where cheap pints of brown ale are drawn by barmaids who are on first name terms with every single one of their customers. It’s always a pleasure to discover these pubs exist. Michelle Powell has been in charge at the Fountain since 1990 – plenty of time to perfect the country pub formula. Everything is just what it should be. Obscure iron implements swing from the ceilings, the walls are covered in photos of the local cricket team, the outdoor tables catch the setting sub and service comes with an unobtrusive smile.’
In March 2011 the Forest Paranormal Investigations team (FPI) were invited to the Fountain Inn for a séance and claimed that they caught the apparition of former landlady Margaret Gunter who ran the pub with her husband George from the 1890’s. Paula Meek from FPI said, “There was a lot of banging and tapping going on and then fellow investigator Adam Heath saw it with his own eyes. It tapped the camera which drew our attention to it.” Adam said, “When I played the footage back and saw the face it was an incredible feeling. It was like the face just jumped out at me.” The ghostly image was compared to a photo of Margaret Gunter hanging in the bar of the Fountain and the similarities took them by surprise. He added, “After ten years of working in the paranormal field, to finally get something like this was amazing. We are one step closer to proving there is life after life.”
Michelle and Alan Powell celebrated 25 years at the helm of the Fountain Inn in December 2015. They had just recruited two new experienced chefs to the team. Michelle said, “We’ve always been fortunate to have had a good food trade here, but now we feel the time is right to raise our standards even higher. We’re not aiming to become gastro-pub – we want to remain the family friendly, good value for money venue we’ve always been. The Fountain’s vision is a simple one – to offer a range of top-quality pub food at competitive prices with everything home-made using locally supplied ingredients wherever possible.” A range of gluten-fee and dairy free items are also on the menu.
Today the Fountain Inn is conveniently situated a few yards from Parkend Station, the present northern terminus of the Dean Forest Railway. The Fountain obviously does good trade in the summer season from passengers arriving by train, but custom also comes from the nearby Whitemead Leisure Park and those just enjoying the cycling and walking tracks in the area. At the rear of the pub is the Fountain Lodge, an ex-butcher’s shop and meat warehouse, which was converted in 1993 to provide hostel accommodation for groups and has proved popular with organised clubs and family get-togethers.
Landlords at the Fountain Inn include:
1856 J. Inman
1876 John Elsmore
1885 Mrs Elizabeth Scott
1891, 1927 George Gunter
1939 Miss Hilda A. Gunter
1990-2022 Alan and Michelle Powell