Brockweir was once the furthest place upstream on the River Wye where cargoes could be transferred from sea-going ships, up to 90 tonnes, to smaller barges travelling towards Hereford. It’s difficult to image such a bustling scene today in such a quiet backwater. Amazingly this small picturesque Wye Valley village is reputed to once have 16 beer and alehouses. Pubs included the Bristol, Severn Trow, Royal Arms and the New Inn.
The New Inn would have catered for the stevedores loading and unloading ships at the nearby quayside. The interior of the pub has large oak beams, which is thought to originally come from a ship built in Brockweir. The village once had a thriving shipbuilding, fitting-out and repair industry so there might be some validity in the story.
In 1891 the New Inn was a free house with an annual rateable value of £10.5s.0d. The owner was a Mrs Alice Dibben who might have passed the running of the pub to her daughter as in 1903 it is recorded that Ellen Dibben is the owner. The New Inn was designated ale house status and in 1903 the premises called ‘last orders’ at 10 pm.
The New Inn was later acquired by Francis Wintle’s Forest Brewery and through the process of amalgamations and the closure of the Mitcheldean Brewery it eventually became a Whitbread pub. The legacy of its days as a West Country Breweries house is evident by the ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque which is still inlaid into the wall. In 1981 the New Inn had a change of ownership and the pub was renamed the Brockweir Country Inn.
In June 2016 the Brockweir Inn was for sale with no onward chain with an asking price of £349,950. This prompted the Parish Council to register the pub as a community asset. The parish clerk said: “The pub is currently for sale and we feel the need to protect it by nominating it as a community value asset (ACV) so that it will continue to be a public house and serve the community. It provides a focal point for the parish for various activities such as music evenings and a book club.”
The Campaign for Real Ale ‘What Pub’ website gave this account of the Brockweir Inn: ‘Blessed with two cosy bars of differing character, both a symphony of stone, this quirky and much-loved hostelry generates a convivial, warm and calming atmosphere. There is a small dining area to the rear, while upstairs there is a popular community games room (with book swap scheme) available for meetings and functions. Outside is a lovely walled garden, a beautiful sun-trap for those wanting to relax away from hectic modernity. An undervalued and veritable gem of the Wye Valley.’
The Brockweir Country Inn voluntarily closed on March 17th 2019 following an enforcement notice issued by the Environment Agency and Forest of Dean District Council. A notice dated 8th April 2019 was displayed in a window which explained that the owners had relocated to France and that ‘the property has now been sold and will remain closed whilst extensive and essential repairs are made. This fine historic inn dating back to 1700 has faithfully served our community and visitors for 300 years but it is in desperate need of a considered, careful and extremely sympathetic restoration to help guarantee its long-term future at the heart of the community. The new owners are working with Forest of Dean District Council and were made fully aware of the conditions prior to purchase and are now working with the Environment Agency and the Forest of Dean District Council to ensure compliance.’
The renovation work undertaken at the pub has been carried out to a very high standard. Sadly, the West Country Ales ceramic plaque was cracked and in a poor condition and could not be saved.
The restoration has adhered to all the necessary regulations stipulated in working on a listed building and it has been both time consuming and expensive. At the time of writing in February 2022 there are no immediate plans to relicense the property. The owner is assessing the options but the Brockweir Inn may be only sleeping and there is a possibility that it could reopen again sometime in the future.
Landlords at the New Inn include:
1876 Henry Dibden (also listed as a butcher)
1885, 1892 Mrs Alice Dibden
1902 George W. Mayo
1903,1906 Mrs Ellen Dibden
1919 William Wood
1927 Herbert E. Williams
1939 George Edgar Blunt