In 1867 the pub standing at the junction with Staunton Road and Boxbush Road was called ‘Help Me Through the World’ – a name the premises had for a very short period of time. In 1877 the inn is recorded as the Masons Arms (see also the Masons Arms in Newland Street).
Gloucester Journal, 11th July 1885 – Coleford Court: Eliza Rees, a travelling Hawker, was brought up on remand charged with stealing 5s in money, the property of Rowland Salter, a tailor of Lydbrook. Prosecutor deposed that during a visit to the Masons Arms, Coleford, he felt the prisoner’s hand in his pocket and then missed the money. Other evidence was given and the Bench sent the prisoner to goal for seven days.
In late Victorian / early Edwardian times the Masons Arms was a beer house with an annual rateable value of £12.6s.0d. George Jones was the owner in 1891 and Sarah James in 1903. The Masons Arms had no brewery tie.
In 2000 Bill Nash emailed me from Australia about his early drinking days in Coleford. He wrote: “The Masons Arms (as I knew it) at the foot of Boxbush Road was, I believe, in the early 1970’s run by a Ken Morgan, who had moved there from the Swan when it closed. I remember many a Sunday morning game of darts at the Masons Arms during my drinking apprenticeship. I don’t ever remember ever being asked my age, which was a good job because everyone knew who we were and how old we were.”
The Masons Arms was acquired by Francis Wintles’ Forest Brewery of Mitcheldean and in the 1930’s, following the takeover, it sold Chelt Ales from the Cheltenham Original Brewery. A legacy of its days as a West Country Breweries house in the late 1950’s / early 1960’s is a ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque.
In November 1966 a local newspaper revealed that the secret of a long life may have been in the beer of the Mason’s Arms in Coleford as the average age of customers was said to be 80.
The fourth edition of Gloucestershire CAMRA ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ published in July 1978 described the Masons Arms simply as a ‘small friendly pub just off town centre.’ Whitbread PA was available on hand pump. The Masons Arms closed for a period in the mid 1980’s and was purchased from Whitbread in the early 1990’s. The owner decided to change the name of the free house back to ‘Help Me Through the World’.
The 1993 edition of ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ described the pub as basic ‘with tiled floor and posters on the walls. Had a ninety-year spell as the Masons Arms but has now reverted!’ Beers were supplied from Courage Brewery, Wadworth of Devizes and the Freeminer Brewery from the Forest of Dean (Sling).
Help Me Through the World closed in the Autumn of 1995. The owner of the property in 2000 had kept the interior unchanged, and it is likely that many of the original layout and features of the Masons Arms are still intact today.
Landlords at the Masons Arms include:
1891 George Jones
1902 William Francis Miles (1902 -beer retailer, Boxbush Road)
1939 Fred Hinton