The Jovial Colliers is believed to have been trading in 1854. Sometime between that date and 1891 the landlord of the inn was a wonderfully named River Jordan!

Courtesy Phil Sampson

The Jovial Colliers was designated beer house status in 1891 and 1903 with an annual rateable value of £14.0s.0d. At the beginning of the 20th century Alfred James Jones was the owner and occupier, and he ran the Jovial Colliers free from brewery tie. Closing time was at 10 pm.

This splendid Bass in Bottle glass sign is a rare survivor

Alfred James Jones sold the Jovial Colliers to the Alton Court Brewery of Ross on Wye in 1923. The beers were later supplied by the Stroud Brewery Company before the inn passed to West Country Breweries and, ultimately, Whitbread ownership.

In June 2001 the freehold of the Jovial Colliers, described as a rural village freehouse, was being marketed for £150,000. Described as a substantial detached property with two attractive beamed bars and pool room. Skittle alley and terraced beer garden with spacious six-bedroom owner’s accommodation.

Flooding in Lydbrook is usually associated with the River Wye bursting its bank at Lower Lydbrook. However, the stream running through Upper Lydbrook has also caused problems in the past. In January 1954 a couple of feet of floodwater covered the road outside the Jovial Colliers.

On Saturday 25th November 2012 32mm of rain fell in Gloucestershire between 10am and 2am on Sunday morning, and the overnight deluge wreaked havoc in the Forest of Dean. The rainfall followed a particularly wet November. In Upper Lydbrook the flood water diverted from its normal course and spilled into a half mile section of road which left businesses, homes and cars submerged. The water levels at the Jovial Colliers eventually reached waist height causing severe damage. Jamie Woods, who was living at the pub, told the ‘Citizen’ newspaper, “We went to bed and there was about a foot of water, then I came down on Sunday morning and it was around my waist.” Forest of Dean district councillor Bruce Hogan, who lived in Upper Lydbrook said, “The road was like a brook, it was grim. The water level just kept on rising and rising by about an inch every ten minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”  It was claimed that the flooding was caused by a blocked culvert but a spokesman for Gloucestershire County Highways said, “We have no evidence to suggest that there was a significant obstruction to the culvert in question or if it was a major cause of the flooding but, by the time the extent of the incident was reported to us, the volume of water was overwhelming.” However, a few weeks later it was admitted, “Though the culvert may have contributed to the flooding, we don’t know the reasons for this, however, debris that had washed down the hill certainly caused an obstruction and made the problem worse.”

Nine days after the devastating floods it was discovered that the insurance policy of the Jovial Colliers was under-insured, and a loss adjuster would have to make their assessment regarding compensation. Councillor Bruce Hogan said, “The Jovial Colliers was particularly badly hit. The insurance company’s dealings with private homes has been relatively benign but it appears they have been less than supportive of businesses who have suffered.” Landlord Tony O’Leary said, “I assumed that we were covered completely, and that the clean-up inside would be left to the experts. The man from the drying company said we need to get them in rapidly, and that it might take four weeks to dry out the pub. But that would be to expensive for us to deal with and the loss adjuster has not inspected the pub yet.” Speaking at the time Tony hoped that they could get the pub open again “sometime between January and Easter.” Yet six months later in June 2013 work was still outstanding. Tony said, “It’s difficult to say how long it’s going to be. It might take up to six weeks to get it all finished. We’ve still got the floor, ceiling and wiring to be done, but at least we’re on the right side of it now.”

The Jovial Colliers was purchased by Matt Jones early in 2017 and he and his team re-launched it as the ‘Colliers Inn’. The pub sign, however, still depicts the Jovial Colliers in 2019. Locals refer to the pub as the ‘Joves’. The refurbishment was sympathetic and many of the original features were retained including its stone walls, beams and fireplaces. A huge wood-burning stove now dominates one of the fireplaces. It is not known if the ‘Bass in Bottle’ feature survived the makeover, or indeed the flooding.

The Colliers Inn website and facebook page shows no recent activity but the Colliers is still trading. Perhaps a unique feature is the ‘Bunkhouse’, offering bargain accommodation. The bunkhouse is in the former skittle alley of the pub, which was thought to be the longest alley in the Forest of Dean. The skittle alley was built in the early 1900’s and was used as a rifle range for the home guard during the Second World War. An application for change of use from a skittle alley was submitted in 2010.  In 2017 an overnight stay in the bunkhouse cost £25 per person per night which also included a full cooked English breakfast. The Colliers Inn website states, ‘The bunkhouse sleeps a maximum of 38 people. We have a room that accommodates twelve, a room that accommodates ten and the remainder is made up of rooms that accommodate four. All the rooms are heated, and all the beds are fitted with fitted sheets and pillows, but you will need to provide your own sleeping bag or duvet along with a towel. There are separate ladies and gents’ washrooms, along with two heated shower rooms. Kettles and mugs are provided, but you will need to bring your tea and coffee.’

In the pub itself, Matt Jones has put the emphasis on traditional values and modern facilities. There are pub games in the bar, featuring a pool table and darts board. Sky Sports is also featured. The Colliers website states that ‘we pride ourselves on the quality and range of our ales. You will always find Sharps Doombar on tap, along with two guest ales that change on a regular basis.’ At the rear of the pub is a terraced beer garden.

Landlords at the Jovial Colliers include:

1870?, Jordan, River

1891,1903 Alfred James Jones

1939 Rd. John Jones

1980 Leslie Farmer

1999 Martin and Hillary Trott

2000 Gary and Anne Marston

2001,2012 Tony and Denise O’Leary

2017 Matt Jones

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