Courtesy John Saunders
Courtesy John Saunders

James Dennis came to Coleford with his wife Emma in about 1855 to run the Angel Hotel. He was only at the Angel for a period of about five years, but his name was clearly visible on a distinctive galleried pub sign extending across the street from the Angel to the market house. This can be seen on the above image which is possibly the earliest known photographic study of the town of Coleford. The wooden structure was removed by 1862 as it had become rotten (it appears to be sagging in the photograph). According to the 1861 census James Dennis had moved to St. Johns Street. It was here, in a property just behind the Angel Hotel, that he established a business as an importer of wines & spirits. He also acted as an agent for Bass Burton Brewery and also Allsopps of Burton on Trent. Dennis also bottled Guinness on the premises.

Dennises’ was described as being ‘next to the Angel’, but it is probable that it shared the same premises or site of the Railway Inn. It was presumably named after James Dennis who was landlord at the Angel Hotel in 1856 which he had for 2 years. The late Ray Allen noted that ‘James Dennis was owner in 1869, running a wine & spirits business in direct competition to the White Swan’s John William Watts in the Old Wine Vaults immediately opposite.’

The 1891 licensing records give details that the property was owned by the ‘Executors of James Dennis’ and was leased to the Cheltenham Original Brewery. The occupier was William Wilkes. However, in an 1870 reference Dennises’ was the ‘agent for Allsopp’s and Bass’s ales, and Guinness Extra Stout.’ The licensing books of 1891 and 1903 designate the premises as an alehouse.  It had an annual rateable value of £17.3s.0d.  In 1903 Lydia Cullimore is listed as the owner and it was a free house, with no brewery tie.

In 1930 closure of Dennis was applied for by then owners. Godsell & Sons, Stroud. It was granted in 1932 after Godsell’s had been acquired by the Stroud Brewery Company.

It closed in 1931 and compensation was paid. The premises is now Lucky’s Chinese Takeaway.

Gloucester Journal, Saturday 8th March 1930 – Three Houses for Consideration: The Coleford magistrates, at the adjourned licensing sessions, had before then the question of the licences of the Masons Arms, The White Swan and Dennis Stores. Mr P. Haddock, represented Messrs Wintle’s Brewery, Mitcheldean, in respect of the two former houses, and Mr R.C. Hutton (instructed by Messrs Wellington, Clifford and Matthews, Gloucester) appeared on behalf of Stroud Brewery Company in regard of the Dennis Stores.

The magistrates decided to renew the licences of the Masons Arms and the White Swan. That of Dennis Stores would be submitted to the compensation authorities for consideration. The magistrates made a provisional licence in repect of this house.

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