The Orepool Inn dates from the 17th century when it was a basic forest pub that served beer to miners working in the nearby iron mines.
Edwin Maffa was the owner of the Orepool Inn in 1891 and 1903 and it was free from brewery tie. The annual rateable value of £8.0s.0d. was extremely low considering it was listed of having ale house status. The Swan Inn in Littledean and the Nags Head in Longhope had the same rateable values but they were licensed as a beer-houses. The Orepool Inn later became tied to the Bristol United Brewery. In turn Bristol United were acquired by the Bristol Brewery of Georges & Co., before being amalgamated into the Courage group in 1961.
Forest of Dean & Ross-on-Wye Pubs. A critical guide by Jon Hurley (booklet, 1991): A local made no bones about calling this refreshingly busy and much altered pub “the best in the west”. It is lively, very busy, efficient and although there was no open fire (as far as I could see) it was warm and comfortable on a rainy Christmas Eve. There is a useful function menu (the “Fresh Local Trout” was delicious, although my young son Lawrence, an expert on Sausage and Chips, gave his banger the thumbs down). Pleasant prints, slot machines and a pool table all help to make this a buzzing boozer. And, of course the beer (Wadworth’s) is not that bad either. A popular pub and in the fine weather a large attractive garden keeps the children off the road.
The Orepool, on the B4228, has been substantially enlarged and altered over the years. In October 1997 licensee Helen Gunning said that, to her knowledge, the pub had been added to at least five times – three times during the time of her predecessor. A 10-chalet motel block was built in the 1990’s, which is used extensively by visitors to the area and businessmen. Given its isolated location the Orepool has had to diversify to attract custom and serving good food is essential. Set in three-and-a-half-acres and benefiting from a large car park the Orepool is also able to organise outside events.
A two-day music festival was first held at the Orepool on the Whitsun Bank Holiday in 1999. Branded the ‘Musical May-Hem’, a marquee was erected on the lawns with professional lighting and staging and some of the finest Gloucestershire based bands played there.
The Orepool closed on New Year’s Day in 2008. The 51-year-old publican had got into financial difficulties. The former taxi-driver and Beecham’s worker had signed up to a lease with the owners, the Watkins family of Sling, to run the Orepool. To do this he ploughed all his life savings into the venture, sold his Coleford home and cashed in his pension. His son had even taken out a £10,000 loan to help run and refurbish the historic 17th-Century inn. A five-month dispute with two electricity suppliers over unpaid bills led to his mains power at the pub being disconnected. He was forced to spend thousands of pounds on running and hiring a diesel generator. Private Christmas parties had to be cancelled. When mains electricity was finally restored on Christmas Eve he had lost an estimated £12,000 in revenue during the 11 days that he was cut off. The landlord said, “We were hoping to make enough during the Christmas period to see us through to July 2008, but I have no way of recouping the money I’ve lost. We have put everything we had into this place.”
The Orepool Inn reopened for business in July 2008. Joint managers Simon Fowler and Ashley Wood said: “We’re trying to turn it back into a country pub, but also want to build up the accommodation and function side.” Simon Fowler said, “We have opened five chalets and will open the rest in the coming months. We have a lunchtime special of £4.95 a meal and have an evening menu from 9-9 pm.”
In August 2009 the Orepool hosted a ‘Summer Sesh Fest’ that featured hard-dance and techno music ‘through to the early hours of Sunday’.
James and Becky Chilton took over the Orepool Inn in November 2009. James said on their 5th anniversary at the pub in 2014, “When we first opened our doors there were some who thought we wouldn’t last more than six months. When we took over we basically started from scratch, now we serve around 600-700 meals per week.” An ‘eating out’ review in the ‘Forester’ newspaper in July 2014 commented that ‘when we walked into the Orepool on a Thursday evening we were immediately greeted with friendliness and warmth. It’s that kind of place. The menu is well balanced.’ The reviewer concluded ‘I really do like the Orepool. Consistency and value-for-money are two things people always want and this place has oodles of both. There are finer menus and more creative dishes around, but you’ll pay extra for them. For what you pay at the Orepool, you will struggle to find anywhere to beat it.’
Landlords of the Orepool Inn include:
1885 Charles Case
1891,1902 Charles Keyse (possibly related to Maynard Luther Keyse of the Wyndham Arms)
1903,1906 Mary Keyse
1919 James Nash
1927 William Ely Baker
1939 William Evans
1997 Roger and Helen Gunning (manageress Irene Mudway)
2009 Darryl Norris
2009 James and Becky Chiltern