Perhaps the earliest mention of the Miners Arms at Sling dates from 1841. John Willis was the owner of the Miners Arms in 1891 and 1903, a licensed beer house that was free from brewery tie with an annual rateable value of £12.0s.0d. Closing time was at 10 pm.
The Citizen: Saturday, June 22nd, 1991 – New Look Pub: Regulars at the Miners Arms pub in Sling, in the Forest of Dean, might soon be drinking in spruced-up surroundings. An application to extend, alter and improve the pub has been sent to the district council’s planners.
The Citizen: Friday, August 9th, 1991 – Pub reopens: A Forest of Dean pub is set to reopen after a licensing bungle forced owners to shut their doors for a week. The Miners Arms at Sling, closed since last Thursday, has now been granted a protection order by magistrates allowing it to reopen.
Don Burgess set up the Freeminer Brewery at the Laurels in Sling in October 1992. The Miners Arms, about half a mile from the brewery, effectively became the Freeminer Brewery tap house in July 1993. In that year’s edition of CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’, the Miners Arms was described as a ‘basic one-bar pub’. Freeminer Bitter and Speculation Ale were on tap.
Brian and Yvonne Penkethman took over the Miners just after the Millennium. Brian said, “It was a basic two-bar pub when we came here but we’ve added the restaurant and four letting rooms, all finished with old materials to match the rest of the building. The beams came all the way from France.”
The Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001 was a traumatic experience and devastating time for the economy and businesses in the Forest of Dean. The Ministry of Food & Fisheries (MAFF) had imposed stringent restrictions on the movement of livestock and ordered the slaughter of thousands of animals, including the culling of free-roaming sheep in the Forest. The Miners Arms overlooked a small paddock in which a pet cow called Moo and a horse called Clearwell Katy lived together. Children visiting the pub would frequently spend time stroking and patting Moo and Katy. The owner of Moo said that they went everywhere together, “I think the cow thought she was a horse”. But as diners were eating their Sunday dinner at the Miners in late April 2001 Moo was killed by a fatal injection and removed from her paddock dangling from a mobile crane. Brian Penkethman of the Miners Arms said, “People were in tears. They just could not believe it was happening. We had people who just couldn’t finish their lunch.”
A plan to recreate the landmarks of the Forest of Dean in miniature at a model village at Lydney Park Estate had started in 2002. Scale models of the Miners Arms at Sling, Coleford Clock Tower and the Hopewell Colliery had been constructed ready to be put in place at the model village by Lydney Taurus Crafts for an official opening date of June 2003. It was hoped that the model village, created by a team of local modelmakers, sculptors and artists, would become the second largest of its kind in the UK. Unfortunately, the model village has since closed.
An ’eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in March 2011 described the Miners Arms as offering traditional pub grub at its best. It was noted that the pub ‘in the sprawling village of Sling has obviously hit the right note with locals because it was buzzing with business when we went for a lunchtime treat.’ The reviewer went on to say that it had a winning combination of a friendly welcome and a tasty traditional menu. ‘Add a spacious, light and airy restaurant and you have the perfect ingredients for an enjoyable meal.’
The Miners Country Inn was awarded two AA rosettes for the quality of its food in May 2017. Owner Steve Jenkins said, “We are the only pub in the Forest of Dean to win this award. This is a fantastic accolade for all the hard work we and our staff have put in since we took over five years ago.” He told the Forester newspaper that when they took over the building it was just an empty shell and that after the restaurant was opened they had practically no customers to start with. Steve added, “now we have people travelling from a 40-mile radius with a fantastic support from our local regulars as well.” A popular feature is Pot Luck Mondays where everything on the menu is half price. Steve said, “We get a 100 people in for Pot Luck Monday every week.” Of the food Steve said, “We change our menu daily and work with local producers to bring our customers the best seasonal ingredients in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.” The two AA Rosettes denotes an excellent restaurant that aims for and achieves higher standards and better consistency.
Landlords of the Miners Arms include:
1891 John Davis
1903 Elizabeth Ann Davis
1984 Terry Cole
1994 Simon and Karen Finch
2001,2007 Brian and Yvonne Penkethman (moved to the Travellers Rest, Stowe Green)
2007 Rose Donnelly (manager)
2011 Anthony Stewart and Samantha Marples
2012 Steven Jenkins