When John Harris was the tenant in 1861 the pub was listed as the Dolphin Inn. It appears to have been renamed to the (Golden) Lion in about 1868 when the pub may have been substantially rebuilt. In 1901 it was referred to as the Lion Family and Commercial and Posting House but just a year later a reference is simply to the Lion, Cinderford. It was still known as the Lion Inn in the Kellys 1939 directory.
Gloucester Journal: April 1st, 1882 – Littledean Court: Richard Harris, of Steam Mills, was charged with drunkenness, refusing the quit the Lion, Cinderford and with doing damage to the amount of £1s.6d. Fined 10s. and costs.
Arnold Perrett & Co., Ltd, brewers on the other side of the River Severn at Wickwar near Wotton-under-Edge, were very active in late Victorian / early Edwardian times purchasing pubs to add to their rapidly expanding estate. It is probable that Diannah Smith of the Lion Inn was enticed by an offer from the Wickwar Brewery. In 1891 the Lion Inn was in her ownership and free from brewery tie, but the licensing book from 1903 indicates that it had been acquired by Arnold, Perrett & Co. The annual rateable value of the Lion Inn ale house was £61.0s.0d.
Queens Coronation 1953: Petty Officer John Powell of Severn Road, Lydney, and Petty Officer Arthur Beverstock of Church Road both had a first-class view of the coronation procession in London. Meanwhile older people in the Dean had the excellent opportunity of seeing the coronation on television at the Miners Hall. About 120 attended and during the break they had sandwiches and drank a toast to the Queen in champagne. Tom Harvey, of the Lion Hotel in Cinderford provided a 36-gallon cask of beer from which his customers could draw the drinks they desired completely free! “This is the first time and probably the last, mind,” he promptly added.
In May 1968 a local at the Lion Hotel, Mr Harry Linsey, beat the record of drinking beer from the German equivalent of a yard-of-ale – a glass boot containing three-and-a-half pints belonging to landlord Mr George Beard – in an astonishing 45 seconds.
In August 2013 an advertisement in the ‘Forester’ newspaper under the heading ‘Cheers to the Golden Lion’ reported that the family-run pub had been in the same family for almost four years, and they put their success down to a ‘back-to-basics’ approach at the pub. The family said, ‘We want to go back to a more traditional time and get people in through the doors and socialise face-to-face’.” Live sports is very much a feature with every football match shown on Sky Sports and BT Sport installed so that every live game could be watched on their 6 big screens around the bar. There was also emphasis on the pub garden, “We hear people saying, ‘wouldn’t be great if Cinderford had a pub with a big beer garden in the middle of town. It is amazing to think that even the people who come here on a regular basis don’t know about it.”
The Golden Lion made unwelcome headlines in September 2014 when a 20-year old man was caught on CCTV with a fake hand-gun on the premises which he used to point at the landlord and actually hit another man. At the court case the Judge said that no-one had reason to believe that the gun used in the domestic motivated incident was ‘anything other than real’.
The pub closed in October 2016 when the landlord decided to call it a day. A member of staff told the ‘Forester’, ‘We only found out on Friday afternoon. It’s very sad. It’s been a great place to work and we have some lovely regulars.’ A local added ‘We all knew it was on the cards but we never expected it to be this sudden.’ The landlord explained, ‘It’s been a very hard decision to make but trade has been down for some time.’ But seven weeks later the pub had opened in time for the Christmas party season.
The refurbishment of the pub included professionally drawn cartoon graffiti, and a complete bar and cellar refit. The name was also changed to simply The Lion. Marion Jayne had taken over the running of the pub, who also was at the helm of the nearby Fern Ticket. She said, ‘I don’t see there being any conflict of interest between the two pubs – in fact I think they will be complementary and make the town centre a more vibrant place to be.’
The Lion closed suddenly again in June 2018 but was soon taken on by a former Butlins redcoat, Louis West. The new look venue was a nightspot and open until 2 am. Louis said, ‘The dance floor is back in and the graffiti on the walls will go because I want to make it look cleaner and brighter. I’m going for a chic look.’
The Golden Lion closed once again and did not reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it has recently reopened.
The pub has an unusual sign. A golden lion is crouched on a plinth mounted on a decorative iron bracket above the front door. A West Country Breweries ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque also survives.
Landlords at the Lion / Golden Lion include:
1856 Thomas Mountjoy
1861 John Harris (Dolphin Inn)
1865-1876 Milson Dorrington (possibly rebuilt and renamed c.1868)
1879,1885 Richard Smith
1891 Diannah Smith
1902,1906 James Hawker (listed simply as the Lion in 1902)
1919,1921 George Jones
1927,1939 Hy. Arthur Fricker
1953 Tom Harvey (Lion Hotel)
1967 George Beard
late 1990’s ‘Ti’ and Vicky Bowers
2001 Steve Wrigley
2002,2003 John and Claire Freeman (moved to Cotswold Inn, Cheltenham)
2009 Frank O’Toole and Charlotte Rinberg