Steam Mills is located just to the north of Cinderford on the A4151 road, not far from the junction with the A4136 at Nailbridge. The name given to the pub might have been a reference to a winding engine at the nearby Northern United Colliery.
The Gloucester Journal reported that the Old Engine, Upper Bilson, East Dean was to be sold by auction on Monday, the 18th day of April 1870. As the Forest Steam Flour Mills and Brewery had been set up in Mitcheldean by Thomas Wintle in March 1869 can we assume that the Old Engine was one of the first pubs to be acquired by the Forest Brewery? Francis Wintle is listed as the owner in of the Old Engine in 1891 and 1903 when the annual rateable value of the alehouse was set at £30.0s.0d. It closed at 11 pm.
When the Forest Brewery put their tied estate up for sale in 1923 the Old Engine Inn inventory described a ‘serving bar, large public bar, smoke room, kitchen, sitting room and covered yard with Pot House, W.C., etc.’ The first floor had three living rooms. To the rear there was a ‘Coach house, Stabling for four with loft over, good open yard, closet and urinal. Nice strip of garden.’
The Old Engine was put up for sale by owners Lloyd and Mary Wilce in August 1989. Lloyd Wilce was a veteran town councillor. In 2015 he successfully defended his seat. He was Britain’s longest serving councillor with 66 years’ service being first elected representing the Labour party in 1949. Sadly, Lloyd passed away on 20th February 2018, aged 89.
Old Engine Inn closed on 3rd April 2001. The property is now in private occupancy but there is still a plastic ‘Toby Bitter – Old Engine Inn’ pub sign giving an indication of its former use.
Landlords at the Old Engine include:
1856 E. Teague
1869 William Matthews (Old Engine Inn, township of East Dean)
1870 Thomas Mathews (Old Engine, Drybrook – Gloucestershire Chronicle)
1885 Tom Miles
1891 Enoch Smith
1902 Idris Thomas
1903 Thomas James
1906 Idris Thomas
1919 Charles Hayward
1927 Thomas James
1989 Lloyd and Mary Wilce