The Tewkesbury Brewery Company owned the Miners Arms in 1891. Only five years later in 1896 the Tewkesbury Brewery in Quay Street was taken over and closed by Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. of Wickwar. It is tempting to ponder whether the average beer drinker in the late Victorian era had any passion about where his or her came from? Arnold, Perrett & Co. were acquiring freehold pubs all over the Forest of Dean and had even closed the Blakeney Brewery. Was there any antipathy towards the Wickwar Brewery? For those drinkers at the Miners Arms who were used to their daily tipple from the Tewkesbury Brewery, which was indeed a rare brew in the area, how did they feel about being foisted with Wickwar Ales? It is entirely feasible, of course, that the quality of Tewkesbury Ales was inferior to those brewed by Arnold, Perrett & Co. and the change of breweries was positively greeted. We will never know but, given the sentiment we have attached to those breweries that have gone in our own lifetime, it seems feasible to assume that there was some resentment towards the avaricious brewery from the other side of the River Severn.
The annual rateable value of the Miners Arms in 1891 and 1903 was £14.0s.0d. The premise licence was for an ale house and closing time was at 10 pm.
Arnold, Perrett & Co. Ltd. were acquired by the Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1937. The particulars of sale of licensed houses in the portfolio described ‘all that messuage or Inn known as the Miners Arms with the yard, garden stables and all other outbuildings.’ The sale also included various pieces of land which was described as belonging to ‘Her Late Majesty’s Woods and Forests’. Ownership of the Miners Arms then passed to West Country Breweries and in the 1980’s it had been absorbed into the vast Whitbread empire. Sometime after 1989 the Miners Arms became a true free house.
In 2005 the Miners Arms gained the accolade of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) National Cider and Perry Pub of The Year.
When the Miners Arms was put on the market in 2006 it was quickly snapped up by David and Caroline Gill. The Miners Arms had built up a reputation as a live music venue, hosting a twice monthly Blues Club. David and Caroline were both keen on build on the success of the Miners Arms as a music venue. Caroline said, “We bit really love live music. As well as Blues we’ve got Jazz and folk music.”
Mario and Karen Constantinides moved into the Miners Arms in April 2007 with their five-year-old daughter Christiana. Having previous experience working in nightclubs they could not resist the opportunity to run their own pub. Mario, whose parents come from Cyprus, had lived in England for most of his life. He was previously a DJ, actor, teacher and security advisor before going into nightclub management. Mario said “The Miners is just what we’ve been looking for. We’ve arrived in heaven.”. He added “Everyone’s so friendly. They gave me a good luck up and down at first and they’ve been marvellous ever since.” Mario and Karen stressed that they had no plans to change the pub and wished to continue the regular blues and jazz events
The Dean Forest Railway opened their Whitecroft Station in May 2012. The reconstruction followed every detail of the original buildings referring to old plans and photographs. This was a great boost to the fortunes of the Miners Arms attracting passengers alighting from the Dean Forest Railway who could enjoy food and drink at the pub as part of their day out on the steam railway. The function room at the pub was renamed the Carriage Room.
The Miners Arms was featured in a BBC 2 series in April 2015 hosted by celebrity Alex Polizzi. The show, screened on four consecutive nights, charted the progress of nine candidates hoping to get the job as head chef at the Miners Arms. Alex Polizzi said, “Mario and Karen Constantinides have turned the run-down Miners Arms in the heart of the Forest of Dean into the busy country pub it is today. However, in such a rural location they have struggled to find a good head chef who respects the local produce. The right chef will help Mario transform the Miners from a country pub to gastro destination.” Karen said, “It was a very exciting and emotional two weeks of filming with a great film crew who became part of the family and we were sad to see them go.” After the programme was screened Mario said, “In the last episode I made sure I would mention Whitecroft and the Forest of Dean as much as I could. Hopefully the show has helped put the village on the map and it will bring more people into the Forest and not only benefit us, but the wider area.”
The winning chef created a complex menu of pheasant boudin with roasted shallots, blackberries, black pudding and an apple puree as a starter; a fillet of beef with a regionally inspired kidney squab pie, hazelnut croquette and local ale for the main course and a chocolate hazelnut and caramel mousse with cherry for desert. The winner said, “I’m really pleased with the outcome. I wasn’t sure I would win but I showed the owners and Alex what I can do, and it obviously impressed the owners as I won.”
But just a few months later the winning chef’s brief flirtation with nationwide fame was shattered when, after a night of heavy drinking, he was arrested and charged for drink-driving and driving without the proper insurance. He was also accused of returning to the Miners Arms at half past three in the morning and breaking into the premises using a crowbar. Mario said, “He has let us down and dropped us right in it. We have no choice but to let him go. Yes, he did raise the profile of the pub, but to what cost? It’s no secret locally that he tried to break in and then drove off in a rate of knots. The physical damage to the pub was obvious.” His defence lawyer said, “He found, having won what he thought was his dream job that in fact he was expected to undertake, and the circumstances in which he was expected to undertake it became too much for him. He became very depressed, felt very isolated. He realised he didn’t enjoy the work he was doing at this establishment.”
The Miners Arms now have new owners. The reviews on Trip Advisor are very positive. The cuisine is still excellent and a good variety of real ales are on offer.
Landlords at the Miners Arms include:
1885,1891 Thomas Kear
1891 Thomas Kear
1902,1903 Arthur Kear
1906 Benjamin Johnston
1919 Joseph Dufty
1927 Harry Thomas
1939 William John Hawkins
1970’s Harold (Chum) Brown (Harold was the brother of Edwin – see Bailey, Yorkley)
1974-1988 Graham Dicks (previously at the Swan, Pillowell)
1991 Roger Barnett
2000 Stuart Birkinshaw
- Bob and Liz Kirby
2006 David and Caroline Gill
2007,2015 Mario & Karen Constantinides